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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:16 AM

How Female Leaders Should Handle Double-Standards

IMF head Christine Lagarde tells a story about a woman leader she met who took over at a tough moment in her country's history and resolved to be different. They had to cut the deficit and she wanted to set standards by personal example. When she travelled around the country, she took a small entourage of five cars. But the women she met in the villages asked her why only five cars when the men before her travelled with twenty-five. Stereotypes have been set and cast in stone, explained Lagarde, making women feel they have to act like men to be heard. "Keep your five cars," Lagarde advised her, "dare the difference. Sometimes our five cars are better than their twenty-five."

How women are perceived how they dress, talk, their "executive presence," capacity to "fill a room," leadership style and public image has been the object of vast, well-intentioned efforts to get more women to the top. Voice coaches, image consultants, public speaking instructors and branding experts have filled the growing demand for these services.

The premise is that women have not been socialized to compete successfully in the world of men, and so they must be taught the skills their male counterparts have acquired naturally. But, at the same time, they must "tone it down" or risk being labeled as having sharp elbows.

Catalyst calls this the Dammed if You Do, Doomed if You Don't dilemma use twenty-five cars and you're showing off, use only five and you lack power. As Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg points out, women are perceived as too soft or too tough but never just right, and as competent or likeable, but rarely both. Either way, the research concludes, women are evaluated against a "masculine" standard of leadership that leaves them limited options and distracts attention from the task at hand.
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http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/02/how_female_leaders_should_handle_double_standards.html

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Reply How Female Leaders Should Handle Double-Standards (Original post)
Renew Deal Feb 2013 OP
niyad Feb 2013 #1
Shivering Jemmy Feb 2013 #2
sigmasix Feb 2013 #3

Response to Renew Deal (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:23 AM

1. k and r--thank you for this post

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Response to Renew Deal (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:27 AM

2. I'm old so I remember

Phil Donahue, Montel Williams, Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake in their heyday. And I swear to you, 50% of their shows were either "X dresses too sexy" or "Y dresses too plain".

There did not seem to be a middle ground, where you just leave someone alone and don't offer them advice about how to dress/how to act.

It's perhaps a bit trite, but I really feel that so many of societies problems could be solved if we just left people the hell alone to be whom they are, and didn't bother them with what we "think" about their choices.

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Response to Renew Deal (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 01:00 AM

3. why do women always have to justify their leadership?

I worked for years in middle management and watched this sort of double standard played over and over again; upper managment did not often entrust women with large accounts or high-turnover management. Women are forced to play the game according to social rules that are outdated and knuckle-draggingly sexist. I would love to see American business and industry clean-house of these out-moded approaches, but the good old boys didnt get in positions of power by giving up and admitting when they are wrong. Education and good parenting would go a long way in interrupting the run-away train that American big business practices represent. Ethics and morality are disregarded in the present good old boy atmosphere- My suspicion is that increasing female-organized business practices could lead to a more ethical business and employment climate. Especially if we can apply the lessons we've learned from feminist critiques of the functions and mechanisms of American capitalism and the business climate.
Rec x a lot.

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