Mean Girls

May 16 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

When LL was an actress, not a punchline...

 

The Queen Bee phenomenon can be quite distressing for women who aspire to leadership roles. This term describes a woman who achieves and then believes that having other women achieve will diminish her own achievements. Queen Bees tend to ascribe their own success to a lack of "girliness" and suggest that all women could achieve at the same level if they just followed her example. For a review of this behavior and some research on it, click here.

Mean Girls ostracize women who fail to fit in. In the 2004 movie, the top clique demeaned those who marched to a different drummer, failing to aspire to their standards. You simply can't have that; if anyone can set their own goals, how will those at the top of the pecking order continue to win?

In this month's issue of Journal of Women's Health (23 (5):365-7, 2014), Janet Bickel discusses some of the reasons women may hamper other women. Many factors enter into this behavior, including the lack of open competition in many girls' activities. Our female children have traditionally been funneled into activities without winners; instead of beating someone, they turn their aggression and ambition into gossip and other mental bullying.

It will be interesting to see if this behavior changes over time; more girls have been in competitive sports now, and even dance and cheer have become events with winners.

Another difficulty many women face is the overlap between their work relationships and friendships. Social relationships are often expected to trump "chain of command" relationships, even in work situations. This can be especially a problem between female physicians and nurses, as discussed in the article.

This piece gives us more to think about than immediate solutions, but studies on these phenomena are few and far between. Lucky for us, the article is open access, so you have no excuse not to click the link above (or here) and think. In the meantime, we should all keep these words from Madeleine Albright in mind:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

 

 

One response so far

  • Julian Frost says:

    One thing to consider is that this is not limited to women. There's a jokey saying that "It is not enough for me to win, others must fail." Yet there are a lot of people for whom that is a truism. If others succeed, that diminishes their own success.
    Personally, I think that Queen Bee Syndrome has that as its basis.

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