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A queen bee is the leader of a female group, such as a clique. The term has been applied in several social settings.
In a business environment, "queen bee" may refer to a woman in upper management who advanced in the ranks without any help of any type of affirmative action programs. It may also refer to women who are emotionally immature and view other women as competition. They often see other, usually younger, and will refuse to help them advance within a company, preferring to mentor a male over a female employee. Some such "queen bees" may actively take steps to hinder another woman's advancement as they are seen as direct competitors. Such tactics are sometimes referred to as heterophily (in the sense of positive preference and favoritism for opposite-sex colleagues) or the queen bee syndrome.
The term "loophole woman", coined by Caroline Bird in her book Born Female: The High Cost of Keeping Women Down (1968), has a similar meaning. Marie Mullaney defines the loophole woman as one who, "successful in a predominantly male field like law, business or medicine, is opposed to other women's attaining similar levels of success. Such success, if attained by women on a large scale, would detract from, if not substantially reduce, her own status and importance." (The term "honorary male" is related, but does not imply opposition to other women's success).
A queen bee in a school setting is sometimes referred to as a school diva or school princess. These queen bees are often stereotyped in the media as being beautiful, charismatic, manipulative, and wealthy, holding positions of high social status, such as being head cheerleader (or being the captain of some other, usually an all-girl, sports team), the Homecoming or Prom Queen (or both). The phenomenon of queen bees is common in finishing schools.
Queen bees may wield substantial influence and power over their cliques, and are considered role models by clique members and outsiders. Her actions are closely followed and imitated. Sussana Stern identifies the following qualities as characteristic of queen bees:
- Having overly-heightened self-esteem, which may lead to arrogance
- Being overly-aggressive, selfish, manipulative and confident
- Behaving as a bully or sociopath
- Being wealthy and/or spoiled
- Being pretty, popular, talented, wealthy, or privileged
- Being envied/hated/admired by peers (mainly female peers)
Fictional portrayals of queen bees in schools include the films Heathers and Mean Girls. The latter was partially adapted from the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes. The television series Gossip Girl is highlighted for its portrayal of Blair Waldorf as a queen bee, as she has a league of minions for friends and is frequently referred as 'Queen B' by her peers. Another television series Pretty Little Liars is also highlighted for its portrayal of Alison DiLaurentis as queen bee, as she has a clique, seems to be bossy and mean to people who are not her friends, and everyone treats her as a Queen. She is sometimes referred as 'Queen Ali'. Quinn Fabray from Glee is also described as "queen bee" due to her being rich, popular, beautiful and head cheerleader.
- Honorary male
- Queen bee syndrome
- Spoiled child
- Valley girl
- "Article". Timesonline.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2014-02-23.(subscription required)
- Cooper, Virginia W. (1997). "Homophily or the Queen Bee Syndrome: Female Evaluation of Female Leadership". Small Group Research. Sage Publications. 28 (4): 483–499. doi:10.1177/1046496497284001.
- Mullaney, Marie (1984). "Gender and the Socialist Revolutionary Role". Historical Reflections. 11 (2): 147. JSTOR 41298827.
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- Wiseman, Rosalind (9 December 2011). "Girls' Cliques: What Role Does Your Daughter Play?". iVillage. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Stern, Sussana (2001) Sexual Selves on the World Wide Web: Adolescent Girls' Home Pages as Sites for Sexual Self-Expression; Sexual Teens, Sexual Media, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
- Dickinson, Amy (13 May 2002). "Taming the Teen Queen Bee". Time. Archived from the original on January 13, 2005. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Shearin Karres, Erika V. (2004). Mean Chicks, Cliques, And Dirty Tricks: A Real Girl's Guide to Getting Through the Day with Smarts and Style. Avon, MA: Adams Media. ISBN 1580629334.
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