Queen bee or better known as ‘Bitch Boss” - these terms are usually associated with female leaders, but not so much with male leaders. Often, it seems that women are not willing to help each other and that once they land a leadership position they become control freaks that simply don’t care about anyone’s feelings. Well, it is time for this myth to be debunked.
The queen bee syndrome is a concept developed around 1973 when researchers claimed that a woman in a position of authority will not support other women.
In 2015, the research team at Columbia Business School showed that female in-fighting is a myth. The research looked at 1,500 of the biggest companies during a 20 year period and the conclusion was that a female CEO is more likely to appoint other women for promotion to senior positions. Also, the research found that the probability of a second woman becoming a senior manager fell by 51% when the chief executive was male.
Of course, this study is not a universal truth, but as Sheryl Sandberg says for The New York Times: “Queen bees exist, but they’re far less common than we think. Women aren’t any meaner to women than men are to one another. Women are just expected to be nicer.”
Having some evidence that female leaders help other females, rather than bringing them down is a way of showing how leadership should work.
You already know the traits of a good leader, you’ve read several articles about tips, characteristics and how to succeed. Yes, we’ve had plenty of advice. We know we need confidence, a vision, a unique voice and so on. So how about some actual examples of great leaders?
Here are 5 female leaders who make a point of supporting other women:
Shelley Zalis is an internationally recognised leader for advancing equality in the workplace. Zalis is an admired speaker and member of the Washington Speakers Bureau and also a writer for Forbes. ThroughThe Female Quotient, she wants to advance gender equality in the workplace through collaboration and innovative solutions.
Sarah Larson Levey is an entrepreneur who built one of America's fastest-growing fitness companies for people who hate yoga. Levey supports female leadership, her executive team being all female. Listen to her story here.
Ade Hassan came up with an innovative product in order to empower all women. Nubian Skin provides essential nude underwear for women of colour, encouraging them to embrace their skin.
Sheryl Kara Sandberg is technology executive, chief operating officer of Facebook and activist. She was the first woman to be part of Facebook’s board of directors. By founding Lean In, Sandberg wants to help women to achieve their career goals.
Emma Sayle founded Killing Kittens to encourage women to speak about their desires and to give them the confidence to pursue them. She wanted a space where female sexuality is not a taboo subject, where women are free to express themselves as they please.
Not only is Queen Bee syndrome not as common as some would like us to believe, but there are plenty of women out there who understand success comes when they support and nurture other women rather than seeing them as a threat. The more we bring each other up, the more we all benefit - collaboration is key.
Written by Calina Muresan, MA Fashion Journalism from London College of Fashion, UAL- PG Collaborative Unit project