Promotion opportunities are different for men and women

We are consistently reading today about the differences in promotion opportunities for men versus women. It would appear that confidence and ambition are more likely among male candidates for a promotion than women candidates.

Women are encouraged to ‘lean in’ and become more like their male counterparts if they wish to rise up the corporate ladder. Women however are more likely, according to Leonora Risse from RMIT University, to be lacking in self-confidence, by not raising their hands, by pulling back instead of ‘leaning in’ to show more confidence in the work place.

Data from the Australian Journal of Labour Economics investigated the links between self-confidence and job promotion between men and women. It proved that a higher hope for success was clearly linked to a higher likelihood of promotion.

The problem that appeared was that the link was obvious for men, but there was no clear evidence that ‘leaning in’ provided a pay-off for women.

These personality traits of boldness and charisma were evident in men, but women do not generate those particular traits in such an obvious way. The template for career success appears to say ‘be confident, be ambitious, and show no emotion, as emotion displays weakness’.

In other words both men and women are being hindered by gender norms.

We should not have to encourage women to behave like men. This devalues the diverse working styles of men and women. Instead, let us look to anti-discrimination initiatives that could actually make a difference.

Employers may be better placed to base their hiring of workers on competency and capability rather than confidence and charisma.

‘Gender equity shouldn’t be about changing women; it should be about changing workplaces’.

Ref: Leonora Risse, RMIT University.

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact WR Law directly on (03) 5499 6131 or by email at

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