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PhD-position 'Women in Leadership Positions"


PhD-position 'Women in Leadership Positions: The Role of the Work-Family Interface in the Queen Bee Phenomenon' (1,0 )

Job description
This project examines the role of the work-family interface in the development of the Queen Bee phenomenon. For example, are women who experience conflict between their work and family roles more likely to turn into queen bees and distance themselves from other women at work? Moreover, can supportive family situations (e.g. spousal career support) produce family-work enrichment and as such provide women with effective coping resources to deal with negative gender stereotypes in male-dominated organizations? These hypotheses will be examined in experimental and longitudinal field studies among women leaders, as well as lab experiments to examine underlying processes.

The department of Social and Organizational Psychology is looking for PhD candidates on a project related to gender equality in the workplace. The project is conducted in a close collaboration between the Social and Organizational Psychology department and the Sociology department. The position mainly involves research tasks (90%); candidates will also be involved in the teaching curriculum of the department (10%, e.g., supervision of MA and BA theses).

Even though women’s participation in the workforce has increased significantly in past decades, the advancement of women to higher ranks is far from complete. This project examines the role of senior women in the career opportunities of junior women, and focuses on the ‘Queen Bee phenomenon’. Queen bees are senior women in male-dominated organizations who have achieved success by displaying masculine behavior and distancing themselves from other women. Research has established that queen bee responses among women leaders are not a typically female response but develop particularly in masculine organizational cultures in which women come to see their gender as a liability to career success. In order to cope with negative gender stereotypes in such organizations some women psychologically distance themselves from other women in an attempt to improve their own career outcomes.

This PhD-project (four years) will be supervised by Dr. Elianne van Steenbergen, Prof. Belle Derks and Prof. Tanja van der Lippe.

• A completed research or academic master in social sciences. A degree in Social and/or Organizational Psychology is preferred;
• Experience and affinity with quantitative research methods and statistical data analysis;
• A keen interest in both fundamental research and the application of behavioral theories to practice;
• Good command of English language;
• Good academic writing skills.

The initial appointment to the position will be made for a 1,0 FTE for one year that, with satisfactory completion, will result in an extension for an additional three years. It is expected that the appointee will complete the PhD degree within this period. The salary is €2125,- gross per month in the first year and €2717,- gross per month in the fourth year, for a full time contingent on satisfactory performance. The salary is supplemented with an annual holiday pay of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. We offer flexible working conditions to support a good work – life balance of our employees. Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible employment conditions.

About the organisation
Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles that are centred on four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Research and teaching activities are concentrated in five areas: Behaviour in Social Contexts; Child and Adolescent Studies; Cognitive and Clinical Psychology; Education and Learning; and Methodology and Statistics. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.
The position is available at the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology. The department’s research concentrates on three interrelated domains: Motivation, Self-regulation, and Performance, combining fundamental and applied approaches to study human cognition and behavior in the social, organizational and work contexts. A variety of methods are employed including behavioral lab experiments, psychophysiology, eye tracking, surveys and behavior observational studies.
The project is part of the Utrecht Strategic theme Institutions in which scholars from the fields of economics, history, public administration, culture, law, sociology, social psychology, ethics, innovation studies, and geography join forces to find answers to the following key questions: Why do societies develop so divergently? And how do institutions contribute to the formation of open and sustainable societies?

The Department of Social and Organizational Psychology’s two research programs (“Work and organizational psychology: Occupational health psychology” and “Social-cognitive and interpersonal determinants of behavioral regulation”) received excellent evaluations in the most recent QANU research review. Moreover, the department of Social and Organizational Psychology has outstanding research facilities within a state-of-the-art newly designed faculty lab environment (autumn 2013), including eye- and limb-movement registration, virtual reality, TMS, EEG and access to MRI. In addition, the department has access to a mobile lab and has well-developed expertise in conducting research in work and organizational settings. We teach in three undergraduate programs (BSc Psychology, BSc minor program Social Neuroscience, and BSc Social Sciences at UCU), two MSc programs (MSc Social Psychology, MSc Work and Organizational Psychology), a two-year research masters (MSc Social and Health Psychology), Kurt Lewin Institute PhD program Social Psychology and Helmholtz PhD program Cognition and Behaviour. The Social and Organizational Psychology department is part of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science of Utrecht University. In addition, the Social and Organizational Psychology department participates in the Utrecht Strategic theme Institutions, and has ongoing research collaborations with the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), the Utrecht School of Law, TNO and Unilever.

Additional information
You can apply by pressing the button below. Please provide a letter of motivation, a CV including course grades, and two references.

For more information please contact Elianne van Steenbergen ( or Belle Derks (

The application deadline is