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January 27, 2020
London, Jan 9 (IANS) Highlighting female achievements in the workplace makes capable women significantly more likely to want to be the boss, says a new research.
Public feedback about a woman’s performance can significantly increase her willingness to lead, even in male-dominated environments, said the study, published in the journal The Leadership Quarterly.
The teams led by these women are subsequently more likely to perform well.
“There are so many capable women, but many do not feel encouraged in their workplace, and this leaves them feeling they shouldn’t put themselves forward for leadership positions,” said study researcher Jingnan Chen from the University of Exeter in UK.
“There is not enough attention paid to the efforts of high-achieving women, partly because they are less likely than men to self-promote their abilities, but it is very important that their work is equally recognised,” Chen added.
In male-stereotyped industries, women in both mixed and single gender groups are twice as likely to shy away from leadership roles.
Men also shy away from leadership positions in female-stereotyped industries, but only when they are in mixed-gender groups.
For the findings, researchers conducted an experiment, using 248 students in groups of four, where they were asked to complete tasks such as answering quiz-style questions, and how likely they were to lead their group on a particular task.
They were also asked if women or men would be more likely to know more about that subject area, and how likely it was that their answer was right.
The study found that increasing the number of men in mixed-gender teams negatively impacts women’s willingness to lead, especially on tasks seen as stereotypically male.
Publicly acknowledging women’s abilities and achievements, however, helps to alleviate this effect.
The research shows making people’s achievements public increases the chance that men in all-male groups will prefer to take the lead.
This has the opposite effect for women in all-female groups — capable women are deterred from leading, due to women wishing to signal fairness and a sense of cooperation.
In mixed gender groups, however, public feedback significantly encourages the best female performers to lead.
“This research does not suggest anyone should downplay male achievements, but it shows companies should make a commitment to making sure female achievements are not overlooked or ignored. This is especially important in male-dominated industries,” Chen said.
“We have shown highlighting achievements is both highly beneficial and often straightforward for companies. The most capable female and male leaders emerge, and consequently the best group outcomes are obtained, when public performance feedback is given,” Chen added.