Not sure if many of you remember the chick flick “Mean Girls.” It is a teenage movie about life in high school, and I used to love watching these kinds of movies. For one, pausing the brain by watching funny movies with no storyline is relaxing.

But when I think back, there was a storyline. A story about how girls in high school perceive themselves and others, and how they develop certain types of behavior which give them a sense of belonging and entitlement.

Now, don’t worry I am not going to write a film review about mean girls, but I do want to draw your attention on how the queen bee syndrome is hurting women empowerment, by women themselves, beyond high school and in the work place!

The other day, several days actually, I see this girl who works in the same organization as I do but in a completely different area. Every time I walk by, she and her female partner in crime start giggling and gossiping.

At first, it did not bother me at all, because I know once you put yourself out there, there is always going to be some who feel the need to express their jealousy and insecurities through childish behavior.

The other day however it happened again. Mind you, the same girl keeps checking out my LinkedIn profile. So part of me wanted to walk up to them and ask her if she needed some mentoring by me as it is obvious she has some deep-rooted insecurities which I can help her overcome. After all, I am a subject of great interest apparently!

I reminded myself… when they go low, we go high! So instead, I decided to do what I do best: blog about my experience, how it made me feel and lessons learned so others can relate and get inspired to take the higher road.

Of all the struggles I had to face working in a male-dominated environment, those involving women were the hardest. Especially when you climb up the ladder faster than they do, or if you are in a place where they want to be, or simply if you are intimidating to them. Instead of lifting each other up, we tear each other down to make our self-worth increase.

Unfortunately, this momentary satisfaction is elusive. In the end, if you develop your own confidence, if you follow your own path and use your energy to build yourself up and help/inspire others along the way…that is when you are a real role model in the digital age.

P.S. if you want to learn more about how to develop your own confidence, confidence creator by Heather Monahan is a must read in which women across the globe can relate with.

The Queen Bee Syndrome

“ Queen Bee syndrome refers to women in authority or power who treat subordinate females worse than males purely because of their gender. The theory has a lot of academic support and was first documented by T.E Jayarante, C. Tavris and G.L. Staines in 1973.”

Experiencing this type of behavior over and over again, somehow along the way, I picked up the word queen bee and started labeling those women who showed signs of superiority by just being mean for no reason.

It is no secret; often women who make it to the top or who are on their way to the top are more likely to be harsh on their female colleagues than men. The belief of “If I had to suffer to get here, so should she” is at the heart of the queen bee syndrome.

This interesting article delves deeper into the science behind as surprisingly there has been loads of research into this topic as it costs companies a lot of money. Besides, for those who have yet to develop their resilience or are at the beginning of their career and don’t want to burn bridges – the exit road prevails, unfortunately.

The three A’s: Awareness, Acknowledge and Amend

Raising awareness on the root causes will help many become cognizant of their biased behavior and, hopefully, prompt them to focus on building themselves up without tearing others down. I don’t believe a person’s character, and actions are defined by a permanent state of being. We all behave differently at different times and in different contexts throughout our lives. As we grow, we grow into a better version of ourselves, one day at a time.

The first step is to become aware of when you catch yourself in queen bee mode. Many women have been there, no matter how trivial their actions or behavior may have been. We are human beings whose shadow-self can get the best of us due to a myriad of reasons.

Becoming aware when we are in this state of mind, whether during the act of misbehaving or afterward, is a first step in pulling yourself back and observe the situation as a third party.

Ask yourself the question of how did it make you feel to put someone else down. Did it increase your self-worth? Did it augment your sense of entitlement to authority? Did it make you belong?

Whatever your answer to these questions are, underlying beliefs you grew up with and beliefs ingrained by societal conditions play an important part.

“ People do, what they do, the way they do it based on who they are and the information they have at that time.” Wise words by Iyanla Vanzant!

A second important step is to acknowledge your misbehavior. Often we are in denial because we see and experience the world through our own, and usually, narrow lens.

Seek to understand before being understood is such a powerful principle which will take you much further in life than acting like a queen bee, trust me!

When we stop being in denial, we leave room for reflection, and the mind expands. When the mind expands, emerging and diverse perspectives pop up that will change your internal narrative for the better.

The final step is to amend your behavior in line with your true self. Integrity is to be found the number one and indispensable characteristic of some of the greatest leaders.

Looking at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and asking yourself tough questions to change your course for the future, is a sign of courage, vulnerability, and greatness! We can’t change the past nor should we dwell on it.

Use your energy to build the new that is the secret of change. Show yourself compassion, forgive, let go and move on. Move into a better version of yourself each day.

Because in the end, the graveyards are full of people who thought they were essential and irreplaceable in the world. Their resumes are archived on social media. Only those who led from a place of integrity and authenticity, continue to live in people’s hearts through their legacy.

So next time the urge to be mean prevails, ask yourself this question: what legacy do I want to leave behind so that even if my body passes, my spirit remains alive?


Stories from the heart

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