Belle Derks is professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at Utrecht University (the Netherlands). In her research she studies the impact of gender roles and gender stereotypes on the opportunities for women to build a career and overcome gendered expectations. In a research project funded by the Dutch Science Foundation she examined the Queen Bee effect, the finding that ambitious women sometimes turn away from other women at work. Focusing on the organizational mechanisms that promote and reward this behavior, she revealed that self-group distancing is a survival tactic to improve women’s career opportunities in masculine organizations.
Other research projects focus on the spillover between work and family roles for women and men, revealing for instance the role of work-family guilt in women’s career choices, and the risks of women becoming too successful at work for dynamics within heterosexual relationships.
Finally, in studies conducted in collaboration with the Dutch Network of Women Professors, she exposed several gender inequalities in Dutch Academia, such as the size of the gender wage gap, the different resources and tasks given to women and men, differential perceptions of fit with academic standards of success, and the differential effects of the COVID pandemic on male and female academics.