Yellen likely to join other women in key economic roles

October 13, 2013

Donelson R. Forsyth, a professor in the University of Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies, comments.


Yellen is well-qualified on her own, but those who study leadership say such support and advocacy of others is critical for professionals to move up — especially women, who could be overlooked bgecause of deep-rooted stereotypes in society.

"People naturally assume leaders must have certain qualities — dominance, persistence, drive and toughness — but they also tend to assume incorrectly that men are more likely to have these traits than are women," says Don Forsyth, a professor at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

"Women leaders are caught in a Catch 22," he says. "If they adopt a command-and-control orientation, they are viewed as inappropriately masculine. If they act skillfully in solving disputes and settling conflicts, they are viewed as too feminine to be strong, directive leaders."

Forsyth offers up a definition of a successful woman leader that meshes with what many say about Yellen. "They must be particularly well-trained, hard-working, intelligent and skillful in dealing with people," he says. "But they must always be mindful of how others perceive them, and work diligently to counteract the constituents/followers misunderstandings."

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