Popular culture has promoted the idea of the Queen Bee boss—a woman executive who actively blocks the career advancement of other women (think Meryl Streep’s role in “The Devil Wears Prada”). While it makes for a juicy character, it’s far from today’s workplace reality, according to a Catalyst report.
As administrative professionals who work closely with our supervisors, both male and female, we need to do our part to stop the inaccurate buzz that women are unwilling to help other women advance their careers.
The research found that 73% of women who are developing new talent within an organization are developing female talent. Compare that with the 30% of men who are developing male talent.
“This report dispels the misconception that women’s career advancement lags behind men’s because they don’t pay it forward to other women,” noted Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst president and CEO. “The notion that women executives are Queen Bees who are unwilling to support other women needs to be put to rest.”
Hot on the heels of this report comes Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-seller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which, among other ideas, encourages women to be champions of other women. She also stresses the importance of women taking a “seat at the table,” and once there, representing other females in the company.
As admins in the workplace, we need to share this information about supportive female executives to ensure the trend continues. Buying into the Queen Bee myth creates an air of distrust and could mean women who avoid working with female colleagues are missing development opportunities.
Instead, acknowledging the reality revealed in the Catalyst report can prove to be a win-win for all concerned. Those who are mentored or coached themselves are more likely to mentor others. This willingness to “pay it forward” benefited not only the new talent being developed, but also those doing the mentoring.
Assisting others to realize their full potential is a hallmark of successful leaders. Clearly, paying it forward pays back, in more ways than one.