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Be ready for an encounter with a workplace queen bee…

Be ready for an encounter with a workplace queen bee…

This phenomenon, known as the “Queen Bee Syndrome,” describes the tendency for some women to undermine or suppress their female peers, particularly when they perceive them as potential competitors.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, both men and women face a myriad of challenges and competitions in various spheres of life, be it in the workplace, academia, or society at large.

However, what has recently come into focus is the contrasting approaches employed by these genders to tackle competition.

While men often respond to competition by redoubling their efforts, investing extra hours, or seeking additional education and skills to advance their careers and secure better pay, women, at times, resort to self-destructive behaviors by attempting to stifle or eliminate their female counterparts’ potential success.

This gender-specific divergence raises an important question: “What is the more ideal, long-term, and self-sustaining approach to competition?”

This phenomenon, known as the “Queen Bee Syndrome,” describes the tendency for some women to undermine or suppress their female peers, particularly when they perceive them as potential competitors.

This term has been explored in psychology and sociology studies, shedding light on the complex dynamics among women in competitive environments. It refers to the unfortunate tendency of some successful women to harbor insecurities that lead them to actively suppress other women from achieving success or reaching the pinnacle of their fields.

These some what successful women may exhibit behavior that is unsupportive or even hostile towards their female colleagues.

Despite decades of emancipation campaigns and initiatives aimed at empowering women, this enduring insecurity continues to plague the female community.

It’s high time we normalized the idea that there is ample room at the top for everyone. The belief that one woman’s success diminishes the opportunities for others is a fallacy that hinders progress, limits collaboration, and stifles knowledge transfer.

Here are some ways in which the Queen Bee Syndrome can manifest in the workplace and limit organizational progress:

  1. Undermining Competitors: Queen Bees may actively undermine the success of other women by criticizing their work, questioning their competence, or taking credit for their ideas and accomplishments.
  2. Exclusivity: They may exclude other women from important meetings, projects, or social gatherings, limiting their access to valuable networking opportunities and information.
  3. Setting Unrealistic Standards: Some Queen Bees may set impossibly high standards or expectations for their female colleagues, making it difficult for them to excel or progress in their careers.
  4. Lack of Mentorship: Queen Bees may be unwilling to mentor or sponsor other women, depriving them of valuable guidance and opportunities for career growth.
  5. Reinforcing Stereotypes: They may perpetuate negative stereotypes about women’s abilities or behaviors, contributing to a culture that hinders women’s advancement and leadership opportunities.
  6. Competition Over Collaboration: Queen Bees prioritize competition among women over collaboration and mutual support, discouraging teamwork and cooperation among female employees.
  7. Creating a Negative Culture: Their behavior can contribute to a negative organizational culture where the success of individual women is prioritized over the success of the entire team or organization.

In the pursuit of professional excellence, we should strive to break free from the constraints of the Queen Bee Syndrome. Here are some strategies to handle workplace queen bees effectively:


Start by evaluating your own behavior and attitude. Make sure you’re not contributing to any conflicts or fueling the queen bee’s behavior inadvertently. Maintain professionalism and remain respectful even in difficult situations.

Understand their perspective:

Try to understand what motivates the queen bee. Often, they may have insecurities, past experiences, or personal issues that are tiggered by your existence. Empathizing with their situation can help you manage your reactions.

Document behavior:

Keep a record of specific incidents where the queen bee’s behavior has been disruptive or harmful. Include dates, times, locations, and any witnesses. This documentation can be useful if you need to escalate the issue later.

Communicate assertively:

Address the queen bee directly but respectfully. Express your concerns about their behavior and its impact on the work environment.

Engage with management.

If the queen bee’s behavior continues despite your efforts, consider discussing the issue higher personnel that are in a nuetral position.  Present your documentation and be prepared to discuss possible solutions.

Focus on self-care:

Dealing with a queen bee can be emotionally draining. Make sure to prioritize self-care, both physically and mentally. Engage in stress-reduction activities and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Build your network:

Cultivate positive relationships with other colleagues and superiors. A strong network can provide support, create a buffer against negative influences, and potentially open up new opportunities within or outside the organization.

Know when to consider other options:

If the situation doesn’t improve and your well-being continues to suffer, it might be worth considering finding a new job. No individual is worth draining yourself for.

Remember that dealing with workplace queen bees can be challenging, but by approaching the situation calmly, assertively, and strategically, you can minimize their impact on your work life and the overall workplace environment.

It’s extremely crucial for women to unite, support, and uplift each other in the face of competition. The Queen Bee Syndrome is a hindrance to progress, and we must work together to overcome it.

By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of women in all walks of life, fostering a more equitable, collaborative, and successful future for everyone. Let us celebrate each other’s achievements and ensure that there is always enough room at the top for all to shine.

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