Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

Check out Nancy Pelosi. Even a glance will show you that she is the only woman at the table (and one of 2, it seems, in the room).

The New York Times wrote an article entitled Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

The author shares findings from an organizational behavior professor from the UK. She asked executives to draw a picture of a leader. Invariably, they drew pictures of men.

The researchers took the research further to investigate how “holding unconscious assumptions about gender affect[s] people‚Äôs abilities to recognize emerging leadership”.

“What they found, in a study posted by the Academy of Management Journal, seems to confirm what many women have long suspected: getting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men.”

This drew my attention because I have led a similar activity in a leadership training. Except, I do not ask participants to draw A leader, I ask them to draw a picture of a leader who has inspired and motivated them. While I cannot say with perfect accuracy how often women or men were drawn, I can 100% tell you that the participants have drawn women far more often than men. I have done this training now with hundreds of participants from six countries. The results never vary. Men and women alike draw women more often than not.

Maybe this exercise will be more balanced as women and men see more examples of women in leadership roles. We are still, in 2020, seeing a lot of “firsts” for women in leadership roles and women being rewarded and recognized for their contributions.

For goodness sake, we saw the first all-women space walk in 2019!

We also saw the second woman ever to win the Nobel Prize in economics! In 2019.

If I were to dive deeper, I’d posit that, true, sure, maybe it is harder to be recognized as a leader as a woman. But once you ARE a leader, you are more likely to be seen as a GREAT one. An inspiring, motivating leader.

What do you think? Once women are leaders, are they more likely to inspire greatness?