People with the queen bee syndrome are always there at a workplace and it concerns women (queens!). The woman shows the typical alpha male characteristics - dominant, ambitious, result oriented, and somewhat insecure about people threatening her progress. Such a female can be called an alpha female and there is more to it.
Defining it: It applies to a woman who feels threatened by the progress of her female subordinates. To stop their progress she indulges in pulling them down by criticizing their work and by monitoring their work through a microscopic view.
Understanding the Syndrome
Queen bee is the 'queen' of the beehive. The beehive in this context is the workplace and the 'queen bee' is the female boss or someone who holds a controlling and higher rank.
Healthy competition at the workplace is a very good sign but indulging in pulling someone down to achieve what you want is worst! It is the duty of the one who is at a managerial position to motivate those under him to do better and set higher goals to reach pinnacle of success. As mentioned earlier, the woman who has this syndrome usually holds a position of power at the workplace. But even if she has the power, she feels threatened by the progress of other female subordinates and tries to pull them down. There are actually many female bosses who exhibit this attitude. This is the reason many women dread having a female as boss or manager. This also hampers the professional environment of the workplace to a great extent.
It was in 1973 the term was defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris. Many surveys and studies were conducted at that time and it was found that some women do have a 'hard corner' for their junior female workers. They will be more critical of their female subordinates and would monitor their work more stringently. After doing many studies, it was thought that this might be the reason why women find it stressful to work under their female bosses. The survey says it all - In a survey that asked about from which gender you would want your boss to be - three quarters of men responded to prefer a male boss. Many working women had reported they feel threatened to have a female boss and have felt undermined at work.
On a serious note, having a female boss who shows the queen bee syndrome could be really detrimental to the progress of the female subordinates. The woman with the syndrome takes all the effort to pull down her female junior workers and makes their life hell. Such unwanted behavior can step from insecurity and jealousy. Some research studies also believe that women tend to become harsh at their juniors to avoid the accusation of favoring women under them. Whatever be the reason, the woman at the superior position will never allow people under her to move ahead of her.
It can never be justified. In cases where the female boss was too harsh for them, women have felt sick and quit work. They dread going to the work. It questions the term sisterhood and the belief that women would make better bosses than men. Women are known to be emphatic and understanding and they should stick to it rather than indulging in a bad and cruel attitude. This ruthless and cunning attitude of women at the workplace is something that needs to be addressed through training.