Women's leadership potential for top jobs overlooked in favor of men

women work
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The potential of women for leadership roles is being overlooked, while men benefit from the perception that they will grow into the role, new research from the University of Kent shows.

Researchers at the University's School of Psychology carried out two experimental studies that suggest that women have to demonstrate in order to be hired to senior roles. By contrast, the study found that having potential was valued more highly than performance in men.

Nearly 300 participants took part in two studies. In an organisation hiring simulation, participants were asked to view and rank the CVs of female and male candidates for a in a hypothetical organisation. The candidates were either described as having high potential or high past performance.

The study demonstrated that when faced with a choice, people consistently ranked male candidates with potential as their first choice. Furthermore, while leadership potential was preferred in male candidates, participants preferred past performance over potential in .

The findings suggest that whilst women's past performance has to be at least as good as men's, women might be held to in selection processes because their leadership potential might be less likely to be recognised than men's.

One of the research team, Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura of the University's School of Psychology, said: 'There is much evidence that women are under-represented in leadership roles and this has social, cultural and organisational impact. Our research revealed an overlooked potential effect that exclusively benefits men and hinders women who pursue leadership positions.'

The research, entitled Overlooked Leadership Potential: The preference for leadership potential in job candidates who are men vs. (Abigail Player, Georgina Randlsey de Moura, Ana C. Leite, Dominic Abrams and Fatima Tresh) is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.


Explore further

Employers prefer male managerial potential to female proven track record

More information: Abigail Player et al, Overlooked Leadership Potential: The Preference for Leadership Potential in Job Candidates Who Are Men vs. Women, Frontiers in Psychology (2019). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00755
Journal information: Frontiers in Psychology

Provided by University of Kent
Citation: Women's leadership potential for top jobs overlooked in favor of men (2019, May 14) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-women-leadership-potential-jobs-overlooked.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
5 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 14, 2019
Just perceptions. Never based in fact.

May 14, 2019
In general, men are better leaders. Period. Forcing women into these positions will be detrimental in the long run for society.

In the last year of my previous job I reported to a woman for the first time in my life. The relationship was an emotional roller coaster. First she loved me, and gave me the highest honors the company could ever bestow. After several months, especially after I disagreed with her on some job assignment detail, she decided she hated me, and from there it was all downhill. She got the company to buy me out and now I am at a new company, with a male boss that is the very best leader-boss that I ever had in my life.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more