Having a woman set to represent a major political party in the race for the U.S. presidency is historical. I wish this could be the only way gender is a factor. How much of her low favorability ratings do you think are driven by unconscious gender bias?
Deaf, Blind, Biased – or Stumped? Why Leaders Don’t Respond to the Business Case for Gender Diversity
Why might the message about the value of diversity not be heard? Why might leaders hear it but not buy it? Why do men who do buy it not take effective action? These are not rhetorical questions. I have some ideas but I want your thoughts.
One major obstacle for women in the workplace goes by many names – the double bind, a tightrope, the Goldilocks thing. Call it what you will, it is a lose-lose proposition for women. They are criticized for being too feminine and too masculine. How do we bring down the “Goldilocks thing”?
McKinsey has concluded that it will take 25 years to reach “gender parity” at the senior VP level and more than 100 years to reach parity in the C-suite. Is “parity” realistic and attainable even in a century? I don’t think so. Even if we could magically eliminate all unconscious gender bias, other factors would make parity unlikely. There are key reasons other than bias – like free choice. I will continue to help eliminate bias so choice is truly free.
Unconscious gender bias doesn’t’ appear exclusively in the corporate world. As illustrated by a true story a friend recently told me, it resides in small business, too. Our unconscious (and gendered) images of leadership are everywhere. In a family business, a woman who had worked for years was passed over when the founder retired — by a much less experienced, but male, relative. How can we broaden our “pictures” of leadership?
She is “helpful” but “too assertive.” He “shows initiative” and “solves problems.” Research shows that the language used in performance reviews for men and women is very different. The language clearly reflects underlying gender bias. Can making managers more aware of their language actually uproot and change gender biases?