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Women In Leadership Positions Essay

2062 words - 9 pages

Information failure exists when some or all of the participants do not have complete information about the situation at hand or when one participant knows more than another; there is an asymmetry of information among different parties. This is the core of the problem that exists in the labor market for top leadership positions and that leads to major barriers for women leaders. There is a lack of women in top leadership positions to provide incumbent leaders, who are more generally men, with complete information on the competence of women leaderships.
Exposing people to competent women leaders positively changes their beliefs on the ability of women to be successful in high-power positions ...view middle of the document...

If preferences are malleable, people update their stereotypical beliefs in the face of new information (Boisjoly et al., 2006). Such was the case in a field experiment by Boisjoly et al. (2006), which demonstrated that university students with roommates of different ethnic backgrounds increased their support of affirmative action. When people are in frequent and continuous contact with women leaders, it is increasingly difficult to discount the counter-stereotypical information.
Recent studies (Beaman et al., 2009; Dasgupta and Asgari, 2004) have shown that increased exposure to competent women leaders reduces many of the gender biases that were strongly present in the past. This shift in gender beliefs is being found in lab settings as well as in the field. Dasgupta and Asgari (2004) examined the effect of frequent exposure to women in leadership positions among female students in the form of professors at women’s and coeducational colleges. They found that seeing counter-stereotypic women caused the students to automatically associate women with leadership characteristics. Furthermore, these associations were found in the long run, as students expressed stronger association of women with leadership characteristics following a year.
This effect is not limited to women in lab settings. The opinion of men on women in high-power positions evolved as they were faced with increased exposure to competent women leaders. Beaman et al. (2009) found that gender mandates in the election of pradhans, chief councilors, in India had two main effects on society. It improved men’s, as well as women’s, views of women leaders and it generated greater confidence and assertiveness among women candidates. By exposing voters to competent women pradhans through previous use of mandates, women were more likely to run and win unregulated elections if previous female leaders had been elected by mandate. The observed effects are evident after two cycles of elections demonstrating that the changes occur over time, and with repeated and frequent exposure. Yet, the fact that there is a significant shift in the evaluation of women leaders in a predominately patriarchal society shows the powerful effect of such exposure to changing attitudes of competent women in leadership.
Similarly, Duehr and Bono (2006) observed a significant shift in the perception of female managers by both male and female managers who had previous positive experiences with female managers in the past 30 years. Participants were evaluated on seven conditions including women and men in general, women and men managers, successful women and men managers, and successful middle managers (the control) (Duehr and Bono, 2006). The results of their study were compared with that of Heilman et al. (1989) to assess changes in mean adjective ratings for the seven conditions examined. Results showed significant improvements in the evaluations of female managers. The study found that both male and female managers...

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