Are We Sending the Elevator Back Down?

A guest post by Enid Draluck

I am going to buck the system with what I am about to say, but let’s consider that not everything we learn in a book, case study, etc. is always the way it happens in real life. Most research regarding men and women working together in a corporate environment or for that matter, most work places, points to men not supporting the advancement of women into higher leadership positions. That’s true and many have experienced that, however, I am here to say, that women do it to other women as well, maybe more often than we would like to admit.

We all hope that when women make it through the ranks to hold high level positions in the corporate world or the non-profit sector, especially in the C-Suite, they will be “sending the elevator back down” to bring up other women into powerful positions—but do they really do it as much as they could or do they view other women entering those ranks as competition? Are their egos getting in their way like we accuse men of? Do they really want to stand out supporting their own, especially if the men in power may view that as a weakness?

My personal experience has seen this happen countless times and it has happened to me throughout my career and even more lately, especially sharing recognition for achievements, you would think the polar opposite! “Mean girls” in high school don’t necessarily outgrow that, they become “mean girls” with even more power while they climb the ranks, and climb over other women.

When the spotlight is shining, it does shine brighter when there is only one person in the light.



Enid Draluck graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, and began her professional career with a national telecommunications company where she worked with Fortune 100 companies around metro Atlanta. In 1987 Enid left to create The 14th Streatery and a full service catering business, The Catering Connection, Inc., with her husband. After selling the restaurant and catering company, she established An Extra Hand, a personal concierge service where she worked with Atlanta executives and corporations. Currently, Draluck is a partner in the not-for-profit entity Full Circle Living, designed to “level the playing field”, specifically supporting women and girls locally, nationally and globally.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Forever Leaders.

16 comments

  1. I think there is something in our society that puts women in “survival mode” – because the strongest and the fittest survives, and there is, they believe, only one spot for all of us to fight for. The truth is, that probably if women start sticking together and fight for equal treatment in the work place as a team, there will be much more room for more aspiring, intelligent, ambitious young women to step into those C-suite positions. I think that many women tend to block other women from progressing and don’t encourage them to advance in the work place because our society tells them that if they had achieved something great- it was probably by chance because after all, they are only women. Consequently, they wouldn’t want to share their “lucky charm” with another woman who is going to steal the spotlight from them. As women go into “self survival mode” believing that the place they earned in the company is something so rare, so random, and cannot be replicated- I wouldn’t even be surprised that women don’t encourage each other as much as we would expect. The solution has to come from two directions simultaneously- the first one is that women should start fighting off that survival instinct and understand that the more women they include in their success, the better off we all would be. The second is for our society, men included, to stop making the working environment a place to fight for in the first place. If we truly all believe that our coworkers’ success is somewhat our success as well- we could change how women are treated by their colleagues, especially their woman colleagues.

    • Yes, I definetly agree with Ilona on this. Women think that there is only one spot for us all but that is where we make the mistake and that is how men over throne us. Men would recommend their fellow men for a job and other things but women, we think that once we recommend another woman for a job they will take our place, not to say that things like that do not occur but we need to trust ourselves and focus on getting better. For example, recently the female artists had a big fight (I am Nigerian). they fought because one female artiste would not support the others as she one of the biggest in the industry. It became a social media drama, which is not what we usually see amongst the men.

  2. I understand all the views presented and agree with them to some extent. First, I agree that women are responsible for not letting other women grow and that could be a reason why not a lot of women hold higher leadership positions. I agree with Ilona about the whole “mean girls” thing. You can never really take the mean out of a person, it just comes in different forms at different stages of life. In daily life, you can see how girls hesitate to help other girls because of the whole “what if she does better than me”. But at the end of the day, it all just comes down to how great you are at what you are do; give it your 100% and don’t care about how are others are doing. But also another thing to keep in mind is that most of the higher positions are held by men and there is no way they are letting it go or letting anyone else be better than them. So, in many ways, it is everyone’s fault. Men need to support women more and women need to be more outspoken, ask for what they deserve and support other women and help each other grow. This is a problem that can be solved collectively.

  3. I think a lot of times we aren’t sending the elevator down because we see other women as competition. We want to be the token girl in a group of men because it makes us unique. Unfortunately, this results in few women holding top positions and even fewer on their way up. I think one thing we’ve learned in WomenLead can be applied to any professional setting: once you get to where you want to be, you have to give back. The whole concept of mentoring is a huge motivator to help those in positions we used to be in. As a graduating senior, I always try to help my peers whether it be with a class I already took or training someone in a lab technique I previously mastered. It’s incredibly rewarding to give back, and it ensures that the people we help are moving forward too. One way to reduce the competitive atmosphere among women and keep them in check is to remind them that they were once at the bottom too.

  4. I believe that one of the reasons why most women in power are hesitant to help other women reach their level is in part due to our innate tendency to doubt ourselves. We lack the confidence in our skills and knowledge that men possess and are therefore shaken by the thought of competition. If only we could elevate our self-assurance and believe in our self-worth that no one else can ever replace one’s presence, then that would be a huge step taken to close the gender gap. At the same time, if women in power also focused on how to distinguish herself and leave an individualized mark, then her confidence would easily be personified, and there would be no need to feel competitive. As a woman, I feel that we, especially women in power, should uplift other women at every given opportunity because real strength lies in lifting others up. In turn, the women leader could benefit from the friendship and loyalty of those she has helped. Although the spotlight shines brighter with one person in the light, it would shine much longer for a group of individuals dedicated to achieving a common purpose.

    • I agree with Aakifah. Women should help build each other up and encourage one another to pursue high positions. Everyone would benefit from the support. If women did something unique or something that distinguishes themselves from others, then there’s no need to be hesitant on sending the elevator down because there won’t be any competition. Women should be more confident in their skills. How can we fix this problem ? How can we help women in power be more confident in themselves ? How can we face this challenge and rise above it as a whole ? Maybe some women need to take a step back and reevaluate. Having a support system and/or mentors can help also. However, there is only so much that can be done to fix this issue. You can try to encourage the women in power to send the elevator down for others, but the decision is up to them. We can’t always change their minds or their views/beliefs. Trying is better than not taking action.

  5. I like this whole idea, if we as women are sending the elevator back down to help other women rise up! Unfortunately, I feel that most likely were are not sending the elevator down because of fear and lack of confidence. Some women feel that if they help another women enter into the same powerful position because it might be a competition in the work position. Women might fear that the newly person entered might develop better skills and can possibly take over their powerful position. Women are not that confident in believing that other women could also enter powerful position and they could all be successful in the work environment.
    However, I am currently taking a WomenLead in Science class which focuses on empowering women from different backgrounds. This class is all about sending the elevator down to bing up other women in powerful positions! We all as women help each other out in class by giving advice to each other on our different experiences we independently have had in school/work; there is also a variety of women speakers who come and talk with us on how they obtain their position in a particular area. If feel that the women should definitely help each other out in achieving those high positions so there can be more women in power. Teamwork makes a dreamwork!

  6. Wow. Such a short blog post, yet it opens the table up for many discussions that aren’t usually held. I find myself in (slight) agreeance with the feeling that women are too responsible for not sending the elevator back down to uplift other women to powerful positions. But honestly, can you really blame us for it? In short, yes, but in my opinion the answer is yes AND no. I say yes because it is basic etiquette (or should be anyway) to extend a helping hand to others who are like you. On the other hand, I say no because women have had to fight for everything they have, especially women of color, so it seems as if it’s a natural tendency to want to call something your own, instead of having to share it. You don’t want to make the mistake of helping someone, and then they end up replacing you; you want to keep what you’ve worked hard for. Now, I am not saying women should not mentor, because they absolutely should. I am saying that I agree that there are still “Mean Girls” in the work field, and sometimes women just don’t have the best interest for other women. It is sad, but it is the truth. I will end this saying that in order for us to really see a change towards equality, we have to continue to have this conversation of the problems between women. We have to be united before we can take on the ultimate goal.

    • I agree with you Symone, I being a person of color have also noticed that some, not all, women of color who have already made to the top of their positions are more reluctant to help other people of color. I assume that they believe that the position that they have is their own and they do not want another person of color to take the spotlight away from them. Once they have passed through the doors of opportunity, they slam the door shut behind them. It would be interesting if women in these positions are willing to undergo an exercise where they went back to their younger self and actually saw themselves in the same position as a junior candidate who is trying to get to the same or similar aspiration. I believe that these women should leave the door open for mentoring and allow other people who have undergone strife in their life to get to live their own unique success story whether it be in the same or different career.

  7. I think this article puts a lot of women of power into the hotseat, because its a known fact that many women in higher positions do very little for women trying to work their way up. I agree with some of the comments that women refrain from sending the elevator back down because of their lack of confidence. However, I also see it as a means of not wanting someone to have everything easy. I think that after a woman has fought so hard to make it to the top, she may be reluctant to make it easier for anyone to get to where she is. While I think it’s great to work hard and make it to the top, no one does it all by themselves, and I believe that people tend to forget this once they make it. People forget that they were once in the shadows trying to make a name for themselves and this mean girl personality can kind of take over.

    However, looking at things from another perspective is interesting. Think of it as an unfair group project. One person does the most work and produces a fantastic project worthy of an A+. The rest of the group that does nothing gets to take the credit and the good grade without the labor. This is a terrible feeling, and I think this is the perspective that some women have. They have done all this work for someone just to come right behind them, following in their footsteps. However, I feel like as a person who comes from being the “underdog,” you should want to see others succeed beyond you. You should ignore your greed and allow those to walk through the doors you have opened to allow them to unlock even more for the next group. Without having each other as a support group, we aren’t improving our standards or fighting the gender gap problem.

  8. Before reading this post, I never really thought about women not helping other women. It just seemed like a natural thing to me, especially after taking this class. There have been so many amazing women that have come to give us advice and tell us about their journey and how they got where they are. They openly talked about their lives and genuinely wanted to see us succeed. Also, after reading Lean In, a book about women empowerment, it was a shock to read this article. I understand the point that Ms.Draluck is trying to make and I totally agree with it, now that I’ve gotten a chance to see the other side. Women don’t hold as many higher lever positions as men. Once women obtain a higher level position, they aren’t likely to help other women succeed because they are seen as the competition. In the back of their minds, there’s always going to be the question “what if they have the capability of doing a better job than me?” They don’t feel it’s fair that they worked so hard to get where they are and had to fight their way to the top to just hand over a cheat sheet to success. I can’t remember a time where I have faced this in a professional aspect but in high school, I remember how students would see everything as a competition. They would be unwilling to help other students because there was the possibility they would do better than them. Obviously, this isn’t everyone in high school but there are always 1 or 2 students who want to be at the top without wanting to help others get there too.

    • I agree with your opinion that women view other women as competition. Earlier, I mentioned that I felt like these women who are not helping others see it as giving another woman an easy way up after they have done all of the hard work. I think the solution to this is may be to send the elevator down, but not allow the elevator to come all the way up to the top. I think this is an excellent middle place for both parties. Women who are at the bottom will have some support and guidance while those at the top do not feel as if they have allowed someone to take advantage of all of their hard work. I think this also mimics the strategy of many men. Men will put in a “good word” for their friends to help them get into the business or company, but they do not give them everything to reach their top spot either. The men that they help have to find their own way without having to worry about getting their foot in the door

  9. In all honesty this is a dog eat dog world we live in and it is in our nature to be survival of the fittest. Although I am very supportive of women uplifting and helping other women there are a slight few who want all the attention on them. Why do we see other women as competition? Is it because it is already hard for us to get these positions in the first place?
    I think women who have worked hard for their positions are not opposed to sending the elevator back down but they do want the women who are trying to come up to work for it the same way they did. I wouldn’t throw all the women at the top under the bus because it probably took a lot of confidence, hard work and determination to get into their positions. No one wants competition especially when it is in the workplace and being that we are females, it is hard for us to share the spotlight sometimes. I want more women in these positions to know that we’re a community rather than competitors because we could get so much further in this male dominated work force.

  10. I can see how situations in this blog post could be true. I Personally have not experienced this having been apart of the WomenLead course, which is specifically intended for women in leadership positions to give back and help young women in college and entering the workforce. I feel like women who work themselves to the top have a much greater mountain to climb and once they reach the top they are most likely exhausted. They may also feel that if they had to do it on their own that other women should have to do it on their own. Or, they might not even think about giving back. That’s why programs like WomenLead are great because they give a structured way to give back. They don’t have to do anything but talk and give their advice. I also feel as if women have more of a “survival” instinct in the work place. Because they had to work so hard, they may not want anyone else to threaten their position that they worked so hard to get. I think this is a symptom of a workplace environment dominated by men and also just an overall feeling no matter where a woman works. I believe that women should feel comfortable and confident giving back so that this environment and the symptoms of it can change.

  11. Draluck presents an interesting take on a touchy topic. Upon examining the entire population, I can understand how, as many of my peers have pointed out, that women do not send the elevator back down because of a lack of confidence, feeling the requirement to work from the ground up, a sense of competition among one another, etc. Although these outdated ideals may be attributed to societal norms, it’s vital to recognize and overcome these engrained biases within each and everyone one of us if we wish to see future as females progress at the rate that many of us demand. Regardless of the reason, it’s a responsibility as a fellow women to find the path to lift others up and establish that legacy. It’s important we remember that we stand on the backs of those who have come before us.

    On a related note, I’d like to consider the difficulties that women face even once they’ve made the commitment to raise others up. To elaborate, I had recently been in situation where I was in a position of power in an organization and had the opportunity to bring a peer onto a computer science project. Initially, I was hopeful to raise up another female into a male-dominated field, but even with all of my efforts it was extremely difficult to even connect with a qualified female, let alone a POC. It was honestly depressing and really got me thinking. I realized this problem doesn’t start once you’ve arrived at University. This stems all the way back to childhood and what we traditionally place emphasis on as a society for a particular gender, race, sexuality, etc. I’ve learned that it’s essential to not only give back to those at a college age, but to engage the youth and expose them to the possibilities from a very young age because otherwise, they’ll already be behind the curve on the boys. This trend can be seen in examining on average, just how much more men can make than women across a life-time. It’s shocking. Intentional mentorship from a young age is a crucial step in the right direction to combat women reluctantly or not at all sending the elevator back down for the next generation.

    • I agree with you Lauren, that it is our responsibility as women to discard the societal norms that oftentimes hold our fellow women back. As previously noted by numerous peers, a multitude of reasons holds the elevator at the top after the ascent of one woman. I believe that in order to address this issue, the mean girl mentality mentioned by Draluck, must be addressed from an early age. Women must rise above the norm, share the spotlight and help each other.
      Likewise, I too have experienced a similar situation as you described and could not find a woman who was both qualified and available to assist due to the lack of women in the particular field. It is deeply saddening to understand the vastness of barriers holding women, especially minorities, back from even entering the STEM field. We must address this gender disparity as a society, as women, and as minorities to diversify and progress science as a whole. I would like to see more women, more diversity and more empowerment in the STEM field and others. In order to do so, the communal responsibility of women is necessary. If women understood that the future of other women is impacted by their acts and the acts of others, we may progress ourselves to greater heights by paving the way. If we do so as women, communally, it will be easier for others to reach even higher than we ever thought possible.

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