January 5, 2007

The Queen Bee Syndrome

I have always suspected that there existed among the myriad of syndromes affecting the human species, a syndrome called the queen bee syndrome. Several of my female friends have complained to me in the past about how their female bosses systematically discriminated against them. Many would gladly move to a different area or project, headed by a male. Another female friend of mine, fairly high up in the corporate hierarchy, would constantly complain about her female colleagues and subordinates, but rarely about those of the opposite sex. I had dismissed my misgivings then as resulting from my own biases. My gut feelings have now been vindicated in an experiment involving 705 subjects living in southern Spain, carried out by Garcia-Retamaro and her colleague Ester Lopez-Zafra, and published in the journal, Sex Roles.

The study found that when presented with applications for promotion, women were more likely than men to assess the female candidate as less qualified than the male one. They were also prone to mark down women’s prospects for promotion and to assess them as more controlling than men in their management style.

I wonder if the queen bee syndrome could be generalized to a super-syndrome that may be called the "more loyal than the king" syndrome. Once again, my casual observations suggest that Indians are more stringent in the evaluation of their fellow Indians, and African Americans judge their fellow African Americans more harshly than others. Perhaps, the most telling incidence of this syndrome is its prevalence among the multitude of castes in India, and illustrated a short story that I read a while ago in the Hindu literary review. It's the story of a couple of child beggars in a train station in India, fighting for territorial rights. One day, the girl caught the boy stealing a few of the rotis from her day's collection. The concluding paragraph in the story says it all:

"No babuji, I wasn't lying. I haven't had a thing to eat since last night. I went to such trouble to find some food to fill my stomach", she said in a choked voice.

"You wretch! Why did you throw it away then?" the first man repeated his question.

The girl's eyes filled with hate as she glanced in the direction in which Kalua had disappeared. "This Kalua," she spat, "he is a fucking sweeper." With these words, weary-limbed, she began to walk away.

The short story was aptly titled, "Scourge"!

1 comment :
  1. Isn't this (the theme of the short story) the reason why caste system still remains pretty strong in India?
    Even a dravidian movement finally weakened into a mere anti-brahmin movement rather than really reaching out to the real victims of caste system.
    As for the queen bee syndrome, we have traditially referred to it by a term that it equates such other women to the female of the canine species.

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