Queen Bee syndrome ‘is a myth’

Dame Stella Rimington
Dame Stella Rimington
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QUEEN BEE syndrome - displayed by leading professional women who keep other females out - is a myth, according to a new study.

Researchers at Columbia Business School in New York claim that a lack of women in top roles is down to men’s determination to retain control, The Sunday Times reported.

Their findings - which will be presented at a conference of leading girls’ schools on Wednesday - contradict an influential 1973 study which suggested that women in authority are more critical of female subordinates.

The new research reportedly looked at top management teams in 1,500 companies over a 20-year period and found that where women had been appointed chief executive other women were more likely to make it into senior positions.

But when a woman had been given a senior role that was not the top position, the likelihood of other females following them to executive level fell by 50 per cent, the academics found.

The research team said: “Women face an implicit quota, whereby firms seek to maintain a small number of women on their top management team, usually only one. While firms gain legitimacy from having women in top management, the value of this legitimacy declines with each woman.”

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) conference will also see the launch of a scheme to channel the mentoring skills of 60,000 former pupils from the schools the organisation represents.

High-flyers such as former MI5 director-general Stella Rimington, lastminute.com co-founder Baroness Lane-Fox and historian Bettany Hughes are expected to be among those who share their knowledge.