POSTED April 12, 2011 - 13:18 | POSTED BY Silky Chandvani Last edited by Jaspreet Virk on April 12, 2011 - 14:06
Forget some encouraging words, office queen bees often hold back other women's careers by assessing them as less qualified and unimportant than their male counterparts, the study found.
An intriguing new piece of research by psychologists at the University of Cincinnati shows that women on top are more likely to support and mentor male subordinates than females working at the same level.
The present study, published in the journal 'Social Science Research,' provides backing to previous studies which suggest that having a female boss can be a major obstacle to other women hoping a promotion in the organization, the Daily Mail reports.
Researcher Dr David Maume said in a press release, "The popular press and many studies contend that women make better managers than men because they are more supportive leaders, delegate more responsibility and foster the careers of their subordinates, especially the women who work under them.
“But in this study, men exceeded women in receiving job-related support from female supervisors and were more optimistic about their promotion chances as a result.”
Queen Bee syndrome
The phenomenon, called the Queen bee syndrome, describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.
Some experts suggest that such women who have succeeded in their career refuse to help other women do the same. As a result, they view ambitious women around them as possible threats to their throne and prefer to be surrounded by men.
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Anna Wintour, the British-born editor-in-chief of American 'Vogue' are prime examples of a queen bee.
Study details and findings
The study, based on responses from more than 2000 employees in the United States, found that hi-flying women are more likely to help and advise male workers as compared to other women at work.
Researchers say that it may partly be due to the fact that women occupying senior positions want to blend more with males in the office, which is why they end up giving more advise and support to men than female subordinates
“The results are consistent with the notion that female managers have little or no effect on the career prospects of female subordinates and instead foster men’s career prospects,” Maume added.
Further, women working in a male dominated environment are bound to get disappointed, if it's a female boss, the researchers averred.
“Those that expect female bosses will dramatically change the nature of superior-subordinate relations are likely to be disappointed,” he said.
In 2008, a German study reported that women working under female supervisors were more likely to suffer depression, insomnia, headaches, and heartburn than if their boss was a man.
A plausible explanation
Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in psychology at Lancaster University, said the findings may be due to women overcompensating as they do not want to be accused of favouring female staff.
“This is classic Queen Bee syndrome. Women who get into managerial jobs in male-dominated organisations tend to be very much like the men, if not harder,” he said.
“Take Lady Thatcher, she was considered to be tougher than lots of the men around her and that’s exactly why she got to the top.”