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A queen bee is a woman who dominates or leads a group,[1] is in a favoured position[2] or behaves as such.[3] The term has been applied in several social settings.


In a business environment, queen bee may refer to women who are emotionally immature and view other, especially younger, women as competition. They often will refuse to help other women advance within a company by, for example, preferring to mentor a male over a female employee. Some may actively take steps to hinder another woman's advancement as they are seen as direct competitors.[4] Such tactics are sometimes referred to as heterophily (in the sense of positive preference and favoritism for opposite-sex colleagues) or the queen bee syndrome.[5]

The term loophole woman, coined by Caroline Bird in her book Born Female: The High Cost of Keeping Women Down (1968), has a similar meaning. Marie Mullaney defines the loophole woman as one who, "successful in a predominantly male field like law, business or medicine, is opposed to other women's attaining similar levels of success. Such success, if attained by women on a large scale, would detract from, if not substantially reduce, her own status and importance."[6]


A queen bee in a school setting is sometimes referred to as a school diva or school princess. They are often stereotyped in the media as being beautiful, charismatic, manipulative, and wealthy, holding positions of high social status, such as being head cheerleader (or being the captain of some other, usually an all-girl, sports team), the Homecoming or Prom Queen (or both).[7] The phenomenon of queen bees is common in finishing schools.[8]

Queen bees may wield substantial influence and power over their cliques and are considered role models by clique members and outsiders. Her actions are closely followed and imitated.[9] Sussana Stern identifies the following qualities as characteristic of queen bees:[10]

Examples in film

See also


  1. ^ "Queen bee definition". Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ "Queen bee definition".
  3. ^ "Queen bee meaning". Cambridge Dictionary.
  4. ^ "Article". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2014-02-23.(subscription required)
  5. ^ Cooper, Virginia W. (1997). "Homophily or the Queen Bee Syndrome: Female Evaluation of Female Leadership". Small Group Research. 28 (4). SAGE Publications: 483–499. doi:10.1177/1046496497284001. S2CID 145103338.
  6. ^ Mullaney, Marie (1984). "Gender and the Socialist Revolutionary Role". Historical Reflections. 11 (2): 147. JSTOR 41298827.
  7. ^ Tracy, K. (2003) The Girl's Got Bite: The Original Unauthorized Guide to Buffy's World. Macmillan. p 37.
  8. ^ Raines, J.M. (2003) Beautylicious!: The Black Girl's Guide to the Fabulous Life. Harlem Moon Publishers. p 13.
  9. ^ Wiseman, Rosalind (9 December 2011). "Girls' Cliques: What Role Does Your Daughter Play?". iVillage. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  10. ^ Stern, Sussana (2001) Sexual Selves on the World Wide Web: Adolescent Girls' Home Pages as Sites for Sexual Self-Expression; Sexual Teens, Sexual Media, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Further reading