Prejudices against women in management positions are widespread. People who are interviewed on this topic often respond dishonestly if they are not guaranteed the confidentiality of their answers. At least that is the result of study by Dr. Adrian Hoffmann and Prof. Dr. Jochen Musch from the Institute for Experimental Psychology at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. They analyzed the answers of 1,529 students to conventional direct and indirect questions in the so-called Crosswise format in order to capture the actual attitude towards female managers.
According to the results, significantly more respondents expressed reservations about the Crosswise format female executives when direct questions suggested this. With full confidentiality, 28 percent of women and 45 percent of men said they attribute fewer leadership skills to women than men. Doubts about female managers were more widespread among men in both survey formats. However, the proportion of women who expressed reservation as soon as the researchers switched from direct to an indirect question increased significantly more among women.
"Our results indicate that women have more difficulties than men in expressing reservations about female managers openly," said Hoffmann. Musch suspects that they may feel obliged to show solidarity with other women. As long as this is the case, women are less likely to be found in management positions than their proportion of the population corresponds to.
Some theories, added the study authors, assume that prejudices against female managers arise from discrepancy between the stereotypical female gender role and the social role of manager, which is often associated with more male attributes. The study was published in the journal Sex Roles (doi: 10.1007 / s11199–018–0969–6). sg