Madeline Heilman at New York University once conducted an experiment in which she told volunteers about a manager. Some were told, "Subordinates have often described Andrea as someone who is tough yet outgoing and personable. She is known to reward individual contributions and has worked hard to maximise employees' creativity."
Other volunteers were told, "Subordinates have often described James as someone who is tough yet outgoing and personable. He is known to reward individual contributions and has worked hard to maximise employees' creativity."
The only difference between what the groups were told was that some people thought they were hearing about a leader named Andrea while others thought they were hearing about a leader named James. Heilman asked her volunteers to estimate how likeable Andrea and James were as people. Three-quarters thought James was more likeable than Andrea.One day, thinking about the many reasons why I love my new job, I confided hesitatingly to the Guy, "It seems a little weird to say this, but I love working under a woman again!"
Instead of calling me sexist (as he's wont to do when... I am), he immediately understood. He had women mentors and managers early on in his career, and loved working with them.
"I'm less hesitant, I'm more confident I'll be understood," I went on slowly, trying to analyze my own feelings. "I feel like I don't have to pretend to not have a personality, to not have a life outside of work. That she'll understand."
"Also, she's so much better at communicating, at reaching out. I don't have to second-guess what she's thinking."
The Guy nodded in sympathy.
"I guess it's not exactly a gender thing," I went on. "Communication, empathy - women build on these strengths more because they are perceived to be feminine, because they are not discouraged in these areas as they are in some others. When I had a male boss who had these qualities, I liked working with him too!"
Read this whole article for another fascinating story of how a trans scientist discovered he was treated better after he became a man, and how another trans scientist was treated less seriously after she became a woman. She says:
And, comparing herself to the other trans scientist in the same university, she says:
"You get interrupted when you are talking, you can't command attention, but above all you can't frame the issues."
"Ben has migrated into the centre whereas I have had to migrate into the periphery."(Sorry for the inconsistent paragraph spacing. Blogger is acting weird today, and I just couldn't get it to behave.)