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In the operational practice women often encounter myths, which obstruct them in their career planning. Sometimes they
encounter these myths outside – sometimes they believe in them personally. Heidrun Friedel-Howe defined six myths in her book “Women and leadership”, three of which we find already before even
climbing up the career ladder and the other three refer to female managers already active in organisations.
Last time I presented to you the myths 1-3 more in detail. The myths 4-6 can be found in my last blog entry published today.
Myths 4: “Female managers can be employed only to a certain extent“
In the area of management there are less women than men. Thus, female managers attract more attention – not only from a
professional point of view. If, however, they can demonstrate competence and femininity, it is very probable that her colleagues will listen to them more attentively and think more intensively
about their arguments. However, the myth has also a grain of truth: if informal business negotiations are involved, which sometimes take place in a half-private environment, women are clearly
disadvantaged since this type of customer support is not beneficial to their reputation. On the one hand, the female manager is expected to operate in a half-private environment only to a limited
extent, on the other hand she is accused of respecting this rule because by that she is not offering the same “service” like her male colleagues. A possible way to escape the dilemma – and maybe
the only one – is to increase the number of female managers. Thus, the types of customer/partner assistance would change ensuring that evening events would be organised in a constructive way for
all managers in order to obtain a reciprocal benefit.
Myth 5: “Men are afraid of a female manager“
This myth is definitely taken from real life. The fear of men in front of female managers can have different possible causes:
The fear of a shortage in resources through the increased competition
The male identity is at risk
An ambivalent relationship with the colleagues due to the sexual-erotic component
Fear to lose the personal status
Fear of consequences in their domestic field
If a social group has power on another group and if this power is combined with fear, the socio-psychological preconditions for discrimination are at hand. This discrimination – the conscious and systematic discrimination of the inferior group – results among other things also in the exclusion of women from the network of men.
Myth 6: “The female manager – socially she will remain an outsider“
Women are still not really accepted as leaders and managers and by that the acceptance as full members of the management level is denied to them. If a woman is reaching the management level, she must prove her qualification, her knowledge and her commitment, while she is, however, boycotted by men on the same or higher levels. This – according to this myth - leads to the outsider role and makes the leadership of a female manager less efficient than the one of her male colleague.
My thoughts in this regard
Female managers are most of the times leading less power-conscious and are less status-oriented. A more differentiated
leadership behaviour would – depending on the status and area of responsibility of the employee – sometimes be more appropriate.
Women must be aware of their own strengths, they must learn to directly address conflicts within the organisation and work constructively and they should recognize themselves and their performances.