ORIGINALLY POSTED: May 13, 2018
Pulling from the research that I have read about over the past 3 years regarding the lack of women in senior leadership positions, I’ve learned one of the reasons why women constantly struggle to reach gender parity at higher levels of leadership is the Queen Bee Phenomenon; when women aren’t helping other women to be successful. Also, what was baffling to me was when women actually reached the higher rungs of an organizations, it was usually a huge struggle!
In fact, women often go through a series of hurdles and obstacles, otherwise referred to as the Leadership Labyrinth. What is the labyrinth you ask?
Alice Eagly and Linda Carli (2007) coined the phenomenon of the labyrinth, as it is more fitting than the “glass ceiling”. The labyrinth is a set of walls, often invisible, and women must find their way around them to move their careers ahead! And, worst of all, some women who have navigated and overcome these barriers may want to remain the Queen Bee and therefore not help others, despite that they too, struggled to navigate the labyrinth. In fact, some women may distance themselves from junior women who are attempting to seek out these higher-level leadership positions. These junior women start to feel that achieving a promotion is like finding a unicorn!
Here are two characteristics that are cited from Derks et al (2016) about “Queen Bees”:
(1) queen bee behavior is a response to the discrimination and social identity threat that women may experience in male-dominated organizations,
(2) queen bee behavior is not a typically feminine response but part of a general self-group distancing response that is also found in other marginalized groups”.
Not only do we need women to help one another, we also NEED men to help understand the challenges that their mothers, sisters, daughters, and spouses deal with, to yet still not be as successful as their male counterparts. We need MEN to help understand how women are being held back and how women are also playing a key role in keeping women down! How can we achieve gender parity together???
Read Eagly & Carli’s (2007) article by clicking here.
Read more about Women who distance themselves from junior women here.