More Double Standards For Women in Business

A recent report published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concludes that female managers who are seen as unkind, insensitive and unaware of others’ feelings are judged as worse bosses because of it – yet men who exhibit the same qualities aren’t.

“It seems female managers may be expected to be sensitive to others’ emotions and to demonstrate this sensitivity by providing emotional support. Because of this, female managers’ job performance is judged on them being understanding, kind, supportive and sensitive,” says Kristen Byron, assistant professor of management in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, who conducted the research. “In contrast, this is not the basis to evaluate the performance of male managers. It is far more important for male managers, and men, in general, to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning than showing care and concern for others.”

As a female business owner and manager I find this very interesting and slightly frustrating. I see this in my own business – if women managers are not sensitive it’s definitely brought to my attention by the staff moreso than if a male manager or colleague is a bit hard-edged.

There have been a lot of articles and studies on the management style of women vs. mens and the entire “bitch” assumption for successful women in business. The truth of the matter is that we are different than men, we lead, we follow, we teach, we learn – differently. This doesn’t mean we are any better or worse at managing – we just use different tactics to get what we need. Unfortunately, we probably do waste too many cycles worrying about everyone’s emotions or thoughts. Caring less – perhaps embracing a little more of our selfish side – could make us more efficient.

But then again, what’s wrong with emotion? As the late, great Anita Roddick claimed, “I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits; recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom.”

Amen!

3 thoughts on “More Double Standards For Women in Business

  1. chrisperkett Post author

    I think it’s interesting that you ask that question when the onus here is on the judging – both from employees and those writing the job performances. Why are women leaders judged on their emotional care taking of employees’ feelings, yet men are not? The performance should be based on whether or not they are helping the company succeed – regardless of how they get there – and that includes retention and overall employee morale.

    I don’t think women need a “free pass” to be bitchy or men need to be judged more harshly. They just need to be reviewed against the same standards.

    Quite honestly, my personal opinion is that employees are going to complain about managers no matter what they do. My recipe? Keep the performance reviews based on the same principles for all managers and keep employees’ personal opinions in perspective – and hold them accountable to the same standards of judgment for both male and female managers.

    Reply
  2. Steve Rosenbaum

    My experience with performance appraisals is that most companies really don’t have a formal process and those who do rarely do a good job of following it. I worked for a major corporation and didn’t have a performance review for 4 years. As a result, you get a lot of variation and hidden agendas.

    Reply

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