Queen bee syndrome – the theory that leading professional women attempt to keep other females out of top positions – is a myth, according to a new study.
Researchers at Columbia Business School in New York found that a lack of women in top roles is in fact down to men’s determination to retain control.
Their findings – which will be presented at a conference of leading girls’ schools on Wednesday – contradict a 1973 study which suggested that women in authority are more critical of female subordinates.
The research looked at 1,500 companies over 20 years and found that where women were appointed chief executive others were more likely to make it into senior positions.
But when a woman was given a senior role that was not the top position, the likelihood of more females following them to executive level fell by 50 per cent.
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.”