Management Tip of the Day: Don't Stereotype Female Leaders

Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:19am EST
 
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BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - Women's leadership programs, if not done correctly, run the risk of actually reinforcing negative stereotypes, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (http:\\www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"Women's leadership programs are helpful in accelerating women's career aspirations. However, if not done correctly, they can reinforce negative stereotypes and actually hold women back.

Here are two stereotypes to avoid when working through these issues:

1. Superwoman. Most women make choices and tradeoffs throughout their career. If we expect women to 'do it all,' they'll likely feel overwhelmed by the impossibility. Increase the repertoire of role models so that women see there are different ways to get ahead.

2. 'Woe is me.' The glass ceiling may be a reality, but by focusing on a narrative that talks about how difficult it is to get ahead, you may be subconsciously setting women back. Be realistic about the challenges, but also share success stories of women who have overcome them."

-Today's management tip was adapted from "Stop Stereotyping Female Leaders" by Athena Vongalis-Macrow and Andrea Gallant.