Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"The Queen-Bee phenomenon: How men and women maintain gender inequality in the workplace"

Utrecht University - Social, Health, and Organizational Psychology

PhD Student
Ilona Domen

Prof.dr. Belle Derks (Utrecht University)
Dr. Ruth van Veelen (Utrecht University)
Dr. Daan Scheepers (Leiden University)

1 November 2015 - 1 November 2019

NWO - Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research


My research focusses on how both women and men maintain gender inequality in the workplace. We focus on the Queen Bee Phenomenon, women who strive for individual mobility in the organization instead of working for the whole group of women (collective action) and who describe themselves as more masculine, and also act like it, when they reach higher positions. We also focus on the role of men in this process, why they reward Queen Bee behavior by selecting those women for higher positions. I will focus on the psychological (motivational) effects, but also on the more unconscious effects, such as physiological (cardiovascular reactivity) and neurological (EEG/ERP).

We propose a model in which gender salience in the workplace influences implicit gender categorization (EEG/ERP). Through this people experience threat (cardiovascular). The kind of experienced threat is influenced by social identification (high identifiers experience group-value threat, while low identifiers experience categorization threat). Women and men respond differently to this. Low identified women will show Queen Bee behavior, low identified men will show distancing behavior, high identified women will show collective action behavior and high identified men will show support for Queen Bees.

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