There’s Always a Reason Offered as to Why Women Are ‘Never Quite Right’ for Leadership
A recent study of the 33 biggest multilateral institutions found that of 382 leaders in their history only 47 have been women. And the percentage of women running Fortune 500 companies has only just recently crested a meager 10%.
As researchers we wondered why institutions consistently fail to promote women to top jobs. Our recent study of 913 women leaders from four female-dominated industries in the U.S. (higher education, faith-based nonprofits, law, and healthcare) sheds light on this pernicious problem. As we found, there’s always a reason why women are “never quite right” for leadership roles.
Women are criticized so often and on so many things that they are acculturated to receiving such disparagement, taking it seriously, and working to make improvements. And any individual woman may take it personally, believing the criticism directed at her to be warranted.
But our research reveals that the problem lies elsewhere. Virtually any characteristic can be leveraged against a woman in a discriminatory fashion. Such criticisms often relate to facets of women’s identity in an overt or subtle way, such as race, age, parental status, attractiveness, and physical ability.