Women's quota for role models: what companies and the media can do


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With the help of an implicit association test, we wanted to find out whether subjects, after submitting images of well-known female executives, were able to join women at a similar speed Guide associate like men.

Women's quota for role models: what companies and the media can do


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Prof. Dr. Niels van Quaquebeke 46Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke Professor for Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Kühne Logistics University.

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Why this study?

In fact, after submitting images of well-known female executives, women associate their sexmates with similar speed Guide like men. However, this effect was more pronounced among the participants, while no significant change in response time was found in the male participants.

Our findings are discussed in more detail in the Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology A and O (Volume 54, Number 3 / 2010).

Pictures can influence our thinking!

We conclude from this result that visual representation of women in leadership positions might be appropriate to change leadership prototypes in favor of women.

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Although specific gender differences have not yet been conclusively clarified in the intervention, the present results at least suggest that the method could be particularly suitable for female recipients.

Women dare themselves to themselves!

In spite of this possible limitation of the efficacy to a gender, the results are nevertheless relevant to the practice, because not only do women often decide about the promotion of other women, but they also choose their own path.

Existing stereotypes thus have an impact not only on the career path of women, but also on women themselves, leadership positions are often not enough, and tend to underestimate their own performance.

How the Stereotype Threat affects your own thinking

Powell and Butterfield, in this context, argued that people who do not agree with the existing stereotype of a senior executive tend to refrain from pursuing this career path.

Claude Steele coined the term stereotype threat for the process behind it. People who have been exposed to negative stereotypes about their group for a long time internalize these stereotypes and thus feel that they are not up to the task.

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If you do not like the picture, you do not want to make a career!

It is therefore not surprising that women who define themselves through their female gender roles are more likely to retreat from leadership roles. This is also supported by a recent study by Bosak and Sczesny.

This showed that female students are still less likely to assume leadership than their male students. Interventions such as the present could thus empower women from the inside to strive for leadership positions or at least not to experience them as incongruent.

More women in communication

Our recommendation in the sense of an equalization of the Equal Treatment Act is thus that private and governmental organizations, should they be interested in a more subtle demand of their female employees, should increasingly represent women in their corporate communication in the role of leadership.

Here, for example, company brochures, company websites or training documents could be used. According to our assessment, women should not be salvaged as quotas, but, as a matter of course, be represented as part of the management days of the company.

Change the image of women in the media

Mass media were also in demand, because the portrayal of minorities in mass media has often been criticized as strongly stereotypical in the past. In this context it would, of course, have been interesting to consider the prototypical picture of a political leader before and after the appointment of Angela Merkel as chancellor.

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It is to be assumed that the Chancellor of Merkel and her attendant presence in the media has had a clear influence on the image of political leadership in Germany and will continue to have.

Quote: Not mandatory, but helpful

In the sense of a final analysis, it must be said that the requirement of women does not necessarily have to be prescribed by quota. Our results suggest that more subtle forms of promotion can also be successful.

Still, the rocky road leading to women, the Alice Eagly in her book Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders (Center for Public Leadership)occupations pictures aptly referred to as a labyrinth, may pave the way, but not turn into an overtaking track - but it is not for men either.


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