The Queen Bee Syndrome

Dare I ask  – are you a Queen Bee?

Now you may ask what is this about bees and what does it have to do with me? In the workplace there are many Queen Bees buzzing around looking busy and quite often looking just plain damn mean. They could be your boss or your business partner. Now who are they and what are they? Obviously they are female being a Queen that is. Now you need to watch out for the sting – and it will be there. Are you starting to get the picture? Have you ever worked for a female boss who seemed hell bent on sabotaging everything that you do, but actually helping the guys in the office. You would think that this person having a tough ride to the top would help a newbie female on her rise to success. Oh no she wont and she will do everything in her power to stop you, in fact she will go out of her way to think of new and interesting ways to ‘get at you” – bring you down! You may think that you are imagining it, that you are paranoid and no that extra wine last night did not help you get through the day…the day with her barking orders and raising the bar just so high that you can see it but will never get over it. Now are you getting the picture welcome to the world of the Queen Bee she cant help herself she has been preparing for this role since high school in fact that is where it starts in adolescence as she realizes the power that she holds over others, she is smart she is strong she is powerful and man can she pack a sting when she finds some poor, always female, victim. You will find her everywhere even in Wikipedia so here is what Wiki says about her. You may find this very interesting… Queen bee syndrome was first defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris in 1973.[1] It describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female. This phenomenon has been documented by several studies.[2][3] In another study, scientists from the University of Toronto speculated that the queen bee syndrome may be the reason that women find it more stressful to work for women managers; no difference was found in stress levels for male workers.[4] Women, in particular, interact with one another in terms of empathy, but what happens when this turns into envy, especially in school or the workplace? Studies find men and women to be overall equal in many aspects of life.[5] Some studies find leadership roles relate with masculinity, creating a bias against feminine leaders.[6] Differences tend to be found in the sex’s style of leadership, expectations of others, and the perceived view the female has of herself as a leader. Women tend to downplay their influence when compared to male leaders.[5] An alternate, though closely related, definition describes a queen bee as one who has succeeded in her career, but refuses to help other women do the same.[7] Well now you know there is an actually studied and documented syndrome it can help you understand her and maybe even help you to stay out of her way. I worked with a Queen Bee once she actually headhunted me to work with her. Everyone told me not to take up the position and I did in fact find out she hated everyone, they were all useless, helpless and plain dumb – her words not mine. Maybe it was timing maybe it was her falling results whatever it was we started having coffee everyday her idea of a strategy meeting. Slowly I gained her trust with my ideas and we turned the workplace around increased productivity by 30% she went off to head office and recommended me for her Executive Director position without stinging me once, although to be honest I spent a lot of time waiting for the STING!!!! I would love to know your experience with Queen Bees and what you did to overcome their power.         


Dale Bourke – Dale is our NLP Trainer in Melbourne        

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Glen Murdoch

Glen Murdoch is the founder and CEO of The Life Coaching College. He has a long history of working with Athletes and Teams as a Performance Coach and Analyst and has developed Australia's number 1 Life Coaching College.

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