June 26, 2012

"The U-Va. president drama: Is it the Queen Bee scenario?"

Asks WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak:
The woman doing the firing is a sharp-profiled, sharp-suited corporate leader who has busted chops in the male-dominated world of construction — “The Devil Wears Prada” and a hard hat. Her name, Helen E. Dragas, even sounds Hollywood...

The woman who was fired — and whose reinstatement students and faculty are rallying behind — is U-Va.’s first female president, Teresa Sullivan. She is a beloved, bespectacled professor and respected scholar in a softer discipline — sociology — and was admired for her quiet advocacy of women and open-door policy toward students. She zips around campus in her Smart car and teaches a sociology class....

It is difficult to understand exactly why Dragas called for Sullivan’s resignation....

That’s why the Queen Bee scenario seems to make so much sense here....


According to a 2010 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, the Queen Bee is still buzzing over cubicles everywhere.... “In 2007, the woman-on-woman bullying prevalence was 71 percent. Now it is 80 percent. Looks like the American workplace is growing ever more toxic for women, at the hands of women,” the study said.
Read the whole thing, and let's talk about the Queen Bee syndrome.

Is the Queen Bee syndrome a real and serious problem in the workplace today?

  
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How did you like that poll?

  
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61 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Cat fight!

I'm reminded of a certain Seinfeld episode.

EMD said...

Cat fight!

I'm reminded of a certain Seinfeld episode.


Do you really want to see those 2 kiss?

rhhardin said...

She is a beloved, bespectacled professor..

Dumpy and unattractive code.

ndspinelli said...

Very interesting, my thoughts about "cat fight" came to me as I read the piece. The first comment on the WaPo speaks of cat fight. I come to this comment thread and it's "cat fight" on the first comment. The wisdom of Seinfeld, more than you get from a public education.

Tim said...

It's simple, really.

More women = more drama.

Yeah, I know.

That's Sexist!

So what? Doesn't make it any less true.

So sue me.

Tits!, as used to be read around here...

MadisonMan said...

I don't see that the sex of the participants is relevant to this story, except that it helps the writer relate to anecdotes she has heard about bitchy woman bosses, and thereby allows her to fulfill her contractual obligations of so many column inches/webhits per month.

If the story were only about what's actually happening, namely philosophical differences of how fast changes should come to the University, would people outside of Virginia link to it? Doubt it.

Sorun said...

"Queen bee" is a compliment. Queen termite, not so much.

X said...

agreed MadMan. I went to the column to get some insight about what the power struggle was about, who wanted what, etc.. Petula Dvorak shed no light.

prairie wind said...

She zips around campus in her Smart car

That's enough for me. Fire her.

YoungHegelian said...

If Dragas was just a queen bee bullying Sullivan, how'd she get the U. Va. board to go along with firing Sullivan? Are they all bullied women and emasculated men? Maybe, but doubtful.

It's standard practice that personnel "actions" are not discussed publicly, so we may never know the real reason for Sullivan's firing. But, since ye media abhoreth a vacuum, they'll just run columns like this to fill the narrative.

Henry said...

Please add this option to each poll:

( ) Compared to what?

Michael said...

Surprise! Sullivan was fired because she didnt get the job done. She failed. She didnt cut the mustard. Concepts totally alien to the academy but very widespread in the real world which is where she was asked to take UVa.

Saint Croix said...

I had to vote for #4!

As usual, none of Althouse's options accurately states the contents of my beautiful mind.

Note that option #4 is self-contradictory. If you vote for option #4, then you are agreeing with option #4. Thus, one of Althouse's options is accurately stating the contents of my beautiful mind. Which contradicts option #4. Oh, the fiendish puzzle that is option #4.

Martha said...

Theresa Sullivan co-authored a book with Elizabeth Warren when both were professors at the University of Texas. Breitbart.com has suggested academic fraud connected to that publication and Breitbart reporter was in contact with U VA when Sullivan was fired. Sounds far fetched but....

Shanna said...

More women = more drama.

Truth.

But there is also a more men equal part of the equation and it's not all good. It's very interesting the difference between the workplaces. A good mix is healthy.

On UVA, I can't get enough information about this case to see whether this is 'queen bee' or not. Maybe the 'bespeckled' lady is a terrible President. IDK. I don't think it's particularly helpful to label this 'queen bee syndrome' absent any information whatsoever.

Henry said...

I think MadisonMan's 9:36 comment is spot on. This is the boilerplate model for editorial pseudo-intellectualizing.

Writer reads (New Yorker) or hears (NPR) some half-baked sociological factoid (a). Writer is writing on some wholly unrelated topic (b). Writer uses (b) as a vehicle to serve up (a). (b) be damned.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

Professor Mark Perry argues that Sebastian Thrun's vision for education reform through his new firm, Udacity, is the primary reason for Sullivan getting booted. UVa's board appears to be approaching panic mode with the speed with which elite universities and elite educators are embracing the "free", online education reform movement. The speech Thrun gives in the video is long but compelling.

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2012/06/video-that-led-to-uva-presidents.html

wyo sis said...

And yet, option four is beautiful.

The Drill SGT said...

YoungHegelian said...
If Dragas was just a queen bee bullying Sullivan, how'd she get the U. Va. board to go along with firing Sullivan? Are they all bullied women and emasculated men? Maybe, but doubtful.


as I understand it, the board is 3 women and 10 men. All of them are high powered business people. Well able to fend off "bullying"

I have heard that one of the issues is lack of interest by Sullivan in non-traditional cost lowering initiatives.

PS: Prof of Sociology? I wonder what her politics were?

Chef Mojo said...

If the story were only about what's actually happening, namely philosophical differences of how fast changes should come to the University, would people outside of Virginia link to it? Doubt it.

+1, MadMan.

This whole thing is playing out in my back yard, and it's been interesting seeing the community around, but not associated with, UVA (And folks, it's UVA, not U.Va. Pronounced You-Vee-Ay...) reacting with total indifference to the brouhaha. Two competing groups of ultra-elitists, both led by women, collided head on and made a total hash of things. Now it's mostly damage control and face saving. That, and the sharpening of the long knives of vengeance. Things are gonna get uglier at Mr. Jefferson's University before this plays out completely.

The civility bullshit meter has been totally pegged in Charlottesville. Off the Grounds, the rest of us are passing the popcorn, while watching the bubble pop.

Pogo said...

From WaPo: "Dragas is the hard-charging executive of a family company, where her word is gospel whether it’s a good or a bad decision. Sullivan comes from the world of academia, where vision and consensus and cohesion are valued."

From UVa Today (emphasis mine): Email from Darden Dean Robert Bruner:
"The "philosophical difference of opinion" to which the Rector's announcement refers has to do with the rate of change and progress in the face of long range challenges to the University--the Rector called these "existential threats" or challenges to the existence of the University. Included among these threats are recruitment, compensation for faculty and staff, new technology, and financing. The Rector explained that the Board of Visitors seeks "bold, not incremental change." Evidently, conversations about the rate of change have been ongoing at least since last fall. The Rector said that this action is a call for the development of a compelling vision for the University, followed by the raising and allocation of resources toward that vision."

WaPo's article is completely worthless.

Martha said...

Breitbart.com link:


http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/06/16/Did-Breitbart-Investigation-Play-Any-Role-in-Sudden-Resignation-of-UVA-President

ndspinelli said...

Shanna, You're correct. In virtually everything, it's all about balance. The infusion of women into the previously male dominated medical profession has made it better. Women in the legal profession have been turned into men w/ boobs, still no balance. And, as I believe we've discussed, the teaching profession has evolved into 80% female[K-12] to its great detriment.

Steve Austin said...

I will be glad when this is over. I like Larry Sabato. But this is the only topic he has tweeted about the past few weeks.

Good for UVA. The WSJ had a better article on this yesterday, simply noting that Sullivan was borderline incompetent at running anything.

LIbs in the Scott Walker era don't like the fact their side can't balance a budget and are trying to deflect all attention away from that fact.

rehajm said...

She is a beloved, bespectacled professor..

Dumpy and unattractive code.


I went on a couple of blind dates like that...all the girls love her. She makes her own clothes

Bryan C said...

"More women = more drama."

Generally true. Women are allowed to get away with it because they're women. Men have been conditioned not to complain about poor behavior by females, and women have been told that being a bitchy diva is the secret of success.

Patrick said...

Really I just find the column poorly written, just sort of phoned in. One woman fires another woman, so let's just bring in some stuff about gender, ask a few questions, but offer no meaningful insight.

For example, she writes "In 2007, the woman-on-woman bullying prevalence was 71 percent. Now it is 80 percent. In the very nest paragraph, she refers to "the myth" of woman on woman scheming," and says that it is dying. Well, if it is dying, it once lived. If it once lived, it is hardly a myth.

Craig said...

"Bold" means dispensing with unprofitable relics like German and the Classics. How could Germany or Greece possibly have any relevance to the MBA students of tomorrow?

AllieOop said...

Her firing had nothing to do with Queen Bee syndrome. I suspect Sullivan's politics didn't appeal to Dragas. I think it's time to drop the cat fight meme.



WV: Begrown

X said...

so it's the Gatekeeper scenario with the regressive president standing athwart progress at UVA yelling stop.

Coketown said...

I don't understand the dynamic at work here, but it parallels one conservatives have to deal with consistently: a group of progressives love someone for qualities unrelated to their profession (he's black and loves basketball and uses a Blackberry; she's bespectacled and quirky and drives a Smart car!), and when criticisms are made of said individual the progressives ignore those criticisms and start projecting onto the critic. "Surely since we love this professor these criticisms cannot be valid; therefore the fault lies in the critic. Are they racist perhaps? Or perhaps this is a petty expression of female inadequacy projected onto her sisters?"

Maybe it's not Queen Bee Syndrome. Maybe this goofy professor, like Professor Trelawney and a whole host of similarly inadequate professors before her, failed in her professional duties and Dragas did what men do and fired the inadequate worker. Why the hell does the professor's physical appearance and choice of automobile even factor into this? Why is the only important consideration--that she's a "respected scholar"--buried among these superfluous qualities?

Most importantly: why can't a woman work in a position of power without having her ovaries put on display any time she does something insensitive to another female? I mean great goats, one woman fires another and all we hear is how she's like The Devil Wears Prada and she's the Queen Bee and, oh, did you notice she's a girl? She probably even played with Barbies when she was younger--and didn't own a black Barbie! Let's ignore the real story here, which is why Professor Trelawney got fired, and instead take a trip into the dark recesses of Dragas's psychology and personal history. What exactly made her such a fierce bitch?

David said...

You also have the woman (Petula Dvorak) who trivializes the dispute between two women. This is a important dispute about accountability. Faculty and students are flocking to support the bespectacled professor because she is mild and weak in holding them accountable. She's willing to continue with the same fluff and bloat just by trimming a little bit off the top. Don't worry, it will grow back.

Now the bespectacled professor has said, in a rabble rousing campus speech, that she will accept reinstatement only if the Rector resigns. ("Rector" is Wahoospeak for "Board Chair.") Wah-hoo-wah! Let's play thermonuclear war!

If the board capitulates to this (or to the toady Governor who "may" ask them to resign--he can't fire them--they might as well turn over the keys to the faculty senate. Make them accountable. Give them full budgetary power. Within five years you will have Athens in America. 21st Century Athens.

elkh1 said...

Smart car? A German car. She should zip around on a Sagway or a bike.

"Queen bee"? Petula wants to say "cat fight".

Sullivan is no shrinking violet, it wouldn't be so easy to push her out. There's a reason that she's gone so fast, on a hush-hush. Little Petula sets it up as a fight between the evil corporate type and a "beloved, bespectacled" academic. Keep pushing, let's see what's under the rock.

You know, if it was a man firing a man, nobody would care. If it was a "beloved, bespectacled" man who was fired, he must have done some firable thing. The decisive woman refused to protect the good-old-boy. Only a sexist man would fire a woman. Therefore, only a woman could fire a woman.

It's demeaning to both women and UVa to say the firing was a frivolous "Queen Bee" thing. The Queen Bee hired the beloved, bespectacled, German car driving Sociology prof in the first place.

Sullivan was connected to the 1/32 Cherokee woman. Wonder if someone was afraid to open that can of giant worms.

Dave said...

There's no real reporting here, no substantive info. The official "philosophical differences" is substance free but surely a curious reporter could dig and find out what concretely was the new vision and in what way Sullivan was an impediment. Instead we get trendy stereotypes from movies and the "Bullying Institute" and the bias of the reporter without any evidence.

edutcher said...

My mother always said women hate other women more than men hate other men.

And, while some guys will act like slobs, most men will try to treat a woman like a lady.

So, yeah, all that estrogen in the same room is gonna cause trouble.

PS Went for 1 and 1 on the polls.

But they need check boxes, not radio buttons.

Roger J. said...

Drill asks "wonder what her politics are..." I assume his question is rhetorical :)

Ordinarily I would suggest Henry the K's aphorism about the politics in academe are so fierce because the stakes are so small. In this case, however, I think the increasing moves to on-line instructions, and the financial situations of modern academe argue that in fact the stakes are huge: institutional survival.

The board IMO wanted one thing and the president wanted another.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Anytime you get more than 3 women/girls together you get this syndrome.

More women = more drama.

Yep. I've worked in offices with women and offices with men. The female workplaces were sheer hell.

traditionalguy said...

It's the war on women... and on men too.

Free Money's last bastion is the State Universities. Being in charge during that coming crisis will be very important.

Comanche Voter said...

What's going on here is that Sullivan failed to execute the mission given her by the Board.

While it doesn't happen as often as it should, Boards have the right and the obligation to fire non performing CEO's.

Queen Bee my bleeding backside.

William said...

My guess is that the Queen Bee syndrome only happens among conservative women. What are the chances that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton would be described as acting in a Queen Bee fashion?

Shanna said...

I've worked in offices with women and offices with men.

Me too. There were annoyances with both, although the guy office tended to make up for the annoyances with free beer!

On the other hand, the biggest drama queen in my office right now is a man.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or is the Queen Bee Dvorak who is taking a probably serious dispute between two people and reducing it down to the fact that they are both women without any evidence that that is the real problem?

Freeman Hunt said...

The biggest drama queens in the office where I worked were men.

Shanna said...

@ Freeman...Ding, Ding, Ding!

That article had zero content, except for unfounded accusations of Queen Beeness.

stealth pundit said...

Older daughter is a UVA grad and is getting a steady stream of breathless e-mails about this. She graduated at the end of President Casteen's last year and really could care less - though she does find the break from tradition a little disturbing. Those of us who live in the area and aren't connected to the University could pretty much care less than less. And give me a break - no tenured professor is going to resign over this.

Tell us what we REALLY want to know - can UVA beat Tech this year in football?

MadisonMan said...

Had Dragas and Sullivan lunched together sometime in a Brestaurant, all this could have been avoided.

traditionalguy said...

Hive Collapse is not a pretty sight. When the Queen Bee is no longer pulling in the Federal Educational grants and student loans, then the drones begin to die.

Royal Jelly is Money and they need to find new sources of money in cooperation with businesses management. Being soft and sweet Sociologist doesn't cut it anymore.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

WSJ on the UVa affair:

http://tinyurl.com/7blz2pa


Two years ago the trustees, known as the board of visitors, hired Ms. Sullivan to rationalize U.Va.'s finances. Alumni giving had been crushed in the downturn, while funding courtesy of Virginia taxpayers has dropped to $8,300 per student from $15,300 in 2000.

But Ms. Sullivan—a sociologist by training—turned out to favor what she called an "incrementalist" approach. As late as this March, she said U.Va. was "pretty lean" and "I worry about getting leaner." Yet administrative spending jumped 68.9% between 2003 and 2009, compared to spending on teaching that rose 42.4% over the same period.

The board and especially chairwoman Helen Dragas also asked Ms. Sullivan to undertake more sweeping reform. They worried U.Va. was falling behind in innovative digital technologies like online learning, and they wanted more accountability in faculty productivity and academic quality.

Here's how Ms. Sullivan interpreted this mandate in a May 2012 memo to the board: "A key strategic initiative of my administration is to implement a budget system that enables multi-year academic strategic planning, incentivizes cross-Grounds activities that will pull together the collective strengths of our schools, and a model that will provide, to the extent possible, long term financial stability for the University."

If you can parse that, you may belong in the U.Va. faculty senate, which passed a no-confidence vote in the board shortly after Ms. Dragas asked for Ms. Sullivan's resignation.

Saint Croix said...

What are the chances that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton would be described as acting in a Queen Bee fashion?

LOL, William. You're so dry you could be a martini.

Nathan Alexander said...

Petula?

Isn't that the root form of "petulant"?

Hagar said...

Many universities and colleges (if not all) are going to need to hire a president whose job it will be to lay about him with broadsword and axe for a year or two, then accept a generous buyout against a promise to leave the state and never be heard from again.

PatCA said...

My takeaway from the article: the writer loves liberal Sullivan, despises fiscal realist Dragas. That's about it.

Portia said...

OH, OH!

East, by g-d, Virginia!

X said...

Goodbye Ms. Potato Chips

Michael K said...

The infusion of women into the previously male dominated medical profession has made it better. "

If you consider reduced work hours and more feelings, better, then you are right.

At a faculty meeting, I once said that the greatest educational institution in history was the WWII US army which taught 200,000 ordinary men to fly.

You should have heard the snorts of disbelief from the female side.

Saint Croix said...

She was reinstated

I knew the board was in trouble when people start quoting Jefferson to them. That's a sure sign of moral outrage.

Lem said...

Of course Althouse is bullying me..

Don't forget to add a zip code when sending your donations..

JohnBoy said...

"She was reinstated. I knew the board was in trouble when people start quoting Jefferson to them. That's a sure sign of moral outrage."

Allow me to predict the future. The spending will continue apace, and the taxpayers will get soaked. Colleges aren't yet ready for the real world.

Not when you need to fill that open position of Associate Dean for Transgender Housing.

Blue@9 said...

For fuck's sake, that was printed in WaPo?

What's with the phony Hollywood drama based on dumb tropes?

I know I know! They're fighting over a MAN! It's a LOVE TRIANGLE! Just like in all the movies! Or maybe it's a modern version and they're LESBIANS and they once dated but now they're fighting over the same WOMAN! And this Dragas woman is probably running a secret criminal enterprise in her basement, one which involves torturing and skinning PUPPIES! That's gotta be it!

pm317 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David R. Graham said...

"Shanna, You're correct. In virtually everything, it's all about balance. The infusion of women into the previously male dominated medical profession has made it better. Women in the legal profession have been turned into men w/ boobs, still no balance. And, as I believe we've discussed, the teaching profession has evolved into 80% female[K-12] to its great detriment."

Concur. In clerical profession men have been turned into women w/pricks and young men even with a calling can't work the economics.

A pole of a polarity that tries to eliminate its polar opposite eliminates itself. Life is dialectical. Make faction, commit suicide.