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Gender Differences Impact Interviewing and Hiring

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 1

A study of high-level executives by the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates revealed a key finding that counters the common perception that women rarely advance to top corporate levels because they lack leadership qualities. The study found that women executives (47%) in both line and staff positions were more likely to display leadership traits, as measured by the Burke Leadership model, than their male counter-parts (39%). This study was based on a survey of 164 high level executives drawn largely from Fortune 500 companies.

What contributes to the misconception about women's lack of leadership abilities? Several of our clients have noted interview behavior by women that differs from male counterparts. Women often attribute their success and accomplishments to (1) luck, (2) being in the right place at the right time, and (3) having a mentor. Men have a much easier time taking credit for their accomplishments and readily talk in terms of "I did this" or "I made this happen." As a result, women may be passed up for leadership positions because they describe their worklife experiences less proactively.