The thing to blame if you think people don’t like it when women are in charge is “role congruity.” It’s the theory that the most primitive parts of our brain continue to dictate our ideas about gender roles, with the man setting the rules of cave-house and forging the path to the mammoth den while the woman sticks to just nurturing things. Thus, when a woman steps into a leadership role, it’s supposed to trigger a “gender-role violation” that, consciously or not, stirs us to see her as less capable.
This phenomenon has been supported by research. One study, in 1990, found that female leaders were given more negative and less positive feedback than male leaders, even though they offered the same suggestions and arguments.
In 2003, a group of business-school students were divided into two groups: Half were told that a fictional entrepreneur’s name was Heidi; the other half that it was Howard. Though the students said that Heidi and Howard were both competent and worthy of respect, “Heidi was seen as selfish and not the type of person you would want to hire or work for.”
But that was two decades ago. Since then, women have made some, but not a lot, of strides as they scuttle across the Minefield of Success and Likability.
The percent of women in executive-officer positions at Fortune 500 companies has stagnated at less than 15. As more women “lean in: and we collectively continue to fight sexism, there’s another barrier to progress that hasn’t been addressed: Many men who would like to see more women leaders are afraid to speak up about it.
In the conversation about women in leadership, male voices are noticeably absent. Of Amazon’s 100 top-selling books this week about women and business, a grand total of four were written by men, and the first one doesn’t appear until far down the list. In the media, the most vocal advocates for women are influential women, including Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleezza Rice, Arianna Huffington, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Christine Lagarde, Sallie Krawcheck, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama. Why aren’t more men stepping up to support gender parity in the upper echelons of organizations?
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USA’s new sitcom understands that many women’s most important relationships are platonic.
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Why do we wear makeup? For beauty? For confidence? To help deal with the fact that we need to make an 8:00 meeting after a Wednesday evening spent swimming in chardonnay?
Women tend to have darker eyes and redder lips than men do, and we wear makeup partly to exaggerate those sex differences. There’s also a corrective aspect: Blush makes us look healthier; foundation makes our faces appear more symmetrical.
The recent #NoMakeupSelfie campaign would have us believe that we’re entering a paradigm in which both men and women celebrate the unadorned visage. Or, more likely, that we’re still living in a paradigm where hot people look hot in photos, regardless of whether they used concealer that day.
But surely there must be some sweet spot between #NoMakeup and #AllTheMakeup; some physiognomic Camp David where we look like we’re trying—but not trying too hard.
The problem is, people are terrible at imagining what other people find attractive.
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of this month’s Atlantic cover story, sit down with Hanna Rosin to discuss the power of confidence and how self doubt holds women back.
Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.
It was 1983, and women were starting to get loud. In the academy, writers and theorists were debating prostitution, pornography, and BDSM. The Equal Rights Amendment was making its last rounds through Congress, passing in the House but not getting enough votes to be added to the Constitution. Alice Walker had just published The Color Purple. Across the Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher was continuing her reign as the first female prime minister of Britain.
And in New York City, a Queens native named Cyndi Lauper was about to make a declaration: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
In the 30 years since Lauper released her career-defining hit, “Girls” has been described as a “rebellious sing-along,” a “feminist anthem,” even a symbol of the “pogo-punk unisex spirit of the irreverent and permissive early 1980s.” Bloggers have written odes to it, dance-recital choreographers have it flocked to it, a movie has been made in its honor. The accompanying album, She’s So Unusual, is being re-released in April, and the liner notes remind listeners that “beneath [the] sparkly veneer was a strong feminist message.”
Read more. [Image courtesy of Cyndi Lauper]
Instead of following traditional paths, women are using their science, technology, engineering, and math degrees to create new careers.
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Among the things to hate about Barbie is that she’s styled such that no woman could ever have her proportions and remain bipedal. Many say she’s too thin, too made-up, and too passive-looking to be a role model for the modern girl. (Barbie’s response, of course, is #unapologetic.)
There’s already evidence that Barbie affects girls’ body image. But through her many iterations, Barbie has now been a paleontologist, a pilot, and a Marine. With options like those, surely she doesn’t cause any lasting damage to girls’ career aspirations? … Right? Right?
A duo of researchers at Oregon State University hypothesized that playing with sexualized dolls not only hurts self-esteem, it influences the way young girls think about their adult lives.
Past research in the U.K. has shown that nearly a third of female teenagers want to be models, while only 4 percent wanted to be engineers. Adolescent girls, it seems, are drawn to careers based on appearance, not knowledge.
Is Barbie the one steering young girls away from the Python code and toward the catwalk?
Read more. [Image: mjtmail (tiggy)/plounsbury/Flickr]