We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Female Bullying?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Female bullying is behaviors that are intimidating, harmful, or obstructive done by women or girls. Despite the archetypal idea of the insensitive male bully, women and girls are equally likely to be bullies, though the way female bullying is done often differs from male bullying. This type of bullying can happen in school, in the workplace, or in a person's private life.

Goals of Bullying

The goals of the female bully may not be that different than those of the male bully, although some people point to key differences. The bully is usually a deeply insecure person who works out insecurities by making the lives of others miserable. He or she may specifically target people viewed as either competition or viewed as weak.

Types of Female Bullying

Female bullying can occur through a variety of behaviors, including intimidation, disgusting pranks, and making it hard for others to do a job. Though women or girls aren't always as likely to threaten physical violence, particularly in the workplace, some still do. It's often more common for female bullies to form groups to deliberately exclude certain people, to spread malicious gossip about others, to be over-emotional and yell and scream, or to constantly find fault with someone else. Such bullying at work is often not that different from queen bee behaviors in cliques at junior high and high school, except another person may lose a job or feel forced to quit if bullying is successful.

Bullying in the Workplace

The whole idea that female bullying exists in the workplace tends to fly in the face of conventional thinking that women get along with each other and are the more cooperative of the genders. There's often a stereotype that women have a big advantage in the workplace because of a tendency for group work, collaboration and cooperation. Though this may be true for some women, other women prefer to work on their own, and some do this through bullying behavior. One explanation for this may be that there are still fewer women holding executive positions in many fields, and female bullying is one way to defeat competition. Alternately, if the behavior of the female bully was more or less ignored in school settings, some women may view intimidation or destructive behavior as a good way to achieve goals.

Others feel that female bullying may remain unaddressed in the workplace because of a fear that addressing it would prove a setback in the long fought battle for gender equality. Acknowledging that a few women do not know how to behave in the workplace might suggest that no women do and open the door for greater gender discrimination.

Dealing with Bullying

Advice for dealing with a female bullying or a destructive female clique in the workplace typically involves talking to management, but first documenting any behaviors that are destructive or aggressive. This may be challenging to do if actions of the bully aren’t overt, and especially if the bully is backed up by other group members. However, documentation of any acts, and discussion with management or human resources may prove helpful. Those being bullied could also research programs on sensitivity training and suggest their implementation in a work environment.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By anon935205 — On Feb 24, 2014

Every single woman on the planet is a bully. Fact.

By anon930413 — On Feb 04, 2014

Never go to HR. They do not look out for your best interests, only the company's best interest. Seek advice from an employment attorney immediately. If you work in the federal government, find a federal employment attorney. Also, do not think for one minute that you have any 'friends' at work.

By anon926880 — On Jan 21, 2014

The worst bullies are women. They are scheming, manipulative, cold, calculating lying scumbags. Their typical plan is to build up allies for support, exclude their target and then sabotage the victim with lies.

When the victim is caught off guard or doesn't know what is going on, the bully turns it all around onto their victim. People don't need to let this behavior go or be afraid. They need to play the same dirty tricks on the bully and start getting even.

Bullies don't care if they get you fired. They don't care if they destroy your reputation or your marriage or your family. That is the bully's goal. People need to fight back with the same attitude.

The only time victims don't succeed when they fight back is when they let their emotions get the best of them and become insecure. I have been through this many times. I lost battles in the beginning, but I have won the war at the end.

By anon355439 — On Nov 16, 2013

By anon353850 — On Nov 03, 2013

I was recently bullied when some ladies from a restaurant inside the sports facility started saying untrue things about me and my boyfriend without getting the facts straight. Recently, my boyfriend and I had a minor disagreement, which we were able to resolve in a civilized manner, but the girls in the restaurant started making up stuff about me which is not true. The worst of it was that the waitress working there did not do a single thing to tell the ladies to cool it.

I was hurt all day long by the fact that some people are so doggone immature to spread rumors without getting the facts straight. Now, since the rumors have been spread, someone in my group might pick up on the rumors by mistake and believe them. My friends know that my boyfriend and I worked an issue we had and that was that. And for these people to talk behind my back about this, get the facts straight before they speak.

By anon347472 — On Sep 07, 2013

I see it with my female boss; some other female managers see her as a threat and disrespect her. They give her a hard time if our team makes a mistake, however they know that if we have an issue with their team, she's too afraid to go directly to them to raise it and more likely a member of their team. She will always go the extra mile to help them but quite often, if she wants help from them, they give her as little as possible. They know she won't force the issue with them which makes her look extremely weak. I have seen them try and undermine her decisions by going over her head.

Not only this, but some women below her are jealous of her and have bullied her, which is unusual for a manager. They have shouted down at her, leaving her feel intimidated, and do other things like not ask her how her weekend was or maybe ask the rest of the team what they are doing for lunch and ignore her.

It's not nice to watch people make things difficult for her when she's the same rights to career progression as them.

By anon339498 — On Jun 24, 2013

In December 2012, I took a drastic step that I knew would set off a chain of events that would make my life unbearable at my workplace, but I had no concept of how powerless I would become. I was shocked that the subtle bully could weave their charms to make me look bad and them the victim. And yet I could not tell work colleagues my side of what was being done to me, because then I would be as bad as the bully/bullies.

So I was told by my boss to not respond, walk into work with your head held high while at the same time that group of women are sabotaging my working relationships, and a career that has spawned a couple of decades, and at the same time I was nearly vomiting as I was going to work each shift and my heart is racing double than what it should be.

I said no more to friendships with work colleagues and that alienated staff who participated in malicious work gossip, women who sought empowerment from posting nasty, cryptic posts about colleagues to their walls, and who kept private blogs that bred toxicity about colleagues. I broke the cardinal sin of walking away from these people and they won't let me go without destroying me mentally or until I resign.

Oh, how stupid I was to believe it was good being friends with a large group of middle age women at work. No amount of makeup or hair dye can hide evil in its worst form when bored middle age women band together. Each and every time I am exposed to these women, it conjures up the word mafia. I take my hat off to them as they are not of ugly appearance, some are quite intelligent and they have somehow recruited other staff, who I am sure are ignorant of their true behavior. It's a lonely path when you stand up to them, because no one wants to get involved for fear of being put through what I am going through.

I am still standing firm at work after seven months, but it has taken a toll. My work is extremely busy, but on top of that I have to dot my I's and cross my T's, as they will be the first to report any minor mistake due to my past meticulous work ethic.

There is no point confronting these people as the main leader is very free with uncouth language, something I witnessed many years ago when she became estranged from her mother. The text messages she sent to her mother were of the foulest nature, but she showed them to the group like they were a trophy. Fortunately, she is predictable and I learned that after spending many years as a confidant in this group, as I saw her pattern of behavior time and time again until I could not stand it anymore. Breaking free was going to be arduous and silence was the way to go.

I first received a barrage of text messages until the “f” word was used. I knew then when I read that word that there was no going back and the path from there on in was going to be rough. This I predicted. Then it was threats of sending the police to my house for a reason I still cannot believe – the reason she gave because I wouldn't reply to her messages. Then I predicted the cryptic posts to her facebook wall. And right on cue, she started a relentless series of posts over a two week period. I was helpless. All I could do was read and watch my colleagues being sucked into this charade. But what it did was mess with my head, as I started losing sleep due to constantly watching what else was being written on facebook. Then I cut and pasted all of those comments because all I could think was evidence. But sneaky as she was, she never wrote my name, but it was an instant chain reaction and thus got the sympathy platform. Staff would read her posts and you knew they were contacting her behind the scenes where she fill their heads with who knows what garbage. Then they would write "we love you (name withheld)"..., "You're a lovely person (name withheld)". She would post the me, me, me garbage to her wall: "I'm so unhappy blah, blah, blah” and it would start again.

Do you know how hard it was for me to not comment and just watch it unfold? I use to be a tough, independent woman and I thought I could ride this out, but it got to me. I just relentlessly cut and pasted the garbage as it was appearing on my PC screen. I shook my head on many occasions at good people at my work being sucked in by her lies.

Fortunately, my place of employment provided services so I could speak to someone when I felt my mind was spiraling out of control and the best thing was that I sought their help in the first few weeks. They eventually got me to delete all work colleagues from my friends list, including the bullies.

I deactivated facebook 12 months ago because of these women and I regret reactivating it in December of last year, but curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see what she would write as she has done this to colleagues in the past. I still had access to their private blog and boy, have they been busy with toxic conversations! One colleague last year had complained to our boss about the ringleader's bullying and there I saw the depth of bullying against that staff person. I have discussed it with management, but I have had very little support, since they say it's a private blog. They've said, basically in not so many words, that I must silently deal with this. However, they did put out a newsletter regarding code of conduct and usage of social media.

I realize its a helpless situation to be in, as the next step is taking out a grievance through our union and that's when things would really turn ugly and in the end, it's my word against her and her group of support.

I have not taken stress leave, but have taken annual leave more frequently, and I do activities that make me feel good. I just returned to work and find that a photo of a camel on my locker has been removed that had been there for several years and my staff photo has disappeared from the notice board. Too much of a coincidence. Then this woman with her malicious tongue has gone into overdrive again concerning the girls who reported her bullying them last year. Pure venom has spilled from her veins yet again as there is a senior position about to be advertised. She has been knocked back from this position on many occasion and this has fueled her in the past. I've been told Karma will win in the end but in the meantime there is no end date for Karma.

There is a lot of education now for young people at school regarding social media, but the world has forgotten its needed urgently for adults. When will the path for workplace bullying be simplified where the victim is not destroyed in putting these people? Why should the victim have to resign in order to maintain sanity?

By anon325157 — On Mar 14, 2013

You never think that you will experience bullying, especially when you are 50. But age does not matter. Nor does gender. I am a man. I have never been bullied before, but it happened to me with a female manager. Everything you have all said hits home for me. It has been three years now and I have still not recovered. She did a number on me and others as well. I never reported it. I never missed a day, and I documented much of it. I also confronted her, reading out a statement about bullying, and that I wanted her to stop. She took it further after that and turned this into my problem. Typical. Bullies make you question everything. They take over your work, claim it as their own, and take credit. They give you stress and in the year and half that this bully was tormenting me, I developed skin cancer.

You question whether you are the one to blame. They act in bizarre ways, like kids in a sandbox. The first day she took over the manager role, she made all of the employees take a test to indicate what type of personality we had. She separated the “weak” ones from her friends, drawing clear lines in the sand.

When questioned, she could hardly speak. She would quiver and get very mad, and strike out with crazy comments. There are so many stories of how she bullied me and others. She was sweet as pie to her bosses, who, by the way, are also females, and are bullies in their own right.

I could write a book about all this. You would all be able to relate. These bullies are experts. The have spent their lives perfecting this and will never loose or change. Please don’t turn your back on these people. Document everything. I never told anyone for fear of my job, but also because I am a man that was bullied by a woman. I was ashamed.

Another bad thing was that people actually backed her up. Even her boss (a woman) backed her because she hired her. The union was powerless and HR was worse, backing her stories without even asking me my side. It is a helpless feeling at times.

By anon324407 — On Mar 10, 2013

I was bullied as an intern by a female supervisor who took all her frustrations out on me. She yelled at me like I was 12 years old at times. One example of her impatience: She once began some instructions then stopped talking. Thinking she was done, I reached for what she said to do, then she said stop and wait for the rest of her instructions -- like I am supposed to read her mind!

I wasn’t doing well and she ended up failing me, but she was not a good teacher. She spoke softly at times and I misheard her, which led to break down in communication (her fault). Other times, when she said something I admitted I didn’t understand, and she wouldn’t repeat it. She didn’t want to teach, I know, and she was miserable in her job. She made me feel like an unwanted nuisance many times.

She got so impatient near the end of my internship that she would shout at me, leave in a huff and slam the door. A new girl seemed to notice her bullying when I was trying to clarify something she said. But this woman, I know, wouldn’t have done anything to speak up because she was new. At least she noticed and seemed surprised and that is somewhat soothing for me. The others in this department weren’t so undermining and impatient and seemed to enjoy my presence.

I know she was miserable in her job, because later I discovered she was leaving for a new position. I knew she was miserable before, but this just confirmed it!

What I hate about my actions in this: not saying anything to stand up for myself, but instead talking to the manager. I was too scared to confront the bully directly. I wonder though, if this supervisor told this manager untrue things about me, like I was fresh or something. I was very meek and quiet.

Since I failed the internship, I had to repeat it someplace else. These people were welcoming. They wondered what I was doing here (because I was doing well) and seemed to understand it was a personality conflict. Even one told me after reading this bully’s evaluation that this person was being too harsh. Hearing this was very comforting.

But now a year later: I have since graduated university doing well and passing the board exam I had to take. She can never take it away from me! I am having a hard time finding employment and have not been hired by the company where I did the internship, and I wonder if the bully situation is the reason. But there are many other places out there even if the economy is tight and people seem to want more experience.

After applying for a job where I did my internship and not being hired, people tell me it is this facility’s loss (if this is why I was not hired), because they spent the time training and teaching me. They were under no obligation to hire me, but I thought I fit in well otherwise. But there are other places to work, too. I must say I did well at this place overall but they say to me they want more experience but hire other new grads. Again, their loss in their money invested.

She has affected me emotionally and somewhat physically, but I am trying hard to heal. I will be damned to let her win, because as I said, I passed, and she won’t ever be able to take it away from me.

Like others have posted of bullies, it is their inferior feelings. This woman needs professional help. I wish she would get it. At times, I wonder if she will repeat this behavior to another person she despises. It’s absolutely pathetic of this supervisor to bully an intern (she was nice to everyone else but me). It’s like she had a personal problem with me and wanted to ruin my dreams (never met her before this internship).

It’s horrible for a supervisor to bully an employee (new or seasoned), but it is 10x worse to bully an intern. It goes to show the type of tyrant she truly was.

To end bullying in the workplace, check out the WBI legislative campaign. Lots of helpful research. They are trying to support a healthy workplace. I am not paid by them by any means.

Also, someone asked how to stop bullying in workplace. What if we were able to have small video-cameras with audio attached ourselves to prove this bad behavior without the bully’s knowledge? Is this legal? If not, it should be. Documenting each incident is not enough and too time-consuming especially having to relive it.

Other posts are really helpful to know we are not alone. Just trying to hang in there, and hope others are doing the same!

By anon319402 — On Feb 12, 2013

I am in the process of making a formal complaint at work about three ladies in our office who are bullies. It has gone on for five years. They have been warned about it verbally when I complained about two years ago, but it is now worse than ever. It does not help that these three ladies and our office manager are best friends away from work. They got wind of my complaint and already are not talking to me. It it worth going through with the complaint?

By anon319188 — On Feb 11, 2013

I was bullied at a non-profit by the executive director and her very close friend who happened to be the bookkeeper for over six months before I finally resigned last week. There was a totally inappropriate relationship there. The funny thing is the ED was always posting on FB that she was being bullied by people. Our intern this past summer nicknamed her "Crazy Sauce".

The fact was that she had a staff of nearly 50 women in fear for their jobs. I have never seen higher staff turnover except in telemarketing because of the workplace bullying taking place by those at the top. It was the most vicious, backstabbing, crazy workplace ever and I have worked with over 900 women before, so not my first time working with a majority female staff.

It's not women. It's just damaged people unleashing their own pain and suffering in an attempt to rid themselves of their poison. Bullies rarely see themselves as bullies and feel like victims, which they play over and over in their minds.

By anon315809 — On Jan 25, 2013

I am so glad to see I am not alone. My current manager was the former owner's executive assistant. She is now my manager due to an acquisition and my former manager's resignation. The history between us is complex.

Since everyone knew she was a bully (a.k.a. difficult) I had some coworker camaraderie. Now she is has complained to HR (another bully) that I am incompetent, unproductive and unable to perform my job duties. This came about from being left out of planning meetings, then being assigned project manager. She also withheld crucial information and documents.

The HR rep told me I was a "detriment" to the company. This is after five years of employment, consistent and generous pay increases and excellent performance evaluations. I have not only taken on projects nobody else wanted, but also created procedures resulting in recovery of over $700,000 -- most of this due to the bully's negligence.

Four weeks ago, she informed me to get ready to hand over all my job duties to her. I went to the VP and she confirmed the bully is absorbing my position, and I am expected to train Ms Bully before I leave.

By anon314976 — On Jan 21, 2013

Female bullying is more subtle. It was through her male minions writing to confirm their instructions that I discovered how the female chief executive of a government agency had targeted me. She wanted me out of her organization and was happy to misuse the management process to achieve her aim.

This took years, cost the organization thousands and wasted all that I had to offer. I am now employed elsewhere using those skills.

By anon314846 — On Jan 20, 2013

I view bullies as very weak. The worst kind of bully, to me, is the bully who tries to turn it around to make it seem like the victim is the one starting the trouble, when you don't put up with their mess.

I currently work with a bully and she is very insecure. I ignore her. The sad thing about it is she has allies who follow behind her and I view them as weak also, because they don't have the strength to think for themselves. I seen her as pathetic.

By anon313049 — On Jan 10, 2013

This is the reason why I try very diligently work on my own. I am in my second phase of life and had to deal with a lot and I mean a lot of sick, unhappy people. Workers used to have an outlet to at least go to and make a complaint about someone's ill manners in the workplace.

Now all the jobs that have long term responsibilities are taken. We no longer are satisfied to work for the dollar. For women like me there is no ladder to climb. I have a school loan and no one considers the fact that I wanted to get an education for my own respect. The first day on the job people act like little judgmental craps and don't even care. Everything is one-sided nowadays and it is horrible!

By anon311438 — On Jan 01, 2013

My boss is an intelligent lady. The problem is she doesn't have a strong persona, she's physically a petite weak woman and gives off an aura of being weak. She's afraid of some people in the office, particularly women with stronger personalities and once, a noted a younger manager at the same level but much bigger, called her a good girl. To me, this was condescending and showing my boss to be inferior. She has stated that she's too weak for tough physical activity and once a team member called her a weakling and she agreed.

A few months ago, we were advised of a task the team would now have to carry out. A few ladies on the team with strong personalities emailed saying they weren't doing it, and my boss caved in and ran straight to higher authorities to get justification, whereas she should have advised it had to be done until she met with other departments to discuss the project.

My fear is that further down the line,if it hasn't happened yet she'll find herself being easily bullied by women higher and lower than her in rank.

By anon302874 — On Nov 12, 2012

I really wish this kind of stuff would stop. It has now become five minutes of "Let me harass you because the powers that be gave my mind the notion." I am so very tired of this.

By anon302600 — On Nov 10, 2012

Why is bullying such a difficult subject to tackle? Why is bullying of women by women, especially, so trivialised, and under-recognized? Why are gender-stereotypes attributed to bullies, suggesting that men, not women, bully, suggesting that bullying has something to do with "masculinity" and not "femininity"? What is it about our society that a) permits bullying to persist, and b) seems to want to minimize the lasting damage done by bullies, pretending that bullying is not nearly so hurtful and distressing as it actually is?

Anybody can become a bully, although there is a strong likelihood that individuals with specific personality traits, and/or backgrounds, are more prone to becoming bullies. Bullying is about an imbalance of power. It is about an individual (or group) who enjoys the sensation of making somebody else feel helpless and vulnerable. Bullying is done by people who lack empathy, understanding and tolerance. Bullies like to feel they can exploit another person's weakness, to their own advantage. They wish to feel superior. They may be controlling, aggressive, manipulative, deceitful, or all of those qualities. Bullies may have been bullied themselves, and become bullies in order to "regain control" and to "feel better". They may operate alone, or with accomplices to "egg them on". They may bully openly, or they may hide behind a fake "front", pretending to be pleasant, when really they are not. Sometimes, they may even hide their connections with bullying, by distancing themselves from the victim, and manipulating other people into doing the open bullying for them. Bullies can, as it is clear, present a wide range of behaviors.

Still, the one real thing that all bullies have in common is their effect on the victim. They seek to hurt somebody, leaving the victim embarrassed, ashamed, frightened, upset, shocked, confused, traumatised. Whatever the victim feels as a result of being bullied, it will not be pleasant. That is the legacy of bullying.

I have grown up with bullying as a part of my whole life. I know, too, that females can be just as bullying as males.

My bullying experiences started as early as primary school. I had to start school a year early (aged 3), because my mother has mental health problems, and could not cope. So, the Local Education Authority (Council) agreed for me to start school early. However, because the law states that a child must stay in school until age 16, I was forced to repeat the year I started early, to wait for my own age group to join the class. So, I did my first year at school twice! This left me bored and frustrated, as I was not being educated properly for a whole year, and was academically far ahead of the children who joined my class. I think that was the source of all the bullying.

Other children notice when you are "different". So, other children in my class noticed that I had a) started school before them, and b) had a mother who was mentally unwell. Most of the bullying was related to this. They also noticed that I was academically advanced for my age.

The bullying took several forms, and was initially from both boys and girls. It included calling me names, such as "Gippo" because of the way I looked, or "swot" and "Teacher's pet" because I got good grades. It also included criticizing my family, and calling my mother names. My mother was labeled a "nutter", and somebody called my family "corny". I also remember a different form of bullying, which was where there were children who would be my friends in school, but not even acknowledge me outside school. They never wanted to play with me, invite me to their houses, or come to my house. It was as though they were ashamed to know me.

This continued all through primary school, and was never tackled by the teaching staff. At the time, I tended just to brush it off, as I still had a lot of friends, and I filled my spare time with hobbies. Also, my grades did not feel like such a big deal because even though being academic singled me out, I was still in the same big class as every other child, of differing ability levels.

Things really changed the year before I went to secondary (high) school at age 11. High schools do not have mixed ability classes; they grade children according to academic ability. In the U.K., we take an exam called the "Eleven Plus". This decides what academic group we will be placed in at high school.

I remember missing nearly two full years of primary school due to having surgery. One was when I was aged about 8, and the other was the year before high school. So, I returned to sit my Eleven Plus exam, after missing a lot of time at primary school. This was hard, as many of my old friends had formed new friendships when I came back. However, I still had a small group of about three or four really close girl friends who I stayed in touch with. These girls were to turn out to be my worst bullies for the next five years of my life in high school.

I sat the Eleven Plus and did really well, despite the time I had missed from school. This meant I was placed in the top academic group. My "friends" were furious about this, as they were not placed in the same group. They were placed between one and three academic levels below. Instantly, allegations were made that I "cheated". This was not just from my "friends" but from their parents, and parents of other children in my class.

I had to face a year of allegations that I had unfairly used a "home tutor" (I had not); That I "could not really be that clever, as my mum was a spacker" (not true, but very hurtful). That I had been "swotting up while in hospital" (did people really believe this was what a sick girl would be doing?).

The nastiness never really died down after that. All the way through high school these girls who had been my friends seemed intent on making my life a misery. One of them openly told me, during the last week at primary school, that she did not want to be my friend any more. I asked her why, and she refused to tell me. I remember her making me cry.

All of these girls attended the same high school as me, so they were well placed to continue the bullying. At least two continued to pretend to be my friends. However, they became horribly jealous and possessive every time I made a new friend. They also refused to associate with any new friends I made who were in the same academic group as me. They openly labeled us as "swotty", "nerdy" and called us other names. They also accused me of being "snobby" and "spoiled", trying to suggest that by making friends with girls in the same group as me, I was "showing off that I was cleverer than them".

During this time, I had eggs and flour thrown on me. I had my hair, which I wore in a long plait, tied to the back of the school bus seat, so that when I stood up, it pulled my hair and I was trapped. I was "sent to coventry" selectively by my old friends, who would sometimes exclude me from activities, telling me that I had new friends and that they "didn't see why I wanted to spend time with them".

The girl who had "called off" her friendship with me attempted to get back into the circle of friends I had, but then became aggressive towards me. She was always trying to cause fights between me and my new friends. My old friends refused to acknowledge my new friends. Unpleasant gossip was spread behind my back, mostly to the effect that I was a "geek" or a "swot" and that my mother was crazy. I often got to hear these whispers; it was almost as if the girls deliberately raised their voices slightly if they saw me coming. I had never imagined girls could be so cliquey!

The bullying did begin to affect me. I became quiet and withdrawn, and very sullen. I remember losing interest in my appearance, and swinging between undereating and overeating. I really believed that other girls at school hated me, and thought I was ugly and stupid. I started dressing Gothic, smoking and listening to aggressive music. I think it made me feel rebellious, and was a way of fighting back against the bullies, many of whom seemed genuinely shocked by my change. I started dating older lads, many of them goths or punks, and totally withdrew from most of my school friends, associating with much older friends outside school instead.

I also deliberately started to drop my grades. Not really bad, but just enough for some of the girls to stop calling me a "swot". I think this was a big mistake, because then my teachers started accusing me of laziness! That really hurt, as I'd hoped my teachers might notice how much I was struggling, might notice the bullying, and help me. They did not!

By Sixth Form, I was still getting high grades (high enough to continue to annoy my main bullies) but I now hated school and hated being around the bullies. I had a massive row with my parents about continuing my education. I was prepared to drop out, if it meant being free of the bullies. My parents insisted I continue higher education. I felt sick every day before school, hated being in school, and just wanted to shut myself in my bedroom as soon as I got home. I was sick of being called a "swot", sick of being singled out for my grades, for my appearance, for my family problems, for my mother's illness. All of these things followed me around from school to school, and the bullies kept using them as ammunition! I did not wish to continue at Sixth Form, as I was terrified that the bullying would go on.

To make it worse, none of my teachers had ever intervened to stop the bullying. My parents literally forced me to go to Sixth Form. This was the worst thing ever, as it created a new problem. Two of my old bullies did not get the grades to go to Sixth Form, so it seemed their bullying might stop. However, one of them (who had been my closest friend up to this point, as well as a bully behind my back) was now so furious and upset that I might be leaving her to go on to a different education or career, that she just seemed to freak out.

I remember she told my parents all sorts of lies about my new friends, and about a boy I was dating at the time (the son of my old school Geography teacher). She claimed that I spent more time with these people than with her, and that I was deliberately excluding her. She also told her parents the same things, and seemed to get her parents to believe that I was actually bullying her. She kept whining about how upset she was that I had "dropped her", that I never "saw her", that she was a "gooseberry" when she met up with me, that she "never got any girl time with me.” She also seemed really angry that I would be going to a Sixth Form that she could not attend.

She told all these things and more to her friends behind my back. She obviously spread this information to my old bullies, and now the bullying started outside school. This was actually worse, as it was completely hidden from teachers, and I never knew when or where it might occur. I found myself eventually cut off from all my old friends, who sided with her. My new friends suddenly became the targets of bullying, too. Some of them even appeared scared to continue to associate with me.

This reached a climax when this girl's mother bumped into me on the street outside the corner shop one day and, totally out of the blue, started screaming at the top of her voice at me. She was screaming at me, blaming me for all the things I was supposed to have done to hurt her daughter. I could not even get a word in edgeways, and I had no idea where any of this had come from. I just wanted to run away and cry. The bullying only stopped finally when I moved from the area to go to university.

By then, I was painfully shy, painfully thin, had no self-confidence and ashamed of getting good grades. I did not try hard in class any more. I wore loads of black, smoked, and partied heavily! I had a terrible relationship with my parents. I was utterly terrified of authority figures and did not trust them because teachers had proven unhelpful in the past. I was scared of making new friends, and dreaded what other people, especially girls, might think of me.

Since graduating from university, life has been mixed experiences. My mother remains unwell, and her mental health problems are still a source of concern. She is my mother; I will always feel concern about her illness. Surely that is only natural.

I have had some very positive times, undertaking postgraduate study being one. Mum and dad have become much more open about mum's illness and its effects, and how to manage it better, so that's another positive. I've worked in a fantastic job as a social worker in Medium Secure Services, and being there to help other people is one of the best feelings in the world. My manager and team were so supportive, so intelligent and encouraging, that I truly think they helped me to better myself. In hindsight, I wish I'd never moved on from that job!

I have a truly wonderful husband, who stuck with me through all life's highs and lows. We've stuck together, helping my husband through the loss of his father, coping with several house moves, and all the other things that come with being a married couple. We've coped together, too, with the knowledge that I have a condition that affects my ability to have children naturally.

I have the love of my husband, I have unconditional affection from our adored pets (all rescued from re-homing centres), I am happy with my house, my garden, my qualifications – not so much with my looks – but I'm getting there!

There have been lows, too! Not once, but twice again I have experienced bullying. Both were incidents at work, and both involving the same narrow-minded and prejudiced judgments about my family and me. Both involved malicious gossip, hostility, undermining, criticism, setting me up to fail. Both involved personal comments about my appearance and lifestyle. Both involved false allegations (one of which was, quite categorically, made by a female colleague). It is sad to think that women have again been the source of my bullying at work. It is sad to think that women can be bullies, but they can!

Women can be just as prejudiced, vicious, cruel, vindictive, manipulative, aggressive and offensive as anyone else. Besides, female bullies actually seem to excel at certain types of hurtful behavior. Many female bullies seem to actively enjoy spreading malicious gossip, telling tales and making things up about their victims. They seem to operate a sort of "smear campaign"! They also seem to enjoy far more subtle, and therefore more easily hidden, forms of bullying than men. Female bullies seem much more apt to use ostracism ("sending to coventry"), criticism of a person's appearance, and criticism of a person's choice of friends than do males. They also seem more inclined to base their bullying on things that are, in reality, utterly frivolous, such as jealousy over who is prettiest, and jealousy over clothes or boyfriends.

From what I have seen through personal experience, bullying by males seems to be mainly in the form of open and aggressive competition (threats and hints at fights). It seems linked to male bravado. It also seems to be quite short lived.

Female bullying appears to be far more subtle, but also far more precise and concentrated, almost as though the female bully is much more adept at actually finding out just what it is that will really hurt and upset her victim. Female bullying often includes verbal assaults and emotional torment, and this can go on for years. Female bullying seems to be something that can be dragged out, and ends up being long term. Perhaps this is because very few female bullies actually use physical tactics. They may threaten them, but seem to avoid using them, unless as a "last resort". If they do use physical violence, it never seems to be at such a level as to be actually recognized as violent by observers.

Males may punch and kick, often leading to the bullying being stopped much sooner. Females may verbally abuse, spread gossip, slap, pull hair, nip, shove, which are all things that seem less violent than male behavior. But when they go on for a long time, they are devastating. The damage done by a malicious rumour can, in the long term, be far worse than a punch. Rumours breed more lies, and these can affect every aspect of a victim's life.

I cannot emphasize how important it is that female bullying is recognized, and treated just as severely as male. In its own way, it is just as evil, vicious and devastating. Nobody should have to put up with being bullied, and bullies should not be allowed to get away with it.

I truly hope that everyone who has written in here with their own bad experiences have been able to find some sort of help and support. Bullies are dangerous; they ruin lives. Their actions should be stopped. (Sorry this is so long!)

By anon296801 — On Oct 12, 2012

I was recently terminated from a job in which I was a victim of bullying. Apparently, the position in which I applied for was never posted within the company. I was hired for Collection Specialist with ARC to work at the donor site. I was informed by a coworker that I must have pulled some strings for this position because there were a lot of other employees who had been working with this company for years that wanted it but weren't given the opportunity.

By anon296354 — On Oct 10, 2012

I have had a couple of female bully bosses. The first time was a surprise. We were instant friends in the interview (a red flag). She owned the company with her husband. I noticed passive aggressiveness from day one, and didn't know how to deal with it. I worked as long as I could without it affecting my work, but it was virtually impossible, since she was pretty much in control of everything in the business. I felt I needed the job and wanted to just ignore the problems, but they just got worse. I persevered, but by the time I quit things had gotten bad, and it did not end well for me. I still get angry when I think about it.

The second time I went in with a similar situation from the interview (I have discovered women who are too much your "friend" in the interview is a bad thing). My first day I slipped right back into being that affected person. It was like a repeat of the previous situation. I left immediately without notice, knowing I would not be able to deal with that again.

By anon295209 — On Oct 05, 2012

I'm currently on my third workplace bully: all three have been female, and two are minorities. One person has a high school degree, one has a master's and one has a doctorate. The common denominator is that they are all insecure, which is not my problem or a problem that I have to solve.

At my first job, I did nothing and just endured the bullying, which was very bad for my health. At my second job, I tried documenting/reporting all the interactions, which didn't help me at all. At this job, I've tried forgiving/keeping a positive attitude. Guess which strategy works best for me? Forgiving/keeping a positive attitude seems to infuriate (as Oscar Wilde said) my current bully.

From my second week on the job when she told me, "I don't like you, and I didn't want to hire you" to now, my strategy has confused her. I have only gone to HR once when an accusation she made was totally ridiculous. Of course, my bully is buddies with our department's HR adviser, so I'm sure my complaint went straight to file 13, but it felt good to report her.

With my first bully, I outlasted her, and with my second bully, I quit that job to change careers. I really love this work, now, so I decided to try keeping a positive attitude and forgive my bully for her bad behavior. As I said earlier, the bullies' problems are neither mine nor mine to solve.

I go to work, do my job, and keep a positive attitude about my life. Using this strategy, I've had the people and resources I need each day to keep moving forward.

By anon290343 — On Sep 09, 2012

At the age of 50, I am just finding out why I have no social life, friends, or men in my life. I was bullied by my mother. The world always seemed like a surreal place from the position she kept me in most of my life: isolated, in fear, controlled and confused even when I lived on my own. I remember always feeling that I needed to get away from her. After years of living this way, the older I got, the more something screamed inside me that this wasn't right. The stronger and wiser I became, the more manipulative and intimidating she became. When I returned home this last time, my mother took ill. I had just started back to college to obtain my bachelors after recently receiving my AA degree in the legal field. She passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. I kept waiting for some meaningful mother-daughter words like I had been my whole life. Being a born-again Christian, I realized that I needed to forgive her to free myself.

I am a very hard worker, and like to work, but can't deal with especially female bullies, and there's always at least one at every job. And it seems like they can just smell me coming, and for that reason alone I have had numerous jobs. My mother saw me as weak, unlike my younger brother and her, who she saw as fighters; they have both been on their job for years.

Since her death, I went back to work as a nursing assistant because now it’s just me and my step dad and I needed to help pay bills/ I had to save some money because I turned 51 last month. I lean on the Lord to help me get to a point where I can make it on my own. I had no experience in the job I graduated. I got a job right after I finished getting certified as a nursing assistant paying top dollar in the field because someone recommended me after I did my training in their facility, and it was a blessing. Needless to say, the job was hard, but I did well and was liked by some of my co-workers, staff and patients, but of course, I became a target of a clique of girls who came after me subtly at first then came in for the attack. I held my ground for a while, but when things started getting ugly, I left and said no job is worth this. Upon my departure, I talked with management, and she said some other people had reported the same thing, and how could she help, but I figured she had been there 20 years and the bullies ten. She had to be aware of their tactics and would rather deal with the turnover than confront the clique.

I have four jobs now just to make up for the one I had, and two of my jobs are with that one female who looks like trouble. I now work in home care most of the time where it’s just the client and me.

I know a lot of the problem is me. It's an ingrained lack of self confidence, but every day I try to undo the negative feelings of rejection and fear of confrontation. I hardly dare to use the word coward, but sometimes that’s what I feel like. I don’t know what exactly it is I fear: the confrontation or literally fighting. I haven’t had good experiences with either one at home or growing up in school. My mother and I did not fight, but no one could out-talk her.

One should not have to go through this on their job. Bullies bully their way through the system, and we who realize taking care of our life is a full time job actually work through the day and make the company function. I guess that’s why we are in the position our country is in today -- because of bullies. We definitely need to pass a bully law at the workplace and everywhere else. The bullies are not the strong. They are the weak and lazy people who have no life because if they did, they would not be interfering with everybody else's life and trying to make them miserable like them.

My dream is to get my paralegal certificate and work for the law office in California that is fighting to make bullying in the workplace against the law. That would be my passion. I grow stronger on my walk with the Lord every day. I have to remember that when I get in that place on the job when I am feeling threatened, that the Lord brought me this far and if he gave me the job he will uphold me in it or make a way out for me if need be. He is the Shepherd who takes care of his sheep. I must trust him. He brought me this far.

By anon288389 — On Aug 30, 2012

The same happened with me. The lady manager at my workplace manipulated the clients with whom I worked. Unfortunately, I had to leave the job without an offer in hand because that lady started spreading wrong rumors along with other women co-colleagues and I was almost left jobless.

By anon274262 — On Jun 11, 2012

Bullying should be considered a crime.

By anon267332 — On May 09, 2012

I had gone through the same bullying with a female co-worker. I am like 17 years older than her. She is like 20 or 21 years old now. She thought she was Miss Know it all. Suddenly she was telling me that I didn't know what I am doing. I had been working at this job for two years before she started working for the company. I knew what I was doing. Management didn't have any problems with my work ethic.

She used to suck up and complained to the boss about my job performance and attitude. I had made several complaints to the management about her rude attitude and they did nothing about it. I was the one getting yelled at and was told that I need to change my attitude. So I finally quit my job after working for them almost four years in 2011. Nothing was done about the bullying.

The company finally did something about it right after I did quit. Other people started to complained about her rude attitude and they started to watch her. They did realize that I was telling the truth. A bully will put the blame or fault on their victim so that they won't have to admit their wrongdoing. She cussed at me on Facebook a month ago. I told her that it was very immature and disrespectful. I wasn't going to deal with the bullying on Facebook. I had never bothered or talk to her on Facebook right after I gave up my job.

It took me a while to get over this bullying and emotional issues from the workplace. I am doing better now. I am ready to work again and make some money.

By anon262494 — On Apr 20, 2012

I had a female team leader who basically made my working life hell. I had panic attacks with the sheer thought of having to talk to her because I feared what she would have a go at me for next.

It was suggested at one point that she was jealous and concerned that I would take her job (not likely. I didn't want it).

I found out that she had been talking about me to the other staff and causing them to think that my skills could harm others, even going on to alleging assault toward a client.

When I heard this I refused to attend work the next day, called a meeting with my boss, who was due to fly out, contacted HR, was canceled and sent to counseling on the company's money. I also got my union involved, whom I had been talking to about the team leader anyway, and their question was, "Do you want this job that badly?" and this came with the suggestion to get out while you still have the will to live.

HR collected all of the complaints made by other staff. I stated I couldn't because of the threat of assault and they said if we need yours then we will collect it later, but there is enough here.

Now I have left, her behavior is still the same but she claims it was all my doing and that I had it out for her.

My psychiatrist said she was suffering psychosis and should be receiving counseling, not me.

By anon156507 — On Feb 27, 2011

I am also a government attorney with a queen bee. She is manipulative and threatened by me -- she admitted that before I arrived!

I have a few allies who feel as I do, but I seem to be taking it to heart. Unfortunately, the environment is taking its toll on me at home and at work. It takes so much effort to put on a happy face when most of my peers won't even look me in the eye for fear of being associated with me.

QBs tactics are transparent, but none of the higher ups are willing to take her on. I am a baby boomer and horrified by the nastiness of this woman.

By anon145973 — On Jan 25, 2011

I have the same experience of being bullied. I work in the government workplace and my boss is a part of the executive leadership team and I am a lower level employee. So I think my boss views me as weak because of my age, race and position.

I have been harassed about leaving my work area to attend other company related business. In addition, she made professionally tainting comments on my yearly evaluation -- a lot based on hearsay and outright lies. I agree the best way to handle the bullying situation is to report it HR and keep detailed notes of the behavior, because if you get fired by your boss for a bogus reason then you will have a chance for legal recourse vs being fired and no one ever know the real reason.

Female bosses do tend to be more likely to micromanage even the best employees. Often, speaking out makes the bully upset, but who cares how they feel when you are fearful of losing your job and can't sleep at night? I agree with the last post -- how do you defend yourself in the workplace when clearly you are being attacked?

To fight back, I went to HR and filed formal harassment complaints against my boss. And with all the evidence I have in writing, it will call attention to this socially unacceptable behavior.

By anon143576 — On Jan 17, 2011

Please help me! I'm good at my job and am getting fantastic results at work. My boss is very happy with me and even offered me a pay rise at my recent job review.

Normally I'd be over the moon, but due to a Queen Bee as described here at work I feel miserable. I've tried to deal with it by ignoring her behavior, avoiding her work hours etc., but her covert actions, especially social exclusion, gossip and unpredictable tantrums still make me nervous and feel sick.

I'm ten years older than she and in a more senior position, so I know there should not be a problem, but I feel I'm just not coping with it.

By anon134174 — On Dec 13, 2010

This an interesting topic and one that evokes thoughts and opinions from my cranium.

In my experience, working with female bosses has never left me with a great experience. Most of those I have ever worked with tend to over-compensate for their low self esteem through manipulative and type A behavior at work.

I have always enjoyed a male boss for the simple reason he leaves you to go do your job without micromanaging. Now, I point out, this is only my experience. I count four female bosses and three of those were over the top in their micro management of the people.

It might be interesting to write a follow up story about why female bosses feel the need to over manage and push good workers away. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

By anon134146 — On Dec 13, 2010

I am currently dealing with this in my workplace. I was victimized by a female workplace bully who ultimately took my job. I was the boss and confronted her about her bullying, but she was crafty enough to build and form coalitions with constituent groups and other employees spurring them to action on demand until it finally cost me my job.

I talked to leadership, HR, and everyone that should have helped but she was so masterful that she discredited me. When I confronted her and she found out that I was on to her the bullying intensified until it got to the point that I was reluctant to confront her fearing it would escalate even more since no one had taken my reports seriously to this point.

That's when she took over. I am so humiliated that I hate the thoughts of going to work. It is hurting my personal relationships and damaged my professional reputation terrible. I even reported the problem to our Civil Rights Office and they wouldn't investigate it. Female bullies are clever. They put on the "nice" or the "tears" when confronted and disarm those who do not know them. My bully even alleged to be "protecting" me to superiors when questioned which really threw them off. I have now been demoted, salary cut and have been assigned one project, seated in a small room with no contact with others. It is all that I can do to stay awake through the day.

Prior to this, I ran a quarter billion dollar operation with 30 employees represented the agency on the Executive Management Team and National Events. After 20 plus years with this employer I have been discredited by a contract employee that "I" gave a full time position when her contract expired. Shame on me. Be careful who you help. They don't always return the favor.

By anon125644 — On Nov 10, 2010

If you are being bullied at work, the place to go is the HR dept.

If there is no official dept. often there is an HR person hired on a contract basis.

If anyone asks why you are going to HR you can always make up an excuse, like there "seemed to be a small error with my 401K plan".

If your bully boss hasn't told you who the HR person is and how to contact them you may need to go to a higher up for that info.

HR should be a useful sounding board helping you clarify what is happening, what clear boundaries should be in your workplace and how you can regain a sense of healthy self esteem for the productivity you bring to the office and the contributions you make.

Bullying is disruptive and you have every right to a workplace where you can do you job without being bothered by someone else's personal issues or limitations.

By anon110174 — On Sep 10, 2010

I left a high paying government job because of a female bully. The sad thing is that my boss, also a female, was also intimidated by this same woman. The boss allowed the bullying to continue because she was afraid of confrontation with this vicious woman.

I consequently took early retirement, which cost me big time both financially and emotionally. When I left my job, I was taking two anti-depressants and seeing a therapist in an attempt to regain my sense of self worth and to overcome the depression caused by the constant feeling of waiting for the next attack.

My boss even admitted that the bullying was taking place, but stated, "I'm afraid if I say something it will just make it worse." She went on to say that this person bullied everyone and it was just my turn.

My therapist said it was the most classic case of a hostile work environment that she had ever seen. If this can go on in a government office, it can go on anywhere. It has taken me over one and a half years to regain my emotional health enough to seek another job.

By anon99684 — On Jul 27, 2010

Wow this gave me the chills just reading it. This sums up the worst work situation I had in my life, hands down. We even nicknamed the main bully "queen bee".

I was lied on, sabotaged, and harassed by a group of females who didn't like me because our boss did. I worked in a law office and it still amazes me how men don't seem to know how to manage women very well.

I feel my boss knew what was going on but had no clue about how to handle it and had too big of an ego to act as if he didn't know how to handle it.

I finally quit a job I really liked because I couldn't take it anymore. Bullying sounds trivial and we think it only happens to kids but when it happens to you, you feel totally helpless. In school, you can just punch someone, but how do you defend yourself in the workplace?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.