Our expectations of leadership are masculine, when we evaluate men’s potential, we are much more likely to see them as a good fit. Women do not meet our masculine expectations, therefore the projection is never triggered.
This male bias in our cognitive processing of leadership potential is powerful. “Think manager, think male” means we can fail to see women’s leadership potential. In fact, research suggests that men and women behave very similarly in senior roles, but men routinely receive higher leadership ratings.
On today’s podcast, Lisa S. Kaplowitz, Executive Director at Rutgers Center for Women in Business will be joining us to discuss the harmful ways women have to change themselves to fit the ideal worker image, and organizations that devalue anyone who differs from it. In an article for Harvard Business Review entitled, 5 Harmful Ways Women Feel They Must Adapt in Corporate America Lisa and two co-authors share findings from their research, Lisa outlines what these adaptations are and why they are ultimately harmful.
She also leaves us with some actions to implement into our workplaces in order to bridge the gap in the devaluing of difference:
Action One: Be aware – Know what an ideal worker looks like when they show up in your workplace.
Action Two: Ask – Do not assume. Ask an employee how you can support them, what additional resources they might need and what help they may need to advance in their career or to get a project to completion.
Action Three: Ensure interactions are authentic, genuine and informal conversations.
Action Four: Give feedback. Honest feedback, without sugar coating. Allow feedback to be a conversation where all can have their say.