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Most Americans Prefer Female Leadership Styles

A majority of American workers prefer executives that utilize newer, more collaborative leadership styles, and 7 out of 10 associate these leadership styles with women, according to a new study by Pershing LLC.

Conversely, some 77 percent of respondents attribute “traditional” leadership approaches, such as giving orders and employing the reward/punishment model, with men.

Though women make up nearly two-thirds of the US workforce today, men continue to outnumber women in key leadership roles, the study says. Both men and women agree there are not enough women in positions of power in the workplace, but when asked about women in specific roles and occupations, a majority of Americans fall back on traditional gender roles — despite the preference for management styles that people more strongly associate with women. This trend continues despite the fact that women are outpacing men in earning college degrees and a greater percentage of women are becoming the primary income earner in the household.

The survey found a correlation between age and attitudes toward women at work. While conventional wisdom says that young people are more open to new ideas, the results reveal that the older the individual, the greater the comfort with seeing women in leadership positions. The study suggests this pattern could be a result of real-life experiences in working with women in various occupations that have helped break down the traditional stereotypes.

“Good role models are the key to solving the gender paradox,” said Kim Dellarocca, global head of practice management and segment marketing at Pershing. “If exposure to individuals who defy stereotypes helps mitigate biases, then this could be a promising strategy for winning greater acceptance of women in traditionally male leadership roles.”

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Pershing, from January 17-21, 2014, among 2,047 adults ages 18 and older.

Last year, Pantene Philippines launched a Labels Against Women campaign to illuminate the dichotomy by which certain gender characteristics are perceived. The video highlights examples where the same behavior can be perceived as a positive characteristic in men, but when exhibited by a woman is a negative trait.

Recent years have seen more and more women rising to positions of corporate power. In December, Mary Barra (pictured) became the first female CEO in GM’s history, and the first woman to lead a major automaker.


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