Public Praise Spurs Women to Join Male-dominated Fields, Says Study

The latest study trying to get to the bottom of why there are so few women in some industries has revealed that one reason is that women companies are not celebrating the achievement of women in public. The research report which was published in The Leadership Quarterly Jingnan Chen, Ph.D., from the University of Exeter Business School in the U.K found that public feedback on women’s successes and performance encourages them to not only stay in male-dominated fields but also take on leadership roles. Furthermore, teams led by celebrated women also had a tendency to perform better than women who were not publicly praised by their organizations.

Public praise that is specific, objective, and measurable work such as sales figures or a number of projects successfully completed is required

“We have shown highlighting achievements is both highly beneficial and often straightforward for companies. The most capable female and male leaders emerge, and consequently, the best group outcomes are obtained, when public performance feedback is given. If we have more acknowledgment of women’s achievements, so their colleagues know what they are doing well, women will be more likely to step up and utilize their leadership skills,” said Chen. Professional women have long said that they are not appreciated at work and their achievements have often gone unnoticed and as a result, women can also suffer from the dreaded “imposter syndrome” which traps them in a vicious cycle of low confidence and shunning leadership roles. However, what does public praise mean? Public praise that is not generic and typical, but something that is quantifiable, “specific, objective, and measurable work such as sales figures or a number of projects successfully completed” — in order to have the desired encouraging effect,” is required. 

There are so many capable women, but many do not feel encouraged in their workplace, and this leaves them feeling they shouldn’t put themselves forward for leadership positions

While some have criticized the study stating that how companies will now be forced to downplay male achievements, this is simply not true, it simply means that women’s achievements need to celebrated as much as men. “It shows companies should make a commitment to making sure female achievements are not overlooked or ignored. This is especially important in male-dominated industries,” added Chen. History so far has proved that people are better at remembering the achievements of men then of women and so many achievements of women have now come to light after decades, if not hundreds of years and therefore, it is vital that companies ensure that the successes of both men and women have the limelight. Chen also added by saying that “There are so many capable women, but many do not feel encouraged in their workplace, and this leaves them feeling they shouldn’t put themselves forward for leadership positions. There is not enough attention paid to the efforts of high-achieving women, partly because they are less likely than men to self-promote their abilities, but it is very important that their work is equally recognized.”

Image credit: Esquire

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