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Small Business Digest


Survey Says Male Leadership Still Preferred By Americans

A survey of 60,000 Americans indicates that men are perceived as better business leaders than women.

According to the survey by Elle magazine and, many respondents viewed women as "moody," "bitchy," "gossipy" and "emotional."

Eva Tamincioglu, reporting on the survey on MSNBC indicated that While more than half our 60,000 respondents said a person's sex makes no difference to leadership abilities, most who expressed a preference said men are more likely to be effective leaders.

Of male respondents, 41 percent said men are more likely to be good leaders, and 33 percent of women agreed. The report also sasid that three out of four women who expressed a preference said they would rather work for a man than a woman.

The survey, conducted early this year, found a bonanza of stereotypes among those polled using the optional comment section to label women with negative terms. The most popular term for woman, used 347 times, was "catty." Experts agree that there are still few women in the corner office today, and the numbers appear to be declining.

The Elle-MSNBC survey sheds light on one obstacle blocking women from the boardroom: negative attitudes about women leaders attitudes women themselves still harbor. Men rule the roost -- at least in attitudes Power of attraction is strong in workplace Women most likely to miss work for kid.

This newsletter offers its readers a chance to answer a similar poll by Clicking here.

Some experts argue that the study may reflect attitudes in more elite corporate area as smaller firms, often run by women, tend to be more eglitarian in their outlook.

As reported by, the study also may reflect a more sexist society than Americans would want to believe.

One cannot live in a sexist society without absorbing some of those messages, which make women feel worse about themselves and suspicious of other women," said Janet Lever, a professor of sociology at California State University in Los Angeles, who helped conceive the survey.

"The enemy is omnipresent cultural messages, not women themselves."

There are long-established attributes that are assigned to men and women, says Madeline E. Heilman, an expert on workplace sex bias and professor of psychology at New York University. Women take care of others and nurture, while men are seen as taking charge and being assertive.

"The problem is," she says, "when we map these attributes onto the workplace the male attributes are much more sought after. I call this the lack of fit"

She explains, because the perceived attributes of women dont fit the leadership mold. When women succeed in areas theyre not supposed to they are disapproved of greatly, by everyone, men and women.

Her commments, reported by are balanced by the mentoring process advocated by many large corporations, all of the Fortune 1000 companies reporting that they have significant resources devoted to promoting women and minorities.

The MSNBC-Elle survey found that about 33 percent of men and women would rather work for a man, while about 13 percent would prefer working for a woman. (The remaining 54 percent had no preference.)

And when asked who would be more likely to lead effectively, males were preferred by more than a 2-1 margin by both men and women even though women got high marks for being problem solvers and providing more supportive work environments.

Will men and women ever see beyond these ingrained beliefs and accept women as conductors on the career express? Its all about preconceived notions of the leader image, says Claire Babrowski, the former CEO of RadioShack.

When people close their eyes and visualize the top dogs sitting around the corporate table, she explains, We picture men in leadership roles. As a woman you already have this hurdle to overcome.

Julie Fasone Holder, a corporate vice president for Dow Chemical, remembers a hallway conversation in the 1980s after she and another woman were promoted. A male executive said to Fasone, I guess its womens promotion week.

The way he said it, she says, was I was being promoted because I was a women, not a great leader. And even though Fasone says things have gotten better for women, she adds: Women still face stereotypes. We've come a ways, but I wouldn't say we've arrived.

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