by Terri Williams
Originally published: March 28, 2016
“Our research suggests that the teen girls who are key to closing the gender gap appear to face an age-old and powerful barrier: gender bias, and specifically biases about their leadership.” This quote, from the Making Caring Common Project sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, summarizes extensive research on the implicit and explicit biases facing the next generation of female leaders.
Harvard’s recently released report, “Leaning Out: Team Girls and Leadership Biases,” contains the results of various surveys, informal interviews, and focus groups. Respondents were asked such questions as, “Do you think males or females would be better leaders?” in various professions, including business, healthcare, and politics.
The largest survey included over 17,000 U.S. students and over 2,800 international middle- and high-school students – and their parents. They were asked if they were more or less likely to increase the power given to their student council based on the leader’s gender.