'Women cannot be good leaders, they are too emotional. Imagine when they are on their periods or pregnant, how can they handle work and make objective decisions?' This is a very familiar stereotype most of us know or have experienced.
Every human at some point in life expresses feelings of anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, and disgust which can be seen/shown in either form of facial, vocal, and postural expressions to communicate. These emotions serve as an instant system to inform an individual about a situation and also motivate one to act.
These are powerful aspects and huge parts of being human. The misinterpretation of emotion has a high negative impact on women who are constantly pushed back and sidelines with the tagline ‘women are too emotional.’
The common description is that women who show anger are untrustworthy, those who do not show emotions are less intelligent. Whereas men who show fewer emotions are intelligent and those who show anger are trustworthy. This clearly doesn’t make sense, right? Exactly my point.
These stereotypes are detrimental to women in high places of power in the different contexts of workplaces. Female leaders are often penalized for even a small show of emotion especially when it shows dominance while those also emotionally unexpressive are considered to have failed to fulfill their communal role as a woman.
These perceptions continue to cloud individuals’ thoughts on being able to differentiate a female leader’s ability to control the outward display of emotions and her ability to make rational and objective decisions.
Often this is only subject to when where if she is too emotional then her judgment isn’t rational. But men have emotions, why isn’t the same gender emotional stereotypes applicable to men? In addition, men’s emotions are perceived otherwise.
Some studies indicate that women's expression of emotion at work is seen as more dysfunctional and out of control than men's emotional expression.
To understand how and why gender stereotypes of emotion may harm women leaders it is important to consider that, in general, men and women are subject to different emotional display rules.
Stop telling women they are too emotional!