"We make it far harder for women to succeed"

We need to stop underestimating women and recognise their barriers to success, argues Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap.

by Mary Ann Sieghart
Mary Ann Sieghart
Mary Ann Sieghart

Let’s assume you’re a male manager, wondering which of your two deputies to promote. Your hunch is that it should be Dan: he has better evaluations than Rachel, he fits in well, you know he’s good at his job because he’s often told you so, and he contributes more in meetings. He should be a shoo-in, right?

Wrong – or, at least, it’s worth unpicking. For there are so many dynamics that work against women and in favour of men that talented women are often overtaken by less talented men, even when their managers believe that they are hiring and promoting entirely on merit.

For a start, 70% of male managers will evaluate a man more highly than a woman for achieving exactly the same goals. So the fact that Dan scores more highly in evaluations than Rachel may be down to gender bias. And affinity bias may make us believe that he is a good fit. Yet we know that homogeneous teams make worse decisions.

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