Queen bee phenomenon is defined as “a response to the discrimination and social identity threat that women may experience in male-dominated organizations” and is a specific type of “general[ed] self-group distancing response that is also found in other marginalized groups“. In other words, queen bee phenomenon is when women in high ranking positions have biases against other women, whether it be conscious or subconscious and as a result, are less likely to help other women to progress. History writes that women have had great strides toward equality, however, women are still underrepresented in the workforce. It is hypothesized that women become “queen bees” when women advance in male dominated societies, exhibiting biases that are conscious and unconscious against other women. It is hypothesized the queen bee phenomenon is activated when a woman is in a male dominated environment, and is a result of gender inequality via lack of representation (Derks, Ellemers & Van Laar 2016).
Interestingly, responses similar to the queen bee phenomenon have been observed in other marginalized groups, leading researchers to extend to concept to the more general idea of self group distancing. In extension of queen bee literature, research shows that self group distancing is also present in ethnic minorities. In a study with Hindustanis, low identifiers seem to be more susceptible to self group distancing, “less positive ingroup affect and presented themselves as more stereotypically Dutch when reminded of ethnic bias” (Derks, Ellemers, Raghoe, & van Laar 2015).
Previous research has largely been conducted through self report. The problem is, voluntary attitude expression may not correlate with true, internalized attitudes, for attitudes do not always match behavior. Eye contact can articulate contempt and avoidance that cannot be expressed through spoken language. A study shows that disengagement of eye contact causes hindered performance in black participants when white participants did not maintain consistent eye contact in a phony interview (Word, Zanna, & Cooper, 1974). Moreover, another study demonstrated that white participants tended to interaction with black participants in order to avoid appearing racist (Richeson & Trawalter, 2008).
We plan to use a Face Memory task in order to assess self group distancing behavior through eye contact. Participants will view a set of photos of White and Asian faces. After a delay, they will be shown the same photos, along with a set of new photos of faces, and will be asked to identify whether or not the face is one they had previously seen. In general, people have better memory for faces of members of their own racial group, though this discrepancy can be altered by social motivation (Young et al., 2012). If some Asian Americans engage in self-group distancing after reminders of prejudice toward their group, resulting in visually disengaging from faces of members of their group, this should undermine encoding of same-race faces, resulting in poorer memory at recall specifically for Asian faces.
Additionally, we would like to investigate other factors that may affect self-group distancing. For example, high self-concept clarity is generally linked to more positive outcomes in well-being, health, and relationships (Light, 2017).