The Ugly Stereotypes of Women in Leadership

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in ComLead, Integrated Marketing Communication, Organizational Leadership

The Ugly Stereotypes of Women in Leadership

In real life, women are amazing leaders, though they don’t have enough changes to prove it. Women make companies more productive. They bring variety, insight and new ideas to the table.

So why is it, as we’ve explored in the past few weeks, that women are 50% of the population but only 17% of the national leaders and 3% of the CEOs?

You can’t be what you can’t see.

The Geena Davis institute on Gender in Media recently found that in G and PG movies, very few female characters have any occupation whatsoever. These are the films targeted at the youngest members of our society, when kids are still figuring out who they are and what their place is in the world.

The effect is simple, but important:

“The more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.” – Geena Davis

The stereotypes don’t retreat once we turn off the Disney movies and stash our Barbies. We just face a harsher, even more harmful set of female stereotypes in mainstream media targeted at teens and adults. If you’ve watched a movie or TV show in the last few years (i.e. Jersey Shore, HousewivesReal or Desperate, Seth McFarlance at the Oscars, any 24-hour news show) you know this first-hand.

In this article, Forbes narrows it down to 10 stereotypes of women in power. Some of entertainment’s most popular powerful women fit the bill: Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Cruella Deville, and the real-life examples of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama.

Be The Change

To encourage a healthier perception of women in leadership – and to encourage our own girls to choose leadership – we need to root for a different set of role models. Let’s use our TV viewership, our dollars and our time to support strong female characters and roles that respect women’s bodies and minds. Let’s use our voices to advocate for nonsexist news coverage of our women leaders. Let’s use our relationships with young girls to remind them that they can choose their own paths.

If you’re in the Buffalo area, join the conversation at the Miss Representation screening March 26 at Canisius.

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