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Queen bee Syndrome – A known Devil

By : Shurlly Tiwari- HR Faculty,ISME

Yamini, a young, management graduate, pass out from one of the reputed management institute, is all geared up for her first day to office. She got an HR executive position in a MNC in Gurgaon.

A young girl in her early 20s, with a lot of dreams in her eyes, reached office before time and was waiting for her reporting manager. After 20 min s she was called inside a huge cabin, and was welcomed by one tall, dusky and strong women “Nandini- Head HR”.

She was then also introduced to Ruchi and Natasha, who will be her Buddy’s in the organisation and will help her in settling down in the organisation. She was shown her cabin and was also introduced to the other people of the team.

Yamini is all excited to work in this organisation, after working for a month Yamini realised  and observed difference in the behaviour of her team members and also her buddy’s towards herself . she was not able to understand the reason of this change , she realised that now her fellow colleagues does not want to have lunch and are ignoring her.

Yamini is unable to understand this behaviour, slowly it is becoming unbearable for her. Finally, one day she collected all the courage that she had and went up to Ruchi to discuss the things. To her surprise she received the same behaviour by her and Natasha. There is no choice left then to approach Nandini – The HR-Head.

Yamini took appointment and met Nanadini, explained her the situation. Nandini assured her that she will speak to the team.  After a week Yamini was called by Nandini  in her cabin.
Nandini told that Yamini has to become friends with the team, the team thinks that she has attitude problem. Yamini was shocked by this kind of feedback, she was not able to recall that where and when she behaved wrong with the team.

Next day she spoke to one of the team member named Neha and told her the whole story. Neha , also a small town girl told Yamini that this change of behaviour in the team members is because of Ruchi’s instructions . Ruchi does not want anybody to talk to Yamini . Yamini was very surprised by listening this and decided to speak to Ruchi about this issue. Next day, she met Ruchi and asked her the issue very politely. Ruchi was not only rude with her during the conversation but was also abusive, she also warned Yamini , that she can influence the team to such an extent that Yamini will be forced to leave the organisation.

Yamini was hurt and confused, she discussed this again with Neha, and now Neha told her that unknowingly Yamini has upset Ruchi and she should apologize to her. Poor Yamini could not understand anything but still she apologized Ruchi via mail. From the next day the office environment became different, everybody was talking and laughing with her, nobody was ignoring her, they invited her for the lunch at cafeteria etc.

Later, Yamini realised that Ruchi was the “Queen bee” of the team and of the organisation. And it’s always advisable to be friends with the queen bee. But Yamini’s dilemma did not end here she was asked to do few things in the organisation by Ruchi which does not get along with her value system. Yamini was in a fix and was not able to find any way to save herself from the clutches of Ruchi(the Queen bee) . She cannot tell this story to Nandini  as she was scared of Ruchi, at the same time she cannot do unethical work that Ruchi is asking her to do. After giving a ot of thought on this issue, Yamini decided to quit the job.

At her exit interview with Nandini ,Yamini told the real reason of her quitting and also requested Nandini to take care of the new people who join the organisation under Ruchi’s leadership because her Queen-bee attitude will not let others to survive in the organisation. Nandini tried to retain Yamini by transferring her to the new team and under new leader. Nandini did an investigation and found out that Ruchi did this with almost all the females of
the team , but her behaviour and approach with male members  was different she is more open and friendly with them.

Such, situations are found commonly in organisation. The term Queen Bee syndrome was first 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. This phenomena is been researched and proved by the researchers of Toronto University.
This phenomena is majorly responsible for the females getting extremely stressed under female bosses. Queen bee is the one who has succeeded in her career, but do not want others to succeed, especially females.

Generally, this syndrome is born from the middle school and it becomes troublesome for the ladies who are working with such females.   In recent years, research has shown that adolescent girls form (often small) groups called cliques, which are often created based on a shared characteristic or quality of the members such as attractiveness or popularity.

Johnson, Z, Mathur-Helm, B, 2011 shared their experience with Queen bees, The study explores the experiences of women executives and senior managers in South Africa in respect of the Queen Bee syndrome. Queen Bee behaviour is a term used to describe women executives that, after reaching senior positions, alienate other women and hence prevent more junior women from advancing through the ranks.
Recent research shows that Queen Bee syndrome can be a result of cultures, it effects those girls who have more man-like traits. Statistics from the researches shows that Queen Bee syndrome is generally developed in those females, who have achieved heights in their respective fields and who have reached the success through a lot of struggle in their own culture. The phenomena is very well explained in the movie” mean girls” in 2004.

This is also one of the reasons of less number of female leaders in the corporate world.

A young women starting her career faces two adverse conditions one is Glass ceiling and the other is sticky ground .Glass ceiling are the invisible barrier of false perception created by male dominated world. Whereas sticky ground is the condition where they are ill-treated by their own race and have to face the ugly competition.

The world is a jungle and the female workforce should be ready to face both King Cobras and Queen Bees.

·   Experiences with Queen Bees: A South African study exploring the reluctance of women executives to promote other women in the workplace”, Johnson, Z, Mathur-Helm, B,2011 in South African Journal of Business Management.
· Debashish Chaterjee
·   Queen bee syndrome – Wikipedia