Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
A recent study by Rutgers University found that males who acted “modestly” in interview situations were not considered likable and their modesty was viewed as a sign of weakness. Modesty in women, however, was not seen as a negative. The research was done by asking men and women volunteers to view actors in videotaped job interviews. According to a study leader, Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, “Women are allowed to be weak while this trait is strongly prohibited in men. By contrast, dominance is reserved for men and prohibited for women.”
Talk about gender stereotyping!
What caught my eye about these findings was the continued double standard for behavior in the workplace. Moss-Racusin put it this way – “For men and women, there are things they must and must not be.” That reminded me that there are plenty of men who don’t appreciate the expectations set on them anymore than we women do. So, in the spirit of equality, I submit that this gender stereotyping has got to stop – on both sides – in order for workplaces to maximize the talents of all.
Women must stop having “superman” expectations of male colleagues – or, on the flip side, making allowances for them when they don’t measure up. For example, if a male co-worker is over-the-top in taking credit for an idea, or is dominating a meeting, it’s up to the women in the room to speak up and get heard. Similarly, women have to feel confident enough to self-promote and establish their presence without worrying about how they will be perceived by others. Work isn’t a popularity contest and you’re never going to have everyone approve.
It’s about leadership style, rather than gender. And, just because the old models make assumptions that men should be more outspoken, and that it’s okay for women to be humble, it doesn’t mean it’s productive. In fact, by women and men continuing to be stuck in these patterns, the stereotypes are perpetuated instead of allowing people to be true individuals and showcase their talents.
One thing we can all do is show support for other women – and men – whose style doesn’t quite conform but who deserve our respect. It’s okay for a man to be humble – and a woman self-promoting, even if it’s not the way things have traditionally been. It’s time for the gender stereotypes to be a thing of the past.
How do you see it? Please share!