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This report analyzes open-ended answers to survey questions as well as one-on-one interviews to reveal that gender stereotypes can create several predicaments for women leaders. Because they are often evaluated against a “masculine” standard of leadership, women are left with limited and unfavorable options, no matter how they behave and perform as leaders. In particular, three predicaments put women in a double bind and can potentially undermine their leadership as well as their own advancement options:

  1. Extreme Perceptions: Women are perceived as too soft or too tough but never just right. 

  2. The High Competence Threshold: Women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than men leaders.

  3. Competent but Disliked: Women leaders are perceived as competent or liked, but rarely both. 

Sponsor: IBM Corporation