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The Queen Bee in New Zealand: The role of group commitment in group-distancing behaviour

Considering the plethora of barriers that women face in the pursuit of leadership and success as leaders, it is valuable to gain an in-depth understanding of each specific obstacle that women leaders face. In this vein, the present research strives to investigate the Queen Bee (QB) phenomenon—a term assigned to women leaders who distance themselves from their female subordinates and juniors, rather than helping them achieve leadership themselves. More specifically, this research aims to investigate the relationship between Queen Bee behaviours and an individual’s connection and commitment to their gender group—a concept termed Gender Identification (GID) here. As a secondary aim, this study also endeavours to explore the relationship between several measures used to assess QB attitudes. Participants were recruited from the University of Waikato’s Practical Research Experience in Psychology (PREP) program, with 39 participants providing valid responses on all measures. Participants were mostly young (71.1% under 20 years old) psychology students, and mostly female (76%). They undertook an experimental in-person 1-hour session replicated from a previous study which consisted of a simulated management scenario where participants were tasked with helping a subordinate (either the male or female candidate) gain promotion. This measure indexed a behavioural assessment of QB group- distancing behaviour, and a self-report questionnaire was also included to measure participants’ explicit QB distancing attitudes. Regression analysis revealed that, contrary to hypotheses, stronger GID predicted the favouring of the same-gender candidate and distancing from the candidate of opposite gender in both male and female participants, although this relationship did not reach statistical significance. Further, correlation analysis revealed, as expected, no correlation between the implicit (behavioural) and explicit (self-report) measures of QB distancing. The results suggest that the relationship between GID and QB distancing, in both men and women, is more nuanced than reported in previous research. Specifically, low gender-group connection and commitment may result in a nothing-to-lose mentality, sparking more engagement in radical collective action (such as favouring women over men at work), whereas strong GID may result in concerns of how such collective action will reflect poorly on the gender group. Further, the results indicate that explicit and implicit measures of QB distancing may relate poorly to each other, suggesting caution be taken when using these different types of measures interchangeably or comparing data across studies. The research highlights that further studies of a replicative nature are necessary in psychology, and that further research concerning the QB phenomenon in New Zealand women is necessary to understand the engagement with these distancing behaviours among our women leaders.
Type of thesis
van Lieshout, C. (2019). The Queen Bee in New Zealand: The role of group commitment in group-distancing behaviour (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12645
The University of Waikato
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