Queen Bee Syndrome
As of 2016, only 23 of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by female CEO’s. Yeah. Twenty-Three. That means only 4.6 % of the world’s most successful, profitable and renowned companies have a woman as their leader.
Now, before you label me a crazy ‘feminazi’ and angrily exit the blog thinking I am about to embark on a man hater rant. Blaming men for the strife’s faced by women in today’s society. You can relax.
What I am more interested in rather, is how women themselves seem to quarrel and compete amongst one another. For a falsely constructed and manipulated select few pre-allocated seats at the executive table. As opposed to focusing that same energy and effort into establishing more seats for women, out of the pre-existing seats occupied by their male counterparts.
There are systemically concrete obstacles women face while working. For the most part, men are still trying to take women seriously in the workplace. Most would like to think that men have reached a point where they can see the value of having female counterparts or superiors in the workplace.
Yet we know this not to be true, as there remains an underlying patriarchal atmosphere in the workforce. What is more, is that it appears to not be this patriarchal system that is causing the greatest hindrance to female success, but rather, it is fellow working women.
This blog will explore an identified characteristic of women’s workplace mobility. It will examine why women consciously choose to cease fellow women from reaching success, often through hindrances aimed at preventing upward workplace mobility. While, it will also look at what women do with their positions once they reach the top. More-so, how women utilize their achieved executive influence to suppress the emergence of a female competitor who is perceived as a threat.
The argument here is that because all women experience sexism in the workplace, that all women would seek to support one another in overcoming and ultimately cleansing the workplace of any sexism. Yet, this just isn’t true.
Now, I don’t mean to paint all women as actively suppressing their sisters. There is evidence which suggests that there are women in chief executive positions, who do tend to fill other senior positions with women. Some high achieving women feel as though they have a moral obligation to assist other women in getting ahead as result of having shared the same struggle.
Unfortunately this isn’t true across the board. More often than not, it is the opposite which occurs.
So begs the question, why would any woman seek to suppress, rather than uplift her fellow woman?
Well, the truth is because it is kind of easier.
It is easier to combat fellow women than it is to combat a man for that promotion.
According to a study done by the Workplace Bullying Institute “female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time – up 9% since 2007.” By contrast male bullies aimed their abuse at both genders. And a 2011 study of 1000 working women conducted by the American Management Association, found that 95% felt they had been “undermined by another woman at some point in their careers.”
In other words, the workplace has become an increasingly toxic place for women, at the hands of women.
Some women respond to sexism by actively distancing themselves from other women. This is a known phenomenon.
The number of female spots at the executive table has been manipulated to appear limited. As such, instead of competing with men, women may compete and subjugate other women in their field in order to reduce competition at the top. Thus increasing the overall likelihood of their individual success.
Could it be that women have been brainwashed into thinking that there is a finite number of lady seats in the boardroom?
Brainwashed to think that the only chances of them sitting at the executive table is for them to make themselves seem like the better candidate in comparison to other women, and not just a better candidate to other colleagues in general?
Despite considerable advancements, there remains a patriarchal culture within the workplace. The idea of “men’s” work and “women’s” work, although far less severe, still survives. While many men are accepting and actively encourage women to take on professional roles. Others just can’t seem to get comfortable seeing a woman out of a kitchen and toting a briefcase.
As result of this many women feel as though they have something to prove. The high achieving woman, who makes it to the top have likely already been subject to various acts of sexism in her working role.
Leading women who reach the top often develop an obsession with maintaining their level of authority. Especially in comparison to female co-workers.
There are a number of theories in circulation regarding why women subjugate other women in a multitude of social situations, from profession to personal. From psychological manipulation, to being biologically wired to battle other women for the best mating genes available.
Although manipulating biology is quite difficult, altering behaviour isn’t as so.
Women need to stop believing that they are only reluctantly accepted in the workplace. They must work to establish and exude the confidence that has been earned. Because not only can women compete with the boys, but they can win!
To all the high-achieving ladies out there, just remember that you aren’t being strategic by subjugating your female counterparts in order to look more appealing for that promotion or to keep your position. Rather, you are contributing to the phenomenon of women focusing their competitive efforts on each other, as opposed to competing in general.
The bottom line is, only when women start to focus on personal achievement, instead of suppressing that of others will they realize their full potential for success.
In order to reduce occurrences of ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ in the workplace, enterprise needs to collectively work to ensure executive positions be made more accessible for women to actively compete for all opportunities, not a select few.
Queens bees are a cause of inequality, but they are also a result of it. Women must cease efforts of preserving their positions within male-dominated hierarchies by ways of stepping on their sisters. Women must work to establish networks wherein the mutual support of one another is ultimately aimed at the collective success of all women.