We repeatedly hear about women being discriminated against in the workplace by men and whilst this still happens, I feel not enough is said about women who are discriminated against, by other women, simply because of the fact that they are women!  The Queen Bee Syndrome is real and unless you’ve never been in the unfortunate position of reporting to a “Queen Bee”, you may not fully understand what this means.

The Queen Bee Syndrome is not a new phenomenon, but it is a very rife one, unfortunately so. Explained very simply, the “Queen Bee Syndrome” is when a woman in a high-ranking position of authority, treats her female subordinates more critically and even unfairly than her male counterparts.

There are women who tenaciously fight to make it up to the corporate ladder in a male dominated organisation, sometimes this becomes an unhealthy obsession. So much so, that instead of having a mentoring attitude toward other females, they become an obstacle. They become arrogant, unapproachable and may even give credit and promotional opportunities to male subordinates – perhaps they feel threatened that another female is going to make it to the top.

The Queen Bee Syndrome – characteristics

I’ve never been attracted to ostentatious pompous men, personally or professionally but as time goes on and we seek to create more awareness of gender equality, I personally feel that there are so many women who have these traits. Self-inflated egos, over confident personas that blatantly look down on females who are on lower levels than they are.

Think back to the mean girls you were exposed to growing up, in your teens. The girls who would gossip, spread rumours, manipulatively leave you out of social circles and even worse try to steal your romantic interest…these mean girls have matured into Queen Bees at the workplace.  They’re the ones who would rather promote a male, even if you were the best person for the job. They strategically avoid you attending meetings and events where you could potentially unleash your abilities and potential. They are the mistresses of manipulation and deception.  They may say things like, “women are too much of stress, I’d rather work with a team of men”.

Believe it or not sweethearts, some women are own enemies! They thrive on making other women look bad, to make themselves look good.  They are the type of women that won’t engage in discussions with you, they’d deliberately dismiss your opinions. But let a male within the team express the very same opinions and watch this Queen Bee attentively listen, sometimes with all giggles and even flirtatious body language.

As women, having feminine traits, has been seen as a sign of weakness. To the extent that some women who vie for executive positions, adapt to masculine behaviour, whilst some are born with more testosterone. I wish we lived in a world where we were judged as individuals and not because of the colour of our skin or race or gender. I wish that these Queen Bee’s who have made it to the top would use their success in a positive manner and that is to mentor others – not necessarily women, but any individual who has been discriminated against, for whatever reason.

“We should not be oppressed because we are women.”

Yes of course, there are still very many companies who are male dominated in terms of leadership. There are also many individuals who are backward thinking who even resist reporting to females.  It’s a culture that has to change.  We should not be oppressed because we are women.  We should not change who we are just because society or the culture of a certain organisation doesn’t promote women leaders.

We should not feel that we are not enough, because we are women.  If you want to lead a team in stiletto’s and a dress, do just that, don’t feel that you have to wear pants to conform to expectations of society. You don’t need to feel or dress like a man to be in a position of authority.  You don’t need to flirt your way to the top either.  There’s a lot of value within the woman and even the man in you – don’t allow yourself to be a victim of gender discrimination.

If you’re that woman who likes to be on top, then be on top! Stop just lying there and wishing and wondering how different things could be.  Change your position, take control and don’t allow anyone to stifle your thoughts and your beliefs because of previous conditional thinking and behaviours about a what a woman “should” be, “think like” or “do”.

Yes, you’re a woman, but more than that, you’re an individual, with your own unique thoughts that make you, YOU. If the environment that you’re in, doesn’t promote the development of women or discriminates just because you are a woman, then seek opportunities elsewhere. 

Rising Star “Making it happen” Female Forum

I love and truly admire the fact that Henley Business School and Accenture as an example, are  promoting the empowerment of the next generation of female leaders in our country through the Rising Star – The Female Forum.  This forum showcased some of the best ladies in the industry across sectors, who help teach young ladies in business how to elevate themselves in the difficult male dominated corporate climate.

I had the pleasure and the privilege to attend the first Rising Star “Making it happen” Female Forum of the year – hosted by Henley Business School.  It was a “safe place” where women among women, could express themselves together, breaking down the barriers of inequality in the workplace.  You see, when women choose to work together and not against each other, change will happen.  Through this change, women will be empowered and will grow and through this specific initiative, that platform for Rising Stars will inspire and motivate women all over.

We do need more women leaders but not Queen Bees, let us seek to aspire and inspire each other.  Let’s not create enemies but work toward a spirit of helping and guiding those that are younger and those who have been discriminated against. Let’s distance ourselves from the mindset of having a sense of entitlement because of our gender, race, etc. Let’s uplift ourselves, our organisations, our society and country as a whole, based on merit.

One Reply to “The Queen Bee Syndrome”

  1. Oh yes, I’ve had the pleasure of working with ‘Queen Bees’. I guess it’s fear of losing their Honey😀 i.e. their position, authority, admiration, power, etc.

    Equality for women at the working place is still not in prractce to a full extent. We females need to change our way of thinking too. We need to see each other as an ally and not as a rival. Together we rise to the top!

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