"Bad female boss? She may have Queen Bee Syndrome," reads an article from the Today show from 2011. "She’s the alpha female in the workplace who tries to preserve power at all costs," Robi Ludwig, a woman, explained, trying to diagnose a syndrome that apparently only occurs in women. And the article goes on to try and explain how the "Queen Bee" is a very real and very common thing:
The Queen Bee boss is the alpha female who tries to preserve her power at all costs. Instead of promoting her younger counterparts, she feels threatened by them, judges them, talks about them and, in many cases, ends up obstructing their attempts to climb the corporate ladder.
This Forbes article, "How To Work For A Female Boss," isn't any better. It's by a woman for women, and it explains tips which all involve treating a female supervisor the way you would a hungry alligator. The article reads:
The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter if you like your female boss or not, if you think she should have the job or not, if you have a problem with her or not. The only thing you need to do is let her know you know she’s the boss. In the end, it may behoove you to remember that she may not be looking for power at all, but respect.
Shoudn't you let your boss know that you know that he or she is the boss, regardless of gender? Isn't that just boss protocol?
If you do a bit more searching, you will find there are a plethora of articles about how to work for a female boss that range from how-to guides for men to explaining why female bosses are "a women's worst nightmare." I tried to search for articles with terms like "How to treat a male boss," or "Bad Male boss," "How to work for a man," and didn't come up with anything close to those articles.
While those kinds of articles are tips and guides to deal with female, they are actually pretty damaging. They push employees to believe that the reason their boss is bad is something uniquely related to her being a woman. And it also pits women against women and perpetuates the shopworn Mean Girls trope.
Looking at female bosses in television and film, you kinda see similar things. Really successful bosses like Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada and Katharine Parker from Working Girl, Joan from Mad Men, and Margaret Tate from The Proposal (yes I watched this) are very successful bosses who are pretty terrible, disloyal conniving people (Joan being the least awful among them) and who built their success on being not nice people. On the other side of it, you have goofball bosses like Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon who are really likable people, but are punchlines for being sexless and sad. In other words, finding a boss who's a female that you actually want to be and admire — we came up with Murphy Brown maybe? — is a lot tougher than finding all these examples.