Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JUL. 25, 2013
version 3, draft 4

Don’t Smile if You Want to Get Promoted

According to research carried out by economists from TUM (Fermany’s Technische Universiat Minchen), to progress in the workplace, women need to be more dominant, assertive and ‘hard-lined’. It appears smiling is out, scowling is in!

Most surprisingly, gender-based stereotypes still exist in the workplace. After many years of fighting against discrimination and petitioning for equality at work, some old fashioned businesses still insist on putting male employees before female employees when it comes to promoting to positions of authority.

It’s not like women can’t handle the job. Just look at Michele Moan (Scottish lingerie tycoon who set up the infamous brand ‘Ultimo’); Sheryl Sandberg (American Chief Operating Officer at Facebook); and Deborah Meeden (British, self-made multi millionaires who ran a successful family holiday company); these are women in positions of power and authority, and whom are successful in their jobs. So why then do so many well-known and large scale companies still allow gender-based stereotypes to hold women back at work?

The study conducted at TUM, found that women were less likely to be promoted to executive positions if they appeared too “cheerful”. This is astonishing. An employees’ skills, experience, attitude towards work and character should be assessed in line with the promotion, regardless of whether they are male or female. Notice that men who appear cheerful still gain top positions in companies though.

According to the research, female bosses have many positive points, but these do not appear to be what companies want in a boss. They are thought to be better than men when it comes to negotiating, networking and developing strategies; these qualities should be highly sought after in a manger, right? Wrong. The study revealed that companies actually look for employees who can be tough, bossy and uncompromising. It seems if you smile too much, or appear too friendly and approachable, you are unable to keep control and manage a team…

Prof. Isabell Welpe – research leader – gave her opinion,

“'They ignore the fact that there are stereotypes that on a subconscious level play a decisive role in the assessment of high achievers.”

According to the feedback from the volunteers of the study, women are seen as mediators rather than assertive or dominant, and this is the main reason why they fail to land top positions. Whether company owners like to admit it or not, their choices in selecting assertive men over cheerful women (despite both being equally skilled and experienced) are down to their own prejudice (even if it is on a subconscious level).

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