Queen Bees, Wannabees and Afraid to Bees: No More Best Enemies for Women in Management?

10 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2008

See all articles by Sharon Mavin

Sharon Mavin

affiliation not provided to SSRN


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.

Suggested Citation

Mavin, Sharon, Queen Bees, Wannabees and Afraid to Bees: No More Best Enemies for Women in Management?. British Journal of Management, Vol. 19, Issue s1, pp. S75-S84, March 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1095907 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2008.00573.x

Sharon Mavin (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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