New York: Catalyst
Primary Research
Area of focus: 
Unconscious Bias

This research report is aimed at a business audience. A survey of corporate leaders was conducted, asking them to rate men and women leaders against ten essential leadership behaviours. It found that senior management perceive different strengths between the genders which correspond to commonly identified stereotypes, especially in terms of women being better "caretakers" and men being better at "taking charge".

Women believe they are better than men at problem solving, but men hold the opposite opinion, and greatly outnumber women at senior management level. The authors believe this fact limits perceptions of women's interpersonal power, and thus chances of promotion.

The report discusses why stereotypical thinking is problematic, and identifies factors which influence stereotyping of female leaders, including whether they work in male-dominated industries or roles. Senior managers who themselves report directly to female managers were found to be more likely to hold stereotyped views of women, suggesting that exposure to women leaders is not enough to reverse the phenomenon.

The report recommends that companies institute more objective evaluation and succession planning policies, including increased clarity and specificity of measures used, as well as education of management on stereotypes and the showcasing of successful female leaders