Ladies, have you ever had a female boss who made your work life a misery? Did she make things harder than they needed to be? Was she rude to you? Did she treat you more critically than your male colleagues?
If any of that sounds familiar, don’t worry your boss doesn’t hate you, she’s just got a bad case of ‘Queen Bee syndrome’. Yes, it’s an actual thing. Queen Bee syndrome, first defined in 1973 to describe “a woman in a position of authority who views or treats female colleagues and subordinates more critically than if they are male”. She may see other women as a threat, or think she had to succeed the hard way, so you should to.
Are you suffering from Queen Bee syndrome?
I know the concept of Queen Bee syndrome was developed primarily to explain women in the workplace holding other women back. But I think it applies a hell of a lot wider than this. In fact I think it can be applied to all aspects of modern day life. Ask yourself, do you judge women…
- who are at the top of their careers – look at her, she’s gotten too big for her boots. She’s forgotten us now she’s a business woman. She thinks she’s better than us now.
- for not being in a relationship/married by a certain age – What was wrong with that guy she was seeing? She’s going to end up alone if she keeps being this picky.
- for not having children by a certain age / not having children at all, by choice or circumstance – her biological clock is ticking, before she knows it she’ll be too old to have kids.
- who chose to bring up their children and not go to work – she’s lucky she can just stay at home and doesn’t have to work. Have you seen the mess of her house, she’s at home all day, surely she can keep her house tidy with all the time she has on her hands because she doesn’t work.
- who chose to put their children in childcare so they can return to work – she works too much and should be looking after her children more. Look what she’s feeding her children – she should spend less time working and more time looking after her kids.
- who are mothers – we judge the hell out of mothers! Did you know she bottle fed? Gave her child a dummy? Let her child sleep in her bed? Had post-natal depression? This list is never ending and I have so much to say on the topic, so watch out for my next blog post on this! Or subscribe to my mailing list so that you won’t miss it.
- who go off the beaten path – did you hear about so and so who gave up her investment banking job to become a make up artist? So and so has started writing a blog, who does she think she is, she’s no Oprah that’s for sure!
We just love to judge women. We find a reason to judge them. We don’t even realise we are doing it sometimes. We just cant help ourselves. So it seems we are all infected with modern-day strain of Queen Bee syndrome, making life that little bit harder for fellow women.
But why do we do it? Why are we so horrible to other women?
I think some of the following factors are at play every time we so much as look at another woman with that evil look in our eyes…
- Jealousy – we want what they have! Keeping up with the Jones’ is such a driver for why we put other women down. Maybe we want the material possessions someone else has, or their lifestyle, or their killer body. Whatever it is, we’ll turn it around and bitch about it. But we aren’t prepared to do anything about getting these things for ourselves because jeez that’s such hard work.
- Our own insecurities – we are all insecure about something. We all have doubts. We all have fears. We all have limiting beliefs. And we often project these on to other women. For example, if you feel like you aren’t good enough, you might find yourself putting other women down and making them feel not good enough too. So bitching about the other person actually has nothing to do with them, it’s actually about how you feel about yourself.
- Comparing – we play the victim sometimes don’t we? Oh, it’s alright for some, she doesn’t have to work, she’s so lucky. I’ve had people say that to me and I’ve wanted to say back “I’ve lost 7 babies, do you call that f*cking lucky? If you want my life now, would you be prepared to go through all of what I went through to get here?” But I don’t say anything. I keep quiet. I keep quiet because I don’t need to win the game of “play the victim”, you can win that game every single time (you’re welcome!)
- Competition – we are all in competition with every other woman right? We want to be better than them and the easiest way to do that is by putting them down, rather than investing in building ourselves up. We see it as one having to be better, prettier, richer, more successful than another when the reality is we can all be successful in our own right and not at the detriment of another.
- Judging people by our own decisions – maybe you chose to put your career ahead of having a family. Great, good for you. But then don’t go around judging other women by your decision. Others may sacrifice work for their family or choose to implement work boundaries so they have a balance between home and work life. That’s ok. It’s their decision. Just like prioritising your career was your decision. Thinking our decision is right and the other persons decision is wrong is a major reason for the judgements we have of all women around us.
Let’s stop this ladies. We are better than this.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Supporting another woman on her journey through this obstacle course of life doesn’t detract from our own story, journey or success. We are not going to be less successful because we support another woman. They are not mutually exclusive (ha, the consultant in me is still there!) In fact I think the opposite is true – we enrich ourselves and become even more successful by supporting and seeing others succeed because I really believe we get out what we put into the world. Be supportive in someone else’s success and you’ll be supported in furthering you own success, without you even realising it!
We are so powerful when we put our judgements to one side and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another. Propping each other up when we have a wobble and believe me we’ll have wobbles, many wobbles in life, but with each other’s support we’ll find ourselves still standing, standing strong. This is my dream for womanhood.
And it can start to come true today. Right now. Come on ladies, let’s do it! Let’s create a supportive sisterhood. You’re all invited. Yes. You. All of you. Not a single one of you will be left out. It’s your choice whether you accept the invite, but we’d love for you to stand with us, just as we will stand with you.
Ready to create your sisterhood?
So, now you’ve said “YES G, I’M IN!” Not quite knowing what you’re actually saying yes to. Here’s what I suggest to start changing the energy with the women in your lives…
- See the women around you. Really see them. Not with your judgemental glasses on – take those off, in fact throw them away, you don’t need them in this sisterhood.
- Hear the women around you. When they speak, really hear them. Don’t listen to your own thoughts when this woman speaks, hear her words as though you are listening to a new song for the first time. You’ll be astounded at all the things you hear when your mind stops chatting to itself.
- Accept the women around you. We are who we are, we’ve all made mistakes, none of us are perfect. Open your heart to the women who matter to you. Accept all parts of them – the broken parts, the healing parts, the angry parts, the glowing parts, the joyful parts, and all other permutations.
- Hold the women around you. I don’t mean physically, although you can do that too – a hug never hurt anyone! I mean hold space for them. They might be struggling with something or may not know where their journey is going, but stand with them without judgement, without a need to speed things along or push them into a certain course of action. Stay fully present and be patient.
- Tell her you admire her or her bold/brave/courageous/crazy route in life. Speaking up about something great you see in someone else will ignite the same quality in yourself because what we see in others we see/admire/seek in ourselves too. So speak it to someone else and you might be amazed at what insight that gives you too.
- Be her cheerleader. Root for her publicly or privately in whatever capacity she needs right now. If someone bitches about her, tell them it’s not nice to be mean. Show them you stand with her. If they don’t like it, then they won’t hang around for too long and you can thank your lucky stars you’ve eradicated a wrong-en from your life too.
- Celebrate her success. However big or small the success, help her celebrate it. Make her celebrate it. We work so hard to achieve something and when we’ve actually done it, we just move on to the next thing. But make this special woman stop to savour her success. Make her see she is not big headed, she is deserving of her success and completely entitled to celebrate in style.
- Encourage her. When she has moments of doubt, which we all do from time to time, remind her of her strengths and the value she adds to the lives around her. Prop her up. The doubt will subside and she’ll be right back on track to achieving whatever her heart desires.
- Role model these behaviours in all aspects of your life. At work, with family, with friends, in social networks, with mums in the playground, in fact you can model this in everything that you do. Make it a part of you and what you stand for.
When you do this, the women around you will do the same. They are a mirror of who you are. See your relationships transform. And they will. I guarantee you that. The relationship will flourish. Or it may just diminish.
And there you have it…you’ll have built your very own sisterhood, for life! Invest in those sisters, they’ll be around for a while, standing with you as you strive and succeed in life!