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How to deal with the Likeability Bias – Make female characteristics a strength!16 Sep 2019

Let’s face it, the vast majority of MPs are men (as are the leaders of FTSE 100 companies), so perhaps not surprising that the cultural and social paradigms are still strong and, in that context, that male qualities and leadership qualities are seen as synonymous. Traditionally female characteristics of compassion, caring, collaboration and empathy, can be seen as lovely, but not synonymous with leadership.

One approach is making electors and selectors think about and question their underlying assumptions about “What makes a good MP/ representative/ councillor?” Help them think about what models of leadership they really want and what is most effective in the 21st century. In the tragic shooting incident in New Zealand (where a gunman killer 50+ worshippers at a mosque), the female Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, demonstrated that leadership and being a politician can look different from the traditional male orientated paradigms.

She took strong and assertive action in rapidly driving through much tougher gun controls and committing Government resources and money to support the bereaved families. She also showed female traits of gentleness and compassion in how she hugged and comforted the survivors. Given the dramatic circumstance, the whole world noticed this and applauded this model of leadership. No one suggested that she was weak for showing active empathy or that she was unfeminine for taking assertive action on gun law change.

You can emphasise traditional feminine strengths and demonstrate how they will be of benefit to the constituency. For example, you could emphasise how much you care about your constituents (before talking about how you would fight for them), talk about how you would seek to collaborate and build consensus (balanced with standing up for what you think to be right). So, be yourself and bring that great female mix of skills to the party. Bring that blend of compassion, empathy, nurture and care with strength, assertiveness and drive.

In some respects, it seems bizarre that 100 years on from women getting the vote we still don’t have a gender balanced parliament or councils but when you look at the barrier that the Likeability Bias creates (alongside many other more logistical concerns) you begin to understand why. If the progress made on gender parity continues at the current rate it’ll be about another 50 years until it is achieved. A massive step forward will be taken if more women are prepared and skilled to be “armed and dangerous” in dealing with the Likeability Bias.

Read more about how Archimedes can help here and download the full article about women and the Likeability Bias here

Women, Power, Presence and Presentation

How to deal with the Likeability Bias – Make female characteristics a strength!

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