I recently had the opportunity to make a presentation to a group of senior women leaders and was reminded of the value of sitting together to review what we know about gender dynamics in organizations that create headwinds for women trying to succeed. Each of the items listed below is important in its own right, but looking at them together had a powerful impact on the women in my session, who said things like “It’s good to be reminded that it’s not just me having these experiences, and I’m not crazy.” Of course, more than then gender dynamics that we know about through scholarly research on this topic exist, but these ten stand out to me. I offer them here, along with links to their sources, for the reflection of my readers:
- Society still holds strong cultural biases against women as leaders.
- Women get interrupted more than men.
- Women are more frequently evaluated on personal characteristics (e.g., how often they smile or are abrasive): 76 percent of women get this kind of feedback compared to 2 percent of men.
- Women get evaluated higher on seventeen out of nineteen leadership characteristics than men.
- Women face double bind challenges and walk a tightrope, such as the likeability trap, where being assertive and decisive is not likeable.
- Executive women who talk more than their peers are rated less competent than executive men who talk more.
- If a woman challenges a man’s inappropriate behavior, she is seen as a “b——.”
- The only —— in the office (whether regarding gender, race, or both) faces more challenges to prove him- or herself and feel heard.
- Women who adopt a masculine style are considered “b——es.”
- Masculine workplace norms discourage relationship work as a “waste of time” and value task focus and autonomy.
We can change how women are treated at work, but only when we are aware of the systemic problems. Talking about these points and more with other women is the first step.
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash