Does Stereotypical Perceptions Affect Women Managers?


Gurulakshmi Iyer-Hait writes about how stereotypes negatively impacts women’s ability to work in a corporate setup. 

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If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted – there is practically nothing she can’t do.
                                                                                                                                        Helen Lawrenson

Over the decades, workplaces have changed, work cultures have evolved, working styles have improved, and so have the ratio of men vis-à-vis women in the corporate world. Although the number of women have increased, stereotypes and biases have continued to exist. While the time available to both the genders are same (24 hours), the aspirations and ambitions are same, why is there a gender gap in business leadership?

Stereotyping can misrepresent the true talents of women leaders, potentially undermining women’s leadership and posing serious challenges to their career advancement. Research suggests that women are more likely to be given leadership positions where success rates are less, thus, putting them at an enhanced risk of failure.

Women are always at lose-lose situation or let’s say a no-win one. Not displaying emotions at workplace makes them look over-professional, while display of emotions portrays them as fragile. We have seen our mothers at home who build consensus or get into collective bargaining as a part of important decision making process. The same thing done in the workplace by a woman manager is always perceived as she being ‘weak’. Women are seen as plotting their rise in the corporate sphere, irrespective of their talents or qualifications.

Stereotypes are difficult to ignore since they become systemic bias. Hence, such biases need to be combated or else companies should be ready to trade off their vital talent pool. Recent studies point out that while both male and female styles of leadership can be effective “females” frequently have the edge.

The radical shift over the years at work now calls for diversity in leadership roles rather than diversity in gender.

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