The Queen Bee


Women are rising up through the ranks of many different types of career paths.  This includes careers where women were not common before now.  You would think women are helping each other out.  More senior women helping junior women make their mark.  However, I don’t think this is case.  I’m not saying that women don’t help each other at all.  I have had many women lend me a hand over time.  What I am saying there are many times where women get shut out by other women.  When that happens it doesn’t make sense.

There is research on this subject.  Derks, Van Laar, & Ellemers, (2016) did a review of the literature on “Queen Bee Syndrome”.  They didn’t come up with the term.  It was first defined in 1974 by Staines, Tavris, & Jayaratne.  When reading the review article, I felt the three ways Queen Bee Syndrome is displayed are some phases women go through.

Women presenting themselves more like men

Think tomboy.  I was a tomboy for most of my young life.  I helped fix cars, rode motorcycles, never wore makeup or dresses, and hated the color pink.  Later on it was liking what the guys liked to be more appealing.  As I grew older I realized that I should like what I like and I don’t have to be like a guy to succeed.  Today I love computers and all things tech, college and pro football, makeup and dresses, and I do wear the color pink.  I don’t think women need to be manly to succeed.  I think we need to be as strong as we already are and not let others tell us what we should be doing.

Distancing from other women

I’m sure many women have said, “I’m not like so and so.”  This is in an effort to look better in front of others.  If the perception in the office think a certain women is getting by on her looks, as a woman you may think, I’m not going to be like that.  The truth is we don’t really know how other women are getting by because of perception.  Women have a lot to overcome.  It doesn’t matter that she may have a degree from Harvard and a great leadership background.  We need to get to know the other women around us and not let the perception of others in the office shape our view.

Supporting the gender hierarchy

I believe this pertains more to women who make it through a male-dominated career.  If a women was able to break into the field of mainly men, then the gender hierarchy is correct.  I’ve seen this in women that put up with a lot of negativity on their way up.  Then they pay it forward to the next generation.  The idea is, if I had to put up with the negativity, so should you.  It is not be men providing the negativity, but women to other women.    I believe as women, we need to teach each other the ways we broke down the barriers.  We should not be breaking barriers only to build them up again behind us.

How can women overcome becoming a Queen Bee?  Recognize the negativity and stop.  Help other women move forward.  Paving the way is a good thing.  If someone has it easier than you did, that means things worked out for the better.  If you have influence, use it to help others.  When we stand together, it’s harder to hold us back.