I have been the victim of the Queen Bee Syndrome. Throughout my career, I have had female bosses. (I mean I can literally count on my fingertips!). Maybe because I have been in the publishing industry all throughout and by the sheer fact that this industry is dominated by women (well…almost!)
Nonetheless, coming to the point, I have had the best times and have faced the worst times with female bosses (and all ended with the worst).
From being understanding of my roles of being a daughter, then eventually a daughter-in-law, wife and later a mom, I have majorly had women bosses who have totally been oblivious to me even as a human being, let alone a woman with needs….many needs. From making me quit because I was going to be a mother (and rendered unfit to take on more responsibilities) to creating a hostile environment (gossip and what not), I have come to believe that having female bosses can be nerve-wrecking.
In retrospect, after almost ten years in the industry, I have realized that the dynamics are different when you have female bosses. And the term for this dynamics is the “Queen Bee Syndrome”. Defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris in 1973, “it describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.”
While researching on why female bosses can be ‘sciatica’, I stumbled on this: “Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by turning on their own. A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the American Management Association found that 95% of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers.”1
I am not implying this kind of a feeling an attack to my feminist sisters, but Gallup data2 (although specific to America) does show that more people preferred a male boss. I can certainly understand why the United States don’t want to have a woman President. However on a serious note, I wonder if men have to say something similar about having women bosses.
In retrospect, I have thought of many things about myself – I have especially worked on improving my interpersonal relations with my peers and colleagues and particularly bosses (male or female, both) – whether in trying to be more appeasing by taking more work or going out of the way to do some task. But I realize that it all comes down to having to see someone grow in their own way – male or female, it doesn’t matter.
With the organizations leadership becoming more androgynous, I think that as leaders, it is important to understand the fact that a leader grows when his/her people grow – together!