Catfight Fever

by Shannon Kelley Gould

Since women first began entering the workforce en masse more than 40 years ago, we’ve been fed a steady stream of mixed messages: To get ahead, you have to be assertive, confident, act like a man! But you’re a woman, so play nice, and try to look good while you’re doing it, would ya? Oh, and us sisters are all in it together — there’s power in sisterhood! (Tell that to Star Jones and Barbara Walters, now ex-coworkers from the daytime talk show, The View, or Anna Wintour and Lauren Weisberger, the real-life editor and her former assistant, upon which The Devil Wears Prada is based. Then tell that to the millions of us who tuned in to watch the View fallout, or lined up to catch the Devil premiere.) The result is that we’re coy about being competitive, demure about our demands, and shocked when one of us dares to step up and boldly assert herself. (Shocked, but boy do we love hiding in our cubicle and engaging in a gossipy post-mortem.) So what’s a girl to do? A crop of books examines the struggle women go through trying to balance ambition and competition with the desires to be likable and to be liked:     I Can’t Believe She Did That!: Why Women Betray Other Women at Work, by Nan Mooney

  Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth About Women and Rivalry, by Susan Shapiro Barash

  The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick-in-Charge, by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio

   Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois P. Frankel

   In the Company of Women: Indirect Aggression Among Women, by Pat Heim, Susan Murphy, and Susan K. Golant

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