In one particularly telling strain of research, called the Goldberg paradigm, two sets of participants are asked to comment on something, perhaps a resume or a speech or a work scenario in which a boss speaks with an employee. To one audience, the person involved is described as a woman, in the other he is a man. Time and again, male participants (and, in some cases, women as well) judge the resume more harshly if it is a woman's, or say the speech was strident if given by a woman but assertive if given by a man
, or that the female boss was pushy while the male boss was concerned
Women in these studies are typically judged to be less capable than men with identical qualifications, but it's not impossible for them to be seen as competent. The problem is that if they're understood to be capable, the majority of respondents also see them as less likable. "The deal is that women generally fall into two alternatives: they are either seen as nice but stupid or smart but mean," says Susan Fiske, a psychology professor at Princeton who specializes in stereotyping.
And unlike racial bias, there's little evidence that these attitudes are softening.
According to Eagly of Northwestern, the problem isn't that women aren't traditionally understood as smart, but that they traditionally aren't understood to be "assertive, competitive, take-charge" types
. More than intelligence, she argues, this "agentic" quality is what we look for in leaders, and, as both surveys and experimental studies have shown, we find it deeply discomfiting in women
. Whole article here
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