This report builds on previous Catalyst studies into stereotyped perceptions of women's leadership abilities. It outlines the concept of stereotyping, as well as the trend of associating effective leadership with male stereotypes. The assumption that male and female characteristics are mutually exclusive is argued to create a false dichotomy placing both men and women in narrow, prescribed categories which limit their effectiveness. The report describes three "double-bind" dilemmas faced by women: extreme perceptions, where they are seen as "too hard" or "too soft" but never "just right"; a high competency threshold, where women are required to meet higher standards than men, for lower rewards; and the "competent but disliked" dilemma, where women may be seen as competent or personable, but rarely both. Each dilemma is illustrated with statements taken from a study of managers in Europe and the United States.
Interviews were conducted with female managers at a major global corporation, to determine the prevalence of these dilemmas, and to determine actions individuals and organisations can take to correct them. The Catalyst Stereotypes Diagnostic Instrument is described, a tool available through Catalyst's website which provides users with a Stereotype Risk Score based on factors within their organisation.