This is why we need awareness
Watch this video. It’s old but still valid.
It’s a research study conducted at Yale exploring gender bias in interviewing. In the video you can see brief excerpts of both a woman and a man responding to interview questions in exactly the same way.
Note your reactions.
How would you respond to seeing a women promote herself assertively and confidently?
My guess is, that if you’re like me (and also like the participants in the study), you will feel much more comfortable with the man promoting himself confidently and proudly then the woman.
You might see him as competent and capable and the woman as arrogant and unlikeable.
Yet speaking up, promoting yourself is highly correlated with doing well in your career – more money, more advancement, more power.
Hence the catch 22 so many of us women find ourselves in.
But there’s more
What’s even more frustrating than the research above is the part that’s missing in the video. In the same research study, the researchers had both participants respond in a more stereotypical female way, highlighting how they collaborate with others, get feedback and cooperate to get work done.
This time, participants ranked the woman favourably while the man was seen as weak.
How would you feel? Be honest. How would you perceive a man talking about seeking feedback from others, making room for emotions and leading with empathy?
These are qualities highly correlated with successful leadership today and also in my view, essential, for where we need to go in society.
The truth is these implicit unconscious gender biases live in all of us. And it’s the thoughts and judgements that we can’t see that are keeping us stuck in 1950s ways of thinking and being.
The way out is always awareness.
The ability to observe and question our own perceptions, judgments and reactions.
This is foundational to the work I do in Embodied Confidence for Women and it’s essential for creating a world based on true equality for all.