London: Women at the helm of affairs are more likely to promote and help their male subordinates than females. They can sometimes also wreck another woman’s promotion.

Called the 'Queen Bee syndrome', the phenomenon can be a major obstacle to women climbing the managerial ladder.

Psychologists at the University of Cincinnati have found that instead of encouraging other ambitious women, female bosses were more inclined to obstruct them.

Men who report to a woman manager get much more mentoring and support than their female colleagues.

The findings have been published in the journal Social Science Research.

Researchers say this may partly be due to the fact that women who occupy senior posts want to blend in with their male counterparts.

The study, based on responses from over 2,000 employees in the US, backs up earlier research on the 'Queen Bee syndrome'.

In 2008, German researchers reported that women who answered to a female supervisor suffered more depression, insomnia, headaches and heartburn than if their boss was a man.

And a British survey said two-thirds of women preferred a male boss as they are straight-talking, less likely to talk about staff behind their backs and not prone to mood swings.

Cary Cooper, an expert in workplace psychology at Lancaster University, said the findings may be due to women over-compensating as they do not want to be accused of favouring female staff.

'This is classic Queen Bee syndrome. Women who get into managerial jobs in male-dominated organisations tend to be very much like the men, if not harder,' he said.

'Take Lady Thatcher, she was considered to be tougher than lots of the men around her and that's exactly why she got to the top.'

(Agencies)