Likability bias, also known as the "likability penalty," is rooted in age-old expectations of women and men. We expect men to be assertive, so when they lead, it feels natural. We expect women to be kind and communal, so when they assert themselves, we like them less.
(engaging music) - Two quick reminders before I get started. First, people of all genders fall into bias traps, not just men. Second, knowing that unconscious bias exist isn't enough, we need to look for it and commit to take steps to counteract it. Women face what's called likeability bias, also known as the likeability penalty. They often face a social penalty when they assert themselves that men don't. This is rooted in age old expectations of women and men. We expect men to be assertive so when they take the lead it feels natural to us. In contrast, we expect women to be kind and communal, so when they assert themselves we often react unfavorably, we like them less. The likeability bias surfaces in the way we describe women. Women are more likely to be described as intimidating, too aggressive, or bossy, words rarely used to describe men in the workplace. And you may have caught yourself having a negative response to a woman who has a strong leadership style or speaks directly. Being well liked really matters. Ask yourself, who are you more likely to support and promote? The men with high marks across the board, or the woman who has equally high marks but is not as well liked. To make things more complicated women also pay a penalty for being likable. When women are seen as agreeable and nice we often consider them less competent. This double-bind makes the workplace challenging for women. They need to assert themselves to be seen as effective, but when they assert themselves they may be less liked. Men do not walk this same tightrope. Now you know how likeability bias works. As a next step you can use our bias cards to learn specific ways it shows up in the workplace, and what to do about it.