Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The myth of the 'queen bee': Work and sexism

Date:
June 23, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Female bosses sometimes have a reputation for not being very nice. Some display what's called "queen bee" behavior, distancing themselves from other women and refusing to help other women as they rise through the ranks. Now, a new study concludes that it's wrong to blame the woman for this behavior; instead, blame the sexist environment.

Female bosses sometimes have a reputation for not being very nice. Some display what's called "queen bee" behavior, distancing themselves from other women and refusing to help other women as they rise through the ranks. Now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, concludes that it's wrong to blame the woman for this behavior; instead, blame the sexist environment.

Belle Derks of Leiden University in the Netherlands has done a lot of research on how people respond to sexism. From her own observations of women in the workplace, she thinks that women are often held to a different standard than men; behavior that would be seen positively in men, such as competitiveness, is seen negatively when women do it. Derks co-wrote the study with Colette van Laar, Naomi Ellemers, and Kim De Groot.

Derks and her colleagues wondered if the queen bee behavior -- denying that gender discrimination is a problem, for example -- might be a response to a difficult, male-dominated environment. They gave a web-based questionnaire to 63 senior women in police departments in three Dutch cities. One of the first questions was about how important their gender identity was at work. For example, they were asked how much they identify with other women in the police force.

For the experiment, half of the participants were told to write about an example of a situation where they thought being a woman was detrimental to them at work, they were discriminated against, or heard other people talking negatively about women. The other half were told to write about a time when their gender was no issue at all and they were valued for their personal abilities.

Then the women were asked about their leadership style, how different they thought they were from other women, and whether they felt gender bias was an issue in the police force. How women answered these questions depended on the strength of their gender identity at work. Women who had been primed to think about gender bias answered like queen bees -- that they had a masculine leadership style, that they were very different from other women and gender bias wasn't a problem -- only if they had started out by saying they identified weakly with women at work. Those who identified strongly with their gender at work had the opposite response -- when they thought about gender bias, they said afterwards that they were motivated to mentor other women.

The fact that only certain women engage in queen bee behavior, and only after they've been primed to think about gender bias, suggests that for organizations that want more women at the top, simply putting women in high-up positions and expecting them to mentor other women won't work. "If you simply put women at higher positions without doing anything about gender bias in the organization, these women will be forced to distance themselves from the group," Derks says. They may deny that gender bias exists, or avoid helping women below them. "If you set women up this way, so they have to choose between their opportunities and the opportunities of the group, some women will choose themselves. Why should you choose your group? Men don't have to."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Belle Derks, Colette van Laar, Naomi Ellemers, and Kim De Groot. Gender Bias Primes Elicit Queen Bee Responses among Senior Police Women. Psychological Science, 2011

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "The myth of the 'queen bee': Work and sexism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620151008.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, June 23). The myth of the 'queen bee': Work and sexism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620151008.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "The myth of the 'queen bee': Work and sexism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620151008.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins