Who’d have thought that looking at a photo of a powerful female role model, like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel, could inspire women to become more successful leaders. But a new study – Successful female leaders empower women’s behaviour in leadership tasks – shows that exposure to female role models can improve women’s performance in leadership tasks.
Men and women were asked to give a speech while being exposed to a photo of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Bill Clinton or not picture. The speeches were measured in terms of length and quality. Women spoke longer (and were there perceived to give a better speech) when they were exposed to the photo of Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel. But they spoke less, and their speeches were rated to be of lower quality, when Bill Clinton or no picture was shown.
The researchers concluded: “Subtle exposures to highly successful female leaders inspired women’s behavior and self-evaluations in stressful leadership tasks.”
Whose face would inspire and empower you when you have to make a stressful speech…?
Women value inspirational leaders and working environments over other benefits such as healthcare or pension, according to new research from O2.
Women also want their bosses to take the lead on issues such as flexible working. More than half say they want reassurance that working flexibly won’t have a detrimental effect on their career and that they can be trusted to work from home. In short, they don’t just want to stick to the traditional patterns of working, and they want that set out in black and white. An inspiring workplace is a flexible and empowering one for women.
Ben Dowd, O2 business director, says: “To create a truly flexible working culture, actions speak louder than words. And employers must lead by example to ensure that every member of staff feels empowered to shape their own definition of the nine to five.”
Scientists have proven what women have suspected for centuries: men don’t understand them. It’s not for want of trying. It’s just that men can read other men’s feelings from the expression in their eyes, but not women’s.
Researchers from the LWL University Hospital in Bochum, Germany, attempted to find out why in their study Why men don’t understand women. Altered Neural Networks for Reading the Language of Male and Female Eyes. They carried out a brain scan, a version of the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test’ on 22 men. They found that men had twice as many problems recognising emotions in female eyes compared to male eyes. They just can’t work out what women are feeling.
The scientists explained that men could relate what they see in other men’s eyes to themselves, as they could link this back to their own past thoughts and feelings. But they drew a blank when looking into women’s eyes as the brain can’t recall similar images from the past, and are therefore unable to empathise with women’s feelings.
The scientists said these results could be explained by evolution: men’s ability to interpret “threatening cues” in other men “may have been a factor contributing to survival in ancient times”. They add: “As men were more involved in hunting and territory fights, it would have been important for them to be able to predict and foresee the intentions and actions of their male rivals.”
The Bar Council has launched the first ever ‘Bar Nursery‘, a childcare facility in central London, to help barristers with children honour their work and family commitments.
The Bar Nursery at Smithfield House – near the Inns of Court – will offer flexible, discounted childcare from 7am to 7pm for children aged eight weeks to five years old. The idea is to “ease the pressure” on self-employed barristers, who otherwise may be put off joining the profession. The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, may open up further Bar Nurseries across the country, depending on demand.
Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, says:”It is important that members of the profession are not discouraged from starting a family because of their work, which could have a detrimental effect particularly on the number of women choosing a career at the Bar. It could also see talented practitioners leaving the self-employed Bar for a more stable working life in employed practice, or even another profession.”
It’s not often you hear of initiatives like this that are practical and take care of short-term priorities as well as keeping a long-term view of talent and diversity. If only other professions could follow suit.
Women are increasingly taking the wine world by storm. (pic: istockphoto.com/boule13)
I love the thought of women breaking the stuffy ranks of male-dominated industries, which is why it was a delight to read this Bloomberg article: Women pull corks as female sommeliers take over cellars.
Maybe it’s female intuition, the ability to ‘read a table’ or her non-confrontational manner when discussing a wine list with customers. There’s probably no single reason, but the new vintage of sommeliers in New World and Old World is becoming increasingly female.
The article quotes figures from the Institute of Masters of Wine showing that there are 87 women out of 287 masters of wine across the world. And new masters coming through are more likely to be female than male. And in the US, a restaurant group says 40% of its sommeliers are women.
It quotes beverage director Liz Nicholson from a major New York hotel saying that the female touch has made wine drinking and ordering much less elitist: “Women sommeliers have really helped remove being so uptight about ordering wine,” she says.
I’ll certainly drink to that.
In boardrooms across the UK, complacency is once again setting in. After an initial surge of female board appointments, the pace of change has considerably slowed.
The Female FTSE Board Report 2013 from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders is titled: ‘False dawn of progress for women leaders’? It shows that in the first six months after the last report was published in March 2012 that 44% of new FTSE 100 board appointments went to women. But that progress has not been sustained. In the last six months, just 26% of FTSE board appointments were female, and 29% of FTSE 250 board places went to women. Cranfield said this drop was “worrying”.
Overall, the figures look like this:
- 169 women hold 194 female-held directorships in 93 FTSE 100 boardrooms.
- This total equals 17.3%, higher than last year’s 15%.
- There are now seven FTSE 100 companies with all-male boards.
- Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies have more than one woman on their board.
- Burberry is the only company to have two female executive directors.
- 73% of FTSE 250 companies have women on their boards, up from last year’s 54%
Commenting on Cranfield’s Female FTSE report, its co-author Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE said: “At Cranfield we have stood steadfast against quotas on the basis that chairmen must understand the benefits of gender diversity and commit to achieving it. Undoubtedly a number of chairmen do get it and see a gender balanced board as the ‘new normal’. Unfortunately too many chairmen choose to ignore the issue in the false hope that it will go away. Viviane Reding’s demanding legislation is on its way and it goes far beyond Lord Davies’ recommendations. It is becoming a matter of urgency for those companies that do not have a gender balanced board to let go of their board stereotypes and appoint more creatively.”
Work-life balance has taken a new turn. The higher the levels of study, the higher the chance that women will choose to opt-out of full-time work, says a study from Vanderbilt University.
The research found that 60% of female graduates from elite colleges are working full-time compared to 68% of women from other schools. Children are the key factor in hours women choose to work. Among graduates from ‘elite’ colleges, married women without children are 20 percentage points more likely to be employed than those with children.
The biggest difference is with women who have MBAs. Married mothers with an MBA and a first degree from a selective school are 30 percentage points less likely to be employed full-time than graduates of less selective schools, the study found.
Even though elite graduates are more likely to earn advanced degrees, marry at later ages and have higher expected earnings, they are still opting out of full-time work at much higher rates than other graduates, especially if they have children,” says Vanderbilt professor of law and economics Joni Hersch.
For a more in-depth understanding of her findings, read her full report: Opting Out among Women with Elite Education.