The Queen Bee Syndrome. The paradox of women discrimination on the labour market

Main Article Content

Anna Sobczak


Nowadays, women are present in all spheres of life and legislation gives them the same rights as men. We can therefore speak about the emancipation of women for whom new areas of social life have become available, especially the area of education and the labour market. However, despite the fact that gender equality is officially enforced in Western countries, we can still notice certain forms of discrimination against women, in particular related to their functioning in the labour market. The unequal access of women to managerial positions is just one of the many examples. Paradoxically, this access is sometimes hampered by women holding high positions who are not willing to help their younger colleagues in achieving professional promotion. The aim of this article is to present and explain the occurrence of this negative phenomenon, which will be referred to as the Queen Bee Syndrome.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sobczak, A. (2018). The Queen Bee Syndrome. The paradox of women discrimination on the labour market. Journal of Gender and Power, 9(1), 51-61.


  1. ALBELDA, R. & TILLY, C. (1997) Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women’s Work, Women’s Poverty. Boston: South End Press.
  2. BAERT, S., DE PAUW, A. S. & DESCHACHT, N. (2016) Do Employer Preferences Contribute to Sticky Floors? The Journal of Work and Policy. 69 (3), pp. 714–736.
  3. BARRETO, M., RYAN, M. K. & SCHMITT, M. T. (2009) Introduction: Is the glass ceiling still relevant in the 21st century? In: Barreto, M., Ryan, M. K., & Schmitt, M. T. (eds.) Psychology of women book series. The glass ceiling in the 21st century: Understanding barriers to gender equality. Washington: American Psychological Association.
  4. BORDO, S. (1993) Unberable Weight. Feminism, Western Culture and the Body. Ber-kley: University of California Press.
  5. DERKS, B. (2017) Quee bee syndrome. In: Rogelberg. S. G. (eds.) The SAGE Encyclope-dia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.
  6. DERKS, B., ELLEMERS, N., LAAR, C. & GROOT, K. (2011) Do sexist organizational cultures create the Queen Bee? British Journal of Social Psychology. 50, pp. 519–535.
  7. DERKS, B., LAAR, C. & ELLEMERS, N. (2016) The queen bee phenomenon: Why women leaders distance themselves from junior women. The Leadership Quarterly. 27, pp. 456–469.
  8. ELLEMERS, N., VAN DEN HEUVEL, H., DE GILDER, D., MAASS, A. & BONVINI, A. (2004) The underrepresentation of women in science: differential commitment or the queen bee syndrome? British Journal of Social Psychology. 43 (3), pp. 315–338.
  9. Eurostat (2014) Labour market. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2018].
  10. FANIKO, K., ELLEMERS, N. & DERKS, B. (2016) Queen Bees and Alpha Males: Are successful women more competitive than successful men? European Journal of Social Psychology. 46 (7), pp. 903–913.
  11. FARADY-BRASH, F. (2009) Working Life as a House a tale of floors, walls and ceiling. In: Paludi, M.A. (eds.) Feminism and Women’s Rights Worldwide. Vol. 1. Heritage, Roles, and Issues (Women’s Psychology). Santa Barbara—Denver: Praeger.
  12. GARTELL, C. & COOPER, C. L. (2007) No (cracks) in the glass ceiling: women managers, stress and the barriers to success. In Bilmoria, D. & Piderit, S. K. (eds.) Handbook on Women in Business and Management. Cheltenham: Edward Elger Publishing Limited.
  13. GROMKOWSKA-MELOSIK, A. (2002) Kobiecość w kulturze globalnej: rekonstrukcje i reprezentacje. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Wolumin.
  14. GROMKOWSKA-MELOSIK, A. (2008) Indywidualizm, liberalna edukacja i paradoksy emancypacji kobiet. In: Gromkowska-Melosik, A. & Gmerek, T. (eds.) Problemy nierówności społecznej w teorii i praktyce edukacyjnej. Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls.
  15. GROMKOWSKA-MELOSIK, A. (2011) Edukacja i (nie)równość społeczna kobiet. Studium dynamiki dostępu. Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls.
  16. GROMKOWSKA-MELOSIK, A. (2013) Kobieta epoki wiktoriańskiej: tożsamość, ciało i medykalizacja. Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls.
  17. GROMKOWSKA-MELOSIK, A. (2016) Społeczne konstrukcje agresji dziewcząt. Wybrane konteksty i kontrowersje. Studia Edukacyjne. 39, pp. 61–72.
  18. KILBOURNE, J. (1994) Still Killing us Softly: Advertising and the Obsession with Thinners. In: Fallon, P., Katzman, M. A. & Wooley, S. C. (eds.) Feminist Perspetives on Eating Disorders, New York: The Guilford Press.
  19. LIPS, H. (2013) The Gender Pay Gap: Challenging the Rationalizations. Perceived Equity, Discrimination, and the Limits of Human Capital Models. Sex Roles. 68 (3), pp. 169–185.
  20. MARCINIAK, A. (2004) Niewidzialne bariery awansu kobiet—apokryf „szklanego sufitu”? Zeszyty Studiów Doktoranckich. Akademia Ekonomiczna w Poznaniu. Wydział Ekonomii, no. 19, pp. 5–19. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 16th May 2018].
  21. MAVIN, S. (2008) Queen Bees, Wannabees and Afraid to Bees: No More ‘Best Enemies’ for Women in Management? British Journal of Management. 19, pp. 75–S84.
  22. MELOSIK, Z. (2010) Tożsamość, ciało i władza w kulturze instant. Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls.
  23. OECD (2016) Gender differences in employment outcomes. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2018].
  24. POLKOWSKA, D. (2007) Bariery w dostępie kobiet do rynku pracy a kontrakt płci. Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny i Socjologiczny. 1, pp. 231–243.
  25. SZYMCZAK, E. (2016) Dynamika dostępu kobiet do studiów politechnicznych. Teoria i praktyka społeczna. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.
  26. TITKOW, A. (2007) Tożsamość polskich kobiet. Ciągłość, zmiana, konteksty. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Filozofii i Socjologii PAN.
  27. ZHAO, S. & FOO, M. D. (2016) Queen Bee Syndrome. The real reason women do not promote women. Center for Creative Leadership. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 18th May 2018].