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Under Attack?

Think another woman is out to get you? Here's how to watch your back.

This story appears in the August 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Do women sabotage other women in business, and, if so, what can be done about it? We asked two experts with differing views for advice. "Women are relationship-focused," says Cheryl Dellasega, associate professor at Penn State University College of Medicine at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and co-author of Girl Wars: 12 Strategies That Will End Female Bullying. "Early on, women learn their connections with each other can be very powerful or very damaging." Dellasega believes women who learn to get their way through aggression as girls continue these behaviors throughout life. "They may not even be aware of how sabotaging their behavior is."

According to Julie Overholt, a professional certified executive coach and certified behavioral analyst in Plano, Texas, sabotage is committed by anyone-male or female-who feels powerless. "Women running businesses are not powerless and, in my experience, are far less inclined to sabotage other women," says Overholt. "Women entrepreneurs understand the real, long-term value of building relationships instead of burning bridges."

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