Women make strong public leaders, but some still prefer men

Leadership involves many intangible and difficult to measure qualities, but according to a new US survey there may also be a fair dollop of gender bias in the mix.

Political leadership involves many intangible and difficult to measure qualities, but according to a new US survey there may also be a fair dollop of gender bias in the mix.

McClatchy Washington reports that, according to a Pew Research Centre survey of just over 1000 men and 1000 women, when it comes to strong leadership, most people rate the genders equally.

Almost 70% of people surveyed said they think gender is irrelevant to the question of whether a person can be a strong leader, a view reported in roughly equal numbers by men and women.

A majority of both men and women said they generally believe women to be more honest, intelligent, compassionate, outgoing and creative, all qualities you might think would help make a successful leader.

But apparently not, according to the survey participants. Only 6% of respondents said women make better leaders, compared to 21% who believe men do.

And, interestingly, these results were consistent across both the men and women surveyed, suggesting there are some deep seated gender-based assumptions embedded within many people’s ideas of leadership.

“You’ve got a public that on some level has a complex mix of views on this subject; admiring of women, admiring of traits that they associate with leadership, (but) not yet admiring of women in top leadership roles,” Pew Research Centre executive vice president Paul Taylor said.

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