Study: Working Women Don't Play 'Queen Bee'

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A new study of global business refutes the notion of the queen bee — the often cited assertion that women are reluctant to help other women and will undermine each other to get ahead. In fact, the study shows that women are more likely to develop new talent — especially other women — than men are.


For decades, there's been this widespread perception - fair or not - that female executives don't help other women in their companies move up. But as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, a new study refutes this notion of the corporate queen bee.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: The image of the hard-charging female who claws her way to the top and then wants to keep others down, is a myth. So says Ilene Lang.

ILENE LANG: The data, the facts, really show a different story. Women are their own best friends; they have been helping each other right along.

KAUFMAN: Lang is the CEO of Catalyst. The non-profit research group that focuses on women and work, surveyed several hundred MBAs about their mentorship and sponsorship of individuals within their companies. And here's what they found: Women are more likely than men to help others move up the career ladder. And it turns out that women help women much more than men help women.

What's more, says Lang, individuals who themselves have been coached and mentored, are much more likely to do the same for someone else.

LANG: There's a real, virtuous circle. As people are paying it forward to others, they are finding that they are more successful themselves; and that in fact, the whole team flourishes.

KAUFMAN: And when the team flourishes, the company flourishes. There's a direct economic benefit, too. Those who actively helped others earned, on average, about $2,500 more over a two-year period than those who didn't.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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