Cheerful Women Aren’t Seen as Leadership Material

Study: Cheerful Women Aren't Seen as Leadership Material

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Wipe that grin off of your face, girl, a cheery disposition might put career women at a disadvantage according to a German study. The initial findings of a long term study conducted by economic researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) in Munich, which investigated the selection and assessment of leaders, shows that “Women are perceived as being more willing to lead if they show that they are proud of their personal performance. If, however, they give a cheerful impression, they are judged to have less willingness to leadership roles than men who display similar emotions,” according to Science Daily.

To get ahead in leadership positions, ladies are expected to possess negotiation skills, networking strengths, and the ability to develop a strategic career ladder. “But even these skills are not enough,” maintains Professor Isabell Welpe of TUM’s Chair for Strategy and Organization. “They ignore the fact that there are stereotypes that on a subconscious level play a decisive role in the assessment of high achievers. Leaders should be assertive, dominant and hard-lined; women are seen as mediators, friendly, social.”

“There is still the belief that men in leadership positions show more assertiveness towards their staff,” Professor Welpe said. “The surprising thing is that some female stereotypes are more reinforced in the minds of women themselves — for example their tendency to accept a dominant leadership style in men.”

Participants took place in scenarios where men and women were either cheerful, proud, or without emotion, regarding their personal performance. Prideful people seemed more ambitious to the participants, while  Professor Welpe says that women who looked cheerful were judged to less willing to lead.

The goal of the study is to eventually develop more gender neutral training programs as a result of  their findings, “aimed at helping companies and scientific organizations assess the potential and performance of men and women beyond the limitations of stereotypes.” As a woman, do you see proud women as competition and dismiss cheery co-workers as a non threat?   Casandra Armour

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