Debunking The 'Queen Bee' Stereotype Of The Modern Career Woman

Two new studies delve into the question of gender diversity in the workplace. Among the findings: businesswomen are more "fairy godmother" than "queen bee."

Post it! (Victor1558)
Post it! (Victor1558)

BERLIN - Two new studies show that perceptions of the importance of gender diversity to the success of a company differ between men and women, and that the idea that female managers are "queen bees' is more stereotype than reality.

The first study is based on a poll conducted by management consultancy McKinsey among 500 top managers in 53 German companies. The second is a report based on interviews with graduates of 26 leading business schools in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Die Welt has obtained copies of both.

The McKinsey study comes as a surprise to many in view of the strong political focus recently in Germany on how important gender diversity is to the success of companies, a message that not only HR bosses but CEOs have taken on board and pay regular lip service to. The study, however, reveals that the message has apparently not reached large numbers of male managers, of whom only about a third believe that gender diversification is an important factor in a company's success. Sixty percent of women, on the other hand, believe that it is. Men who did not give the idea of gender diversity much importance rated the status quo in their company significantly higher than their female colleagues did.

Three out of four men also expressed the view that men and women in their company were treated the same, whereas only one in three (32%) of the women thought this. Thirty-six percent of male managers also believed that the company was doing enough for job equality, while only 16% of women did.

The results clearly demonstrate how much still needs to be done to iron out differences of perception, although Katrin Suder, a senior partner at McKinsey, said that most companies have actively taken equality principles on board but "incorporating them into the everyday life of the company, at all levels of the hierarchy, is hard work and will take time."

As other McKinsey studies have shown, the requirements to change mentalities can be laid out in strategic steps and successfully driven. Neutral talent management is the ultimate goal, says Suder.

No queen bees in the corporate world

The second study was conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization supporting women in business, and shows that, contrary to popular views, women in top positions do support subordinate women on their way up. "The Queen Bee syndrome is a myth, and this study proves it," says Christine Silva, one of the study's three authors. "Highly qualified women don't try to trump other women. On the contrary: there's a higher probability with women than with men that they will support same-sex colleagues."

According to Catalyst, between 2008 and 2010 the salaries of women who supported other women were over $25,000 higher than those who did not.

One of the motivations for giving support, the researchers believe, is that by supporting others one's own visibility in a company increases --and with higher visibility the greater the chance of being offered a helping hand up the ladder oneself. Another hypothesis is that former mentees follow the example they were given by their mentors.

The researchers interviewed a representative group of over 700 male and female MBAs who graduated between 1996 and 2007 from top business schools. The researchers differentiated between several kinds of support, ranging from good advice to the "door opener" who puts in a good word for their mentee to help them get a position.

There was 66% chance that anyone with experience of a "door opener" would themselves later open doors for someone else, whereas only 42% of those looking out for themselves were likely to. In giving all the different types of help -- helpful advice, lending an ear when their mentee faced problems, or as role models -- women showed themselves to be more committed than men: 73% of women in the study chose to mentor other women, while 70% of men chose to mentor other men.

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation from articles by Ileana Grabitz and Inga Michler

Read the original articles in German here and here.

Photo - Victor1558

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Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

Military parade in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 3


LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.

The role of the nuclear pact

Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.

It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.

He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."

The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.

Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.

Photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Riyadh's warming relations with Israel

Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."

The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."

Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."

Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.

If nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.

Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.

Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.

For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.

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