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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Competition is a normal part of working life. It is expected of both women and men as they enter the workforce, and as they ascend the corporate ladder. Interestingly, women are often vilified for engaging in competition, particularly with members of their own sex. The focus of this essay is intrasexual competition among women in the workplace. It provides a description of workplace competition and its positive and negative consequences for workers and organizations, followed by similarities and differences in women’s and men’s competitive experiences and styles. The ways zero-sum contexts such as tokenism affect social identity and give rise to the intrasexual prejudice and discrimination—most notably, the queen bee—are discussed. The essay ends with a discussion based on the authors’ experimental evidence of intragroup favoritism among women, and a growing body of work underscoring the importance of not expecting women to be allies without accompanying organizational change.

Keywords: intrasexual competition, women, gender, queen bee, social identity

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