Girl Power, or the Power of Women at Work

Girl power was all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s. The phrase “girl power” is used as a term of empowerment, independence, and self-sureness, but what came of girl power, and is there such a thing as true girl power? Or more so, the true power of women?  Particularly when working together.

In 1994 the Spice Girls shot to the top of the pops with ‘Wannabee’. They were a group of women ‘working’ together, but is there more to it than that? The Spice Girls were a brand, a product, a group of women where there were friendships and where to the outer world there was a ‘spunky’ toughness. But is toughness needed in ‘girl power’ – or in truly power-full women when they are together?

Have you ever observed two women who work together in a power-full way? Or experienced yourself working along side another woman in a way that felt power-full? We are not talking here of power in a dictatorial, or adversarial, or even ‘macho’ way, but power in a way where there is flow, an equalness, and where things get done; where there is an intimacy in it’s true meaning:

  • where you can share how you feel without the need to indulge,
  • where you can be fragile and vulnerable without feeling shame or a failure,
  • where you can express anything without feeling judged, with an open heartedness between you where there are no walls of protection.

These relationships, or shall we say partnerships are also not based on you doing the same job for instance, or being the same level of ‘seniority’. It could be a Chief Executive and her PA, or a manager and the lady who works on reception. The two women could be in any role, but, by their symbiosis they have a remarkable affect.

They hold solid, they know what is needed, there is no jealousy or comparison (and if there is they talk about it, they nut it out) and to the best of their ability there is no degrading or judging way of being together –

they are two women who simply feel the flow, what is needed and can feel how well they work together and get things done.

Recognise this?

If you do it is possible that it has not been appreciated for what it is in full, and that we don’t celebrate these power relationships, or power couples in our workplaces – or in life.

It is true to say that we have all experienced relationships with women at work or in our lives where there is tension, comparison, jealousy, lack of self worth issues, where we feel judged, or unequal, where we make ourselves less. And it is sometimes said ‘get a group of women working together and the dynamics are terrible’… e.g. gossiping or back-biting – but this is not so for all women who work together.

So what makes a power couple? And why is it different to the tough independence of so called ‘girl power’?

We have started to consider this in the last few months. We both work together on different projects – and in those we take different roles in some voluntary projects, for instance Monika is a PA and Jane is a Team Leader in a global Health and Wellbeing project (Unimed Living). In our daily working lives we have similar roles in coaching, training and development – although in completely different countries – but there are parallels in what we learn about our work. In between that we have regular check-ins with one another, and also make a consistent commitment to deepen our intimacy with one another.

Monika_Rietveld
Monika
Jane_ Keep
Jane

We are learning not to accept the status quo as we feel uncomfortable if our relationship feels stagnant, stale, or like it has hit a road-block. We are learning not to accept abuse from one another (e.g. if one of us arrives late for our meeting, or if one of us is in a ‘mood’), and, if we feel abuse in the other we name it – not in a finger pointing way but in a way that allows the other a true gentle reflection to realise that this behaviour is not who they are.

The relationship is a constant reminder of who we truly are, who the other is in truth, and how we as women can be together and support each other.

There is curiosity and not criticism, and we remind each other of playfulness and joy. We allow time to learn and to experiment.

We have come to know this as intimacy at work – and that there is a true power to it, something unshakeable, and solid – and we know if we are tasked with something we will get it done together.

It feels time to start a conversation about women at work – in particular women in groups or power couples – so that we can start to see these for what they truly are and to celebrate and appreciate them; to fully claim that there are women in our working lives that we feel to work with, but maybe we have held back in doing so. The truth is that working together brings a symbiosis that is much needed in our working environments.

By Jane (UK) and Monika (The Netherlands)

You may also enjoy:

Jane shares with us the changes she has experienced working In the Company of Women
Relationship Counsellor Gabrielle Caplice explores what true intimacy is in relationships
Victoria Lister opens the discussion about why women so often say no to high profile roles.

1,182 thoughts on “Girl Power, or the Power of Women at Work

  1. When you see and feel two women in the flow of a relationship without jealousy or comparison you see a relationship that has purpose, joy and is very efficient. Rather than try to be ‘part of it’, appreciate that we all have those qualities and see the only person keeping us ‘out of it’ is our need to be ‘part of it’!

  2. I love working with others in general, be it work or voluntary. It’s not that I hate working alone (cause I don’t) but that it’s lovely to share how much I love to work with another and how simple it can all be.

  3. Some of the most trickiest moments in my life I have got by because of the amazing support and love of the women in my life. Supporting one another is sisterhood in motion.

  4. Whether we work with other men or other women in the work place when we open up, stay true to ourselves we give ourselves the opportunity to work together in a way that can not be measured.

  5. While we appreciate the quality of a working relationship with one woman, it is not truly lived until this same quality is felt equally in our all our relationships, with women and men.

  6. I am now working with someone who I formerly judged as a control freak and with whom I said I could never work. It’s awesome how gradually opening up in greater honesty and support for each other our relationship is changing – becoming far more accepting and playful and even appreciative.

  7. Just taking a moment when something doesn’t feel quite right to ask if the other person felt that and knew what it was about opens doors that would otherwise have been help firmly shut.

  8. I like the experience of if I am in my power and, respect and connect to almost any other, the now togetherness and can bring a quality of equal power. I’m not sure how this works .. but would comment that it is has been truly cherishing another and in that beautiful connection you are something greater.

  9. “and we know if we are tasked with something we will get it done together.” Working in harmony with another any task can be fun.

  10. I love this, we have amazing support all around us, we are surrounded by love and through another we get to celebrate that love.

  11. “they are two women who simply feel the flow, what is needed and can feel how well they work together and get things done.” I know another two business ladies like this, they own a shop together and are super inspiring the way they are dedicated to developing and deepening their connection for the benefit of all. True harmony always = true purpose.

  12. ‘It feels time to start a conversation about women at work ‘ Yes it is, for to have that flow as we work is something to talk about. No false excitement, no rah-rah, no identification but a simplicity of working with ease and an honouring of the essence we are.

    1. Honouring the essence we are, and knowing that we each have a role to play that complements the offering of another. When we try to bring it all, we go against the rhythm of the Universe because we are designed to work as a team….as reflected so beautifully by nature and the animal kingdom.

  13. I had a beautiful experience a couple of month back of working with another woman. While we were doing some ironing we watched the girl 2 women festival live, via Webcast, from Australia. We both loved the honouring and support which the festival offered to all young girls and woman. If they hadn’t experienced their loveliness being fully honoured previously, they certainly did on that day. During the festival a beautiful and inspiring anthem was launched in celebration of all girls and women, and there was an opportunity for those, who felt to do so, to do a cover version and send it to the festival organisers. During the week following the festival I felt I would love to be part of this and I asked the women who watched it with me if she would be up for us doing a cover version together and she readily agreed. I was not confident that she would accept my offer as I am in my early 70s and she is just 15 years old. By doing this together we realised that an age difference is not an obstacle to having a powerful relationship. We both experienced so much, joy, fun, harmony and an expansion of our relationship during this project. And we both shared afterwards, how we would love to work together again if an opportunity to do so ever presents itself.

    1. Wow that sounds amazing and good on you for honouring the impulse to do something together regardless of the age difference. It just shows how much joy and playfulness can come out of honouring an impulse.

  14. “girl power” – is where we live the true truth and love of ourselves as females, and not the hard, kicking, power-struggling and subscribed to female/feminine ideals, pictures or beliefs that spark revolt …. and so back in the ’90s with the Spice Girls and the arising “girl power” phenomenon, it was very much the latter quality that i witnessed as a young woman. If we had the arising true truth of ourselves via role models that held their own grace, honour and sacredness as women, then from that female movement our entire world would have shifted the needle back towards balance.

  15. Yes power makes us think of being strong, though, doing it alone, concurring etc. but what if power is also in understanding each other, not reacting to each other, working harmoniously together with ease, not gossiping, allowing to show our fragility or tenderness?

  16. Gentle reflections of who we truly are, are always supportive, ‘The relationship is a constant reminder of who we truly are, who the other is in truth, and how we as women can be together and support each other.’

  17. It is beautiful to experience the relationship you describe, ‘they are two women who simply feel the flow, what is needed and can feel how well they work together and get things done.’

  18. The work we can do with another has no limits. When we connect to who we truly are and express from there we share with another nothing short of the universe.

  19. We have people who share places and goals, but do we actually have true togetherness at all? For how often do we work with others feeling the true purpose of our project is to build our connection?

  20. The support and intimacy shared here is a real standard setting for all of us, imagine being in our relationships where we are curious and not critical and where we support each other to be all we are in everything, where we learn from each other, where we grow with each other … this is true relationship and it’s all of our birthrights.

  21. In a dog eat dog world where so much competition can be found in the work place this is truly refreshing to read!

  22. I think the way the word power is used can sometimes convey a sense of hardness, forcefulness or pushing through to get something done in the negative sense without consideration for the quality of what is being done so great that you offer us here a different meaning for the word power, bringing it back to a quality in how we are with one another, one that is of our true nature.

    1. Yes, the girl power of the Spice girls was one of action, of toughness, of not being taken advantage of. Yet if you consider any of those women and the tenderness that lay beneath the image, there was no toughness and I would hazard a guess that their greatest strength came when they were at their most vulnerable and honest with each other.

  23. These are some key ingredients for a healthy working relationship – “There is curiosity and not criticism, and we remind each other of playfulness and joy. We allow time to learn and to experiment.”

  24. I manage a few teams within our business, and I love working with another person on a project.
    It becomes simple, there is no power struggle – just an equality and appreciation that we bring different things to the project but we are totally in equality when we do so.

  25. This is lovely and inspiring for other women, and yes, ‘The truth is that working together brings a symbiosis that is much needed in our working environments.’

  26. This permission to communicate with each other in such a dedicated way, ensuring you learn what is respect and disrespect is something we can bring in to our relationships with our children and perhaps what we missed in our own upbringings to have to learn it now as adults.

  27. I was at a sound group yesterday with a small group of gorgeous women. The honesty, intimacy and support we experienced as a group was true ‘girl power’ but it was very natural and not at all forced. We enjoyed each other’s company immensely appreciating the qualities that we each brought and I went away feeling like I had experienced something that is out of the norm but really it is something that shouldn’t be!

  28. The use of the word power has been bastardised to mean a force and a pushing to get one’s own way. You describe beautifully how a flow can be with a group of women where they feel equal and can openly share their feelings without any fear of judgement or ridicule. If offices ran like this I’m sure exhaustion would be reduced and output might even rise!

  29. The power of women working together can never be underestimated. I have a beautiful and deeply supportive relationship with another woman which is super productive whilst also being lots of fun.

  30. Relationships where we share how we are feeling without the need to indulge, how interesting – I hadn’t even considered the need to indulge to be present in my conversations, yet when I look at many of my conversations (dare I say most) I can see the indulgence – the need to go over the negative emotions, the things I don’t like about what I’ve done, what I’ve eaten etc. etc. – what will it take for us to wake up, drop the self-abuse and celebrate ourselves as women in every step that we take?

  31. I like that you are learning no to accept the status quo but take you own inner compass so to speak to guide you to have a true and open relationship.

  32. As I was reading the start of this I realised that there are not many situations that I can reflect on that show women genuinely working together and fully supporting each other to be all that they are. So often dynamics, comparisons, gossip and jealousy can come in so easily. We need to ask what we allow to get in the way of true harmony between us.

    1. Yes, and the sad part is that we are all so capable of working together and can do it with such ease but are so easily distracted by what does not work or what we do not like that then hinders us to see the ease and flow life can be.

      1. How true, these distractions are what keep us separate, in comparison and judgement of one another.

  33. I work closely and run a company with another gorgeous woman. She is also a dear friend and my neighbour. We are a power couple and what we bring together is huge. Our relationship has had its ups and downs and at times has been very testing for both of us. But we always come back to our purpose together.

      1. Without the purpose it’s likely I would have given up long ago. Purpose is indeed deeply unifying.

    1. It is something we should speak more of when things get tricky or seem to get in the way so there is a unifying way forward. From that place it is easy to get the personal out of the way or face it head on in order to get it out of the way.

      1. From my experience in this situation, when I came back to purpose, all that had got in the way simply melted away. Things still come up and stuff that isn’t true tries to get in, but I have been very clear in my commitment to our purpose and set a standard in our relationship.

      2. I have heard this more and more and therefore we should keep talking about it so we can share with others how we can make the connection to purpose the impulse that brings us out of the ‘issue’.

      3. Great point Lucy. We can spend a lot of time trying to work out the issue but perhaps that not where we should be taking the focus. Focus on the purpose and the issues loose their clout.

  34. It is beautiful to read of your experiences of working together in this way, supporting each other to evolve, it sounds like great fun as well as being efficient and productive. So many women work well when they are appreciated and if that appreciation comes from another woman, even better, regardless of who ranks higher.

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