Highlighting a Woman’s Work Performance Increases Her Willingness to Lead: Study
Mon, April 19, 2021

Highlighting a Woman’s Work Performance Increases Her Willingness to Lead: Study

Public feedback about a woman’s work performance significantly increases her willingness to lead a group, a new study finds / Photo by: Anna Bizoń via 123RF

 

Public feedback about a woman’s work performance significantly increases her willingness to lead a group, a new study finds.


Gender Stereotype Effect

Authors Jingnan Chen from the University of Exeter and Daniel Houser from George Mason University found that women are more likely to shy away from leadership if the number of men in a mixed-gender group is increased, particularly in jobs that are viewed stereotypically for men. However, highlighting the women’s achievements and abilities in the job will alleviate the negative effect.

Their study, which appeared in science and technology platform Phys.org, details that women in both single and mixed-gender teams are twice as likely to experience the gender stereotype effect. As a result, they are less willing to take on leadership roles and feel that they should not put themselves forward to becoming the boss. Although high-achieving women are putting in the efforts for their work, there is less attention given to them because it is unlikely that they would self-promote their skills. Chen and Houser pointed out the significance of equally recognizing the work of both men and women in the labor force.

Equally Recognizing the Work of Both Men and Women

Chen, who is from the business school’s Economics Department, emphasized that if women are acknowledged in their workplace for the achievements they make, their colleagues would also recognize that they are performing well. Women will also be encouraged to step up and use their skills for leadership roles. But how should this public feedback be made? The authors answered that this should be done by highlighting her quantitative achievement, such as measurable and objective work. This means the number of projects and the sales figures she completes.


Doesn’t Mean Downplaying Male Achievements

The research also said that highlighting women’s achievements in the workplace doesn’t mean downplaying men’s achievements. It is simply committing to ensure that companies will not ignore or overlook female achievements. The study pointed out that publicly recognizing men’s achievements in the workplace will also increase their preference to take the leadership role in an all-male group.

The research also said that highlighting women’s achievements in the workplace doesn’t mean downplaying men’s achievements. It is simply committing to ensure that companies will not ignore or overlook female achievements / Photo by: Cathy Yeulet via 123RF


Women in an All-female Team

The opposite thing happens though for women in an all-female team. Highlighting their achievements deters women from becoming the boss because they would rather wish for a “sense of cooperation” or “fairness” from the team.

A total of 248 students from the University of Exeter participated in the study and they were divided into four groups. For every group, they were asked to complete certain tasks, such as completing a quiz. The authors asked them how willing they are to lead their team based on the tasks given and how sure they were that their answers to the questions were right. They were also asked if men or women are more willing to learn about a certain subject matter.

They concluded that highlighting the achievements of employees will be both straightforward and highly beneficial for firms as the most skillful and capable male and female leaders will emerge. Consequently, it will result in a better outcome as a group.

The opposite thing happens though for women in an all-female team. Highlighting their achievements deters women from becoming the boss because they would rather wish for a “sense of cooperation” or “fairness” from the team / Photo by: Cathy Yeulet via 123RF


Women in the Workplace

Although the number of men in the labor market is higher than women, the gender difference has been narrowing in the past years. Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems, shared the countries with high female labor force participation rates in 2017. This includes Madagascar (83.61%), Nepal (82.73%), Cambodia (80.94%), Rwanda (86.04%), Mozambique (82.53%), Tanzania (79.46%), Zambia (70.13%), Angola (75.32%), Ghana (48.11%), Vietnam (73.24%), North Korea (74.41%), Iceland (72.83%), and Cameroon (71.23%).

On the other hand, countries with low female labor force participation rates in 2017 based on ILO estimate are as follows: Yemen (6%), Algeria (15.23%), Iraq (18.73%), Iran (16.84%), Afghanistan (19.74%), Somalia (18.63%), Morocco (24.96%), Libya (25.81%), Egypt (22.18%), Sudan (23.63%), Saudi Arabia (22.25%), Pakistan (24.93%), and India (27.21%).

They also emphasized that in rich countries, married women drove the increase in female labor participation. The upward trend from 1955 to 2005 was observed in Canada, Germany, and the UK.

Sher Verick from the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ILO) believes that women’s labor force participation is high in poor countries because “women work out of necessity.” Also, the most uneducated women in poorer countries are participating in informal employment or subsistence activities while those with a high school education can afford to stay out of the labor force. He believes that participation is only one part of the bigger picture. “The quality of employment for women also matters,” he added.

Meanwhile, global management consulting company McKinsey and Company said that in the last five years, more women also rise to the senior or top levels of firms. This is because an increasing number of firms have seen the value of women in the leadership role.

By creating a culture of fairness and opportunity and fostering diversity, firms from different parts of the world can close the gender gap in the workplace. Companies also need to make sure to prevent bias even in hiring and reviewing their employees.