I hope you have the opportunity to visit Leanin.org! It is a great resource for professional women. One of the links I clicked on today Tips for Managers led me to the following Tip! Important information for female leaders to know!
Situation: Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, his peers often like him more; when a woman is successful, both men and women often like her less. This trade-off between success and likeability creates a double-bind for women. If a woman is competent she does not seem nice enough, but if a woman seems really nice, she is considered less competent. This can have a big impact on a woman’s career. Ask yourself: Who are you more likely to support and promote, the man with high marks across the board or the woman who has equally high marks but is just not as well liked?
This bias often surfaces in the way women are described, both in passing and in performance reviews. When a woman asserts herself—for example, by speaking in a direct style or promoting her ideas—she is often called “aggressive,” “ambitious,” or “out for herself.” When a man does the same, he is seen as “confident” and “strong.”
Solution: Listen for the language of the likeability penalty, particularly when making hiring decisions and evaluating performance. When you hear biased language—such as “bossy,” “pushy,” and “shrill”—request a specific example of what the woman did and then ask, “Would you have the same reaction if a man did the same thing?” In many cases, the answer will be no. Remember that you can fall into the same bias traps, so think carefully about your own response to female coworkers.