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Female Bosses and the Queen Bee Syndrome

Published 10/22/07 (Modified 3/9/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

I have a moderate perspective on social issues, with a very slight lean towards the liberal left. But I always enjoy debating about interesting issues and enjoy hearing the views of others.

I'm going to talk about a fascinating topic I heard discussed on the Chris Core radio show today. He was talking about the existence of the stealth women vote in regards to Hillary Clinton and how some women are eagerly awaiting the chance to vote Hillary into office for the sake of seeing a women ascend into the nation's most powerful role. However, the issue was brought up that there are some people out there, most notably women in particular, who resent other women like Hillary for her "Queen Bee" mentality and persona.

What is It?

The Queen Bee Syndrome goes like this. Women who have the Queen Bee condition are usually those who work in supervisory roles or in positions of power. They feel the need to be recognized and demand to be in the center of attention at all times. They regard other women as competition and see them as threats to their ability to enjoy exclusive attention and respect. They desire nothing more than having others fall on their knees to bow before them and lavish them with power, attention, compliments, and envy. Oftentimes, they will treat female subordinates much harsher than male employees. They have particular resentment and disdain for women who work in traditional stereotypical female roles, such as secretaries, models, and housewives.

Genuine Surprise At the Response

The issues raised were quite interesting but I could see how the discussion might be considered sexist by some, and I fully expected a torrent of angry female listeners to flood the radio show's telephone lines to voice their displeasure and complaints. I was actually secretly hoping for this since I'm a sucker for juicy talk radio.

I was completely surprised at what happened next. A steady stream of female listeners began calling into the show expressing agreement with this theory. The majority agreed that many female bosses had this Queen Bee mentality, which caused great resentment and competition among their female subordinates. Many of the female callers indicated that they preferred having a male boss for the fact they think female bosses are harder on other women because the female bosses see other women as threats for attention. Apparently they don't view men in this competitive light.

Even one seasoned female manager who indicated that she has worked many years in a supervisory role expressed reluctant agreement that the Queen Bee Syndrome was a pervasive affliction in the work place. She remarked that she personality felt an extra responsibility to help other women rise up to her status, but she felt some of the subordinate women felt entitled to this special treatment and resented managers like her when they didn't provide the extra attention.

Is It a Real Condition In the Workplace?

I found the radio discussion to be utterly fascinating and I began thinking about the type of social interactions I often observe at work. I've always thought the opposite was true in the work place - that women tended to give each other extra attention and assistance for emotional and professional support out of mutual sympathy and understanding. I usually see women congregate together and go off in pairs or groups during social and working situations. They even visit the restroom together! Little did I know, they are secretly plotting against one another. :)

I'm curious to hear what other people think!

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27 Responses to “Female Bosses and the Queen Bee Syndrome” 

  1. mapgirl says:

    Me, I'm just mean to everybody. Today was one of those Queen of Hearts "Off with their heads!" days. ROFL.

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    I don't know if it's attention for attention's sake. It seems more likely to me that these women are worried about is being taken seriously and respected. Some of the older ones, in particular, have had to work hard to get where they are. And they may worry not just about other women as threats but dislike it when they see other women behaving in ways which they feel inside sets men's opinions back. So a coworker who dresses sexily threatens the idea that a woman can be a serious worker, or that's how they feel.

    My two cents.

  3. Karen Bune says:

    The Queen Bee Syndrome is definitely alive and well. Most women supervisors are threatened by highly educated, successful, and competent women who work under them . If the female employee is recognized by others for her talent and performance, the supervisor becomes highly threatened and will retaliate on the worker by writing poor performance appraisals, finding fault where there is none, and picking on the individual's performance. A successful woman usually cannot excel or thrive when working under a Queen Bee who, oftentimes, tries to destroy her any way she can.

  4. Northwest Gal says:

    Yes, I, too, agree that the Queen Bee Syndrome is real, especially in an employment interview in our small, conservative, fairly patriarchal-infused US western state. As a female professional, I, along with other competent females seeking viable employment have discovered an unusual, although persistent pattern in the hiring process carried out by female hiring decision-makers. It seems that these fellow females tend to be much more 'difficult' to deal with in a hiring and interviewing situation than their male counterparts, that is if the person seeking employment tends to be a fellow female professional. As well, the consensus, at least in this town, among those of us who don't fit the traditional female mold of this town, that many of these women hiring professionals seem to have acquired the 'gotcha'-game-mentality and employ it upon other women in an interviewing situation. Many professional, talented women just can't seem to get past the female hiring person. Albeit, this town is laid-back, however, many of the so-called professional women are just not that professionally-minded. Yet, they tend to keep truly talented women from gaining access to their work environment by systematically finding excuses to completely eliminate viable women candidates from the employment competition.

    The reality is that in this town particularly the general opinion of a goodly number of county (and in the state, for that matter) inhabitants is that females should not be working outside of the home...and definitely not working in professional positions alongside men---other than, of course, in specifically sanctioned traditional female-suited occupations. Again, those few women who have managed to secure professional positions seem to not wish to open the door of opportunity to fellow women. Conversely, they seem to readily make professional positions available to men, instead, thereby locking out all possibility of fellow female competition in their work environment.

    Sadly, to a large degree, of the professional women in this state (and small town) who have secured professional positions, a fairly large number of them tend to protect their territory by covertly (and even not so covertly) shunning other female prospective employment candidates, being unusually hard on their accomplishments, while at the same time...opting to provide the male, as viewed as the 'traditional' and primary source for family income, to prevail in securing employment opportunities and advancement.

    I've often jest to myself and have even posited lately that, perhaps, 'dumbing down' my interviewing technique (at least in this town) in order to secure a position, might work better to my employment advantage. a common lament among other capable professional female candidates seeking employment in this town: presenting our abilities, being fairly well-read, articulate, informed and possessing communications capabilities does not serve us well in this archaic-minded little town. Interesting that the subject of this thread concerns 'Queen Bees'. The symbol of this western US state happens to be----of all possible symbols: a beehive, no less.

  5. Raymond says:

    Hi Northwest Gal,

    I'm just curious, which northwest town would this be? It just sort of amazes me that such firm, traditional views still persist today, for better or worse. I think as a society we may have progressed, but in many ways, we still find comfort in traditional values and age-old ways of viewing the world.

    But that's what experts say about the country...that we are a liberal nation, with a conservative core...or was that the other way around?

  6. Northwest Gal says:

    In answer to Raymond's question: Still considering myself a NW Gal (at heart), the state in which we now reside and was the subject of my earlier lengthy post is.....Utah.

    Thank you for your question and the opportunity you provided me to clarify my previous remarks. The NW was a positive environment in which to work and do business---speaking as a woman. As well, it was a most beautiful state, in my opinion. Abolustely loved the experience of living there. To me, I am unable to think of a more lovely place to live, frankly. Best wishes,
    NW Gal

  7. Northwest Gal says:

    Hi Raymond:

    Also, in answer to your question as to which NW town about which you initially inquired, (although the situation to which I was referring is in Utah):Seattle, Port Townsend, and Issaquah. Do you reside in the NW or are you familiar with the NW, by the way?

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