Gender Intelligence

Bridging the divide

Originally published in the September 2015 issue

Businesses are facing global competitive and economic imperatives that are urging them to secure talent and build leadership in differentiated ways, including the consideration of new approaches to addressing gender discrepancies in the workplace.

For decades, the data have charted the gaps between men and women in the workplace. For example:

  • 37% of MBAs are women, yet only 4.6% of S&P 500 CEOs are women.
  • Working dads who have family-related work absences are less likely to be recommended for promotions and receive lower performance ratings.
  • In 2013, the median weekly earnings for women in full-time management, professional and related occupations was $973, compared to $1,349 for men.

Additionally, research points to the importance of diversity as it relates to leadership and the bottom line:

  • Companies with a higher proportion of women in their executive committees have better financial performance—41% better return on equity and 56% better in terms of overall earnings before interest and taxes.
  • Teams with an equal mix of men and women outperformed male-dominated teams in profits and sales and performance peaked when a team had about 55% women.

Employers have committed significant resources throughout the years to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce with women’s networks, recruitment strategies and mentorship programs to promote and encourage the success of women. Yet, still in 2015, the workplace shows a slow progression toward a more diverse workforce, particularly in the higher ranks of management and leadership. We see this to be particularly true in financial services, where we have actually seen a decline in women’s participation and leadership.

Women Matter: Achieving the Promise of Women Executives
More than 90% of Europe’s top companies have plans to increase the number of women in top jobs. Yet women account for more than a quarter of senior-management jobs in only 8% of companies. People are asking why women are not making it to the top positions despite having many qualified women in the workforce. This McKinsey study finds that diversity in the workplace is important for two reasons: Since women are 50% of the talent pool, it makes it possible to have the best brains among women and men who can fill up the talent shortage and performance or competitiveness of corporations is impacted by the number of women at the top. Companies with three or more women in senior-management jobs score higher on criteria related to organizational health. There is, therefore, a correlation between gender diversity and a company’s performance. This may be attributed to the diversity in leadership behavior that women bring. Since McKinsey’s first “Women Matter” research in 2006, the level of awareness of having women in leadership has increased. However, change is not happening at the board of director and executive levels. Cultural challenges are still affecting women’s leadership ambitions too. For example, in Asia, women executives cite the double burden of work and caring for family as the single greatest barrier to gender diversity.

Barsh, Joanna, et al. “Women Matter: Achieving the Promise of Women Executives.” McKinsey & Company Features.

Covered by Equality: The Gender Subtext of Organizations
This paper describes the results of an empirical study of the gender subtext in organizations. It examines the divergence of practice and impression of gender distinctions: Gender inequality is persistent in organizational practices while a dominant perception of equality occurs at the same time. The analysis focuses on the processes producing this divergence. The authors argue that the persistency of gender inequality and the perception of equality emerge from a so-called gender subtext, the set of often concealed, power-based gendering processes (i.e., organizational and individual arrangements, such as objectives, measures, and habits) that systematically producing gender distinctions. These gendering processes are examined in five departments in the Dutch banking sector. They explore the gender subtext in three organizational settings: show pieces (the token position of the few women in top functions), the mommy track (the side track many women with young children are shunted to) and the importance of being asked (the gendered practices of career making).

Benschop, Y., et al. (1998). “Covered by Equality, the Gender Subtext of Organizations.” Organization Studies 19-5, 787-805.

Critical Trends and Shifts in the Mentoring Experiences of Professional Women
Women have made great strides in terms of workforce participation. Recent statistics indicate that 47% of the total US workforce is now female. The%age of women in managerial positions in the United States has risen from 32% in 1983 to 49% as of 1997, with more gains by women expected in the years to come. Yet, in spite of the progress that women have made in advancing their careers in organizations, there are still barriers preventing them from reaching the upper echelons in significant numbers. A recent survey commissioned by the Committee of 200 (C200) provided a report card of how businesswomen are faring in relation to their male counterparts. The C200 Business Leadership Index is composed of data from 10 key areas synthesized into an overall index; the index consists of 10 scores, each one based on a 10-point scale. On this scale of one to 10, with parity with men equaling 10, the overall index number was 3.95. C200 suggests that increased access to mentoring for women may be one step toward achieving gender equity. In this article, the author explores the impact of informal mentoring on the career experiences of women in the corporate sector.

Blake-Beard, Stacey. “Critical Trends and Shifts in the Mentoring Experiences of Professional Women.” The Linkage Leader. 2013.

When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint versus Separate Evaluation
The study examines a new intervention to overcome gender biases in hiring, promotion and job assignments: an “evaluation nudge,” in which people are evaluated jointly rather than separately regarding their future performance. Evaluators are more likely to focus on individual performance in joint evaluations, rather than in separate evaluations, and they focus on group stereotypes in separate evaluations more than in joint evaluations, making joint evaluations the money-maximizing evaluation procedure. The findings are compatible with a behavioral model of information processing and with the “system one over system two” distinction in behavioral decision research, where people have two distinct modes of thinking that are activated under certain conditions.

Bohnet, Iris, et al. “When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint versus Separate Evaluation.” Working Paper. JEL: C91; D03.

Women Face Hard Retirement Choices
Women face a set of unique problems when planning for retirement. For a variety of reasons, women end up with less in savings and receive lower Social Security benefits. A financial plan is imperative for women to overcome these obstacles. Longevity, unequal pay and conservative tendencies when it comes to investing are among the challenges. Women are also less comfortable with financial advisors. E-Trade’s Lena Haas, senior vice president for retirement, investment and savings, says women are not comfortable with financial advisors and rank them dead last in a list of 60 industries—below used-car salesmen. “Almost 80% of women in a survey say that they wish that financial advisors talked to them and asked them for opinions, and not just their husbands,” she said. “Even if she comes along, the woman is just sitting there. Lots of times they don’t have the paperwork. They feel like they are being talked down to.”

Brooks, Rodney. “Women Face Hard Retirement Choices.” USA TODAY. Web. 18 Nov 2013

The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned If You Do, Doomed If You Don’t
This report analyzes open-ended answers to survey questions as well as one-on-one interviews to reveal that gender stereotypes can create several predicaments for women leaders. Because they are often evaluated against a masculine standard of leadership, women are left with limited and unfavorable options, no matter how they behave and perform as leaders. In particular, three situations put women in a double bind and can potentially undermine their leadership as well as their own advancement options: extreme perceptions (women are seen as too soft or too tough but never just right), the high competence threshold (women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than men leaders), and the problem of being seen as competent but being disliked (women leaders are perceived as competent or liked but rarely both).

Catalyst. “The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned If You Do, Doomed If You Don’t.” Catalyst Knowledge Center. Web.

Constraints into Preferences: Gender, Status, and Emerging Career Aspirations
This study presents an experimental evaluation of a model that describes the constraining effect of cultural beliefs about gender on the emerging career-relevant aspirations of men and women. The model specifies the conditions under which gender status beliefs evoke a gender-differentiated double standard for attributing performance to ability, which biases the way men and women assess their own competence at tasks that are career relevant, controlling for actual ability. The model implies that if men and women make different assessments of their own competence at career-relevant tasks, they will also form different aspirations for career paths and activities believed to require competence at these tasks. Data from the experiment support this model. In one scenario male and female undergraduate participants completed an experimental task after being exposed to a belief that men are better at this task. In this situation male participants assessed their task ability higher than female participants did, even though all were given the same scores. These men also had higher aspirations for career-relevant activities described as requiring competence at the task. No gender differences were found in either assessments or aspirations in a second scenario where participants were instead exposed to a belief that men and women have equal task ability. To illustrate the utility of the model in a ‘real world,’ i.e., nonlaboratory setting, results are compared to a previous survey study that shows men make higher assessments of their own mathematical ability than women, which contributes to their higher rates of persistence on paths to careers in science, math, and engineering.

Correll, Shelley J. “Constraints into Preferences: Gender, Status, and Emerging Career Aspirations.” Cornell University. Web. 20 Dec 2013

Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women
Though companies now invest heavily in mentoring and developing their best female talent, all that attention doesn’t translate into promotions. A Catalyst survey of more than 4,000 high-potential employees shows that more women than men have mentors—yet women are paid $4,600 less in their first post-MBA jobs, hold lower-level positions, and feel less career satisfaction. To better understand why, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with 40 participants in a mentoring program at a large multinational. All mentoring is not created equally, they discovered. Only sponsorship involves advocacy for advancement. The interviews and survey alike indicate that, compared with their male peers, high-potential women are over-mentored, under-sponsored, and not advancing in their organizations. Without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles but may also be more reluctant to go for them. Organizations such as Deutsche Bank, Unilever, Sodexo and IBM Europe have established sponsorship programs to facilitate the promotion of high-potential women. Programs that get results clarify and communicate their goals, match sponsors and mentees on the basis of those goals, coordinate corporate and regional efforts, train sponsors, and hold those sponsors accountable.

Ibarra, Herminia, et al. “Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women.” HBR. Web. 19 Dec 2013

The Gender Quota and Female Leadership: Effects of the Norwegian Gender Quota on Board Chairs and CEOs
This article uses a sample of Norwegianquoted companies in the period of 2001–2010 to explore whether the gender quota requiring 40% female directors on corporate boards changes the likelihood of women being appointed to top leadership roles as board chairs or corporate CEOs. The empirical results indicate that the gender quota and the resulting increased representation of female directors provide a fertile ground for women to take top leadership positions. The presence of female board chairs is positively associated with female directors’ independence status, age and qualification, whilst the presence of female CEOs is positively related to the average qualification of female directors. Firms with older and better educated female directors are more likely to appoint female board chairs. The likelihood of female CEOs’ appointment increases with the%age of independent directors and directors’ qualifications, especially those for female directors. Furthermore, the gender gaps with respect to qualification, board interlocks and nationality between female and male board chairs vanishes after Norwegian companies’ full compliance to the quota in January 2008. However, the gender quota has no significant impact on the gender gaps between female and male directors after its full compliance. The article thereby contributes to understanding how gender quotas, the presence of female directors, the%age of female directors on boards and other board characteristics can determine the gender of top leaders of organizations.

Kelan, Elisabeth, et al. “The Gender Quota and Female Leadership: Effects of the Norwegian Gender Quota on Board Chairs and CEOs.” Journal of Business Ethics. 2010.

The Mask You Live In
Compared to girls, boys in the US are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, or take their own lives, research shows. At a young age, boys learn that to express compassion or empathy is to show weakness. They hear confusing messages that force them to repress their emotions, establish hierarchies, and constantly prove their masculinity. They often feel compelled to abide by a rigid code of conduct that affects their relationships, narrows their definition of success and, in some cases, leads to acts of violence resulting in what many researchers call a “boy crisis.” Society’s failure to recognize and care for the social and emotional well-being of boys contributes to a nation of young men who navigate adversity and conflict with an incomplete emotional skill set. Whether boys, and later men, choose to resist or conform to this masculine norm, there is loneliness, anxiety and pain.

Newsom, Jennifer Siebel. “The Mask You Live In.” Kickstarter Campaign.

Women, Culture and Competitiveness
The low representation of women in top roles features heavily in the launch of the annual Cranfield Female FTSE Report, monitoring the progress of women on boards and executive committees. Noting that workplaces were designed by and for men, Maria Miller, UK minister for Women and Equality, asked for a culture change. To achieve a culture change and competitiveness, organizations and workplaces have got to become much more future-focused. A great step forward would be for government—and the-big business lobbies—to push future work (or “agile” or “smart” work, as some call it) as being hugely beneficial for business and for economic competitiveness, and not just as a way of accommodating the needs of individual employees. As has been shown, the shift to new ways of working is positive for business, people and sustainability.

Maitland, Alison. “Women, Culture and Competitiveness.” Future Work. Web. 19 Dec 2013

Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know
The report’s findings support the view that before individuals will support efforts to right an inequality, they must first recognize that the inequality exists. Men who were more aware of gender bias were more likely to say that it was important to them to achieve gender equality. Other findings revealed three key factors that predicted men’s awareness of gender bias: defiance of certain masculine norms, the presence or absence of women mentors and a sense of fair play. Of those three factors, having a strong sense of fair play, defined as a firm commitment to the ideals of fairness, was what best differentiated men who actively championed gender equality from those who were not similarly engaged. Last, interview findings reveal three key barriers could undermine men’s support for initiatives to end gender bias: apathy, fear and ignorance about gender issues.

Prime, Jeanine, et al. “Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know.” Catalyst Knowledge Center.

New Exercises Fight Achievers’ Imposter Fears
Imposter fears are common in both genders and are most common in high achievers. The imposter fear that the “emperor has no clothes” differs from general insecurity. David Scott Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at University of Texas at Austin, and Gregory Walton, assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, found that there are exercises to help students and others overcome these fears. They found the largest beneficial effects from the program are seen in disadvantaged groups, such as African-Americans in general, and women engineers in particular. According to the authors, “academic performance is about 70% knowledge and studying and 30% psychological.”

Shellenbarger, Sue. “New Exercises Fight Achievers’ Imposter Fears.” WSJ. Web. 19 Nov 2013

Women in Fund Management: The Report
In the report Women in Fund Management: A Road Map for Achieving Critical Mass—and Why it Matters, the National Council for Research on Women argues for greater diversity in fund management and calls on the financial-services industry to implement a critical-mass principle, with measurable action steps to bring more women into the field. Achieving critical mass will confer the vital benefits experienced in other sectors when significant numbers of women are included in decision making as well as the distinct advantages that women bring to financial management.

National Council for Research on Women (NCRW). “Women in Fund Management: The Report.”

Why So Few Women Directors in Top UK Boardrooms? Evidence and Theoretical Explanations
Using evidence from a survey of women directors in FTSE 100 companies, this paper considers possible explanations for the persistent homogeneity of UK boards. Only 61% of the top 100 companies had female directors in 2002, down from 64% in 1999. Women held only 3% of executive directorships, and there were just 15 women executive directors in total. Explanations usually include women’s lack of ambition, experience and commitment. These suppositions have been disproved by research, but underlying theories of social exclusion may provide insight into this persistent phenomenon.

Singh, Val, et al. “Why So Few Women Directors in Top UK Boardrooms? Evidence and Theoretical Explanations.” Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

The Imperative
Numerous studies have found a high correlation between economic growth and a wide variety of social indicators, yet there is growing awareness that economic measures alone do not fully capture social progress. The Social Progress Index is founded on the principle that what we measure guides the choices we make. By measuring the things that really matter to people—their basic needs (food, shelter, security); their access to health care, education, and a healthy environment; and their opportunity to improve their lives—the Social Progress Index is an attempt to reshape the debate about development.

Social Progress Imperative. “The Imperative.” Web. 18 Dec 2013

Miss Representation
The media is both the message and the messenger. There are a number of examples where the media has been an instrument of change and damage. As women of power are portrayed differently, young women and girls develop and lose their ambition to either be like any other women or fit into the media’s representation of women. The media can mislead and direct. It can change society’s perception and, in some cases, demean women.

The Representation Project. Miss Representation, 2013. Web. 18 Dec 2013

Counting Women and Balancing Gender: Increasing Women’s Participation in Governance
Despite the large amount of attention by politics and gender scholars to analyzing gender parity in political representation and the impact of the increasing participation of women in electoral politics, little attention has been paid to women’s participation in the governance of the economic sphere, either nationally or globally. Yet men overwhelmingly dominate economic decision-making positions, such as those on corporate boards or as business executives, government financial regulators, trade negotiators and central bankers around the world.

True, Jacqui. “Counting Women and Balancing Gender: Increasing Women’s Participation in Governance.” Politics & Gender 9, 351-359.

Gender Pay Gap Exposed: How Boston Firms Are Tackling It
In October 2013, the city of Boston announced a voluntary contract with 38 companies that have pledged to report pay-equity data to the city. Putnam and State Street are among the companies that signed on, agreeing to assess their internal pay practices and data in order to make improvements based on the findings. Women in Boston earned 85% of what their male peers made in 2011, according to the Boston Mayor’s Office. But nationwide, women earned just 76% of men’s pay in 2012, according to census data reported by the National Committee on Pay Equity. Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in almost all occupations, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found. While it is difficult to get a clear picture of the pay gap in the financial-services industry, the institute reports female financial managers earned 70% of the pay their male colleagues made in 2012. State Street’s Alison Quirk is quoted in this article.

Volz, Beagan Wilcox. “Gender Pay Gap Exposed: How Boston Firms Are Tackling It.” Ignites. 18 Nov 2013.

Global Gender Gap
The Global Gender Gap Report, introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006, provides a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities around the world. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political and education and health-based criteria and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparison across regions and income groups and over time. The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them.

World Economic Forum. “Global Gender Gap.” World Economic Forum Issues. Web. 18 Dec 2013

What Data Analytics Says About Gender Inequality in the Workplace
In the U.S., female workers are still paid only 77¢ for every dollar their male colleagues make. A mere 4.2% of chief executive officers at Fortune 500 companies are women. While tradition may point to more traditional theories about biology or child rearing as reasons for why women are held back, there are also different styles in how men and women work. One company studied conversations and speech patterns, as well as physical movement at several employers to track productivity. The research revealed “At the call center, the one company where we have quantifiable productivity metrics, women were more productive than men, completing calls on average 24 seconds more quickly. Twenty-four seconds might not seem like much, but that adds up to a 9% difference in productivity. No differences in workplace performance or collaborative styles were observed at the company to support the idea that men and women perform or interact differently. Nonetheless, women were disadvantaged when it came to winning promotions and reaching the upper echelons of management.”

Waber, Ben. “What Data Analytics Says About Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” Bloomberg Business Week.

Sex Differences in the Structural Connectome of the Human Brain
Sex differences in human behavior show adaptive complementarity: Men have better motor and spatial abilities, whereas women have superior memories and social cognition skills. Studies also show sex differences in human brains but do not explain this complementarity. In this study the authors modeled the structural connectome using diffusion sensor imaging in 949 participants (428 men and 521 women between 8 and 22 years old) and discovered unique sex differences in brain connectivity during the course of development. Connection-wise statistical analysis, as well as analysis of regional and global network measures, presented a comprehensive description of network characteristics. In all supratentorial regions, men had greater within-hemispheric connectivity, as well as enhanced modularity and transitivity, whereas between-hemispheric connectivity and cross-module participation predominated in women. However, this effect was reversed in the cerebellar connections. Analysis of these changes developmentally demonstrated differences in trajectory between men and women mainly in adolescence and adulthood. Overall, results show that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive-processing modes.

Ingalhalikar, Madhura, et al. “Sex Differences in the Structural Connectome of the Human Brain.” PNAS. 2014

Women Don’t Need to Lead Better Than Men. They Need to Lead Differently
When Debra Spar left Harvard Business School, after working in the largely male-dominated environment for 18 years, and joined the nearly all-female team at an all-women’s college, she noticed the quiet assumption that everyone would, or at least should, agree. The drive to achieve consensus and prevent conflict isn’t necessarily better or worse; it is just different. Across the public and private sectors, women are underrepresented at the highest levels of power. Women account for only 15.2% of the board members of Fortune 500 corporations. For numerous reasons, C-suite-level women’s careers stall when women are faced with the difficult decisions about their personal and professional aspirations, decisions which are not the same for their male colleagues. Impressive yet rare, there are the handful of women who have broken through to the top tiers of power: Sheryl Sanberg of Facebook, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Ann Fudge of Kraft. Why is this so rare and such a celebration? A study conducted by John Coates and Joe Herbert of Cambridge University suggests that women don’t have the testosterone for it. The researchers determined that on the trading floor, higher profits correlate with higher levels of male hormones. Another study, examined in laboratory experiments conducted by Muriel Niederle and Lisa Verterlund at the University of Pittsburgh, found that women are far less likely than men to bet their pay on performance, even when they have evidence that they are superior performers.

Sapr, Debora. HBR Blog Network. “Women Don’t Need to Lead Better Than Men. They Need to Lead Differently.”

Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, who wanted to learn more about when and how local speakers use uptalk (a way of speaking that puts an upward inflection on the last word of a statement that makes it sound like a question when it’s not), have done a close acoustical analysis of 23 Southern Californians from diverse backgrounds, ages 18 to 22, including 11 men. Trading the derogatory label Valley Girl Speak for the relatively neutral term SoCal English, they found that both men and women often use uptalk, although with some gender-based differences. “Men don’t think they do it, but they do,” said Amanda Ritchart, a graduate student and coauthor of the project, which was presented earlier this month. Amalia Arvaniti, a coauthor of the study who is now head of the English language and linguistics department at the University of Kent in England, said, “It could indicate that young women were generally interrupted more than men and so it’s a defense mechanism when they uptalk.” The article alludes that, “the more successful a man is, the less likely he is to use uptalk; the more successful a woman is, the more likely she is to use uptalk.”

Hoffman, Jan. “Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak.” The New York Times. Web. 23 Dec 2013 well.

“Feminine” Values Can Give Tomorrow’s Leaders an Edge
A study conducted by the Pew Center in May 2013 reveals that working mothers are the sole or primary providers in 40% of US households. A few days prior to this announcement, Paul Tudor-Jones, a hedge-fund billionaire, made the following comment at a conference: “Women will never rival men as traders because babies are a focus killer.” Author John Gerzema and his colleague Michael D’Antonio surveyed 64,000 people in 13 countries from the Americas, Europe and Asia. Their results point to widespread dissatisfaction with the typical way of doing business and a growing appreciation for the traits, skills and competencies that are perceived as more feminine traits.

Two-thirds of those surveyed felt that “the world would be a better place if men thought more like women.” The researchers were curious with these results and asked half of the participants to classify 125 characteristics as either masculine, feminine or either while the other half rated the same characteristics in relation to their importance to leadership, success, morality and happiness, not gender. Statistical modeling revealed a strong consensus between what was identified as feminine and what was considered essential to leading in an increasingly social, interdependent and transparent world.

Leadership traits viewed as “feminine” traits:

  • Expressive
  • Plans for future
  • Reasonable
  • Loyal
  • Flexible
  • Patient
  • Intuitive
  • Collaborative

Viewed as “masculine” traits:

  • Decisive
  • Resilient

Gerzema, John. HBR Blog Network. “Feminine Values Can Give Tomorrow’s Leaders and Edge.” blogs.hbr.

Want Better Hedge Fund Returns? Try One Led by a Woman
In the world of hedge funds, a relative few have a woman at the helm. And yet, these funds may be the standouts from the bunch, a new report argues. In the years since the financial crisis, hedge funds managed by women have performed better than a broader index that reflects the performance of the industry, according to a report titled Women in Alternative Investments: A Marathon, Not a Sprint by the professional services firm Rothstein Kass. From the beginning of 2007 through June 2013, a Rothstein Kass index of women-run hedge funds returned 6%, the report says. By comparison, the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index, released by Hedge Fund Research, fell 1.1% during that time, according to the report.

Alden, William. “Want Better Hedge Fund Returns? Try One Led by a Woman.” DealBook.

Gender & Work: Challenging Conventional Wisdom, Prescriptions and Punishments for Working Moms
This paper looks at the societal differences and stereotypes of working men and women. The research examines the “motherhood penalty,” where mothers in the workplace are judged as less competent and committed than other employed applicants, and therefore working mothers are less likely to be hired and promoted. The author also looks at the difference between working white mothers and working black mothers. Are black working mothers perceived as the same as white working mothers? Are black and white non-working mothers viewed the same? The study shows that white mothers are viewed as less competent and capable when they work than black mothers, but black mothers who do not work experience more discrimination and prejudice than those who do. Several studies suggest that the long-held traditional American belief that women should be the primary caretaker and men the primary breadwinner persists, and women are viewed as more motherly than professional and more nurturing than task oriented. To prove or disprove these stereotypes of mothers versus other employees, Cuddy conducted an experiment in which participants told researchers their impressions of several professionals:

  • Female professional with child
  • Female professional without child
  • Male professional with child
  • Male professional without child

Participants were asked to rate the women on three traits reflecting warmth and competence and three discrimination items in relation to the question of whether they would hire, train or promote them. The traits were aimed at capturing the degree to which participants would value or discriminate the female professionals.

Results show that women lose perceived competence and gain perceived warmth when they are identified as mothers. The complete opposite is true for working men who are identified as fathers: They maintain perceived competence and gain perceived warmth. Participants expressed more interest in hiring, promoting and educating applicants who they viewed as competent, and participants did not believe working mothers met those criteria. The perceived perception is that when working women become mothers, they unwillingly trade perceived competence and job commitment for perceived warmth. This unjustly costs women credibility and hinders their odds of being hired, promoted and supported in the workplace.

Cuddy, C.J. Amy, Wolf Baily, Elizabeth, Harvard Business School, “Prescriptions and Punishments for Working Moms,” 2013.

Brave Men Take Paternity Leave
Many companies don’t even offer paid paternity leave, and there’s a considerable stigma attached to taking it. Two separate studies show that fathers with family-related work absences are recommended less and receive lower performance ratings. For every month of leave that mothers take, fathers take one day. When paid paternity leave is made available by law, fathers take it, as in Norway (a study in The American Economic Review shows that 70% of fathers took paternity leave in 2006, up from 3% in 1993). The influence of peers is instrumental in the decision to take paternity leave, with the study in Norway showing a snowball effect of use of leave by coworkers after the first father paved the way, especially if the first was a manager. Norway’s law also improved gender equality by redefining gender roles. A law is only the first step in encouraging fathers to take time away from work; fathers have to set a precedent for others to use it as well.

Gavett, Gretchen. “Brave Men Take Paternity Leave,” 07 July 2014.

How Women Decide
In response to a survey, 70% of senior managers said that selling to women was different than selling to men. There is a clear need to reexamine assumptions about how to explore opportunities and close deals, as the majority of managers have honed their skills selling to men only. Men’s brains have 6.5 times more gray matter than women’s, and women’s brains have 10 times more white matter than men’s. Gray matter processes information and white matter facilitates connections, which might explain why men excel at sheer processing while women are better at integrating disparate information. This has an impact on how decisions are made. Women behave differently as shoppers, comprehensively acquiring in-store information (as opposed to men who limit their search and are more task oriented). Women are discovery oriented.

Benko, Cathy, Pelster, Bill “How Women Decide,” 2013 September, Harvard Business Review.

The Missing Women of Asset Management
Why are 90% of senior money managers men? “Jane” thinks hedge-fund investing is an ego game. It takes a certain self-confidence to ask for millions of dollars of someone else’s money. It appears that men have a healthier degree of self-delusion and ego—and investing takes a willingness to make mistakes and move on. High-performing women, on the other hand, believe that to get where they are in their careers, they have had to follow the rules and avoid risk—they are not willing to make mistakes. Jane points out that if women always strive for perfection, (she strived for perfect SAT scores and almost got them), why do you think women would want to pick the wrong stock for a customer and lose them money? Jane also talks about the belief that women in hedge funds are “pretty girls” in the corner who just take notes and that women lose an estimated 7 hours per week “prettying up” instead of building up clients. Female underrepresentation in the finance industry is at least double that in other key fields: one in three women are physicians, one in four work in science and technology and one in five are law-firm partners. Why are only one in ten women in senior investment roles?

Chief Investment Officer, 20 June 2014, “The Missing Women of Asset Management.”

Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work
The CEOs from 24 companies with reputations for diversity, across a range of industries and regions, were interviewed. They approached inclusivity as a personal mission, not one to hand off to others. They saw it as an important business imperative to staying competitive and as a moral imperative to staying true to their values. Diversity is an advantage in getting people to challenge one another more and creating dissent, as well as keeping an organization from being too insular and out of touch with its customers. Many of the CEOs asserted the importance of a company’s employees reflecting its clients. A CEO’s commitment to diversity often arose from the understanding of what it means to be an outsider, either personally or through someone close to her. Even white male CEOs reported feeling like an outsider at times, giving them the self-awareness and empathy to shape their views on diversity and inclusion.

Groysberg, Boris, Connolly, Katherine, “Great Leaders who Make the Mix Work,” 2013 September, Harvard Business Review.

Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life
Effectively managing the work-life balance is not easy. Those who have done it best make deliberate choices about the opportunities they will pursue and the ones they will not. Rather than just “putting out fires,” these senior executives manage work, family and community in a conscious way. Senior executives have learned this balance through experience and by involving loved ones in their work and activity decision making process. In life, nothing is 100% predictable, and life can take over: parents may become ill, extra attention may be needed for a child with emotional or physical issues. Taking these life factors into consideration, interviews with 4,000 executives worldwide, conducted by HBS, and a survey of 82 male and female executives, focus on weathering challenging times by staying connected to family. The findings suggest each individual needs to define success for them and their family. Survey responses on achieving this range from being home a certain number of nights a week to having different ways of staying connected to family members while at work. Women place more value on individual achievement and ongoing learning and development, scoring a lower%age on financial achievement as an aspect of personal and professional success. When the areas of work and family responsibilities merge, men tend to identify being the provider as their key role, even if family time has to suffer.

Groysberg, Boris, Abrahams, Robin, Harvard Business Review Magazine, March 2014.