Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Queen Bee' Syndrome

From The Mail Online:
"University researchers say women who have to answer to a female supervisor feel more stressed than if their superior is male.

They suffer from far more depression, insomnia, headaches and heartburn than if their boss is a man. But for male workers, the sex of their manager makes no difference.

The Canadian team, which studied 1,800 U.S. workers, reckoned the explanation could lie in Queen Bee syndrome, in which successful women do not like to be surrounded by competitors of the same sex.

The University of Toronto scientists also suggested that many females do not like to be led by women because they see leadership as a traditionally male role. This could be the reason why U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton failed to get her party's nomination - or why Segolene Royal lost last year's French presidential election.

For the research, stress levels and the physical health of workers were compared in three situations: working for one male boss, for one female boss, and those working for one of each.

The study found that women who have a lone female supervisor suffer far more than those who have a male boss.

They reported more psychological distress (such as trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing on work, depression and anxiety) and physical symptoms (like headaches, stomach pain or heartburn, neck and back pain, and tiredness).

But women who worked for a lone male supervisor had far fewer symptoms. And those who worked for one of each were somewhere in the middle.

For the male workers, however, there was no difference in level of distress, no matter whether his boss was male or female. However, men who worked for a mixed-gender pair had fewer mental and physical problems than those who worked for a man and woman alone.

Scott Schieman, author of the study, said the differences may be because of stereotypes that it is more 'normal' for men to be leaders and display typical leadership characteristics.

So while a woman might expect a male boss to be aggressive and demanding, they may not expect this behaviour from a female supervisor. They might expect more emotional support from a female boss - and be unhappy when they do not get it, but instead find some women 'manage more like men, which can be more conflictive or combative'.

Another possibility is that women tend to work in different jobs, skewing the results. 'It may be that something about the nature of the work itself is influencing these health differences,' Dr Schieman told the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

'For example, women working with a woman supervisor might tend to be found mostly in the caring sector or in jobs that tend to be under-resourced, under-funded and under-valued, such as social work or education, creating stress both for the workers themselves and stress for the boss that might trickle down to her subordinates.

'These are speculative points that need to be investigated further.'

Other research has blamed Queen Bee syndrome for conflict-between women at work.

A recent German study found that women in power tended to regard female subordinates as less dedicated than men - because they want to protect their own interests. "


Anonymous said...

I have never before read about this syndrome. I find it fascinating and somewhat amusing in that my husband teases me by calling me Queen Bee. I guess I can be a little bossy - I'd rather think of myself as a leader. ; )

I am enjoying visiting the women on the WE magazine list of "101 Bloggers to Watch". (Heidi said to tell you she sent me.) Congratulations on a great blog.

Looks like a great resource!

Husla3x said...
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