Yes, I know! We here at Antigone have sort of sucked the last few weeks in regards to posting. That’s because we’ve been working on some cool things that hopefully will come to pass in the next few weeks. But I thought that I should definitely blog today… especially since Kristof wrote an interesting article in the New York Times about discrimination that still faces women in politics. The most interesting part was where he cited studies that show how women and men are evaluated differently.
In one common experiment, the “Goldberg paradigm,” people are asked to evaluate a particular article or speech, supposedly by a man. Others are asked to evaluate the identical presentation, but from a woman. Typically, in countries all over the world, the very same words are rated higher coming from a man.
In particular, one lesson from this research is that promoting their own successes is a helpful strategy for ambitious men. But experiments have demonstrated that when women highlight their accomplishments, that’s a turn-off. And women seem even more offended by self-promoting females than men are.
This creates a huge challenge for ambitious women in politics or business: If they’re self-effacing, people find them unimpressive, but if they talk up their accomplishments, they come across as pushy braggarts.
The broader conundrum is that for women, but not for men, there is a tradeoff in qualities associated with top leadership. A woman can be perceived as competent or as likable, but not both.
“It’s an uphill struggle, to be judged both a good woman and a good leader,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor who is an expert on women in leadership. Professor Kanter added that a pioneer in a man’s world, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, also faces scrutiny on many more dimensions than a man — witness the public debate about Mrs. Clinton’s allegedly “thick ankles,” or the headlines last year about cleavage.