I have a new-ish co-worker. Before I landed in this team we already had some contact, we enjoyed having lunches together and often chatted over a cup of coffee. We seem to be developing a friendship, where we talk about and plan things outside of work as well: things like going shopping or going out for a drink. All in all, she's a great person, but she has one habit that I don't know how to deal with.
She tends to ask me things like 'Us females are doing a great job, aren't we?' or 'Isn't it great to have another female developer to explain stuff to you?'. I've never seen her ask the males on the team for this kind of support/validation, but the guys do compliment either of us on doing our job well if we deserve it.
I first dealt with this as if she were just joking around, but I later found out she's serious when she makes remarks like this. She said she felt I didn't take her seriously. At that point, we had a frank conversation in which I explained to her that to me, the fact that we're female doesn't set us apart from the team and that we shouldn't act as such. There wasn't much reaction to that from her side, besides that she acknowledged being insecure.
She didn't stop making the remarks though, so after that, I switched to remarks that let her know she did well, but there's more than us two females in the team, like 'Yeah, the entire team did a good job this sprint' or 'Yes, you explained this very well, just like our most senior dev would'. This doesn't really help though, she just pushes for the female angle even further with replies like 'Yeah, but what do you think of our contribution/way we handled this?'. I usually shrug those off as 'we all did our share', 'you did a good job doing X' or 'not any different from how the guys did their work', but that doesn't seem to satisfy her or boost her confidence.
Basically, she's really insecure about her femininity and her work, but no amount of support that I gave her so far, that didn't directly acknowledge her being female, helped. I want to support her, for her to gather some self-confidence. But any compliment I give seems to be wasted upon her, if it doesn't acknowledge her being female.
At the same time, I don't want to go against my personal views that being female does not set us apart from the rest of the team in any positive or negative way, and so I am really not willing to give her the 'yeah, you're female and a developer and thus you're great' kind of support.
I also don't want to lose a potential friend and otherwise great person over this, if at all possible.
How can I be supportive when she asks for validation, without going against my own views?