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The 2008 election highlighted a dilemma often faced by women in the professional world - a double bind between being perceived as competent or as likeable. Both qualities are imperative for success but the incongruity of normative female roles (warm, nurturing) with characteristics perceived necessary for professional success (independence, assertiveness) means that women are either seen as likeable, but incompetent, or as competent, but unlikeable. Wherever you fell along the political spectrum, it is clear that Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy for the Presidency of the United States followed by Sarah Palin’s candidacy for Vice-President provided a unique lens for considering how gender is viewed in our culture. Of course, Clinton’s loss in the Democratic primary and Palin’s (and McCain’s) loss in the election was determined by multiple factors specific to their personalities and their campaigns. Yet, the election coverage demonstrated what workplace and social science research have shown for years: women face unique constraints when trying to be successful in traditionally masculine domains. Interestingly, lawyers do not seem plagued by this same double bind. After reviewing election coverage and social science research, this Article focuses on research about lawyers demonstrating that, in style and in effectiveness, there is no difference between how female and male lawyers are perceived. In a study of lawyers rating other lawyers in their most recent negotiation, female lawyers were described in terms that were similar to their male colleagues (ethical, confident, and personable) and both were equally likely to be judged as effective in general. In fact, women lawyers were rated more highly in assertiveness than their male counterparts, and yet did not seem to suffer negative consequences for violating feminine proscriptions. This Article examines why lawyers appear to escape the backlash effect and argues that unique features of legal work reduce the perceived incongruity between assertiveness and proscribed feminine behavior thereby attenuating the likelihood of backlash. Finally, the Article concludes by suggesting further advice for how lawyers can deal with the backlash effect in contexts where incongruity is still salient.
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Andrea Kupfer Schneider
Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School
Catherine H. Tinsley
Associate Professor, The McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
Sandra I. Cheldelin
Vernon M. and Minni I. Lynch Professor, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Emily T. Amanatullah
Assistant Professor, McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin
(October 2010)
This paper can be downloaded without charge from the Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper
Andrea K. Schneider
Professor of Law
Marquette University Law School
Sensenbrenner Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881
Electronic copy available at: copy available at: copy available at:
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... Notably, research in the masculine-classified profession of law has found a similar, counterintuitive result for women lawyers who act inconsistently with their gender stereotype. Women lawyers did not receive negative evaluations of their competence or abilities when they behaved in masculine ways (Schneider, Tinsley, Cheldelin, & Amanatullah, 2010). The authors argued that excellence in legal capabilities is firmly entrenched in masculinestereotyped behaviors so that women who act masculine are rewarded since their behaviors serve ''to align assertive behavior with gendered expectations thereby alleviating the perception of stereotype-violation that results in backlash'' (Schneider et al., 2010;p. ...
... Women lawyers did not receive negative evaluations of their competence or abilities when they behaved in masculine ways (Schneider, Tinsley, Cheldelin, & Amanatullah, 2010). The authors argued that excellence in legal capabilities is firmly entrenched in masculinestereotyped behaviors so that women who act masculine are rewarded since their behaviors serve ''to align assertive behavior with gendered expectations thereby alleviating the perception of stereotype-violation that results in backlash'' (Schneider et al., 2010;p. 378). ...
We consider the role that gender-stereotyped behaviors play in investors’ evaluations of men- and women-owned ventures. Contrary to research suggesting that investors exhibit bias against women, we find that being a woman entrepreneur does not diminish interest by investors. Rather, our findings reveal that investors are biased against the display of feminine-stereotyped behaviors by entrepreneurs, men and women alike. Our study finds that investor decisions are driven in part by observations of gender-stereotyped behaviors and the implicit associations with the entrepreneur’s business competency, rather than the entrepreneur’s sex.
... Some voters prefer candidates that possess traits seen as masculine such as competence and assertiveness (A. Schneider, Tinsley, Cheldelin, & Amanatullah, 2010). Women, on the other hand, are stereotyped as emotional, weak and sensitive. ...
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Ecuador has one of the strongest electoral designs in terms of gender quotas in Latin America. However, there remains a significant gap between the number of women candidates and the number elected. To explain why a quota does not lead to an elected representation proportional to the quota we examine voter bias and elite bias in the legislative elections of 2013 and 2017. Results show gender bias towards female candidates, and not against, which is a surprising result in a country maintaining a culture of traditional gender roles on average. A breakdown of the voting patterns by gender, however, reveals that the overall voter preference for female candidates is driven entirely by female voter tendencies. Rather, the lack of representation of women as frontrunners in a political party might explain the gap between female candidates and elected members to the National Assembly. Elite bias against women, not voter bias, explains women’s electoral fortunes in Ecuador.
... However, previous research revealed that women tend to be more effective when negotiating on the behalf of others than for themselves (Johnson, 2014;Craver, 2020). It is argued that "assertive behavior faces little backlash when it is seen as protecting colleagues or advocating on behalf of teammates" (Schneider, 2010). Women negotiating on behalf of others are more likely to adopt an assertive behavior. ...
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This literature review helps explain the impact gender has on negotiations. The discussion encompassed in this review will include the impact of gender stereotypes on negotiation, continuing to how these stereotypes and other gender-related issues impact salary negotiations. It will also analyze how men and women approach negotiation with the same and opposite sex and will include a discussion on gender expectations brought about by cultural differences. It will conclude with summarized findings, inconsistencies in research, shortcomings of methodology, and direction for future research. This review’s findings are sourced from articles, academic journals, theses, and web pages. The research concluded that stereotypes do play a role in determining how people negotiate with their opposition by leveraging their position and preconceived gender-based personality traits. It also concludes that the gender pay gap can, in part, be explained by the negotiation process of salary. This is due to males dominating executive-level positions. Furthermore, men and women interact differently and achieve different outcomes depending on the gender they’re negotiating with, uniformly in favor of males. Lastly, culture also plays a role in creating gender-based stereotypes and negotiation results differ significantly from country to country due to different cultural norms and practices. It has been found, with little uncertainty, that gender does play a significant role in negotiation outcomes. A direction for future research would be to explore gender as a non-binary construct and determine negotiation outcomes across a spectrum, as well as cross-analyzing gender with other individual circumstances.
... Women politicians are of particular interest for the gender gap in self-promotion behavior in that their jobs require self promotion, especially during elections and re-elections. Hence, female politicians often face this double bind of likeability vs. competence (Schneider et al., 2010). ...
... Based on gender stereotypes, women are expected to be warm and caring, whereas professional success is associated with people who demonstrate independence and assertiveness. Unfortunately, this can put women in tough positions, where their behavior is likely to be perceived as likeable but incompetent, or as competent but unlikeable (Schneider, Tinsley, Cheldelin, & Amanatullah, 2010). An assertive woman hence violates the expectations set by stereotypical roles, and this may lead to negative consequences for her in the workplace. ...
Juggling in heels: The struggle of female professors to balance civility and free speech without suffering from negative student evaluations - Volume 12 Issue 4 - Caitlin M. Lapine, Aditi Rabindra Sachdev
... Women have long had to manage variations of the private/public double bind in media coverage and their own promotion activities, in ways that men have not (Jamieson, 1995;Meeks, 2016;Meeks & Domke, 2016). Schneider, Tinsley, Cheldelin, and Amanatullah (2010) referred to the likability/ competence double bind, defined by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation (2012) as "a correlation between being qualified and being likable" (p. 1), which does not exist for men and which results in dual negative consequences for women who make mistakes. ...
Twitter provides women politicians with a platform for practising political public relations and the opportunity to circumvent traditional barriers to their visibility. To explore how young women use Twitter to frame themselves during election campaigns, this study undertook a thematic analysis of tweets sent by politicians Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern during New Zealand’s 2014 general election campaign. A likability frame dominated their messaging, supported by subsidiary frames of the busy local MP and the relational politician. Choices of interpersonal and intimized situations showcased these attributes. Although the messaging was arguably effective, there are longer-term consequences for women with respect to the likability/competence double bind. Further and systematic incorporation of gender into the field of political public relations would strengthen this emerging discipline and add value to existing research around women’s electoral viability.
This paper aims to explore how clients perceive the competence of female lawyers in Ghanaian law firms. As an exploratory qualitative study, thematic analytic approach was used to analyse the interview data gathered from 15 clients of law firms. The findings reveal that clients consider the gender of lawyers when making hiring decisions and determining competence. The findings also suggest that clients consider legal expertise, professionalism, knowledgeability, gender attributes, and social interaction as critical determinants of female lawyers’ competence in law firms. We suggest that managers of law firms should understand and consider the role of clients in competence development. Managers of law firms could also manage gender-based competence biases of clients and improve practice management by implementing effective gender policies and client–lawyer relationship management strategies. The wider implication for the gender schema theory is that gender schemas of clients affect competency measurement and assessment. The current competence-based theorizations in management science could consider client perspective.
Trial advocacy education often stresses the importance of attorneys expressing arguments with emotion to signal conviction. Yet, female attorneys must approach this advice with caution given potential backlash for expressing emotions traditionally considered masculine, like anger. Two experiments (Study 1, N = 220; Study 2, N = 273) demonstrated that people most likely to endorse traditional gender roles exhibited bias against female attorneys expressing anger in court. Participants were recruited nationally and randomly assigned to view an attorney delivering a closing statement in court who either (1) was a man or a woman, and (2) used a neutral or angry tone. They reported how hirable and effective they perceived the attorneys to be and completed measures of several individual difference factors that are established predictors of endorsement of traditional gender roles: ambivalent sexism, political conservatism, and age. Participants who were more likely to hold traditional gender values (i.e., more benevolently sexist, more politically conservative, and older) were more likely to favor attorneys who conformed to gender norms (i.e., male attorneys who expressed anger relative to no anger) and less likely to favor attorneys who violated gender norms (i.e., female attorneys who expressed anger relative to no anger). Thus, female attorneys are faced with the challenge of walking the line between exhibiting traditionally masculine behaviors that are valued by the legal system—but not so much so that they suffer backlash for violating gender norms.
The emergence of women as public orators brought with it debates over the authenticity of their performance. As politics has traditionally been a venue of power populated by men, standards of public discourse entail masculine traits or contents, – the expectation of which is deleterious to feminine qualities, deemed as powerless speech. This paper investigates Hillary Rodham Clinton’s discourses delivered at Wellesley University, her alma mater, from a gendered perspective. Clinton incorporates a series of firsts: starting with being the first student ever to deliver a commencement address at Wellesley; and her most recent accomplishment, as the first woman to receive a major party’s nomination to run for the presidency in the United States of America. This paper analyzes the evolution of her rhetorical gender negotiations over three focal discourses: 1969, which marked the beginning of her leadership, as she delivered her speech as Wellesley students’ leader - a pivotal moment, as she returned twice to deliver the commencement address from different standpoints, in 1992, as potential First Lady, and 2017, as presidential runner-up. The analysis is based on a framework capturing feminine and masculine discursive style. The aim of the study is to assess how Clinton’s Wellesley rhetoric changed across decades from a gendered perspective, considering both style and content. From the very peak of her education to her public apology before her alma mater for her loss, Clinton embraced manifold public roles, some deemed as more masculine, others more feminine; this paper overviews the gendered dynamics of her rhetorical choices.
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Two experiments explored the hypothesis that the impact of activating gender stereotypes on negotiated agreements in mixed-gender negotiations depends on the manner in which the stereo-type is activated (explicitly vs. implicitly) and the content of the stereotype (linking negotiation performance to stereotypically male vs. stereotypically female traits). Specifically, two experiments investigated the generality and limits of stereotype reactance. The results of Experiment 1 suggest that negotiated outcomes become more one-sided in favor of the high power negotiator when masculine traits are explicitly linked to negotiator effectiveness. In contrast, the results of Experiment 2 suggest that negotiated outcomes are more integrative (win-win) when feminine traits are explicitly linked to negotiator effectiveness. In total, performance in mixed-gender negotiations is strongly affected by the cognitions and motivations that negotiators bring to the bargaining table.
The current study examines experiences of interpersonal mistreatment in federal litigation among a random sample of 4,608 practicing attorneys. Using both quantitative and qualitative survey data, we documented the nature and interplay of general incivility, gender-related incivility, and unwanted sexual attention. Nearly 75% of female attorneys had experienced some form of this misconduct in the previous five years, compared to half of male attorneys. An in-depth examination of instigators revealed that not only fellow attorneys but also federal judges, court personnel, marshals, and court security officers instigated the inappropriate behavior. We further found that most attorneys responded to this mistreatment with avoidance and denial; few used or trusted existing reporting mechanisms. The current study surpassed simple prevalence estimates to document effects of interpersonal mistreatment on the professional well-being of targeted attorneys. We discuss implications of these results, drawing on theories of social dominance, sex-role spillover, cognitive stress, organizations, and intervention.
A total of 242 subjects participated in 3 experimental studies investigating reactions to a woman's success in a male gender-typed job. Results strongly supported the authors' hypotheses, indicating that (a) when women are acknowledged to have been successful, they are less liked and more personally derogated than equivalently successful men (Studies 1 and 2); (b) these negative reactions occur only when the success is in an arena that is distinctly male in character (Study 2); and (c) being disliked can have career-affecting outcomes, both for overall evaluation and for recommendations concerning organizational reward allocation (Study 3). These results were taken to support the idea that gender stereotypes can prompt bias in evaluative judgments of women even when these women have proved themselves to be successful and demonstrated their competence. The distinction between prescriptive and descriptive aspects of gender stereotypes is considered, as well as the implications of prescriptive gender norms for women in work settings.
Exposing participants to gender-stereotypic TV commercials designed to elicit the female stereotype, the present research explored whether vulnerability to stereotype threat could persuade women to avoid leadership roles in favor of nonthreatening subordinate roles. Study 1 confirmed that exposure to the stereotypic commercials undermined women's aspirations on a subsequent leadership task. Study 2 established that varying the identity safety of the leadership task moderated whether activation of the female stereotype mediated the effect of the commercials on women's aspirations. Creating an identity-safe environment eliminated vulnerability to stereotype threat despite exposure to threatening situational cues that primed stigmatized social identities and their corresponding stereotypes.