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‘Give women a fair chance to lead’ urge psychology experts

By Adam McCulloch


The low number of women in senior positions in organisations could be down to a lack of understanding of leadership styles, psychological assessments have shown. 

Those women who succeed in gaining promotion to the top jobs usually exhibit decision-making styles mirroring those of men, the data reveals.

New research by business psychology specialist The Myers-Briggs Company has found that more than two-thirds (70%) of women in leadership roles use the so-called “thinking” preference to make decisions at work, a preference that is more often associated with men.

The shortfall of women in top roles is highlighted as a main reason for the stubborn gender pay gap.

Women, according to data gleaned by Myers-Briggs from its personality type tests, are more likely to be associated with the “feeling” preference, which the research authors characterise as a value-driven and more rounded approach to decision-making. The thinking preference, by contrast, deploys objectivity, logic and impersonal criteria to make decisions.

However for women who reach more senior positions, the thinking preference dominates. While women are over-represented among lower quartiles of employee levels, more than half (55%) had a thinking preference, the research found.

This would indicate that when women reach higher levels of organisations, a values-driven perspective is lacking in leadership. Roughly equal proportions of men at all occupation levels use thinking and feeling preferences.

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