Don't Fix Me; Fix the Problem!!!

Nov 30 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

Today's Little Pink Book explores leadership stereotypes:

“They’re always emotional. They’re great multi-taskers. They don’t promote other women.” Everyone from ourPINK bloggers to Anna Wintour is talking about stereotypes of female leaders.

Unfortunately, when such labels are applied, it can put women’s careers at risk.

“This doesn’t happen to every woman, but a greater percentage of women than men get stereotyped,” says Suzanna Bates, author of Discover Your CEO Brand.

“When this happens, the conversation becomes not how to promote them, but whether they can be ‘fixed.’” Research shows leadership is still seen as a predominantly masculine role, with women viewed as less qualified or natural in these positions.

The piece goes on with advice on how to "overcome" stereotypes:

Bates says female leaders are often labeled as “a bitch, too quiet or politically clueless.” Those in the first category may want to focus more on communicating and listening to employees’ ideas and thoughts.

"You can be results oriented and hold people accountable without leaving bodies in your wake,” she adds. More reserved leaders can take initiative to speak up and give ideas, even writing points down for a meeting beforehand.

We all, male and female, should be self-aware and able to modify our behavior when need be. Good colleagues use such feedback. However, this advice sounds suspiciously like "fixing" the woman's behavior, not correcting the stereotype!

I know the readers of this blog are smart and can help come up with real ways to combat stereotypes. Other than having a fairy godmother magically make the world free of gender-bias, what can be done? What sorts of small stuff would help on a daily basis? Let's find that low-hanging fruit and eat it!



2 responses so far

  • Gary Beck says:

    Good point about focusing on the stereotypes. However, it seems this goes deeper than that. It's not the stereotypes so much as the insecurities that fuel those judgments. Perhaps when the male species does not feel somehow emasculated by women the stereotypes will subside. In writing this, it's also true of the need for female leaders to put on a strong image. This is also fed by insecurities in ability or some such thing. Stereotyping is certainly not an easy issue to correct.

    • Pascale says:

      And yet when a woman acts strong, she's a bitch.
      When you get down to the bottom of it all, the only thing any of us can control is our own behavior. Pointing out behavior that promotes gender stereotypes may be the first (tiny baby) step toward changing things.

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