Does being more likable than men help or hurt a woman’s career? by Roz Usheroff

Posted on April 1, 2014


Editor’s Note:  Over the years we have written extensively about women’s roles in purchasing.

For example, back in June 2011 I wrote a piece titled “Gender issues in buyer-seller relationships: does gender matter in purchasing?“, which included a poll that posed the question; Is there gender bias in the purchasing profession?  Close to 56% of respondents answered yes.

More recently, Buyers Meeting Point’s Kelly Barner’s April 2013 post “The High Cost of Low Costs (Women Pursuing Careers in Supply Chain)“, providing yet another interesting take on the question of women assuming leadership roles in supply, and the unique challenges they face as a result.

While extending the above contemplations to the broader business world, Roz Usheroff’s blog post “Does being more likable than men help or hurt a woman’s career?” highlights the fact that despite “making-up more than half of the overall workforce, only 3% to 4% according to the Sherwin article have attained the level of CEO.”

In short, even though women may have come a long way over the years, there is still a long ways to go in terms of establishing their proper place in the corporate hierarchy.

The Remarkable Leader

Following up on my last post in which I touched upon the subject of likability, I was reminded of a Harvard Business Review article titled “New Research Shows Success Doesn’t Make Women Less Likable“.

Counter to what many might believe, the study to which the article refers found that “male leaders are perceived more negatively as they rise, whereas women generally maintain their popularity throughout their entire careers.”

In short, and as demonstrated by the following graphic, success and likability – at least when it comes to women ascending the corporate ladder – does seem to go hand-in-hand.

likeability men and women

While, as the article points out, there are many barriers that confront women in the business world “likability” or the existence of a “likability penalty” is not one of them.

Besides the obvious question as to why women are more likable than men when they are promoted, perhaps a query…

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