There’s been much talk about workplace sexual harassment of women perpetrated by men, but as it turns out, female executives don’t only have male colleagues to worry about. A recent survey found that over two-thirds of women feel they’ve been bullied by female colleagues.
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It’s called “Queen Bee Syndrome” and is a result of women treating other women in a demoralizing, undermining or bullying manner. However, the study, which was published in the journal Development and Learning in Organizations, stresses that “Queen Bees” should not be confused with strong, ambitious women in the workplace.
“Queen Bees are adult versions of the mean girls from school — but now they have grown up and are more calculating,” Cecilia Harvey, a London-based consultant and author of the study, wrote. “These socially aggressive behaviours include gossiping, social exclusion, social isolation, social alienation, talking about someone, and stealing friends or romantic partners.”
Harvey’s survey found that 70 per cent of women had been the victim of workplace bullying or covert undermining by a female boss, and 33 per cent had experienced a female colleague on the same level or below being unhelpful, holding them back or undermining them.
The report shows that these findings are similar to ones from the Workplace Bullying Institute that say approximately 58 per cent of workplace bullies are women and they primarily target other women.
“Queen Bee mischief manifests in ways that can have lasting negative effects on individual careers and entire organisations,” Harvey wrote.
She suggests that Queen Bee behaviour has a negative impact on organizational performance and contributes to reduced productivity, reduced employee satisfaction, grievances and lawsuits, and lower profitability.
Nearly 75 per cent of respondents said they believed Queen Bee behaviour stems from insecurity, the feeling that being aggressive is the only way to be taken seriously or the need to be the only “top” woman.