Tag Archives: gender stereotypes

Women’s Likeability – Competence Dilemma: Overcoming the Backlash Effect

Madeline Heilman

Madeline Heilman

Aaron Wallen

Aaron Wallen

Women face significant workplace challenges when they are seen as successful in traditionally-male roles, found New York University’s Madeline Heilman, Aaron Wallen, Daniella Fuchs and Melinda Tamkins.

Melinda Tamkins

Melinda Tamkins

They conducted three experimental studies on reactions to a woman’s success in a male gender-typed job.
They found that when a woman is recognized as successful in roles dominated by men, they are less liked than equally successful men in the same fields.

Tyler Okimoto

Tyler Okimoto

Heilman extended the work with University of Queensland’s Tyler Okimoto, and reported that successful women managers avoided interpersonal hostility, dislike, and undesirability when they or others conveyed “communal” attributes, through their behaviors, testimonials of others, or their role as mothers.

Frank Flynn

Frank Flynn

Stanford’s Frank Flynn demonstrated the competence-likeability disconnect when he taught a Harvard Business School case of Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur Heidi Roizen.

Heidi Roizen

Heidi Roizen

He and collaborator Cameron Anderson of UC Berkeley changed Heidi’s name to “Howard Roizen” for half of the students.

Cameron Anderson

Cameron Anderson

Participants who read the Heidi case and those who read the Howard case rated Heidi and Howard on several dimensions before the class meeting.

Volunteers rated Heidi as equally highly competent and effective as Howard, but they also evaluated her as unlikeable and selfish, and wouldn’t want to hire her or work with her.

Whitney Johnson-Lisa Joy Rosner

Whitney Johnson-Lisa Joy Rosner

A more recent example of backlash toward high-profile, accomplished women was illustrated in social media mentions of Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter,

Whitney Johnson, co-founder of Rose Park Advisors (Disruptive Innovation Fund) and her colleague Lisa Joy Rosner evaluated Brand Passion Index” (BPI) for Mayer, Sandberg, and Slaughter over 12 months by:

  • Activity (number of media mentions),
  • Sentiment (positive or negative emotional tone),
  • Intensity (strong or weak sentiment).

Public Opinion-Mayer-Sandberg-SlaughterThese competent, well-known women were not liked, and were evaluated with harsh negative attributions based on media coverage and at-a-distance observations:

  • Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, was described as impressive and super-smart, and annoying, a terrible bully,
  • Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg‘s was characterized as truly excellent, successful working mom and crazy bizarre,
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, was depicted as an amazing, successful mother and destructive, not a good wife,
Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

The competence-likeability dilemma is also apparent in hiring behavior, demonstrated in experiments by Rutgers University’s Laurie Rudman and Peter Glick of Lawrence University.

Volunteers made “hiring decisions” for male and female “candidates” competing for a “feminized” managerial role and a “masculinized” managerial role.

Peter Glick

Peter Glick

Applicants were presented as:

  • “Agentic” (demonstrating stereotypically male behaviors) or
  • “Communal” (displaying stereotypically female behaviors) or
  • “Androgynous” (combining stereotypically male and female behaviors)

Women who displayed “masculine, agentic” traits were viewed as less socially acceptable  and were not selected for the “feminized” job.
However, this hiring bias did not occur when agentic women applied for the “male” job.

Niceness was not rewarded when competing for jobs:  Both male and female “communal” applicants received low hiring ratings.
However, combining niceness with agency seemed to buffer “androgynous” female applicants from discrimination in the simulated hiring process.

Rudman and Glick noted that “… women must present themselves as agentic to be hireable, but may therefore be seen as interpersonally deficient.”
They advised women to “temper their agency with niceness.”

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Once women receive job offers, the competence-likeability disconnect continues when they negotiate for salary and position, reported by Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon.
Her research demonstrated and replicated negative evaluations of women who negotiate for salaries using the same script as men.

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

The likeability-competence dilemma may result from women’s challenges in integrating expansive, powerful body language with more submissive, appeasing behavior to build relationships and acknowledge others’ authority, suggested Stanford’s Deborah Gruenfeld.

She posited that many women have been socialized to adopt less powerful body positions and body language including:

  • Smiling,
  • Nodding,
  • Tilting the head,
  • Applying fleeting eye contact,
  • Speaking in sentence fragments with uncertain, rising intonation at sentence endings.

In addition, many people expect women to behave in these ways, and negatively evaluate behaviors that differ from expectations.

Body language is the greatest contributor to split-second judgments of people’s competence, according to Gruenfeld.
She estimated that body language is responsible for about 55% of judgments, whereas self-presentation accounts for 38%, and words for just 7% — in less than 100 milliseconds.

Her earlier work considered the impact of body language on assessments of power, whereas her more recent work investigated gender differences in attributions of competence and likeability.

The likeability-competence dilemma may be improved by shifting from “playing high” or taking space when demonstrating competence and authority.
Powerful body language may be risky for women unless counterbalanced with “playing low” or giving space when conveying approachability, empathy, and likeability, she noted.

Posing in more powerful positions for as little as two minutes can change levels of testosterone, a marker of dominance, just as holding a submissive posture for the same time can increase cortisol levels, signaling stress, according to Gruenfeld.
She urged women to practice both awareness and “the mechanics of powerful body language.”

Alison Fragale

Alison Fragale

Women’s competence-likeability dilemma is not mitigated by achieving workplace success and status.
University of North Carolina’s Alison Fragale, Benson Rosen, Carol Xu, Iryna Merideth found that successful women – and men, like Mayer, Sandberg, and Slaughter, are judged more harshly for mistakes than lower status individuals who make identical errors.

Benson Rosen

Benson Rosen

Fragale’s team found that observers attributed greater intentionality, malevolence, self-concern to the actions of high status wrongdoers than the identical actions of low status wrongdoers, and recommended more severe punishments for higher status individuals in two experiments.

Iryna Meridith

Iryna Meridith

The team found preventive and reparative value in qualities of warmth and likeability.
Wrongdoers who demonstrated affiliative concern for others, charitable giving, and interpersonal warmth built a reservoir of goodwill that could protect from the impact of subsequent mistakes and transgressions.

Navigating the likeability-competence dilemma requires demonstrating both capacities, depending on situational requirements.
Learning this skill can take a lifetime.

-*How do you convey likeability AND competence?

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:    @kathrynwelds
Google+:
Facebook

©Kathryn Welds

Advertisements

Gender Bias in STEM Hiring Even When it Reduces Financial Returns  

Women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academic programs and professional roles, and some question whether this is a a result of personal preference, implicit bias, institutional barriers, or other factors,

Ernesto Reuben

Ernesto Reuben

To investigate, Columbia University’s Ernesto Reuben, Paola Sapienza of Northwestern University, and University of Chicago’s Luigi Zingales developed an experimental job market.
Both male and female candidates demonstrated equal skill in performing an arithmetic task, yet both female and male “hiring managers” were twice as like to hire comparable male candidateseven when the hiring managers earned less by hiring less qualified males.
*Even when participants had a financial incentive to choose the candidate with the greatest task-relevant skills, they chose less-qualified male candidates.

Paola Sapienza

Paola Sapienza

Reuben and team also found that when candidates were asked to report their performance on the task-related achievement test, men exaggerated their performance with “honest overconfidence.”
In contrast, women generally underreported their accomplishments, found University of Wisconsin’s Sylvia Beyer.

Luigi Zingales

Luigi Zingales

This gender-based bias in hiring decisions was reduced, but not eliminated when candidates’ previous performance was provided by a third party.

Sylvia Beyer

Sylvia Beyer

Some candidates were directed to report expected future performance based on initial math task performance, then the “employer” made the hiring decision.
Other candidates provided no estimate, but Reuben’s team reported candidates’ past performance to the “hiring managers.”

In other studies, “employers” had no information on each “candidate’s” previous performance, but met each applicant in person before making a hiring decision.
After the hiring managers’ choice, candidates reported expected future performance, or Reuben’s team provided candidates’ past performance to the “hiring manager.”

Anthony Greenwald

Anthony Greenwald

Volunteers then completed the Implicit Association Test (IAT), developed by University of Washington’s Anthony Greenwald, Debbie McGhee, and Jordan Schwartz, to elicit unconscious stereotypes of gender, competencies, and occupations.

When the candidates reported their expected performance and the “hiring manager” chose a candidate with a lower score than other contenders, 90% of the selected but underperforming candidates were male.
As a result, “hiring managers” who selected less qualified male candidates sacrificed 5-7% of their own compensation for biased selections.

Pedro Rey-Biel

Pedro Rey-Biel

Reuben and colleagues, with Pedro Rey-Biel of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona previously demonstrated that this preference for underperforming candidates was explained by the persuasive impact of men’s significantly exaggerated statements (usually by at least 30%) about past and future performance and by scores on the Implicit Association Test.

Hyperbole is apparently effective for male candidates in job interviews when the “hiring manager” scores high on the IAT.

However, this embellishment strategy is ineffective for women, as Reuben and team demonstrated:  In another study, women were still selected 33% less than expected even when they showcased their accomplishments.
Women’s overt self-promotion may provoke “backlash” against those who behave in counter-stereotypic ways.

This research suggests the prevalence of implicit biases against hiring women to perform science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) functions, and male candidates’ tendency to embellish past performance and boast about future potential accomplishments.

As a result, women are selected less frequently for roles in STEM careers, continuing their under representation in these fields.

Even if women do not exaggerate past accomplishments and future potential, this research implies that they should ensure that they communicate and reinforce the full range of skills.

“Real life” hiring managers can overcome implicit hiring biases through awareness and “proper information processing” by focusing on validated performance data, and comparing candidates of the same gender with each other..

-*What strategies have you seen mitigate the influence of implicit bias influence in hiring decisions?

Follow-share-like http://www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter @kathrynwelds
BlogKathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+  http:www.google.com/+KathrynWelds
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes

©Kathryn Welds

Harvard B-School Women “Lean Out” of the Workforce?

First HBS Women

First HBS Women

Women were first admitted to Harvard Business School in 1963, and 50 years later, women are not 50% of the students at HBS.
They trail at 42% for the currently-admitted class, up from the 40% at the time of this survey.

Robin Ely

Robin Ely

Robin Ely of Harvard conducted a survey of of 3,786 women and 2,655 men HBS graduates and found that more than 70% of alumnae are in the paid workforce, and 56% work full time.

Of the 10% of alumnae ages 31 to 47 who “lean out” to care for children full time, only 3% said they planned not to return to return.

HBS 50Ely argues that rather than leaning out, women are actually pushed out or pulled out of the workforce:

“…a whole set of experiences … look less like women opting out, and more like women being pushed out, by organizations that demand a 24/7 work schedule…Women are being pulled out by a culture that promulgates a compelling—some might say guilt-inducing—image of mothering that is hard to live up to while you are trying to hold a job.”

Among women working part-time, three-fourths are engaged in pro bono and volunteer efforts, suggesting that these women continue to have demanding schedules.
More than 63% of the women report regular or significant volunteer commitments, with 67% of those caring for children full-time reporting substantial volunteer activity.

HBS WomenYounger women with two or more children are less likely to be in the workforce than those with no children: 37% for parents vs 9% for the non-parents.

And among the younger cohort of Gen X’ers, 13% of women are working part-time, contrasted with 2% of Gen X men.

At the other end of the age-experience spectrum, another type of “age-approriate opting out” was reported by 43% of female graduates ages 48-66 no longer working full-time.
In contrast, only 28% of men in the same age range were not longer employed, reinforcing previous findings that men work both more hours per year and more years over their careers, leading to higher overall career earnings.

More than 84% of female respondents acknowledged “taking leaves or reducing work hours” hold back women from career advancement.

HBS RestroomThe second most-cited impediment to career advancement for women was “prioritizing family over work,” according to 82% of the female respondents.

Most alumnae reported organizational factors limit women’s advancement:

  • Lack of senior female role models
  • Inhospitable corporate cultures
  • Lack of supportive environments

Fewer than half of the women under the age of 67 report being satisfied with their professional accomplishments or opportunities for career growth.
In contrast, the majority of men agree that their work is meaningful and satisfying.

Drew Gilpin Faust

Drew Gilpin Faust

Harvard’s President Drew Gilpin Faust noted that, women are not equally represented in top leadership roles, echoing statistics showcased by HBS grad Sheryl Sandberg.
She share that women:

  • Comprise 4 percent of Fortune 500 Company CEOs
  • Lead fewer than 10 percent of America’s venture capital firms
  • Hold 26 percent of US full professorships
  • Serve in 20 percent of top US government jobs
Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Ely believes that organizations, women, and families will benefit from recruiting and hiring women who have opted out of full-time work but now want to resume their careers, because today’s graduates can expect to live nearly a century.

This change in hiring practices can increase use of top talent while reducing the substantial regret and dissatisfaction many HBS women experienced in their career trajectories.

As one highly-educated, highly-skilled women reflected on her sense of under-utilization and under-employment in a large global organization: “I don’t want to have to go home and vacuum to feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Organizational policy can increase firms’ profitability, competitiveness, and innovation by deploying top talent across generations and genders, and this HBS study points to one source of potential talent.

-*What actions should individual women and organizations implement to increase the utilization of skilled women’s talents in the workplace?

Related Post

Women’s Post-Business School Work-Life Issues

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: Kathryn Welds |Curated Research and Commentary
Google+:
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes: 

©Kathryn Welds