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Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?
New York Times
By Heather Murphy
Published: March 16, 2018

Tina Kiefer, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, fell upon the exercise accidentally, while leading a workshop full of executives who did not speak much English. Since then it has been adopted by organizational psychologists across the world.

In terms of gender, the results are almost always the same. Both men and women almost always draw men.

“Even when the drawings are gender neutral,” which is uncommon, Dr. Kiefer said in an email, “the majority of groups present the drawing using language that indicates male (he) rather than neutral or female.”

And yet, her clients often insisted that what they meant by “he” is actually “both.”

Several researchers in organizational psychology who have had a similar experience with this exercise decided to investigate further. How might holding unconscious assumptions about gender affect people’s abilities to recognize emerging leadership? What they found, in a study posted by the Academy of Management Journal, seems to confirm what many women have long suspected: getting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men. Even when a man and a woman were reading the same words off a script, only the man’s leadership potential was recognized

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