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The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders


Robin Hauser




When women lead, bias often follows. Documentarian Robin Hauser dives into the dilemma between competence and likability faced by women in leadership roles, detangling the unconscious beliefs and gendered thinking that distort what it means to be a good leader.


I’m a middle child, and I was born leaning in. For as long as I can remember, I've had this insatiable desire to compete, to accomplish, and to prove myself. My energy isn’t easily contained, and I've been called by both men and women intense, high-octane, aggressive. These words don't feel like compliments to me. I try to control my eagerness. I try to be softer. It's exhausting.

The truth is, this tough shell conceals sensitivities and insecurities that only those closest to me know. And yeah, my masculine traits make me the kind of gal that can hang with the guys, as long as I'm not their boss. Last winter, I was walking through a ski resort and a man came up to me and said, "Excuse me, are you with a husband or a fiancé?" "No," I said, and I continued toward the lifts. And then curiosity got the better of me. I turned around and asked the guy why he wanted to know if I was with a man. "I'm selling timeshares. It's a real estate thing."

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