What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions
On the other hand, Hoyt (2005) found that women who measured high on efficacy (belief in one’s ability to perform) seemed less resistant to stereotype activation. When subjected to both subtle and blatant gender-demeaning remarks, they demonstrated resiliency and competence under pressure.
Regardless of skill level and experience, it is clear that the impact of low confidence and self-esteem affects both the leadership ability of women and the predictive evaluation of their effectiveness as leaders. (Martell, Parker, Emrich, & Crawford, 1997) The good news is that the studies mentioned above indicate that women are capable of developing the confidence and presentation strategies they need to move up in leadership in spite of the way men and women are treated differently at work with the help of supportive leaders, teachers and mentors.
Alfred Adler (1978) was one of the first psychologists to declare in writing that it is society, not genetics that keeps women from developing high self-esteem. He declared that women’s inferiority to men is a myth. He said that both men and women are always striving for significance, for power and for superiority. According to Adler, the number one goal that drives us is our desire to reach perfection, based on whatever we view perfection to be. As children, we form the image of this future possibility. Then we set our life in motion to achieve it.
However, when there are occurrences of male superiority as exists in many of our corporations today, men will, consciously or not, “influence the female position in the division of labor, in the production process, to their own advantage.” (p.5) As a result, women are constantly dissatisfied, upset psychologically and very likely to demean their own value. This undermines their hopes of ever performing competently. They react by 1) overcompensating—stressing their masculine over feminine traits, 2) undercompensating—adapting and resigning their will to others, or 3) rebelling with a sense of self-righteousness to right the wrongs and render justice. (p. 14-15, 23) These behaviors then become self-defeating behavioral strategies.