Cheerful businesswomen seen as less willing to lead: study
Leaders are ‘assertive, dominant and hard-lined,’ so females who want to be promoted to top positions should appear proud without looking too cheerful, new research suggests.
By Victoria Taylor / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The secret to a successful woman may be a proud but serious demeanor.
New research from Germany's Technische Universitat Munchen suggested that cheerful women are seen as less willing to assume a leadership role than their male counterparts.
Women seeking higher positions in a company are expected to demonstrate excellent negotiation skills, networking capabilities and the ability to develop a strategic career ladder. However, economic researchers found that these attributes aren't always enough.
“They ignore the fact that there are stereotypes that on a subconscious level play a decisive role in the assessment of high achievers,” Isabell Welpe, TUM's Chair for Strategy and Organization, said in a press release. “Leaders should be assertive, dominant and hard-lined; women are seen as mediators, friendly, social.”
Researchers showed survey participants a number of scenarios involving potential leaders and their employees. They then asked them about their expectations and perceptions.
Participants expected better performance when a man had delegated the work, according to the study.
Also, in cases where neither the male nor the female managers delegated the decision making when it made sense to do so, women participants were bias against bosses of their own gender.
“There is still the belief that men in leadership positions show more assertiveness towards their staff,” 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.”
The study suggested that ambitious women looking to climb the corporate ladder may have to smile less.
“Women who looked cheerful were judged to less willing to lead,” Welpe said. “Pride, on the other hand, is positively associated with leadership qualities.”