20 Feb Women & the Leadership Labyrinth Howard vs Heidi
Heidi Roizen was a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist who became the subject of a case study at Columbia Business School. Professor Frank Flynn, presented half his class with the case study with Heidi’s name on it and gave half the class the same case study with her name changed to “Howard”.The students rated “Howard” and Heidi, equally competent, but they liked Howard, but not Heidi.
by Maria Katsarou,
Specifically, students felt Heidi was significantly less likable and worthy of being hired than Howard and perceived her as more “selfish” than Howard. Deborah Gruenfeld, of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, cited the same study, adding that “the more assertive a student found the female venture capitalist to be, the more they rejected her.” The essence is that research has demonstrated a negative correlation for women between power and success. For men, the relationship is positive, i.e., successful men are perceived as more powerful and are revered. A fundamental challenge to women’s leadership arises from the mismatch between the qualities traditionally associated with leaders and those traditionally associated with women.” The assertive, authoritative, and dominant behaviors that people link with leadership tend not to be viewed as attractive in women. In her 2011 commencement address at Barnard College, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg noted that despite the forty years that have elapsed since the beginning of the modern women’s’ rights movement. Women now represent:
• Only 15% of American Fortune 500 “Csuite” jobs
• 9 of the 190 are heads of state
• 13% of the world’s parliaments, and 24% of the full professorships in American colleges and universities.
“The main challenge for women in leadership positions is managing the fundamental attribution errors made about them due to gender biases in society. For example, when women leaders are as assertive as men; they are seen as less likable. The fundamental attribution error is that when women lead with a confident direct style, they are self-serving. Conversly, when men lead in this same manner they are well intended strong leaders. Therefore women must work harder to be seen as well intended, likable leaders. To do this they must spend more time building relationships, especially with other female peers and subordinates. Because they have to spend more time chatting to build relationships they are sometimes judged by male supervisors as wasting time at the water cooler or passive leaders afraid to command. This double-bind forces them to walk a tight rope. Studies show that when boards of directors have women on them, the company is significantly less likely to go bankrupt. This is a testament to the fact that women leaders, to be appreciated, have learned to be inclusive and collaborative with their followers, peers and supervisors. They encourage dialog at critical moments due to the necessity of constantly showing they have the greater good of the organization at hand. Also, as with any underprivileged group, women leaders have learned to influence without authority. Doing this requires competency in negotiation, stakeholder analysis, dialog, entrepreneurialism and strategic thinking. All of these qualities serve their organizations very well. The
economy of the world and the evolution of our global community will benefit from not only including more women but also people of color and anyone who does not fit the Type A, tall white male stereotype of a leader. True inclusion will only occur when women and minorities are no longer seen as being the ones who have to change (the identified patients). The responsibility for accessing diverse talent lies with leaders who hold the power now. They need to open the door and be more expansive in deciding who sits at the table.”