Queen Bee Syndrome

A professional writer and passionate blogger, Sampurna has been lending her expertise to the online world by penning articles, guest posts and blogs on career, business and employment for a quite some time now. She also an avid reader; loves travelling and photography.

The corporate world is full of weird stuff. Well, at times, if not always. And being a victim of the Queen Bee Syndrome is one of the many. I have been a victim of the Queen Bee Syndrome at the workplace, and within this short professional span (roughly a little over six years), the Queen Bee has stung me bitterly, so I can sit and pen down a post on my experiences regarding it. Recently, I was watching the movie; Devil Wears Prada and no wonder I could easily relate to the character of Andrea Sachs.

Till now, I have had the fortune (rather a misfortune) of working with three female managers, and they have been eerie enough to give me nightmares about by the job. From threatening me with dire consequences, bullying, making me a scapegoat to even scaring the hell out of me (so much that I ended up visiting a psychologist) and going on to the extent of stripping me off my minimum self-respect—I have had some of the worst times with my female managers. By now, I have come to believe that working under a female manager can be tremendously nerve-wracking.

Thinking about the phenomenon and in retrospect about the same, I have now come to understand that the dynamics of working with a female boss is very different from that of working with a male boss. And the phrase, ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ was coined just to define this kind of dynamism that exists between two women (one being superior) working in the corporate sector. Defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris in 1973;

“it describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female”.

While researching this topic, I stumbled upon a few information about the syndrome. Researchers have proven that the concept of Queen Bee Syndrome is universally applicable, though coined in the western world. A survey conducted in 2011 with one thousand working females by the American Management Association and found that nearly 95 percent of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. According to a University of Toronto study conducted in 2008, nearly 1,800 U.S. employees, found that women working under female bosses reported more symptoms of psychological and physiological stress than did those working under male supervisors. Something is amiss in the domain of professional sisterhood.

Wondering if that was the reason why Trump won over the more charismatic Clinton?

India is not far behind. In a research conducted by TeamLease, it was reported that 66% of Indian professionals preferred working for a male boss; 56% of who currently working under a female boss would prefer a male boss and 71% who are already working for a male boss would like to continue.

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Of all the respondents that prefer male bosses, 44% rated them as understanding and considerate, 30% rated them as practical, 17% rated them as fun and flexible while 9% rated them as unbiased.

Coming back to the point. While there has been a rise of female employees in top positions across industries, and several reports are also witnessed by the fact that, companies with a female lead have often been reported to perform better, the reality of Queen Bee’s Sting, unfortunately, continues to exist.

Queen bees may be with us, but that does not mean women over whom they have forcing authority do not have options. Stand up for what you think is right and have the courage to speak up for yourself.

On a final note, it can be said, with organisations becoming more androgynous, it is more important for leaders to learn that, when his or her team grows, even he grows. The dynamics are interdependent. The sooner this fact is realised and implemented; I am confident that the sting of Queen Bee will stop affecting professional women.

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