'Queen bee syndrome' exists in workplaces, and it is getting worse, says study

Queen bee syndrome
Queen bee syndrome exists in all work places, says University of Arizona researcher Allison Gabriel Allison Gabriel

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona has revealed that 'Queen bee syndrome' exists in workplaces, and it is getting worse in the course of time. 'Queen bee syndrome' is a phenomenon in which women discriminate fellow female workers as they rise in seniority. The study also revealed that women are meaner to each other than they are to their male colleagues.

The study report is published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

'Queen bee syndrome' is a reality

The researchers conducted three studies to know better about the 'Queen bee syndrome' in workplaces. During the study, men and women were asked to answer about the incivility they faced in workplaces. The answers indicated that women often target other women who are assertive and dominant. On the other hand, men behaved more politely to other men who are submissive.

"Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts. In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women. This isn't to say men were off the hook or they weren't engaging in these behaviors," said Allison Gabriel, assistant professor at the University of Arizona, and the lead author of the study.

Gabriel also added that the new finding provides an opportunity to business owners for re-evaluating their culture, so that the problem of 'queen bee syndrome' can be addressed effectively.

"Making workplace interactions more positive and supportive for employees can go a long way toward creating a more positive, healthier environment that helps sustain the company in the long run. Organisations should make sure they also send signals that the ideas and opinions of all employees are valued, and that supporting others is crucial for business success," added Gabriel.

It was in 1973 that three researchers G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris initially defined 'queen bee syndrome'. This is a phenomenon in which a woman in a position of authority treats female subordinates very critically.

Companies may face a greater risk of losing female employees due to this phenomenon, which creates less satisfaction at work and increased intentions to quit current jobs, said researchers. In their estimate, the incivility can cost organizations an estimated $14,000 per employee, a real problem for organizations.