Are you a male nurse, a guy teaching a yoga class, or the general manager of a WNBA team? Well, don’t screw up. You’re on a short leash.
According to a study conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Management, there’s a bias against men and women in atypical positions of power. Previous research showed that only women were affected by this prejudice.
Researchers surveyed 75 men and 127 women, presenting them with a situation where a leader either controls or fails to deal with a hypothetical protest. They then asked the participants to answer questions based on how much power and respect they thought the given leader deserved. Male and female leaders in unconventional positions of power received the harshest ratings.
“When they did not make any mistake, male and female police chiefs, along with male and female women’s college presidents, were accorded similar status,” the researchers said. “However, when female police chiefs and male women’s college presidents made a mistake, they were accorded significantly less status, and viewed as less competent, than their gender-congruent counterparts.”
Then a follow-up study was performed with women in other male-dominated positions. The results remained the same.
“Women who are successful in male domains not only are seen as unlikeable, but are also viewed as less competent than their gender-congruent counterparts after making a single mistake,” the researchers conclude. “Thus the high status achieved by some men and women in gender-incongruent occupations can be unstable, vulnerable and ultimately fragile.”