Investigating the existence of the queen bee syndrome within the banking industry of South Africa
Thesis (MBA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.
Although several women's leadership studies globally have identified a number of issues that women grapple with in their upward mobility in building a career, including gender differences as these relates to styles of leadership, and the behaviour of senior women toward other women in organisations, there has however not been a South African study documenting the existence of the Queen Bee syndrome within Multi-National Corporates, as a barrier to professional women's career growth. The "queen bee syndrome" is a term that has been used to describe women managers who find themselves within a predominantly male environment and have alienated other women by their behaviour, and are therefore perceived to be a barrier to the advancement of other women coming through the ranks. These women fail to assist other women in their aspirations to advance and do not work towards the advancement and empowerment of other women within the corporate sector. The queen bees are normally very protective of their powerbase and attempt to surround themselves with men. They do not believe in female solidarity behaviour and do not actively seek to mentor or coach other women. The aim of the present study is to investigate the existence of the queen bee syndrome in South African retail banks. The following aspects, as they relate to the queen bee syndrome, are examined: • The establishment of the existence of the queen bee syndrome. • The reason for the existence of queen bees. • The possible implication of the existence of queen bee behaviour for the organisations. A total of 25 women in executive and senior management positions, from South Africa's 5 retail banks, were interviewed for the present study. These women were asked to relate their unique personal experiences and perceptions of queen bee behaviour. The method of Content analysis was used to analyse the responses received through the interviews. The findings of the present study clearly indicated that women still face barriers to advancement within corporate organisations, and that organisations need to make adjustments to their internal cultures, structure and strategy to accommodate the growing workforce of females who are rapidly joining the management ranks. The blame for women's lack of progress into senior positions cannot be generally attributed to males only, as women also need to work at growing, developing, educating and empowering themselves in order to facilitate their own advancement, besides helping, supporting and guiding other women in their career progressions. The present study also found that senior women managers and women executives work actively towards being coaches and mentors to women coming through the ranks and assist them in their development towards management roles. The present study's findings indicated that senior women executives and managers currently support women development agendas within their organisations, and also that the presence of the queen bees did not serve as a stumbling block to the advancement of the sample of women who took part in this study. The study was limited to 5 retail banks of South Africa only. Future studies can investigate other sectors and work at providing tools that will assist women in combating the behaviour of the queen bee. It might also be useful to determine whether women are more supportive or less supportive of other women, and women's issues and programs.