Male potential ‘rated better’ than female track record

Martin Herrema

Research suggests males perceived to have high leadership potential are rated a better employment prospect than females with a proven leadership record.

The research, by a team from the University’s School of Psychology, was presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Liverpool on 6 May.

The findings, which provide initial evidence that women’s leadership potential is not recognised by potential employers, could have implications for gender equality in the workplace.

In the study, a total of 98 people (39 women) participated in an online hiring simulation. Each participant was shown four potential applicants for a managerial role who were approximately the same age. The applications varied the applicant’s gender and assessments of leadership potential and leadership achievement. Participants evaluated each applicant for how successful they thought each would be in their career and which had the most impressive CV.

The simulation results indicated that male applicants with leadership potential were most likely to be seen as successful and having the most impressive CV. The findings also suggested that men with leadership potential were rated higher than men with leadership performance. However, female applicants with potential were not rated higher than those with performance.

The research, titled Employers prefer male managerial potential to female proven track record, was carried out by Head of School Dr Georgina Randsley de Moura, undergraduate Fatima Tresh  and postgraduate researcher Abigail Player.