Feeling Jealous of a Younger Colleague

Feeling Jealous of a Younger ColleagueWhat should you do if you’re feeling envious of a colleague who’s younger than you, seemingly unappreciative of the opportunity you’re giving her, and also — in your opinion — inappropriately flirty at networking events? Reader J wonders:

I’m a 40 yr old business development manager at an engineering firm. I’ve formed a group of female colleagues that helps with networking and business that’s getting notice in my city (like a Stiletto Mafia). A few months ago one of the key ladies in my group invited my junior engineer in my firm to join.

This engineer is funny and smart but also a gorgeous 24 yr old. Now I am torn between wanting to be a mentor and jealousy. I am jealous that she has access to this group of high powered ladies that are my friends and doesn’t seem to grateful that I’m including her. This engineer also occasionally helps with networking. It’s frustrating to attend a business event while these men are flirting with her. She isn’t overt, but she is aware of her looks and plays them up.

I’d like to drop her from the group and ask her to focus on current clients vs networking. Am I being a hypocrite?

I think you’re being honest, Reader J — a lot more than most people would be in person. I don’t think this is unusual, though; I think a lot of younger women alienate good mentors by being too entitled (like the reader who expected her boss to help her network) or arrogant at work, or, here, too focused on other parts of life like flirting. (We have offered some tips in the past on how to network with older women that may help younger readers here!)

I suspect you’re stuck with her in your group, as I think others will think you’re being petty if you drop her without solid reasons. I would also caution you to be polite and professional with her, both in her presence and when she’s not there. Don’t be short, don’t make fun of her, don’t make backhanded compliments about her clothes — just focus on networking with the others. You don’t have to be her mentor or her friend — although I hope you’d be open to it, since you do say she’s funny and smart — but I think it is professional (and mature!) to take the high road.

However, I would suggest talking with your fellow group founders about the direction of the group. Do you want to admit new members but keep the group small? There should be a formal process of some sort — at least a cursory email to the group or something like that. If your fellow members resist a formal process, I would suggest opening group activities to everyone — but forming a steering group of founders who will be the folks who determine what/when the next event is, whether there is a membership fee, and who will “represent” the group for any outreach purposes.

Readers, I have a feeling this one will be polarizing — what are your thoughts? Can you see it from Reader V’s perspective, or do you feel more for her younger colleague? 

(Pictured at top: handshake II, originally uploaded to Flickr by Álvaro Canivell.)


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  1. This is why its hard for women in the workplace. You dont even say she is overtly flirting- someone you just know that she is “aware: of her good looks. honestly you sound so bitter and jealous.

    • I am in moderation but as to the “she isn’t grateful that I am including her.” Youre not. Shes your junior engineer and someone else had to invite her because you were being bitter and petty.

    • My thoughts exactly. This is why sometimes the worst boss you can have, as a young woman, is an older woman. What a passive aggressive, jealous, mean-spirited reaction to a younger coworker.

      • Agreed. This is my nightmare as a young female attorney!! Like, why can’t you just support a younger woman who is newer to the workforce? Even if you don’t want to personally mentor her, you can’t even stand that she’s there? Wouldn’t you have wanted someone to include you in this type of opportunity? Why are you making it harder for other women!!!

        • Ugh. This just makes me so angry because I’ve seen it from female partners and because it’s just another unnecessary roadblock to career development. The OP is jealous that this younger coworker got access to networking earlier than she did. Networking (of all things…geez) is not a zero-sum game. Her access to networking does not diminish anything about the OP’s access. Besides, as a more experienced coworker, that’s your job! You pay it forward! The whole point is to help out those that come after you.

          • I am with these ladies above. I am the younger woman in this scenario- I’m 25 and a first year associate, and my 40+-year-old female partner that I work for has been a nightmare. I just don’t get it. I’m not a threat to her. My success only makes her look better. Why does she purposely look out to publicly embarrass me and comment on my very appropriate, knee length skirts for being “like, a size 2 or something”? If I’m dressing appropriately for the work place (and I am), what does the size of my suit have to do with my work product?!

            Maybe you won’t ever be best friends, but consciously looking to sabotage a young female worker simply because she is younger and hotter than you are…Really? She’s not in competition with you!!! FEMINISM FAIL!

      • Pretty age-ist, huh? The irony…

        • KateMiddletown :

          It’s looks-ist, too.

          I appreciate that OP has the balls to be honest about her feelings. Recognizing the emotions is definitely a step in the right direction.

          The PYT you’re dealing with is likely in need of your help, and perhaps at some point you could learn something from her networking skills?

          Sh*t is hard enough when you’re a young woman in the workforce.

    • Agreed. Why should the young engr be grateful to OP? For not inviting her?

      And just because OP started the networking group doesn’t mean she is the bouncer of the group. It is not an exclusive nightclub.

      The engineer must be good at her work or else she would not have been invited by the other lady.

    • Pretty Primadonna :

      Yep. Shameful that being young, smart, and attractive results in mess like this.

    • Overheard in the hallway at my office: “I could tell she was used to getting what she wants because she’s good-looking…” from one older woman to another older woman. What’s wrong with people? This is the worst.

  2. Wow. Just wow.

    ‘ I am jealous that she has access to this group of high powered ladies that are my friends and doesn’t seem to grateful that I’m including her’

    How can you be jealous of her for having access to your own group of friends- which by definition you already have access to?! You’re not jealous of her for this, you’re jealous of her for the way she looks (and presumably, taking men’s attention away from where you want it to be) and you’re being petty. Full stop. This young woman has not done anything wrong whatsoever. If she has, the reader hasn’t said so.

    As another young, and young looking, attractive, professional woman (who also sometimes gets a lot of attention from men), it unnerves and offends me deeply that another woman would flat out undermine me and my career because she was jealous of the fact that I was young and pretty.

    The reader acknowledges that the “flirting” is not “overt.” Did it ever occur to this reader that the engineer might not be “playing up” her looks, but that she might just be interacting with these men in the way they expect, on their terms, because she knows that she is young and needs to avoid alienating people in her profession? She may not want to toe the line of flirtatious behavior at all. In fact, she may be repulsed at the attention of these men she just wants to network with professionally, but feels like she needs to go with the flow.

    I know that men have flirted, called me sweetie, grabbed my arm, pressed their knees against mine, complimented my appearance in professional settings. Each instance of this turns my stomach. However, what am I going to do as a young attorney who needs people on her side? Sit there stone faced and call him out? Or am I going to smile and try to laugh it off as best I can?


    • “Jealous” is exactly what the OP describes feeling. You’re confusing jealousy with envy. OP is not envious of the PYT (well, she may be that too — of her looks, her youth, whatever). OP is jealous of PYT’s access to all these things that OP has access to, and doesn’t want to share.

      The answer to the OPs question is, “Yes, you’re being a hypocrit.” The end. Kudos for recognizing your own questionable conduct. Now cut it out.

      • ” OP is jealous of PYT’s access to all these things that OP has access to, and doesn’t want to share”

        Fair point on the differences between the words, but talk about hair splitting. She’s sooooooo jealous that she has to “share” her contacts with this woman? This makes little sense to me because she’s set up a networking group! Which is designed to share contacts! Why would she be jealous of this young engineer and not the other people in the mentoring group!? (oh, right, because this woman is young and pretty!) What ridiculousness. If she’s jealous of sharing (either because the woman is pretty and young or for any other reason) she’s even worse that I initially thought.

        And PYT? Really?

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          Yup, the repeated use of “PYT” is rubbing me the wrong way as well – what a gross, sexist, objectifying phrase.

    • OnTheHill :

      Yes to all of this, especially the last part about having to laugh off inappropriate dudes. Wow., this makes me want to read a blog by you!

  3. MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

    I think you’re being ridiculous. Sexist. Inappropriate. And the color green ill becomes you. If you cannot be a grown up about this that is your problem.

    SRSLY. She isn’t even flirting with men. She is existing in the world as an attractive woman and they are flirting with her. And you want to kick her out?

  4. You should be ashamed of yourself for sending this in, and I dont think this should have been posted. No wonder its hard for women to find women mentors with people like this in the world

    • Seriously. I’m disappointed in Kat for not coming down harder on this- she essentially validates this Reader and tells her to “take the high road.” Blechhghghg.

      • MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

        Srsly. No, Kat, this isn’t understandable or ok. And no, readers, it’s not “brave” to admit you’re really really sexist.

        • It’s not okay, but you have to admit you’re sexist in order to work on not becoming sexist. No one wants to admit to being sexist, so in that way it is ‘brave’. It’s not brave or commendable to not do something about it once you’ve recognized the problem in yourself.

          • Anonymous :

            Agree. I think people are WAY overreacting to this. Kat’s response was very measured and rational.

          • I don’t think Kat’s response was appropriate at all. She got to the correct answer (ie, don’t speak ill of her and don’t kick this woman out of the group) but for the wrong reasons (it will make you look petty to the other women in the group). Furthermore, Kat didn’t even address the fact that this woman is seeking to undermine another woman’s career because of jealousy. She blatantly assumes the young woman is “flirting”. As I said upthread, she simply validates these feelings of jealousy and desire to kick her out and fails to address or even explore the very problematic aspects of the LW’s position that have been discussed on this thread. Thank god for the comments, because I’d hate for someone to think that what Kat said was the whole universe of ideas worth considering here, or that attitudes like LW’s shouldn’t be challenged, because they absolutely must be.

        • anonymiss :

          Yes, people are overreacting, seriously! Calm down, everyone. Kat said that people would think dropping the woman from the group would be petty, that the reader should be professional and polite and not talk about the woman behind her back, and that Kat hopes the reader will be the woman’s friend/mentor. What’s wrong with that??

          • Anonymous :

            I’m not sure myself.

          • Read the comments. Read what’s missing from Kat’s analysis. Condoning her answer is like congratulating your child for saying 2X3 = 6 when he just guessed, when he’s supposed to be learning how to multiply.

            I know I’m all over this thread but I will not calm down when I see someone passively condoning this sort of s3xism. Especially on a blog that is supposed to focus on women in the corporate world omg how is this not obvious?

      • Yes, Kat’s response to this post is making me consider whether or not I should keep reading this blog.

        • Eh, I have way more problems with the OP than I do Kat’s response. She obviously posted this letter because she knew it would generate a ton of comments. Can’t fault her for that.

          • Gratitude :

            Yeah, I kind of viewed this whole thing as click bait.

          • Anonymous :

            Yep, she knew people would freak the eff out (although she said it more nicely!)
            But I think it’s a legitimate letter to publish and she addressed it well.

          • I am glad she shared it. As a young, decent-looking woman who is trying very hard to network and build contacts, I am glad I am now aware that this attitude exists among some women. I do not think anyone who I have met personally feels the way this letter writer does (nor, thankfully, have I met any flirty men at events), but it’s something to watch out for.

      • Anonymous :

        THIS. So disappointed in this letter but far more disappointed in Kat and her response. Nothing brave about sexism.

        • I didn’t like that Kat was quick to blame the young woman for potentially being “entitled” and not this woman for being a jealous monster.

  5. Anonymous :

    I’ll chime in – I’m sympathetic to the 40 year old, especially reading the first few comments. This jealousy isn’t attractive as an emotion, but it’s an emotion she is feeling and not a reason to shame her. Wowza. May you never have an unattractive emotion.

    To the LW, can you examine ways to address the feelings she brings up, for you?

    • She’s allowed to be jealous. What she shouldn’t do is a) lie about it to herself and b) mess with this woman’s career when she has done NOTHING wrong. No one’s shaming her for being jealous- people are shaming her for trying to take out her negative emotions on someone else’s c.a.r.e.e.r.

    • Oh everyone gets jealous. What turns it from a regular person being jealous to a bitter, vindictive person is the fact that she wants to kick her out of the group, and wrote into a website about “what to do about the issue.” You don’t do anything about it, you realize you are being ugly and mean, and you try to be better about it. I’m about her age and I am just cringing from this whole post. Its so obviously that this is about looks/male attention jealousy, and that is embarassing. Like its not even achievement based (which would still be bad) but the fact that she is jealous of male attention make it just sound like what a reddit troll would imagine women in the workplaces as.

    • MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

      She’s contemplating asking a work colleague to not network because she is jealous. Her question wasn’t “I’m jealous how do I fix it?”

    • I’m 30. I get jealous. I have younger, prettier colleagues who are getting more because of their looks, age, right place/right time in life. You know what I do? Go home and get pissed off and then work TWICE as hard because I’m a professional.


  6. Wow, it seems like there are a ton of assumptions here. I don’t read anything in J’s letter that says that the younger engineer is actually flirting with anyone or behaving inappropriately at all. All J says is that this woman is “aware of her looks” and “plays them up.” That could just as easily mean that she is wearing flattering clothes or tasteful makeup, not flirting or behaving badly. The remainder of the letter suggests that the younger woman is enthusiastic and helpful, along with being smart and funny. I don’t read anything about inappropriate behavior, rudeness, immaturity, or entitlement.

    I think it’s frustrating that J wants to take tangible actions to hold this woman back because she is jealous of the attention she receives. Frankly, this is a “J” problem, not a “younger pretty woman” problem. I have of course experienced jealousy when interacting with people that I think are more beautiful (or more intelligent, or more interesting) that I am, but it’s important to realize that another person’s beauty, intelligence, whatever does not diminish your own – positive qualities don’t have a limited supply.

    Should a younger woman who is attractive have to act more “grateful” than anyone else in order to participate in an organization? Does she have to grovel or be frumpy to get ahead? I think J needs to weigh this woman’s non-physical attributes and decide if she’s worth mentoring. If she is actually funny and smart, she sounds worthy of mentorship to me.

    I rarely post on things like this, but this one really hits a nerve.

    EDIT: glad to see I’m not the only one.

    • MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

      Right? Like, how about you be grateful that someone smart and accomplished wants to join your group?

    • Baconpancakes :

      I agree with everything that’s been posted re the pettiness and ridiculousness of the jealousy and the absolute horror that J is actually considering undermining the younger engineer’s career, but I do understand the indignation that J feels at the lack of gratefulness. Access to mentors and networking IS a privilege, and it sounds like while young engineer is helpful and smart, she’s not showing appreciation for being included with older, more experienced women. She absolutely shouldn’t grovel or be frumpy, but she should say “Thank you” every time she’s included in something, and express appreciation in general that she’s been included in the group. When I was fresh out of college, I fumbled a lot in networking, and alienated a potential mentor by not being appreciative and proactive with her advice.

      There’s a younger woman on my team (23 to my 30, not a huge deal, obv), who is exemplary at this. She’s fantastic at her job, very pretty and dainty, dresses fashionably, generally popular and liked by clients and colleagues, but she always says “Thank you so much” when someone goes out of their way for her, follows up, and doesn’t come across as entitled, which J seems to perceive the young engineer as being.

      The best fix might be for J to mentor the young woman, and teach her that due to her age, she does need to show appreciation when older and more senior colleagues go out of their way for her. It’s not reverse ageism, exactly, but there is a certain level of respect that you’re entitled to with age, and I’m ok with that.

      • MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

        Ummmm ok but that’s precisely ageism. Like, exactly. Literally. It’s really not going out of your way to permit someone who was invited by someone else to attend an event.

        • Anonymous :

          No, it’s not ageism. Substitute “more experienced” for “older” in what Baconpancakes wrote. A significantly less experienced colleague has much less to add to a networking group than a peer would.

          • It'sme123 :

            But Baconpancakes DIDN’T substitute “more experienced” for “older.” Even ignoring the “older” while recognizing the “more senior” in the second to last sentence wouldn’t cut it because he or she goes on to explicitly site “age” (specifically being older) as entitling you to more respect.

          • Baconpancakes :

            In social situations, yes, actually, age trumps. “Respect your elders”? Anyone? Ageism is denying someone a deserved promotion, leadership role, title, pay, or job due to bias against someone of a certain age, not respecting someone because they’ve been around longer than you have. In a professional setting, seniority and experience trump. Networking is a bizarre marriage of the two, but let’s be honest, most 23-year-olds have a lot to learn, regardless of their technical proficiencies. And if you’re older, you’re by default more experienced. Maybe not at that particular job, but at life, at networking, at having a job and working – except in very particular circumstances, yes, you are “more experienced.” If someone acts immaturely, they can lose the respect they would otherwise deserve based on age, but the default should be “respect your elders.”

          • No actually- I don’t think simply existing on this planet for longer than other people entitle you to more respect. I respect a 23 year old and a 60 year old equally from the outset as human beings if they are both starting from a clean slate. Honestly respect your elders is kind of a laughable concept to me, and I don’t think its even supposed to mean respect those who have been on this earth longer than you- its supposed to mean respect the tribe elders- as in respect those who have actually achieved something.

      • But the point is that J has not gone out of her way for the younger engineer. She is literally contemplating the opposite. It sounds like some other woman in this group HAS gone out of her way for the woman, and we have no evidence to suggest that this woman has not thanked her or acted “appropriately grateful” toward those people she actually should be grateful to.

        • Yes, OP gave no evidence of her not being grateful. Maybe she is and we aren’t hearing it. Maybe she is and OP isn’t hearing it because young engingeer senses her coldness and thanks profusely the one that brought her in to the group.I read OP as being jealous that she didn’t get such networking opportunities at her age and that she wish she had.

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        I would see your point if J had been the one to bring this younger woman into her networking group, but she WASN’T. A completely different member of the group brought her in. So J essentially wants the younger woman’s fawning gratitude for, what? Not kicking her out of the group? Passively tolerating her when another friend brought her into the circle? Not banning her from networking events (which are basically public places, or at least, open to whoever meets the networking group’s basic geographic/professional/interest-area criteria)?

        What, exactly, should this younger woman be thanking J for? Not actively sabotaging her (yet)?!

        • Baconpancakes :

          It came across to me like the young engineer wasn’t showing appreciation to anyone, and now J has to include her in all the events/plans, but that’s just how I read it.

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            But if she’s a member of the group (which, it sounds like, she is now, by virtue of the other senior woman having brought her in) who, precisely, does J think she should be thanking for including her in the thing she’s already been asked to join? Do you send a “thanks so much for inviting me!” note every time someone in a networking group you’re already a part of includes you on a group invitation? Of course not, because that’s weird, and I would bet $1,000 that if this young woman were unattractive, J would not only not be writing to Kat about how she hasn’t shown the proper amount of “gratitude,” she would’ve invited the young woman to the group herself in the first place.

            I guess I kind of see your point, but it’s really, really hard for me to read J’s letter charitably when the rest of the letter is so, well, uncharitable.

          • for real, do you have to thank the founding mothers of the group specifically and personally just because you went to an event?

            Thanking the person that invited you or brought you is obviously a must, but a personal THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING A TRAILBLAZER AND SORRY I’M STILL YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL is wack.

      • Gratitude :

        This raises a question I struggle with sometimes. Obviously it’s a good idea to say, “Thank you” to the person who invited you to join a group or the person who makes an introduction or whatever. However, are young professionals really expected to be constantly thanking everyone every time they attend an event that they are able to go to as part of the group? Maybe it’s best to err on the side of being more gracious, but it seems to me that expecting younger professionals to fawn all over everyone with gratitude makes them feel like they shouldn’t even be there. I don’t know. Constantly thanking everyone and expressing my amazement at even being included in work or networking functions makes me feel even more inexperienced and undeserving.

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          +1. Graciousness is a good thing, but constantly thanking everyone for everything just because you’re young? I don’t see how that ends up being anything but professionally undermining, especially if you’re young and female.

        • Agreed. Don’t ignore the fact that J never even invited young engineer to join the group. Someone else did! Young engineer is also from the very same firm as J (and it’s possible though unclear whether the woman who invited her is from a different firm), making it even more silly that young engineer should be expected to thank every.single.member. of the group when she may have been incredibly grateful to the one that did invite her. Young engineer should be thanking those that put in time to mentor, but to thank others that are merely members of the same group — that know for a fact are not even mentoring her??

      • Anonymous :

        There’s a younger woman on my team (23 to my 30, not a huge deal, obv), who is exemplary at this. She’s fantastic at her job, very pretty and dainty, dresses fashionably, generally popular and liked by clients and colleagues, but she always says “Thank you so much” when someone goes out of their way for her,

        Reread how you describe her. She fits every stereotypically “female” trait, which is fine, but please realize that over thanking is one too. Just like women say sorry to much, they say thank you too much too. Graciousness is great, and important, and you should thank people that go out of their way for you. But you don’t need to endlessly thank someone who invited you to a network group or put you up for a promotion.

        • Baconpancakes :

          She also doesn’t take no for an answer, stands up for herself, negotiates, investigates leads thoroughly regardless of whether her contacts are forthcoming, takes the lead in conversations and projects, and is rewarded with promotions, bonuses, and leadership roles. She also doesn’t apologize when asking for something to be done, and points out her successes. Thanking someone for handling your demanding clients while you’re out of office or thanking someone when they put their prioritize your project over the equally important ones they’re working on isn’t being a pushover, it’s being polite.

          The way the letter writer wrote it, it seemed that she is doing the work of putting together events for a small, select group, so yes, I think she does deserve a thank you, regardless of whom invited the young engineer to join the group. We’re not talking about a thank you every single time they see each other, but a “I’m so glad I get to meet you powerful, important women and be part of your group” when she was first invited probably would have been appropriate.

          • ok but OP “deserving a thank you” which I think many people who disagree with- even if you take that as what should have happened, it in no way justifies OPs thoughts and actions here.

    • Anonymous :

      Agree. As someone who was probably this 24-year-old engineer and is now middle-aged, you have to figure out how to deal. It’s not easy to age in this society, but it’s not this young woman’s fault.

      I understood until the last sentence. She’s young. It doesn’t sound like she’s trying to attract attention. Just suck it up and be the bigger person.

  7. I think it’s brave to own up to these feelings even if they don’t come from the best place. If she’s simply young and attractive, I think your role is simply to identify the fact that you feel jealousy and to work through those feelings on your own. But I can see where it’s possible there are other things going on, too. First, you say she isn’t grateful to you. Do you feel like she ignores you, or takes this opportunity for granted? Nobody likes entitlement. Do you feel like there are things you’d be willing to teach her but she seems to have the attitude that she’s got it all figured out? That’s definitely an off-putting attitude. If you’re interested in helping her, you might see whether she seems entitled because she genuinely doesn’t know how things work, or because maybe she’s putting on an act to cover up insecurity and newness. She might not owe you anything specifically, but it would be common courtesy to say to you “OP, I’m so glad I’ve been able to join your group! You seem like a talented group of women and I’m so glad I’ll have the chance to learn from you.” Not that this is required, but it’s generally a good idea to say thanks to more senior people in your field. Second, it might not be exactly what’s going on here, but I’ve seen situations where (especially very young) women seem to have only one speed when it comes to talking with male people. They have no professional demeanor and interactions seem to always be flirtatious. It’s kind of in the same realm as not getting that getting dressed up for the club is not the same as getting dressed up for the office. I think if she sees you and your friends talking with male colleagues in a way that’s friendly but professional and egalitarian, she’ll likely change her tone as well. (None of this is to contradict Wow’s comments. It’s completely possible that this young woman is simply responding to the tone set by more senior — male — people in her field. This is just another possible scenario. It could be a combination of the two.)

    • Anonymous :

      Its honestly not that brave to admit your sexist. It would be braver to try and fix it. The OP literally thinks the woman needs to “know her place.”

      • KateMiddletown :

        Sexism = Fear

        (I just saw PIXAR’s Inside Out over the weekend, so all of my comments on this thread are coming from a place of it’s okay to feel things. It’s normal.)

        I haven’t achieved enlightenment or self-actualization yet, either, and I’m not perfect, and I am scared and mean sometimes. But we’re not snapshots, we’re movies. Character development takes a lifetime!

    • Look, I agree that there could be more going on that we don’t know about, but none of this is in the letter. And although it’s nice to say “I’m glad to have joined this group!”, I don’t think the failure to do so makes you entitled – particularly given that J didn’t even invite the woman to join. Plus, I’m willing to bet that if J feels so strongly, this younger woman can sense it and knows that any interaction with J would not be well-received. I certainly wouldn’t be going out of my way to engage with someone who treats me with thinly-veiled hostility.

    • MirrorMirrorOnTheWall :

      It would never occur to me that I owed the business development person at the firm any particular debt of gratitude for being included in events. That’s literally her job. It’s not brave to admit that you’re sexist.

      • Anonymous :

        Oh, you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone’s job. You should always thank them.

        I’m sure you will disagree, but I have a close friend who facilitates introductions, and she is far more likely to go out of her way for people who thank her. That’s just smart.

      • Totally missed the part about her being BD. I had assumed LW was a more senior engineer. That changes things.

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          The BD thing makes it even worse – it’s literally J’s job to assist this young woman with networking, and she’s seeking out bases on which to justify excluding her from opportunities. This isn’t just an older colleague not extending herself for someone she doesn’t like (for totally irrational reasons) – this is someone contemplating *not fulfilling her actual job duties* over petty jealousy.

          • No the BD thing pretty much changes all of it. I had read it as more senior engineers looking out for and inviting a younger engineer (and implicitly vouching for her) but if LW’s job is BD then she needs to put forward any and all of her colleagues who are good for BD. It’s kind of shocking that it was someone from another firm who invited the younger woman instead of LW herself. And if the young engineer is socially at ease in networking situations that’s great! If LW feels she’s not presenting herself professionally and is therefore reflecting poorly on the firm, that’s another issue. (But not one she raised.)

          • Anonymous :

            I think it was someone else from BD who invited her, unless I misunderstood.

          • Someone else invited her but LW says: “I’m a 40 yr old business development manager”. So it was her job to invite this person, but she didn’t

          • I agree with MirrorMirror that it’s worse because BD is her job. I think some of J’s hurt feelings are coming from loss of control or loss of face in a group that she formed. She will no longer be a big fish in a small pond and will have to share. I think it’s that in addition to an ageism component.

        • TravelAnon :

          Does it, though? It seems like she created this group on her own, outside of her formal duties. I can see where she might feel territorial about it, since it probably required considerable investment to get it going. It’s hard to get a group from idea to maintenance mode. True, once you’ve done that, you often need to step back and be proud of what you’ve created — even when it starts taking on a life of its own (and, in this case, inviting attractive young women aboard). But it’s not easy.

  8. So, LW’s mentoring group of which she is so proud will only mentor ugly, frumpy women? Not smart, funny, engaging young women who dress for their bodies (which is how I read that she “plays up” her looks) and care enough about their careers and have the confidence to actually GO to networking events with older women who judge them? Shut. it. down. LW needs to figure out the source of her own insecurities, and step away from mentoring if she can’t get past her own jealousy.

  9. As a now 48 yo, I sympathize with the younger woman and feel terrible that the “older” colleague is jealous. I was once a younger woman who also received the attention of male colleagues as I’m in a male dominated field. Unfortunately, playing up one’s looks does not get seen as professional by management. I had many older females who would tell me not to flirt or were always catty about the unwanted attention I received. However, I was not excited to receive this attention and was also trying very hard to be not seen in that light.

    Today, I like to assist other younger colleagues towards professionalism and how to rise above this unwanted attention. It gives me joy to see others succeed. Jealousy just brings one down vs. lifting one up. I think “J” needs to see the value of the next generation and realize there is always enough… And that it is our job as those who have “gone before” to pave the way for those coming up. Why in the world would she ask this younger gal to drop from the group – it will only serve to make J look bad and create a work enemy that noone needs! It is hypocritical, J…..just don’t do it!

  10. “This engineer is funny and smart but also a gorgeous 24 yr old.”

    – I don’t know about you, but I want to work, and network, with women (and men) who are funny and smart. And I don’t want to work, or network, with anyone who would think to add “but” and then a description of appearance as a negative when describing a new colleague/member of a network group.

    LW needs to grow up. This is not junior high. We don’t wear pink on Wednesdays, and the only person in the wrong here is you. Your younger colleague has done NOTHING wrong and you want to sabotage her professional success because she’s pretty? Embarrassing.

  11. My two cents – there are human feelings which need to be acknowledged and then there’s the professional thing to do, which is often the opposite of those very human feelings of jealousy. As far as being attractive, you’re an ungrateful flirt if you’re pretty and unkempt frump if you’re not. You’re considered flirtatious if you try to be friendly and a b—h or if you try to toe the line. This colleague may be annoying, but can we women please stop tearing each other down because of jealousy?

    • +1. Everyone gets jealous about certain things. Human nature. But you need to own it, deal with it, and move on – in a way that does not impact the other person AT ALL, because it isn’t about them. It’s about you and your issues (which we all have, differently, and we all have to deal with like grownups).

    • KateMiddletown :

      Yes. We’re allowed to express “all of the feels” if they’re about cute puppies, but not nasty ones? Men have nasty feelings that they express all the time (AND they act on them probably before checking in with a supportive/empathetic sounding board of their internet peers.)

  12. I agree with the sentiments above and wanted to point out another flaw in Reader J’s presentation of the scenario unfolding. She says, “A few months ago one of the key ladies in my group invited my junior engineer in my firm to join.”

    The junior engineer must be doing something other than looking pretty and being ungrateful if one of Reader J’s esteemed colleagues and friends took notice and invited her to join the group full of “high powered ladies.”

  13. Ugh. She didn’t ask to be pretty, but she worked damn hard at being a good engineer. Get over your jealousy; you had your time to be young and flirty.

    Sickening. Just… sickening.

  14. just going to leave this here :

    “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

  15. I wouldn’t be so sure this junior engineer wants mentoring from Reader J. I know I typically look for mentors who support my career, acknowledge my strengths and advise on my weaknesses. I certainly wouldn’t have interest in a mentor who is actively trying to set me back or undermine my progress.

    This is a sad set of circumstances in any business relationship, but especially in engineering where women are traditionally underrepresented.

    • Right. There’s probably a calculated (on Jr. Engr.’s part) reason that it wasn’t Reader J that invited Junior Engineer into the group.

  16. Nothing good can come of J trying to drop this woman from the group. One thing that stood out to me is if J decides to singlehandedly drop this younger woman from the group, how is she going to explain it to the other ladies in the group, particularly the lady who obviously thought highly enough of this young woman to invite her? If J tries to drop this young woman from the group, I think she will likely alienate the senior woman who invited the younger woman by calling into question that senior woman’s judgment. I do applaud J’s honesty, as it’s hard to admit when we have ugly emotions. However, she needs to get over it and recognize this is her issue, not the younger woman’s issue. Didn’t Madeliene Albright famously quote in her book, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I may not have the quote exactly right, but it always stuck with me and seems particularly appropriate here.

  17. “It’s frustrating to attend a business event while these men are flirting with her. ”

    Did you ever consider that this young professional might be “frustrated” that she is actively trying to network at professional events and instead men are flirting with her? A kind instinct would be to take her under your wing and encourage her to stick with the networking despite the fact she is receiving unprofessional attention from men professional events. Tell her it’s their problem, not hers, and you’re sorry she has to deal with that sh*t instead of just working and networking.

    • +1,000

    • +1

      Also, if it is like some of the engineering networking events I have attended, the ratio of men to women leans mostly towards men.

      • This! I’ve been the young female engineer who has been flirted by virtue of being the only female in the room, and on the outside I may have awkwardly laughed it off (which could look like flirting back) but on the inside I was thinking “WTF this is so inappropriate, how do I gracefully shut it down?!”

        Now I’m happy to see new female engineers join the ranks, especially those who are younger than me, as it makes me feel like we’re moving in the right direction. Please don’t discourage the smart, funny women from staying in STEM fields. I want to work with them!

        • I agree with every word. We need more cool women engineers!

        • So much this! Sometimes you get caught off guard and then in hindsight you’re so annoyed and wish you’d had a snappy comeback. I never try to flirt, I just try to be pleasant enough that people think they can talk to me but not harass me. It’s a fine line in the engineering/construction world and it is still so male dominated.

          On a totally opposite note from the OP, I have a wonderful young woman intern who is very driven and grateful. However, she seems so rigid with me. I think part of it is a language barrier (she’s not a native english speaker) and part of it is that she’s nervous. I am trying to be more friendly toward her but I end up feeling so awkward all the time and like I can’t connect. I speak a little bit of her language; would it be weird to ask her for some conversation practice to brush up? Other ideas?

    • +10000! A prominent (old, male) attorney told my co-worker to put me on cases because, and I quote, I’m “pleasant” and a “total cutie.” Eww.

  18. Plague carrier :

    What’s a stiletto mafia?

    • Anon Worker Bee :

      No clue, but FYI I googled it and it returned some NSFW images…

  19. Professional Jealousy :

    While this wasn’t the actual question posed by J, surely others here have felt professional jealousy, whether based on J’s reason or not. How have you dealt with it?

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      This is more about jealousy in general (by way of background, my H makes independent films, many of which feature amazing, smart female characters who are absolutely crushing the patriarchy, so by definition he spends lots and lots and lots of time with the stunningly beautiful, charming, intelligent women who are cast to fill those roles), but what I’ve realized is that, when I feel jealousy – real, bone-deep, oh-em-gee I want that person GONE because I feel so gross inside around them kind of jealousy – it’s always telling me something about an area of my own life that I wish was different. My jealousy is telling me I need something I don’t have or am not getting, or need less of something I’m getting too much of. Using it as a tool to identify where my own life needs tweaking not only helps me in the self-improvement department, it also helps me shift my attitude towards the person who has sparked the jealousy from jealous to appreciative/interested.

      Example: I’m jealous of someone’s awesome new client? It’s because my business development skills need improvement. So maybe I ask the person I’m jealous of how they met the client, or if they’d mind if I tag along on their next networking adventure, so I can figure out what I need to do to get to where they are.

      Obviously, this is a lot harder when you’re jealous of the fact that someone’s young and hot, because you can’t reverse time, but if I was as insanely jealous of another person’s appearance and youth as J seems to be, I’d take that as a sign that I have major work to do around body image, self-acceptance, etc., and I’d seek out help with that.

  20. Asideralis :

    As a reasonably attractive junior engineer, I empathize with your feelings of jealousy, but it’s unusual for women my age to be included like that. You should work at being happy for her to have the opportunity.

    In prior jobs, I was just told to sit and look pretty, I was sexually harassed, I was not given any work of substance for the team, all because I was a young, attractive woman. I can almost guarantee that this woman does not appreciate the flirtations she is receiving. It is more likely that she feel uncomfortable due to the power difference and feels like there is not much she can do about it.

  21. Anon for this :

    Wow. This hits close to home. I actually left a firm in part due to something similar. Between ages 26 and 28 I worked for a mid sized law firm. I’m considered conventionally attractive but I always dress professionally and try to act the same. I’m also an extrovert and talk easily, about professional topics, with strangers. I also have a generally happy disposition.

    There was an older female attorney who was always rude and odd to me. If I spoke in a meeting and was told I had a good idea she would blatantly roll her eyes. If I went to an event and more people spoke to me, she would make a comment about “well I know why they wanted to talk to her.” Even if the conversations were completely professional, she assumed men came over to speak with me instead of her because I was pretty. Even if she was right, that’s nothing I could control.

    Then she got told my senior management that she had to start assigning me work. She was awful to me. No matter what I did for her I got told it was the worst thing she had ever read. My firm assigned mentor tried to work with me and her to get to the bottom of the issue and couldn’t. He said my work all looked fine to him. She had another male buddy at the firm who she convinced to do the same kind of stuff to me.

    Finally, I spoke to a more senior person at the firm who had become an informal mentor. At lunch one day, I said “I don’t know what more I can do, nothing is good enough for woman and her friend.” He was quiet for awhile and finally confessed – after woman had her most recent baby, she seems to have been unable to work with any woman who is happy, attractive or well liked. You are all three. Friend is miserable and enjoys joining her in this crusades. I asked why the heck they would have me work with them then and he said because there just wasn’t enough work at the time. He assured me their opinions would be taken with a grain of salt at review time.

    They weren’t. I was told my work was reported as bad. I pointed out that until I started working for her my work was always reported as stellar. The reviewer just said “you will have to work it out with her.” I knew there was nothing I could do to change her opinion of me. I found another job that I love. In retrospect, I feel sorry for her. What a miserable way to go through life. Literally hateful of anyone who you see as prettier or happier than you. And to actively sabotage them!

    I posted something similar here once and I got totally jumped on by people telling me that attractive women get all kinds of perks and there are few instances where we are assumed to be dumb just because we are attractive. I guess I was thinking more of instances like this where we are just actively sabotaged for something completely beyond our control.

  22. Reading this letter is so … deflating. I’m a younger attorney and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that the not-so-thinly veiled hostility I feel from older female colleagues is all in my head, and that I need to just keep plugging along and doing great work and being personable and the perceived hostility will just float away. Guess not.

    The comments have been encouraging, but the fact that this letter came in, was posted, and validated by Kat just makes me sad.

  23. If the men are flirting... :

    I do wonder if this newly minted engineer may be doing something to invite it.

    I am an early 30s very attractive female attorney working in a male-dominated niche industry. At my law firm I wore plenty of high heels, sheath dresses, etc. In 6 years, I was the recipient of unwanted male attention ONCE. Pretty confident that my professional demeanor and competence shut down any inclination to flirt on the part of the men I interacted with.

    • Nope nope nope nope nope. Where is that octopus when you need him?

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      “Do not confuse luck with skill.”

    • Oh, wow! Just what we needed. Yet another person telling women they need to take responsibility for someone else’s poor professional behavior.

      All of us who have been sexually harassed/ flirted with at work truly appreciate your suggestion that we are a) incompetent and b) unprofessional. We also appreciate the insinuation that our experiences are to be distrusted because they are different from yours.

      No love,
      Wow. (different than the other “Wow”).

    • Anonymous :

      “Pretty confident that my professional demeanor and competence shut down any inclination to flirt on the part of the men I interacted with.”

      … or, the men you’ve encountered just don’t find condescending righteousness worth flirting with?

      • If the men are flirting... :

        If I was condescending or righteous to any superior or client, this junior female would probably be fired.
        Nice try though.

      • Any response that goes to this commenter’s attractiveness is so far off the mark as to be pretty amazing satire. There is a valid criticism to be made here (that has been made, repeatedly, so I’ll refrain from joining the chorus). It has nothing to do with whether she is pretty (or condescending).

    • Anon Worker Bee :

      Like how college women invite rape by the parties they attend and the way they dress? Maybe you are not as attractive (inside or out) as you think you are.

    • Okay I’ll bite. My experience has been similar. I wouldn’t put myself in the “very” attractive category, but I’m fairly attractive and have always dressed the way you describe. I also haven’t really had much in the way of unwanted attention and can’t relate to a lot of the experiences I hear from other women. But since I hear this (harassment, being talked over and interrupted, men taking credit for their ideas, not being taken seriously) from so many women, and from so many women whom I respect and admire, I believe it’s true. Why do most women seem to have an experience I don’t share? I don’t know. It’s a mystery. But that doesn’t mean that’s not their experience. I’ve thought a lot about this. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that behaviors seen as feminine are disrespected while those seen as masculine are respected. While I dress very feminine, my way of speaking tends to be very direct and blunt, and I have a bad habit of interrupting. All much more traditionally “masculine” traits. So is that having a traditionally “feminine” demeanor (if that’s what’s going on) equates to inviting unwanted attention? I certainly hope not. But just because you’re not experiencing something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You don’t have to take it on faith necessarily, but it also doesn’t make sense to dismiss it out of hand just because it’s not what you yourself have seen.

    • Anonymous :

      Lol, or maybe you are just not that attractive.

    • I agree that we shouldn’t “blame the victim” but then I have in fact encountered attractive female attorneys who *do* flirt (and I do not mean just being friendly and professional) or otherwise invite such attention, and then turn around and complain that they are being harassed when they actively encouraged such advances. It’s not untrue in all circumstances.

  24. KateMiddletown :

    I get all of this above, but I hope the OP isn’t feeling cyber-bullied for showing an actual emotion.

    Because I haven’t seen this suggestion come up yet…

    My 2nd piece of advice to OP would be to TALK TO YOUR FRIEND who invited the junior engineer. Your colleague clearly has a reason for bringing the PYT to the table — maybe it’s just because she’s funny and smart and Friend wants to be inclusive. Be honest with your current networking buddy — ask her what she thinks about opening up the circle a little more, or keeping it tighter. She’s your best bet for how your networking group as a whole should respond to the *new*.

    • Killer Kitten Heels :


      No one is “cyberbullying” OP for “showing an actual emotion.”

      We’re reacting to her asking, essentially, how to cut another woman off from networking opportunities because she doesn’t like that the woman is younger than her, more attractive to her, and gets more male attention than her at networking events. It’s not her emotion that’s the problem, it’s what she’s trying to justify doing with it that is.

  25. When I was starting my work life I was in a male dominated blue collar field. Because I was not particularly good looking, I did not get much male attention, which I am grateful for. I got ignored or resented. Once I proved that my work was good and I didn’t expect or ask for special treatment, I got accepted as a colleague. My work was valued and I was treated fairly. I felt sorry for the few other young women, who, unlike me, were good looking. It was almost impossible for them to be taken seriously. My male co-workers were kinda nuts when these women were around and not much work got done. Looking back, I am glad that I was the unattractive one. Ironic, isn’t it?

  26. This is the sorry of my life. If I interview with an older female I pretty much know I won’t get the job no matter how awesome I do. Its frustrating to have one half of the work force undermining you and the other flirting with you. If one more woman tells me to eat a piece of cake or gives me a side eye I might snap. I want my competencies to matter but jealousy is an ugly green monster

  27. Anon Lawyer :

    HEY OP! Hopefully you’ve scrolled down far enough through the explosion of vitriol to find some rational advice. I’m assuming that by openly admitting your jealousy you are trying to find constructive ways to address it. Maybe my experiences will give you a few ideas. I’m also around 40. And I’m super f***king jealous. I’m jealous of all the other lawyers who had parents with professional jobs who could guide their career (I was the first in my family to go to college). I’m jealous of all those upper class people who had comfortable upbringings, summer camp, European vacations, dental care. I didn’t get those things until I could afford them myself as an adult. I’m jealous of the male associates I work with who so comfortably connect with the male partners which helps advance their career. I’m particularly jealous of the other female associates that get invited into the fold of the boys club.

    But honestly, I have never taken a single action or expressed a single thought on all the perceived unfairness. Because in the end, after years of therapy, and depression, and pushing myself too hard to accomplish things I simply wasn’t capable of, I decided to accept me for who I was and accept the fact that I have no idea what those people of whom I was jealous were really going through. They probably experienced hurts, struggles, pains, setbacks, disappointments, and unfairness too. I have found that the best way to dismantle my jealousy was to get to know personally and sincerely the person I was jealous of. And, most surprising of all, it turns out they were sort of jealous of who they thought I was and what they thought I had (what, really?!?). Nothing destroys assumptions like really knowing someone.

    Take the younger person out to lunch. Try to find out what she is trying to accomplish in life. See if you can give her genuine advice. Best case scenario, your exchange of ideas develops into a great work relationship. Or, you find out she really just wants to find a husband and become a stay at home mom (which will immediately end your jealousy because she doesn’t even want what you want).

    • Coach Laura :


    • This has to be the most useful comment in this entire thread. OP asked for help, she was honest about her feelings, and this thread (apart from this and a few other helpful comments) is what she got. Seriously…

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        Did she actually ask for help with not being a jealous monster though? Because I don’t see that – I see her asking if she can get away with excluding this young woman and cutting her off from networking opportunities.

        “I’m struggling with jealousy, what do I do?” would be a profoundly different question than what OP asked, which is “I’d like to exclude her from professional opportunities because she is young and attractive and I am jealous, is there a way I can do that without being labeled a hypocrite?” THAT’S why OP is getting a hard time -because most of us AREN’T seeing her as being “honest about her feelings and asking for help” – we’re seeing her asking how to get away with doing something terrible to another woman because the other woman is more attractive than she is.

        • She does say that she is torn between jealousy and wanting to be a mentor – yes, the specific question she asked is whether she can drop the colleague and get away with it, but haven’t we all been in a position when we’re torn between being a better person and lashing out? Despite the question she’s asked, it seems clear enough to me that she’s struggling. Maybe it’s time for us to show some of the kindness that we say we wish she had. I understand the anger that some commenters have given their own experiences, but this particular woman has done nothing to you.

      • @Killer Kitten Heels

        My other comments are not showing up, but the point is that she has said that she’s struggling between jealousy and wanting to be a mentor. Notwithstanding her actual question, it’s quite clear to me that her dilemma is quite different from the actual course of action she’s contemplating.

        I can understand the anger that some commenters feel, given their own experiences. I’ve felt it. I know it. Because I’m young and female too. But at the same time, I know how it feels to want to be the better person and help someone else, but also want to hold back because it would hurt me professionally. Or want to undermine the said person because I perceive her as undermining me. And I think I know how painful that struggle can be.

        The OP has done nothing to anyone here, and now we’re using her as an outlet for all the suffering we went through when some other older woman didn’t help us or harmed us. As far as we know, she hasn’t done anything yet. And even if she has, well, we’re all human.

        Haven’t we all (okay, maybe not all but most) been in a position where we struggled between doing the right thing and lashing out? Maybe it’s time we showed the OP some of the kindness we say we wish she could show to this young woman, or that we wish all older women could show to us.

    • I love this comment. I am myself from a middle class family surrounded by very fortunate people. I used to be very resentful of life. But life is life. Spending energy and time on negative emotions is hurting myself more than anyone else.

      Thank you for this honest and lovely comment. and I absolutely agree with taking the person out for lunch.

  28. This post left me seething with rage. The overall lack of support for young women in business by other women is ridiculous (and a constant topic on my mind, especially as I’ve just moved into a male-dominated field). Every single one of my career mentors have been male, and this is probably why.

    I wouldn’t say I’m model quality, but I am blonde and take the same detail-oriented approach to my appearance as I do my financial models. I think that’s a good thing. In fact, female senior business leaders also tend to be well-groomed and well-dressed, just older (for obvious reasons). Yet, the struggle to be taken seriously as a woman in business (observed by myself and peers) is real.

    Kudos to this reader for recognizing her own feelings towards this young engineer. That’s the first step to recovery. My issues are as follows:

    – Outside of thanking those that invited her into the group, I wouldn’t expect the young engineer to spend serious energy expressing her gratefulness on an ongoing basis. Groveling isn’t tasteful nor suitable to a professional climbing the ladder. I doubt a young male professional would be expected to continually pay tribute to all older members of a networking group. Instead, I would expect the him to act professional, confident, and like he belongs in the group. I expect the same of the female.

    – Her alleged flirting with male professionals drips with jealousy. Perhaps she carries herself well and communicates with confidence, and that’s why men are speaking with her? Or, perhaps because she’s apparently a very attractive woman, she’s naturally learned to socialize in a way that plays off the attention she receives for her looks. Either way, I read this as the older professional being jealous for not receiving the same attention. The young professional isn’t overtly flirting, and the older professional’s goal is not to flirt with males, so why is this even an issue?

    – The mentorship thing. Why does it have to be either mentor or kick her out? Where’s the middle ground? This is so female- “I’ll mentor her,” (i.e. mother her) or kick her out of the nest. Wtf, ladies? Can’t we just be colleagues? Never heard this one from a male either.

  29. I appreciate that the OP was honest about her feelings. It’s something that you’ll need to figure out and work on in your own time. I have to admit I was a little bit frustrated reading the question though. Here’s why: what do we usually repeat time and again: it’s not about looks, it’s about performance. If she’s good at her job and meets/exceeds expectations that’s what should be the focus in my opinion.

    This is not intended to be an attack on the OP, but you have no idea how much this hurts women in my opinion! I’m in a similar situation as the 24 year old engineer. I’m a 28 year old project manager at an engineering firm who’s main clients are Oil and Gas companies (think old boys club on steroids). I have had a few women judge me based on looks alone and not capability. Irritating, yes! I made an effort to at least consider what they told me though, and I have to admit that some of them were right.

    That being said though, I cannot even begin to explain the lack of female mentors in my field. And to be denied a mentor because of clothing choices was really frustrating. I think women owe it to each other to help one another out. I can completely understand that this may be difficult to do while harboring feelings of jealousy. I’m not saying to agree to mentor her, but at least set a good example for her. If you wanted to politely mention to her that she shouldn’t be flirting at events sure go ahead and do so diplomatically. It’s probably something that will help her down the road if she is flirting. Although, you do mention that it’s not something she does overtly. I would recommend taking a cold hard look at what it is you’re thinking and make sure you’re not letting your jealousy taint your view of her. If you know her mentor, by all means, please point out your flirting concerns if they prove to be true. But please don’t shut her out completely.

    As for her lack of enthusiasm, it could be for a million different reasons. She could be shy. She could be anxious to be around a group of high powered ladies. It could be true indifference/lack of gratefulness. But unless you take the time to get to know her, you won’t really understand where she’s coming from; assuming you haven’t done so already. If you have, and she truly is ungrateful, point out her flirting if she does it and you feel comfortable doing so. Otherwise, I’d say take the high road and at least set a good example for her.

  30. First of all, 40 is not old. If I didn’t see J’s age, I would have thought she was in her late 50s or 60s. I hear the jealousy in her wording and she admits to it but instead if being jealous, why don’t you try to fix whatever about yourself that bothers you (like someone mentioned earlier)? I sense J is jealous because the other lady is younger, prettier, smarter, funnier…wow, I’d be jealous too…but I wouldn’t intentionally sabotage her so that I feel good. If it was me, I would go out, buy a new dress, spend time at the gym or do whatever it is that I need to do to feel good about myself. Once I love myself, I would never be jealous of another women. 40 is so young.

  31. Everytime I read things like this I just want to go hug my partners and take back everything I ever thought about jumping ship. Yikes! Heaven forbid a younger woman in a male-dominated field do everything society has constantly told her to do to improve her career chances.

  32. This was such an interesting post and set of comments! One thing that I want to caution…because I’m seeing a lot of the younger ladies on this post saying things like “that’s why I didn’t get promoted” or “that’s why the 40+ year old supervisor doesn’t like me”…It may all be true. She’s jealous of your youth and energy. However, not every older woman is jealous of a younger woman. It may just be they found someone better for the job, promotion or they don’t like you for what’s inside.

    I’m not the older woman. I’m usually the younger woman since my field tends to have older people. I’m not sure if the older lady in my office is jealous of my youth or my energy. She’s nice to me but can sometimes be negative in general. I try to assume she’s not jealous. She’s just tired or have other things going on.

  33. How do you know that “J” is not a psychology or sociology grad student who successfully attempted to formulate questions that would get strong responses? She or he would have some interesting data to analyze. Would that be ethical? I don’t think so. But then asking people to participate would probably not yield such raw responses.

    • VeryAnonymous :

      Okay Anonymous, I have been reading responses and as you have recognized they have all been very raw. You also have to recognize that there are very very few comments which give the letter writer “J” some benefit of doubt or some possible situations where what she is thinking may not be so horrible and those are immediately shut down by other commentators. It is almost like everyone are on their best behavior all the time and they can never feel jealous or act on that feeling. There might be many more readers who can empathize with the letter writer but will never ever admit that at least on this forum as they will be attacked ferociously.

      I have been thinking about this from the time it was posted. There is another line of thought going on in my mind which is not mentioned here especially due to the comments which say being pretty is not her fault (which I agree as well).

      There is a lot of research about how good looks help some one in their career. Generally there is a halo effect and people attribute much more positive qualities to a good looking person than what they actually have and they make more money than average looking and for lack of better term, ugly looking people. Many good looking people are aware of this capital they have and they take full advantage of it. There are definitely few good looking people who want to be judged on their work alone, but benefiting from their looks anyway as they cannot make themselves look ugly. In any case, you cannot fault the attractive people for that.

      Now look at another angle. Ugly and average looking people don’t have any of the advantages that their looks provide. They have to work harder to achieve the same level of success. Is it fair for us to expect these people to work more to get the same recognition? What was their fault for this injustice that is handed to them?

      The point I want to make is everything comes as a package. If you have good looks, then you have certain advantages and you may face jealousy like in this case. If you don’t have good looks, then you have no advantages and you have to work harder than the good looking people to reach the same level.Ideally looks shouldn’t matter at all in the workplace. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and we all are here struggling for our own survival. Struggling for survival means, most of the times, we just make decisions based on our raw emotions, not logic, not what is morally right or wrong thing to do.

      • A couple of points:

        Yes, I am on my best behavior at work all of the time. I just am. It takes a tremendous amount of will power and self-discipline, but I am extremely diligent to try to make sure that my emotions (which I have and which certainly pop up in unexpected places) do not negatively impact my relationships with my colleagues or their careers. I’m sorry, I really can’t empathize with a mature business development manager who is so jealous of a 24 year old co-worker for being smart, funny and pretty that she wants to undermine her career. This letter writer did not write asking for help for her feelings. I agree that there is good advice in this thread to that end. What the letter writer *did* ask for was validation for her choice of shutting this young woman out due to her jealousy. And so she got responses to that end.
        Re; advantages to pretty people. I think that most people on this thread understand that there are perceived advantages to being conventionally attractive. My anecdotes, and I suspect those of others, are offered to show that along with the advantages that “pretty” people get, there are some severe downsides. I think your assumption that “ugly” people have to work harder is false and a total over simplification. To the extent an “ugly” person has to work harder, that pretty young attorney also has to work harder to get people to take her seriously, to get them to look past the way she looks, to prove herself so that people don’t think she got the job because of the way she looks.

        When my client introduces himself to me and says, to my male boss, “wow, she’s prettier than anything [other law firm] brought us” how am I supposed to feel like I am being taken seriously? How am I supposed to push back against that?

        When my supervisor at my internship asks me out for beers (and I go, because politeness and networking and giving people the benefit of the doubt) and then puts his hand on my leg, and then on my back, and then on my br3ast, how am I supposed to think I’ll ever get a job at that organization? Or that I was ever valued for my work in the first place?

        On balance, is there any way to measure whether it is “easier” to be “pretty” or “ugly”? I suspect not.

  34. As a 23 years old woman in engineering, this makes me so sad. Youth = Attractiveness. People don’t need to spend a lot of money on cloth when they are young and slim. They also don’t need to go out of their way to get attention from others. It’s not her fault if she’s 24 and attractive. She’s probably just doing her best to avoid being rude when those older men are flirting with her.

    I worked in an all male environment and sometimes some of the older men’s behavior makes me want to throw up, but they are senior people and I need them for technical expertise and support. What do I do? I smile.

    Senior women of all people should understand this. No wonder women drop out of engineering at an alarming rate. They receive NO support and NO guidance from anyone: men just want them to be eye candies while women are jealous of their youth.