Can we be competent and likeable?

Here’s the first sentence of a recent article in the THES:

The dearth of women in high office in the academy is down in part to a perceived lack of “likeability” among strong female candidates.

That might make you think that women just need to act nicer. But there’s a catch– the clash between competence and likability:

“While they are perceived as highly competent, they are also perceived as not highly likeable…The issue of likeability is why there are not as many women in senior leadership positions in higher education (as there should be).”

That’s why the author of a recent study makes this suggestion:

“If, in any situation where it is going to matter, women start by presenting themselves as likeable, this presents a buffer when they introduce information about competence,” she said.

“When they do it in the other order, the information about competence has already reduced perceived likeability and they can’t make up that ground again.”

Kinda creepy to think of it this way. But important to know I guess, if it’s true. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if there was also discussion of how to change the the social forces that position competence and likeability as incompatible in women?

How Fair Is Britain?

You can find out here.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s comprehensive report highlights, for example, the gender pay gap, the gender and ethnic segregation of education and employment, the qualifications gap for disabled people, the incidence of homophobic, transphobic, disability-related and religiously motivated bullying in schools and workplaces…