Women also do not believe in women politicians, reveals a study

The study findings are quite contrary to all efforts for women empowerment made by the world community. It also shows why such efforts repeatedly fail

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Mahendra Pandey

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that her role as the most powerful woman in Germany should not let society off the hook for the small proportion of women in politics. She said in a speech in Berlin that there was a lot still to do to achieve gender equality, notably in the worlds of politics, business, science and culture. “The goal needs to be equality, equality everywhere,” she said.

This year has seen a global rise in women holding political office, with a record number of female candidates elected to the United States Congress from the recent midterm elections alone.

Around 150 women leaders of the Awami League, Jatiyotabadi Dal and Jatiya Party, discussed the issue on November 13 in Bangladesh at an event called 'Advancing Women’s Leadership in the National Election.' "Women are still being treated as women, not as people, by all political parties," Selima Hossain, a former minister and BNP vice chairman, said at the discussion.

The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Theresa May told a gathering of female politicians from around the world that “a woman’s place is in elected office” as she urged them to work together to make sure their voices were heard. The British prime minister admitted that getting the political system to work in a male-dominated environment was “never easy” but warned that less representative parliaments operated with “one hand tied behind their backs”. Although now the Commons has the highest number of sitting females in its history, women still make up only 32% of MPs. Worldwide just 24% of people elected into parliaments are women.

In India,only 62 out of 543 elected Member of Parliament are women. Their situation is also very bad in the society and politics – it was evident when Sushma Swaraj was trolled on social media, there was no one from ruling party who gave any statement. 

A new study reveals that people are more prejudiced against women leaders than the statistics might indicate. This could be because participants in surveys investigating attitudes towards men and women in leadership positions may not answer honestly unless they are guaranteed confidentiality of their answers. These are the findings of a new study by Adrian Hoffmann and Jochen Musch of the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf in Germany, which is published in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

Hoffmann and Musch used an indirect questioning technique to gather information on people's true feelings about women leaders. The technique showed that people are not always honest when directly asked their opinion on socially sensitive questions because they prefer to give answers that they think will be accepted by others. Gender stereotypes and gender-oriented prejudice pose a serious threat to women's careers and facilitate gender bias in the workplace. According to theorists, prejudice against women leaders emerges from an incongruity between their gender role and the more masculine social role of a leader.

The study authors, Hoffmann and Musch collected responses from 1529 German students with either a conventional direct question, or an indirect question in the format. Results from the indirect questions show that people are significantly more prejudiced against women (37 per cent) than results from direct questions indicate (23 per cent). This could be because more participants were willing to admit to being prejudiced against women leaders if they were granted full confidentiality in their answers.

When granted full confidentiality, 28 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men in the sample indicated that they considered women to be less qualified for leadership positions than men. Across the two study methods, men showed more prejudice than women. However, the increase in the estimated prevalence of prejudice from a conventional direct question to the indirect question was higher in women (from 10 per cent to 28 per cent) than in men (from 36 per cent to 45 per cent), indicating that women responded more strongly to being granted full confidentiality of their answers.

"This pattern suggests that women are much more reluctant than men to express their prejudice against women leaders. Perhaps because women feel obligated to solidarise with members of their in-group," explains Hoffmann. "Given that even many women have reservations against women leaders, the societal and political promotion of gender equity has obviously not been successful at changing the attitudes of every potential future leader. It therefore does not seem unreasonable to expect the further persistence of workplace bias," adds Musch.

The study findings are quite contrary to all efforts for women empowerment made by the world community. It also shows why such efforts repeatedly fail.

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