Women in the Workplace: Frenemy?

In a fast-paced, fiercely competitive workforce, tales run wild of ambition, rivalry, and office politics turning professional women into "mean girls."

Good Morning America gathered a focus group, five working women, of varying generations and experience levels, who agreed to speak extremely candidly about how women help and hurt each other in the workplace these days:

Korisa Stambaugh, 27 -- administrative coordinator at a New York hospital.

Lamonia Brown, 34 -- a program coordinator for a film and TV organization.

Alexandra Lanza, 39 -- former logistics director for Polo Ralph Lauren.

Michela O'Connor Abrams, 50 -- publisher and president of Dwell, a lifestyle magazine.

Sandy Moose, 66 -- senior advisor and first woman partner at the Boston Consulting Group.

Michela O'Connor said "I was in my 20s when I was in a 'Mean Girls' scenario."

She remembers how her older female boss at the time first acted as her mentor and friend, then quickly became her enemy when she was offered a big promotion, even trying to prevent the promotion.

"Pretty much tried to stop it, and made some phone calls to try and stop it," O'Connor said, adding she thought insecurity was the woman's motivation.

Sandy Moose believes that sometimes the "queen bee" syndrome still comes into play, even at the very top levels of power.

"There are, you know, a couple of queen bees who are quite pleased that they're the only women," Moose speculated. "Some of them are fearful that if they reach out for women, junior women, that somehow or other they're going to become alienated from the circle of men that they have joined in this very small executive suite."

The panel agreed that for the most part these days, "mean girls" syndrome has been replaced by new challenges.

"All women are time-pressed," Moose said. "Most all of us have families and careers at the same time, and you have very limited discretionary time and you have to make your choices."

And women can be judgmental about their potential role models.

"They're looking for a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted role model. They want to be successful across the whole span, career and family," Moose said.

Other women agreed they try to do everything for everyone.

"I would never judge a man because he wasn't home with his family, but I think I would have judged a woman like that," Brown said.

Another commonality among women of the panel is that they said women often expect female co-workers should be their friends. It's about finding a balance.

"It's really nice if we could be friends, it's really nice if we can go out after work, but if we can't, it's about getting the job done," Brown said.