Does The Mortgage Industry Have A Mean Girl Problem?

Why women need to help other women.

Erica LaCentra
Does the Mortgage Industry Have a Mean Girl Problem?

So many of the women that have been able to make a name for themselves in the male-dominated mortgage industry are often well-recognized company figureheads who inspire other females in the space and show them that there are opportunities for women to climb the corporate ladder.

However, for every inspirational woman in the space, there seems to be several of her bullying counterparts in positions of power throwing out any and all sense of loyalty to her fellow females and doing whatever they feel necessary to stay on top. This may seem like a gross exaggeration, but it’s not confined only to the mortgage world. According to a new study from the Workplace Bullying Institute, women bully women up to 80% of the time.

I have experienced this type of incivility from female colleagues numerous times in my career, and I would bet that if you asked other women in the mortgage industry if they have had similar experiences, the answer would probably be yes. So, in an industry where women are already in the minority and have to work harder to prove their worth, why are women not supporting each other?

It’s True, Power Corrupts

Unfortunately, it seems that because women have to fight so hard to get their seat at the table in the mortgage industry, once they get there, it isn’t as appealing to leave room for others. Women who get into positions of power in the industry who then bully other women they work with often do so because they feel threatened or insecure. Rather than viewing their colleagues as assets and working with them, they tend to view them as competition and as someone gunning for their role. It may also be that a woman is struggling with her own self-worth and the fight she had to go through to get to their final position of power.

By making it easier for other females to climb the ladder, maybe in their eyes, it somehow makes what they had to go through to achieve success less meaningful.

Another cause of these toxic bullying behaviors could be caused by the fact that women feel that, because they are in a leadership position in a male-dominated industry, they need to model their behavior on their male peers. Seeing that acting more aggressive or intimidating works for their male counterparts in order to be taken seriously — or not seem incompetent — can be a driving factor for displaying these types of behaviors.

Whatever the reasoning may be for acting this way, there is no real excuse for using these tactics to get ahead and this behavior shouldn’t be tolerated in workplaces. In the end, all it does is hurt female progress in the mortgage industry. Instead of normalizing women being successful in the industry, it perpetuates a lack of female leadership and discourages women from seeking mentorship from their female bosses.

How To Fix The Queen Bee Problem

While the old adage may be one bad apple spoils the bunch, that’s far from true and the mortgage industry is starting to make strides with its efforts to recognize women in the space. There are many more women’s events that promote empowerment, mentorship, education, and community within the industry. However, when the events are over, and women go back to their respective companies, how can they deal with incidents of bullying that may lurk at their workplace, and more importantly, prevent these types of instances from occurring in the first place?

Much like conferences are developing women-specific events, companies need to develop better ways for their female employees to interact and develop a sense of community and trust with each other.

Just like our industry is male-dominated, most workplaces at the companies within our industry are male-dominated, which create these feelings, as mentioned above, that women are pitted against each other and vying for positions of power and working against each other rather than with each other. If companies can develop mentorship programs and a better sense of culture and community for their female employees, it would go a long way toward dissolving these feelings of me vs. you when it came to working on projects together.

Women tend to value the importance of relationships, not just transactional interactions, so having the ability to connect in a more meaningful way and build relationships with team members would go a long way not only toward eliminating the queen bee problem we are seeing in the mortgage industry, but also towards drawing more females into the industry and making it more appealing to women in the future.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine March 2022 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
Mar 22, 2022
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