This contribution reviews work on the queen bee phenomenon whereby women leaders assimilate into male-dominated organizations (i.e., organizations in which most executive positions are held by men) by distancing themselves from junior women and legitimizing gender inequality in their organization. We propose that rather than being a source of gender inequality, the queen bee phenomenon is itself a consequence of the gender discrimination that women experience at work. We substantiate this argument with research showing that (1) queen bee behavior is a response to the discrimination and social identity threat that women may experience in male-dominated organizations, and (2) queen bee behavior is not a typically feminine response but part of a general self-group distancing response that is also found in other marginalized groups. We discuss consequences of the queen bee phenomenon for women leaders, junior women, organizations and society more generally, and propose ways to combat this phenomenon.
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