Women and even feminine-faced men assumed to be poor negotiators

make yourself heardWomen’s reticence to negotiate is often blamed for part of the gender pay gap, with naysayers claiming ‘you get what you ask for’. Yet more research shows that stereotypes about women who do attempt to negotiate are often a bigger part of the problem. The journal of Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes reported that people of both genders were more likely to want to negotiate against women -and even men who had feminine facial features.

This implies women, and even men who look like them, are poor negotiators and therefore more appealing adversaries. The researchers at Cornell University found ‘people were systematically more aggressive to feminine featured faces – they were more demanding and would send in offers that compromised less.  The only upside for women? Become a good negotiator and you’ll surprise the other side of the table – who expect less from you.

Families move house for his job, not hers – down to job choice?

Convenience of locationIt’s been long recognised that families are more willing to move when his job dictates than hers. Traditionally, theories as to why this happens include gender roles which dictate that a man’s job is more important than his female partners or the fact that men on average have had greater earning potential – so families simply follow the money. However, a new University of Minnesota study by Alan Benson published in Demography suggests a 3rd reason may be the root cause – men are more likely to pick jobs that require presence in a sector-relevant location; women pick jobs that are less ‘geographically clustered’. Male dominated sectors such as engineering or oil and gas are based in certain hubs whereas teachers, administrators and healthcare workers are in demand everywhere. But why are women drawn to ‘geographically dispersed’ jobs? Early expectations may play a big part. If people assume that families will put a male breadwinner’s job first, it makes sense for women to be drawn towards fields that give them mobility.

95 leadership studies show; men more confident, women more competent

business womenA friend recently told me how she bristled when a male colleague described her as a perfectly ‘competent woman’. Hardly the most glowing of recommendations, but it turns out statistically – he was right. In an effort to unpick assumptions we make about male and female leaders, research published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology looked at 95 separate previous studies to find no overall difference in the perceived effectiveness of male and female leaders.

However, when they looked at who was making the judgement they found a big difference. According to self-reports, men rated themselves more favourably than women rated themselves. However, when the judgement was in the eyes of others, women were perceived as more competent than their male colleagues. So men’s self-confidence was tops, but women were viewed as more competent by everyone around them. We wonder how much further the modern workplace would get if we valued 360 feedback more than self-reports – which are prone to unwarranted exaggeration.

Americans perceive women leaders better at ethics, men better at deal-making

Women in leadership rolesAccording to a recent poll on Women in Leadership of over 1800 American adults by Pew Research Centre most Americans now find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men in terms of being compassionate and organized leaders. More specifically, a disproportionate number of Americans think that women in business are more likely to be honest and ethical, mentor junior staff and provide fair pay and benefits, than their male counterparts. On the other hand, men were seen to be stronger on negotiating profitable deals and risk-taking.

Nearly 40% of Americans say having more women in top leadership positions in business and government would do a lot to improve the quality of life for all women. An additional 40% of women say this would have at least some positive impact on all women’s lives. For their part, men are less convinced that female leadership has such wide-ranging benefits. Only 19% of men say having more women in top leadership positions would do a lot to improve all women’s lives, while 43% say this would improve women’s lives somewhat.

What ‘Coder Barbie’ Should Have Said

Barbie I can be... booksMattel’s Barbie’s new range of “I can be” books has high hopes; featuring career choices such as presidents or sports players but still falls wide of the mark. We could potentially forgive ‘computer engineer’ Barbie needing help to reboot her computer, a skill she should’ve mastered by now? We’d even turn an eye at the pink heart shaped USB stick hanging round her neck, but when she utters those fatal words: “I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie says, laughing. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Needless to say, the twittersphere was hot with ‘suggestions for improvement’.

We love ‘Barbie Remixed’ by Casey Fiesler, which features suggested amendments to the book which has Barbie narrating: “Really good games are made by a team of people. I’m doing some of the coding now, but Stephen and Brian are helping, too. There are lots of pieces to making a game, like art and music and storyline. Brian drew that puppy. You’re a good artist, Skipper. Maybe you could be a graphic designer when you grow up.” Skipper grins.“I love art, but I really love science, too. Physics is my favourite class. I think I want to be a physicist.”

Like all good code, we hope Mattel’s version of their story is an ongoing work in progress.

For ambitious woman, is the smart money on seeking a second fiddle spouse?

couple1-e1421849361535While most women and men claim to seek egalitarian relationships, there is at least one group of men who predict at the outset they won’t end up in these idylls. And is there something for modern women to learn from them? Harvard Business School recently surveyed 25,000 recent alums and found that it’s male graduates predicted they’d end up in traditional, 1950’s style nuclear families. The women on the other hand sought out egalitarian relationships – and were more frequently disappointed with their career progress. Rather than see Harvard men simply as sexist, would we do better to view them as pragmatic for today’s institutions – and copy them instead?  These men had spent 2 years studying what it took to develop successful careers and businesses and probably saw how senior people need a good team – in and outside the office.

As explained in Catherine Rampell’s piece in the Washington Post ‘Stuck in the 1950’s’: ‘They’re also members of a socioeconomic class that invests substantially more in their children today than in the past, meaning they may feel the need to have a spouse who has the time to be an active parent.’ We at Female Breadwinners are championing a more egalitarian workplace, where two partners can each have fulfilling careers and an active home life. But until that happens, perhaps the savviest women will be those who seek smart men who’d be willing to play second fiddle to an ambitious woman.

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