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Jakarta Post

The gender trap for women leaders

  • Ginka Toegel and Jean-Louis Barsoux

  /   Sat, March 23 2013   /  02:08 pm

Some female executives assume they need to act like men to get ahead. But according to recent research, the situation is far more of a balancing act between the widely accepted expectations for leaders and specific gender expectations for women.

Consequently, women have to be conscious of which leadership traits they cultivate and which ones they suppress in order to achieve success.

The double standard

Women tend to feel obliged to play up classic male characteristics that are closely linked to the standard image of leadership. What are considered typical male behaviors – assertiveness, competitiveness, task focus – underpin mainstream expectations of leaders.

The problem for women who strive for these leadership behaviors is that they are rarely judged in the same way. Even if their behavior is less extreme than their male colleagues, they may still be ...