Let's finish with the taboo: competitiveness among women can be healthy if we know how to manage it

In recent days, with the news of the candidacy of Soraya Saénz de Santamaría and María Dolores de Cospedal as presidents of the PP, we have witnessed - once again - the treatment given to ambition and competitiveness among women. We had already said it on other occasions: the word "ambition" is pejorative in women. Being ambitious may be an attractive and even necessary quality in a man, but in women it is another issue. And not only that: any explicit desire to access power and hold it, if it comes from a woman, is no longer seen with such good eyes.

Something similar happens with competitiveness: that a woman intends to compete with a man already has her one, but as competitiveness occurs between two women, then it is assumed that behind this competitiveness there is a negative and hidden background. Maybe a personal problem, intention to interfere in the life of the other woman or anything else that makes us look bad. Of course, that competitiveness cannot be due to a healthy desire to overcome oneself or to obtain a certain power.

This is what happens in recent days with Saénz de Santamaria and Cospedal. The bad relationship between them has already been a topic of conversation before, but now that the two have run as candidates to preside over the Popular Party after the departure of Mariano Rajoy, this supposed war between them has become the main theme of the media. So much so that sometimes it seems that there were no other candidates for PP presidents.

These headlines focus on "the war" between the two, the weapons they will use to fight against each other and even ensure that they have submitted to the post to prevent the other from leading the PP. Of course, because teasing each other is the only possible motivation and not a real desire to be bosses and overcome themselves.

Seeing this, and taking into account the image that television and cinema paint us with regard to competitiveness among women - protagonists or secondary characters willing to fall into the lowest just to make the other look bad - one comes to consider what's really in the stereotype that women are worse among us and if competitiveness is really a bad thing.

Competitiveness: friend or foe?

Like many other things, competitiveness can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on how we approach it. A high level of competitiveness requires have a lot of personal energy, be smart, flexible and have a lot of creativity. These characteristics can be used in a healthy, rational and productive way or, conversely, can be used in a destructive and harmful way.

According to some classifications, competitiveness can be in three ways:

  • Dependent, irrational, destructive and with a short-term strategy.
  • Dependent, rational, constructive and also with a short-term strategy.
  • Free, rational, constructive and as a long-term strategy.

While it is true that poorly understood competitiveness can lead to problems such as unhealthy perfectionism, and even anxiety, it is no less true that high levels of competitiveness can increase our self-esteem and even our well-being for our life. And this is not only true for men, but also for women.

Moreover, being competitive - when it derives from the desire to be the best at something or to master the challenges that are presented to us as a way to grow personally and professionally, and not as a way of demonstrating that you are better than another person - is a good indicator of self-esteem in both genders. And, in fact, it is a better indicator for women than for men.

Not only that, but having that kind of competitiveness can help reduce anxiety levels in the women.

So yes, competitiveness can be harmful, but it is not a necessarily negative characteristic or situation. And, in the case of women, it can be the most beneficial to our self-esteem and well-being. It is not something to fear, but it is a quality that - with the right approach - we must even treasure.

Competitions can even cause people to cooperate more with each other and perform more altruistic or beneficial acts for society that if there was no such competition. This, at the policy level, could be an interesting approach: could the competitiveness between the two candidates for General Secretaries of the Popular Party lead them to consider more positive measures than if such competition did not exist?

Competitiveness among women in times of sorority

One of the problems of assuming that competitiveness is a negative thing is that, when it occurs between two women, it seems an attack between them. This type of behavior would collide with the sorority among us although, in reality, it does not have to be that way. It's more, Competitiveness between us, well understood, can be another example of sorority.

And, sorority is about mutual support and about friendship and respect between women. But it is also about the recognition of other women, of who we are, as an individual, as a woman, as a person or as a worker. In this sense, a healthy competitiveness among us could not only be clear sign of respect for the other person - You consider that she is so good at what makes you have enough respect for her and for yourself that you don't step aside - but that it could help both of you to be better.

This kind of competitiveness could force us to make the best of ourselves, but also to see the best of the other women, learn from them and let us be inspired by them and their achievements.

There is this myth, quite terrible, that women are the worst among us. It is said that we treat each other badly and that we are the ones who most harshly judge each other, however, the reality is quite different. Contrary to popular belief, men are also involved - as perpetrators and as victims - in indirect aggressions, such as gossip, or social exclusion, as much as women. What's more, some studies suggest that they do even more.

Not only are we not as bad among ourselves as he says, but women tend to help other women, especially in the workplace. Thus, when many women work together, they suffer less gender discrimination and less harassment. Not only that, when young women have as supervises another woman, these indicate that they receive more support and help in combining schedules with family life than they do with male supervisors.

We go even further, the more women there are in senior, executive or management positions, the smaller the wage gap. What a surprise that stereotypes in this case do not correspond to reality.

It is very possible that Soraya Saénz de Santamaría and María Dolores de Cospedal are not saints of our devotion - or perhaps yes. And, the truth is that it doesn't matter if we communicate with their ideas or not, or if they get along well or badly. The important thing is that there are two women in a position to lead One of the most important political parties in our country and that talking about competitiveness among them in negative terms continues to maintain stereotypes and myths that are completely misguided.