Why is it harder for women in top positions? Because 72% of men do not want them there!

A mere 17% would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company
Why is it harder for women in top positions? Because 72% of men do not want them there!

According to a 2021 study by ResumeLab, based on a sample of 801 executives in the US, the acceptance level of women as leaders by men, who are the majority in the workforce and not only dominate leadership positions, is extremely low.

The study shows that:

  • Just 28% of men would prefer to work for a female manager.
  • Only 53% feel rather or very positive about having women leaders in their organization.
  • And a mere 17% would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company.

Women are more favourable versus women managers, but also the percentages showcase a bias against women’s capacity to lead:

  • Only 42% of women would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company, despite the fact that:
  • 48% would prefer to work for a female manager and
  • 72% feel rather or very positive about having women leaders in their organization.

A mere 17% would trust a woman more than a man to lead a company.

I hate to admit that these statistics resonate with my experience: while I was junior and eager to learn, I faced no issues with colleagues or managers – men or women.

But when I started having good experience, knowledge, opinions of my own and wanting to drive a change, implement a plan, draw a strategy – this is where the push back started.

The more I advanced, the more difficult things became – the resistance from the environment grew stronger. A bit like a river – the deeper you go, the harder you have to swim in order to survive the currents…

I consider myself lucky: I have had exceptional colleagues and managers, women and men; people who helped me grow, who gave me opportunities, who supported me. I will never forget for instance a peer, at one of the multinational companies I worked for, who always treated me like a much more senior colleague and when I protested that we were the same level, he said:

‘No, we are not. I was taught that women have to struggle at least twice as hard as men to reach where they are; so if you meet a woman at the same level as you, she is most likely double as smart as you are – and you have to treat her accordingly!’

In full transparency, I am also married to the best feminist I know – he really helped me unlearn biases that I had not even realised were blocking me and he keeps me going against all odds.

But despite the supportive environment, I have also had more than my fair share of challenging, soul-eating experiences burdening me with a big negative load: difficult colleagues, managers and reports -and in ways that a male peer never had to face.



My totally personal, limited and very homemade analyses of the types that are most negative for a woman?

Men in their mid-30s are the most difficult to manage: there is a strong entitled majority that was brought up with the start-up turned unicorn dream, and are convinced it was high time they made it into the C-suite by now:

  • They act as if you, personally, have blocked their way to glory, by occupying a position that of course no woman can be better at than them, cannot know more than them: they kind of remind me of rebellious teenagers angry against parents who do not trust them to drive the family’s fancy car yet. 

Men in their early to mid 50s is a group where I found the worst managers I have ever had: ageism is their big threat and they know it; for the first time in their careers they encounter an obstacle directly related to their nature (something that women have learned to deal with from a very early stage):

  • So they become overly scared of being made redundant, therefore overly scared of changes, of anything that can be perceived as competition or challenge their status: things are fine as they are, no change should be attempted – nothing should rock the boat that could result in them losing ground – or even look as if they are losing ground!

Women are also not always easy to other women, either because they think that the more senior ones have not driven enough change, or because they anticipate an unconditional alliance; I have also experienced cases where women perceived the men in the team as superior to a woman peer. 

woman and man at work

It is a common phenomenon for people not to embrace women’s empowerment actions, either because they think that women have already achieved equality, or because they do not think they should.

It is a common phenomenon for people not to embrace women’s empowerment actions, either because they think that women have already achieved equality, or because they do not think they should.

And there are those who believe that there is actually nothing wrong with women as they are, but it is the ruling system’s mentality and the privileged groups’ established attitude that needs to change, and finally accept women simply as they are.

 

I am convinced that both are needed:

The system has to change: everybody must be educated on equality, diversity, inclusion; companies should train employees on how to treat each other respectfully and not to tolerate toxic climate; governments should impose quotas and implement policies that promote equality and safeguard women’s employment and professional growth, in parallel with men. Men can be the strongest advocates of equality, the best allies to drive a positive change – this battle is not for women to fight alone.

Women do not need to be corrected or improved – they are great as they are; but they do need to recover and unlearn everything that a patriarchal society has taught them, in order to thrive: that they do not need to be perfect to be accepted, that they can indeed do anything they dream of, that they do not have to put up with the barriers that the system has imposed on them.

Women do need to learn that the imbalance is not a result of their shortcomings – the imbalance is a result of a whole system constructed to their disadvantage; And this is what we are fighting to change!

Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

Our mission is to provide top and unbiased information for all professionals and to make sure that women get their fair share of voice in the news and in the spotlight!

We produce original content, news articles, a curated calendar of industry events and a database of women IT, Media and Advertising associations.

Dimitra Letsa

Dimitra Letsa

[email protected]

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