Proof vs. potential: Women and the promotion problem

Study of over 30,000 workers showed women’s performance, on average, is rated higher than men’s

ORLANDO, Fla. – Does it feel like you’re doing everything right at work but not getting seen by the boss? Have you been overlooked, overworked, and passed up for that promotion?

Why are women often seen as having less leadership potential than their male counterparts?

“I lost the contract because I’m a woman. I can’t give all the details because I’ll get the lovely HR person in trouble who told me that. But I was shocked,” Bonnie Gisriel-Magerer, founder of Bpowered Consulting told Ivanhoe.

Gisriel-Magerer can’t believe that in 2022, women are still fighting for the right to claim the corner office. A new study out of Yale found women are consistently judged as having less leadership potential than the men, making them 14% less likely to be promoted each year.

“I didn’t know this still existed,” Gisriel-Magerer said.

In the study of over 30,000 workers, women’s performance, on average, is rated higher than men’s, but their potential is rated lower.

Although performance can be judged in numbers, sales and output potential is more subjective, often evaluating things like assertiveness, charisma, leadership, and ambition. So how can things change?

“I just think you go in and you make yourself known. You want to be the person of influence in the room. Go do it. Make sure that everybody under you is growing. Make sure everyone under you, even, your male counterparts at your same level, come to you, looking for your influence to the leaders above you. You have got to fight for it,” Gisriel-Magerer said.

Just as the women leaders did decades, even centuries ago, keep focused on moving up. Yale researchers also wondered if having more women managers would help reduce the bias in evaluating potential.

As it turns out, women managers also give lower scores for potential to their high-performing women subordinates.

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