Scientific article
Open access

The Queen Bee phenomenon in Academia 15 years after: does it still exist, and if so, why?

Publication date2020

Fifteen years ago, the British Journal of Social Psychology published a set of studies on male and female academics, documenting that female faculty members were more likely than male faculty members to express stereotyped views of women at the beginning of their academic careers (PhD candidates; Ellemers et al., 2004, Br. J. Soc. Psychol., 43, 3). At the same time, the self-descriptions of female faculty members were just as masculine as those of their male colleagues. Ellemers and colleagues (2004, Br. J. Soc. Psychol., 43, 3) referred to this combination of results as indicating the existence of a ‘Queen Bee (QB) phenomenon' in academia. The present contribution investigates whether the QB phenomenon is also found among current generations of academics, investigating this in two recent samples of academic professionals (N = 462; N = 339). Our findings demonstrate that the phenomenon first documented in 2004 still exists: Advanced career female academics are more likely than their male counterparts to underestimate the career commitment of women at the beginning of their academic careers. At the same time, both male and female academics at advanced career stages describe themselves in more masculine terms than those at early career stages. We argue this indicates a response pattern in which successful women emulate the masculinity of the work environment. To indicate this, the term ‘self-group distancing' might be more appropriate than ‘Queen Bee effect'.

  • Queen bee
  • Discrimination
  • Gender
Citation (ISO format)
FANIKO, Klea, ELLEMERS, Naomi, DERKS, Belle. The Queen Bee phenomenon in Academia 15 years after: does it still exist, and if so, why? In: British Journal of Social Psychology, 2020. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12408
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0144-6665

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