Historiann has an interesting post with this title here. She notes that “women victimizing women” surfaces as a problem. She also trenchantly observes that academics can work around bullies easier than people in other occupational environments, writing:
The only exception to this is if your bully happens to be someone of importance in your fieldâ€“but this is probably unusual: by definition, people who are important in their field spend their time writing books, working with students, and hobnobbing at conferences with other people important in their field. In general, they don’t have the time, let alone the inclination, to try to mess with someone else’s career. In my experience, the bullies weren’t exactly the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, to put it charitably. They weren’t terribly productive scholars or successful teachers, which is probably why they felt so intimidated by smart young things who were clearly going places. So, they chose to make their post-tenure careers as hall monitors rather than as scholars. [Emphasis added.]
My own experiences with female bosses and “superiors” have been very positive. In my view most of the (small number of) women who entered law teaching in the 1970s did a fantastic job of bringing new women into the field, and mentoring them. That’s the main reason the number of women law professors increased as much as it did. Sure we have miles to go before we reach anything approaching parity in the profession, but it was primarily the efforts of women law professors that got a lot of us in the door, as well as through the tenure slog. To this day, when I need help or advice, the law profs I turn to and whom I most trust, as both friends and mentors, are mostly women. Law may be different than other fields in this regard. I’m glad it was for me, anyway.
Historiann’s conclusion that the worst bullies on a faculty tend to be the underachieving losers, however, sounds spot on to me.