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Psychology Study: Why Do Women Have a Difficult Career?


Men have to be confident - and women socially?

In psychology, there is the theory of the so-called “confidence gap”, which states that women do less well in their careers because they are often perceived as less confident than their male colleagues. The recent research by the professor of organizational behavior Laura Guillén refutes this theory. According to Guillén, the “Confidence Gap” is a myth.

Laura Guillén is a professor of organizational behavior at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin. In her current research, she shows that women who are seen as self-confident do not necessarily have a career. Instead, the influence in the workplace can be more closely attributed to their warm-heartedness and care than to their perceived self-confidence. The results of the study were recently published in the journal "Human Resource Management".

Different gender influences

"Although there are no visible differences in the way high-performing men and women rate themselves, their reasons for gaining influence in the company showed a strong gender disparity," explains Professor Guillén in a press release on the study results. Her research shows that men are more likely to advance if they are perceived as self-confident. Instead, women make careers faster if they are perceived as warm, caring and social by others.

Women don't have to be like men to be successful

"The popular message that women have to change to be more confident and therefore successful is wrong," said Guillén. What is worse is that the message is not only wrong, but also reduces gender diversity within a workforce. Guillén criticizes that employers in many cases avoid this responsibility. Instead, they would simply urge women to adopt male stereotypes.

Social women and anti-social men?

Research suggests that female workers are expected to take care of others in addition to normal workloads to succeed. Men, on the other hand, are only tied to performance indicators. "To move forward, women need to take care of others while their male colleagues focus on their own goals," Guillén concluded.

Power through social behavior

"Although this social quality is not mentioned in any job description, it seems to be the key performance indicator against which successful women have access, power and influence," sums up the professor. Guillén calls for HR departments to ensure that women and men are evaluated according to the same criteria in the hiring process and in the selection for promotions.

Focus on warmth and social skills in women

In analysis of performance assessments by women and men, the research team led by Guillén found that assessments in women use almost twice as many words about social skills as in men. "These unconscious gender biases need to be addressed," said Guillén. The expert on organizational behavior advocates that talents and skills are rewarded more fairly in all organizations - regardless of gender. (vb)

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