Some days, it seems like professional women can't win.
If you are too caring, you are seen as a wonderful nurturer, manager and mentor...but certainly not a leader.
If you have a "take no prisoners" attitude, then you are seen as harsh and bitchy and too aloof and cold to capture the top CEO job.
In a November 1, 2007 article in the New York Times, Lisa Belkin discusses academic and professional studies that have investigated gender stereotypes in the workplace. Her article states that the stereotypes are still alive and well...and unfortunately, there aren't many answers.
One of the studies Belkin cites is "Damned If You Do, Doomed If You Don't" which was conducted by the not-for-profit group, Catalyst. Ilene Lang is the President of Catalyst and in addition to being quoted in the article, Lang recently sat down for an interview with eClips.
The results of Catalyst's survey found that when women act with stereotypically female characteristics such as focusing on relationships and expressing concern for co-workers, they are viewed as being less competent. Alternatively, when women act with stereotypically male characteristics such as exhibiting drive, focus and ambition, they are seen as being “too tough” and “unfeminine.”
Lang states in the article, "We still don’t have a simple straightforward answer as to why there just aren’t enough women in positions of leadership.”
Belkin shares her frustration with the situation and apparent conundrum facing women but goes on to state that more research is being done on the topic. In addition, companies like Goldman Sachs are beginning to listen to the research and factor it into their performance evaluations.
To read Belkin's entire New York Times article, click here to access The Feminine Critique.
To hear more from Ilene Lang's interview, click here to access Lang's comments in eClips.