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Women, cognitive bias and leadership positions

We talked about cognitive bias in our last post and how regulations can help reduce it. A study by HBR makes cognitive bias and reservations about women very clear. It compares leadership qualities of men and women. Women have outperformed men in 17 out of 19 skills that make an excellent leader. Although women are just as capable as men, if not more capable, there are still doubts concerning female leaders. And these doubts are particularly prevalent among women themselves.

Women between the ages of 25 and 40 have much lower self-confidence than men of the same age. Women, for example, will not apply for a job where she does not feel that she fulfils the qualification to a large extent, while men often have the attitude that they will learn the necessary skills by simply doing the job.

That said, cognitive bias does make it difficult for women to have a high-level career. It is not a lack of skills that blocks their path but a lack of opportunities. If given the choice between two equally qualified candidates, male and female, who is going to be promoted? Most of the time the male candidate is chosen. Why? Because our cognitive bias still tells us that men belong in leadership positions.