Office politics is a common phenomenon in workplaces. Whether you work in a small company or a multi-national, you have probably dealt with this.

The only thing more complex than office politics is gendered office politics. Gendered office politics can be defined as situations and influences that shape workplace dynamics, power structures, and interpersonal interactions, based on prevailing gender norms, stereotypes, and biases.

In this article, we take a closer look at office politics, how it affects women, 7 unique ways women can successfully navigate it, and some common examples of office politics.

But before that, let us take a minute to understand,

What is Gendered Office Politics?

Gendered office politics refers to the dynamics, power struggles, and interpersonal interactions within workplaces that are influenced by gender norms, stereotypes, and biases.

These dynamics often manifest in various forms, including unequal access to opportunities, exclusion from decision-making processes, microaggressions, and stereotyping based on gender.

Impact of Office Politics on Working Women

For women in the workplace, gendered office politics can have profound impacts on their experiences, career growth, and overall well-being.

From subtle discrimination and being overlooked for promotions or leadership positions, to having their ideas dismissed or attributed to others, experiencing harassment and gender-based bullying, office politics can have varied impacts on working women.

This further creates a hostile work environment, where women feel undervalued, marginalized, and unable to contribute or thrive fully.

This can result in decreased job satisfaction, higher levels of stress and burnout, and ultimately, hindered professional growth and advancement opportunities for working women.

Gendered office politics can be addressed by challenging and dismantling gender stereotypes, promoting inclusivity and diversity, and creating an equitable and supportive workplace culture, where all employees, regardless of gender, get equal opportunities.

How Can Women Navigate Workplace Politics?

With the right strategies, navigating workplace politics can be made easy!

Here are 7 ways in which women can secure their position and deal with workplace politics effectively.

Build a Strong Support Network

Having a strong support network can be a game-changer in situations like these. By cultivating relationships with colleagues who share similar values and goals, women can create a support system within the office.

This network can provide emotional support, guidance, and valuable insights into navigating office dynamics.

A strong support network also offers a platform for women to discuss and address common challenges they face in the workplace, including navigating office politics.

Sharing experiences and strategies with trusted peers can help women feel more confident and empowered in dealing with political situations.

Additionally, a diverse support network can provide access to different perspectives and resources, enabling women to make more informed decisions and build alliances across various departments or levels within the organization.

Develop Assertiveness

Being assertive can help women handle politics in the workplace confidently. Assertive women can communicate their needs, opinions, and boundaries confidently, without being overly passive or aggressive.

Developing assertiveness involves practicing clear and direct communication, setting boundaries, and advocating for oneself in professional settings.

This may seem challenging but in the long run, it can help women assert their influence and navigate political situations with confidence and integrity.

Assertive behavior can also command respect from colleagues and managers, leading to greater recognition and opportunities for advancement.

By standing up for themselves assertively, women can establish themselves as competent and respected professionals in the workplace.

Leverage Mentorship and Sponsorship

Mentorship and sponsorship can help and support women navigating office politics as a mentor can advice, offer perspective, and career guidance essential to manage such situations.  

A mentor is a trusted advisor or guide who provides support, advice, and guidance based on their own experiences and expertise to help another individual navigate their career or personal development journey.

A sponsor is a senior leader or influential individual within an organization who actively advocates for and supports the career advancement and professional development of another individual by providing visibility, endorsement, and opportunities.

In addition to mentors, having sponsors can significantly impact her ability to navigate office politics.

Sponsors can provide visibility, endorsement, and access to opportunities that may otherwise be difficult to obtain.

By actively seeking out mentors and sponsors, women can gain valuable insights into organizational dynamics, learn how to navigate political landscapes effectively, and receive support in advancing their careers.

It can also help women expand their professional networks, build confidence, and develop the skills and connections needed to navigate and succeed in complex organizational environments.

Advocate for Yourself and Others

Advocating for oneself involves confidently communicating one's achievements, skills, and ambitions in the workplace.

It's essential for women to proactively promote their contributions and aspirations to ensure they are recognized and valued.

Additionally, advocating for others, especially fellow women colleagues, fosters a supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

Women can form alliances and support networks to amplify each other's voices, share opportunities, and collectively address workplace challenges.

By advocating for themselves and others, women can navigate office politics by ensuring fair treatment, representation, and opportunities for advancement.

Participate in Leadership Development Programs for Women

Leadership development programs tailored for women provide valuable opportunities for skill-building, mentorship, and networking.

These programs equip women with the necessary tools and strategies to navigate office politics effectively.

They may include sessions on negotiation skills, conflict resolution, building influence, and managing power dynamics.

By participating in such programs, women gain confidence, enhance their leadership abilities, and learn how to navigate complex organizational structures and dynamics.

Establish a "Board of Advocates"

A "Board of Advocates" is a support system consisting of trusted colleagues, mentors, sponsors, and allies who provide guidance, advice, and advocacy.

Women can strategically select individuals within their organization who can advocate for them in various situations, such as promotion discussions, project assignments, or when facing workplace challenges.

This board can also serve as a sounding board for navigating office politics, offering insights, perspectives, and strategies to address specific situations effectively.

By establishing a strong network of advocates, women can navigate office politics more confidently and successfully leverage support and opportunities within the workplace.

Leverage Intersectionality

Intersectionality recognizes that individuals may experience multiple forms of discrimination or privilege based on various intersecting aspects of their identity, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and more.

In the context of workplace dynamics, acknowledging intersectionality is crucial because gender-related office politics can be influenced by a combination of factors beyond just gender.

To leverage intersectionality effectively, organizations can:

  1. Foster an inclusive culture that values diversity and respects the unique perspectives and experiences of individuals from different backgrounds.
  2. Encourage open dialogue about intersectional identities and how they intersect with gender-related challenges in the workplace.
  3. Provide opportunities for employees to participate in diversity and inclusion training or workshops that address intersectionality and its implications for workplace dynamics.
  4. Implement policies and practices that promote equity and fairness across all dimensions of diversity, including gender, race, ethnicity, and more.
  5. By acknowledging and leveraging intersectionality, organizations can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where women feel valued, respected, and empowered to navigate and overcome gender-related office politics.

Create Safe Spaces for Dialogue and Support

Creating safe spaces for dialogue and support is essential for addressing gender-related office politics because it provides women with a platform to share their experiences, express their concerns, and seek advice and support from others who may have similar experiences.

Organizations can establish safe spaces through:

  1. Forming affinity groups or employee resource groups (ERGs) specifically focused on gender diversity and inclusion.
    These groups can provide a supportive community for women to connect, share experiences, and access resources and support.
  2. Hosting regular meetings, workshops, or discussion forums where women can come together to discuss topics related to gender equality, workplace challenges, and strategies for empowerment.
  3. Designating trusted individuals, such as HR representatives or diversity and inclusion champions, who can serve as confidential resources for women seeking guidance or support in addressing gender-related issues.
  4. Implementing zero-tolerance policies for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and ensuring that employees feel comfortable reporting any instances of misconduct without fear of reprisal.

By creating safe spaces for dialogue and support, organizations can foster a culture of trust, empathy, and solidarity among employees, empowering women to navigate and confront gender-related office politics with confidence and resilience.

Examples of Gendered Office Politics

Sometimes, we may find it hard to identify if the situation we are in is office politics or just office banter.

While office politics may come in unique shapes and forms, there are some very common examples to know.

If you relate to any of the following 10 examples, it might be time to speak up and deal with office politics effectively.

  1. Being overlooked for promotions or career advancement opportunities in favor of less qualified male colleagues.
  2. Experiencing microaggressions or subtle forms of discrimination based on gender, such as being interrupted or having ideas dismissed in meetings.
  3. Facing unequal pay compared to male counterparts for similar work or roles.
  4. Dealing with gender-based stereotypes that may limit opportunities for leadership or decision-making roles.
  5. Experiencing exclusion from informal networks or social circles within the workplace affects access to important information and opportunities.
  6. Being subject to sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior from colleagues or superiors.
  7. Facing resistance or backlash when advocating for gender diversity initiatives or speaking up about gender inequality.
  8. Being expected to conform to traditional gender roles or stereotypes, such as being assigned administrative tasks or being assumed to be less assertive.
  9. Experiencing double standards in performance evaluations or feedback, where assertiveness may be perceived negatively in women but positively in men.
  10. Dealing with the "glass ceiling" phenomenon, where systemic barriers prevent women from reaching top-level positions within the organization.


In conclusion, gendered office politics presents significant challenges for women in the workplace, impacting their career growth and well-being.

However, by employing strategic approaches like building support networks, being assertive, leveraging mentorship and sponsorship, advocacy, participation in leadership development programs, having a "Board of Advocates," acknowledging intersectionality, and creating safe spaces for dialogue and support, women can navigate these dynamics effectively.

Organizations must address gender biases and promote inclusivity to create equitable and supportive workplace cultures.

By empowering women to confront and overcome gendered office politics, we can foster environments where all employees can thrive.

Women's Day