University study exposes sexism

New research suggests senior managers are still overlooking women’s leadership potential to the detriment of organisations

Despite increased efforts to get more women into executive roles, search committees are still overlooking women’s leadership potential – at least according to a recent university study.

The unwelcome revelation came as Kent University completed an investigation in which they asked 100 participants to rate four potential applicants – all of whom were of a similar age – before predicting their chances of success in a senior role.

The participants – 61 men and 39 women – used resumes to make their professional analysis.

When comparing two male candidates with equal experience, the candidate who was said to have leadership potential was rated higher and said to be a more desirable applicant overall than he who didn’t.

Disappointingly, the same wasn’t true of the female candidates.

Abigail Player, a lead researcher who contributed to the study, says the findings prove women’s leadership potential is not recognised – let alone valued – by many employers.

“This is a significant barrier to career progression and success for women,” she said.

The four participants were all of a same age and being theoretically considered for the same managerial position – the 100 participants had each candidate’s resume to analyse.

When comparing two male candidates with equal experience, but one said to have leadership potential, study participants rated his resumé higher and perceived him as being a more successful candidate overall. But when comparing two female candidates in the same circumstance, the one said to have leadership potential was not perceived to be a better candidate.
Related stories:
More women needed on Singapore boards, says minister
Singapore boards falling behind on gender equity
Singapore's female corporate leaders: How many are there really?

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