Queen bees, wannabees and afraid to be bees: no more "best enemies" for women in management

Sharon Mavin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    126 Citations (Scopus)


    There is a lack of research that problematizes solidarity behaviour and the Queen Bee label for women in management. Few studies contextualize the propensity for women to support each other to reach senior management or surface the shadow side of relationships between women in management. Underpinning assumptions of solidarity behaviour and Queen Bee focus upon individual women's behaviour. Neither questions whether women are enabled 'natural allies'. It is assumed that women align themselves with women; in senior management women are responsible for the 'women in management mantle', and when they do not conform they are pejoratively labelled Queen Bees. Queen Bee 'blames' women for not supporting each other, constructs women as out of place in senior management and maintains a gendered status quo. This article provides a conceptual critique of solidarity behaviour and the Queen Bee as labels researchers and the popular media attach to women's behaviour in organizations. The aim is to challenge assumptions and inherent contradictions and highlight the negative impact of the sexist Queen Bee label, prompting us to reflexively question and challenge our own assumptions about solidarity behaviour and use of the Queen Bee label, to prevent unrealistic expectations of senior women and continued pejorative construction of women in management.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-84
    JournalBritish Journal of Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


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