“gender schemas: culturally bound assumptions about men and women that are unconscious.”

“One assumption is that women are first assumed incompetent until proven otherwise. It’s the opposite for men. So right from the start women are not perceived as leaders. If a woman is successful it’s because she’s a hard worker, or was lucky; if she fails it’s because she’s incompetent. If a male succeeds, it’s because he’s competent; if he fails it’s because of bad luck or a scandal.”

“Consequently, cultural biases consistently overrate men and underrate women. Self-assessment studies show that men and women do the same to themselves. Women tend to evaluate themselves two points lower than reality, while men will evaluate themselves two points higher.”

“In one global experiment called the “Goldberg paradigm,” researchers asked men and women in one group to evaluate a particular article or speech supposedly written by a man. Then they asked a similar group to judge the same material, this time supposedly authored by a woman. In countries all over the world, participants rated the very same words higher coming from a man than from a woman.”

“The fact that women often assume other women are incompetent may, in part, explain why women traditionally haven’t been so great at helping each other up the ladder. That’s changing however, with the plethora of organizations and initiatives dedicated to women supporting women. A revolution is underway; a level of collaboration among women as we have never seen before.”

“Some women use the negative gender schemas against them to their advantage. These women play along as if they don’t know what’s going on, when in reality they are five steps ahead of the guys. As Mae West put it, “Brains are an asset, if you hide them.” Being under-estimated can work to women’s advantage when she is covertly outsmarting him, but that’s a short-term benefit. In the end, feigning ignorance only helps perpetuate a misperception. As one of my favorite leaders, Linda Rusch, former VP of nursing in Hunderton Medical, told me, “What you permit, you promote.””

Forbes: Why Is It That Women Are Seen As Less Competent

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