If Women Are Better Leaders Why Aren’t More of Them Leaders?

In any area of life, there is often a gap between what science prescribes and what people believe — or at least would like to believe.

One of the realms in which this gap is particularly prominent is leadership. In particular, science tells us that we should select individuals for leadership roles when they are competent, which tends to translate into having more technical expertise, intelligence, people-skills, and integrity. However, whether leaders are chosen by voters (in political elections), recruiters, or organizations (in the business world), the parameters that determine our typical leadership choices are rather different: mostly, we pick people for leadership positions when they are confident, charismatic, politically astute (to the point of being manipulative), and self-focused (to the point of being narcissistic). Style matters more than substance and all-style-and-no-substance will generally trump no-style-and-all-substance. This is obviously unfortunate.

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