We have often seen her being depicted on the silver screen – Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Katherine Parker in the Working Girl, Amanda Woodward in Melrose Place—the female/lady boss who clawed her way to the top and is always ready to undermine other women trying to do the same. It is a perfect example of Queen Bee Syndrome.
What is Queen Bee Syndrome?
The term, Queen Bee Syndrome was coined in 1973 by social psychologists during research at the University of Michigan, Graham Staines, Toby Epstein Jayaratne, and Carol Tavris—who examined the impact of the women’s movement on the workplace. They defined the syndrome as “it depicts a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.”
In a 1974 article published in the journal Psychology Today, the researchers presented their findings, based on more than 20,000 responses. They found women who achieved huge success and shot to fame in the male-dominated corporate world, were at times resentful towards the rise of other women. This trend occurred, they argued, largely because of the patriarchal culture encouraged to become obsessed with maintaining their authority.
Four decades later, the syndrome continues to thrive within the corporate world and researches are still ongoing in the domain, further accentuated by the mass ascent of women to senior management positions. This queen bee generation is no less than their predecessors and is always trying to make out a place for themselves as alpha females. And in the process, if it is required to undermine a female colleague, they don’t think twice before taking any action.
The trend is full of ironies. The very women who complained about unequal treatment for decades are now perpetuating most of the problems on their own.
What stats say about Queen Bee Syndrome?
A survey of 1000 women employees, conducted by the San Francisco-based Employment Law Alliance in 2007, found that 45% of the respondents have been a victim of the Queen Bee Syndrome. They have been bullied by their female bosses at the workplace and have often been subjected to job sabotage, verbal abuse, misuse of authority, deliberate destruction of relationships.
What makes these queen bees so active and provoking is ability to exploit female vulnerabilities that men may not notice, using tactics that their male counterparts might never even see. These days’ though it is getting easier to become a professional woman and even scale heights, surviving there is by no means easy and the hard truth of Queen Bee Syndrome continues to exist.