Fix your crown, queen

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Queen bee syndrome asserts that successful women leaders deliberately obstruct the opportunities and advancement of their female colleagues.

Women can fix and clear queen bee syndrome, writes Besa Muthuri, CHRO at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

Queen bee syndrome is generally defined as a situation where women in high-ranking positions of authority overlook their women subordinates and treat them with more disapproval than their male counterparts. Reportedly dating back to the 1970s, it asserts that successful women leaders deliberately obstruct the opportunities and advancement of their female colleagues.

Women in high positions see smiles or contentment when they look down, and those below them see the glass ceiling, not smiles. This barrier prevents women from advancing into upper management. When female subordinates look up, the women leaders in high-ranking positions make their peers or subordinates feel incapable.

Evidently, this syndrome exists among women in many organisations, from the highest to the lowest level of supervision. However, it is not right for women to treat their compatriots that way to break the glass ceiling successfully.

There are underlying factors that make women leaders behave in a queen bee way. These include a lack of leadership development, a competence that women leaders should possess before taking up leadership roles, and the developmental readiness expected of women leaders.

Consideration should also be given to cultural drive and dress code, male and female dynamics, female bullying, and queen bee mixed African. All types of employees would feel uneasy when they confront these sentiments. Some doubt their meaning, while others, like me, who have experienced it and or watched the series The Bold Type, are all too familiar with them.

The series has helped make the premise of women competing for an alpha female's attention famous. It further shows that assisting women leaders and our peers to advance in careers lights up a whole room.

It endorses that the queen bee syndrome will stop if we create a community that allows women to embrace their vulnerability.

All women have the potential to be real queens, the one who fixes another woman’s crown to empower each other, break the glass ceiling, and end the glass cliff.

Besa is currently pursuing a Ph.D.  Her research interests include the glass ceiling within gender studies and its effect on human capital management and leadership.

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