Gender bias in leadership: is the glass ceiling still very solid?

Eloise Warrilow, Duty Psychologist, Hogrefe

Women are three times more likely to say they have missed out on an assignment, promotion or salary increase due to their gender, according to recent research.

Very few individuals making recruitment or promotion decisions would freely admit to consciously preferring a male candidate, but recently-published research in the Journal of Applied Psychology into 22,000 individuals suggests the unconscious reality is often otherwise. The research examined preference for male candidates relating to recruitment, promotion, compensation, competence and job performance across a range of occupations and industries. In all areas, there was shown to be a pro-male bias.

Our attitudes towards gender and leadership are formed over time from a combination of our personal experiences, the people in our lives and views presented in the media. Incidentally, journalists covering the 2016 US Presidential bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton, undoubtedly the most visible senior leadership position being contested by a female applicant, have been warned against coded sexism and discriminatory gender bias.

Within the work environment, companies must work to identify and interrupt this type of implicit bias. Finding ways to minimise gender bias in recruitment and performance reviews are crucial.

One strategy is for individuals and teams to uncover their unconscious biases by taking an assessment of social preference, such as the Implicitly's Gender Leadership test. This test accesses unconscious thoughts and feelings that we may not even be aware we have, and can be used effectively for Team Development, Inspection and Audit, Evaluation and Selection.

Please contact Hogrefe for further information.

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