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Women and Conflict

Shame On Those Queen Bees?

Co-written by Katherine Ullman.

An essay this month in The Wall Street Journal recycled a tired trope: “queen bees” in the office are making the lives of other women a living hell.

We’ve heard this before. Powerful women are just grown up high-school “mean girls” chipping away at the self-confidence of the women who work with and for them.

Suggesting that these women are at once “encircling” their prey and protecting their “perches,” author Peggy Drexler paints two incompatible pictures of the infamous “queen bees.” In one, queen bees cause the workplace to be unfriendly to women, by using surreptitious childish tactics to keep women down. In the other, these women’s bad behavior results from workplaces shaped by gender bias.

Those are two very different pictures, and we politely ask that she stick with one.

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