When People Assume You’re Not In Charge Because You’re a Woman


Cook School of Intercultural Studies

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Role incredulity is a form of gender bias where women are mistakenly assumed to be in a support or stereotypically female role — an administrative assistant, nurse, wife, or girlfriend, for instance — rather than a leadership or stereotypically male role, such as CEO, professor, lawyer, doctor, or engineer. While this slight or mistake might seem innocuous, it can have real ramifications for women. Women must expend extra energy and time to assert and prove their role. Their words may lack the credibility and authority inherent in their position. And when women are not seen as a leader, they may be less likely to be hired into male-dominated roles or to be considered for promotions.

While the real issue of role incredulity is systemic, there are steps organizational leaders, workplace allies, and women themselves can take to prevent and correct it., including setting organizational norms, being an ally, owning your mistakes, and, if you’re a woman, proactively identifying your role.


Women leaders; Cross-cultural studies;

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Harvard Business Review Digital Articles

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