Queen Bees: How is female managers' happiness determined?

Ailun Xiong, Senmao Xia, Qing Wang, Joan Lockyer, Dongmei Cao, Hans Westlund, Hongyi Li

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This paper aims to study the determinants of subjective happiness among working females with a focus on female managers. Drawn on a large social survey data set (N = 10470) in China, this paper constructs gender development index at sub-national levels to study how institutional settings are related to female managers’ happiness. We find that female managers report higher levels of happiness than non-managerial employees. However, the promoting effect is contingent on individual characteristics and social-economic settings. The full sample regression suggests that female managers behaving in a masculine way generally report a high level of happiness. Meanwhile, female managers who refuse to support gender equality report low happiness levels.
Sub-sample analysis reveals that these causalities are conditioned on regional culture. Masculine behavior and gender role orientation significantly predict subjective happiness
only in gender-egalitarian regions. This study is one of the first to consider both internal (individual traits) and external (social-economic environment) factors when investigating how female managers’ happiness is impacted. Also, this study challenges the traditional wisdom on the relationship between female managers’ job satisfaction and work/home conflict. This study extends the literature by investigating the impacts of female managers’ masculine behavior on their happiness. This study is useful for promoting female managers’ leadership effectiveness and happiness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number741576
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022 Xiong, Xia, Wang, Lockyer, Cao, Westlund and Li. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


National Natural Science Foundation of China (71902014) and the Ministry of Education in China (19YJC630187).


  • Subjective Happiness
  • Queen Bee
  • Female Managers
  • Gender-egalitarian
  • Leadership


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