Women leaders are criticized for their age — no matter how old they are, researchers find
Why it matters: This kind of "double-whammy" age-gender bias holds women back from promotions and, consequently, leadership roles.
Zoom out: The piece, titled "Women in leadership face ageism at every age," is part of a larger study — a qualitative survey of U.S. women leaders across four industries — that found that across a range of traits women are often viewed as "never quite right."
- "They were too short or too tall, too pretty or too unattractive or too heavy. They had too much education or not enough...," the researchers wrote in a separate article for Fast Company.
- Women lost out on leadership roles because they were "single, married, or divorced."
- "There was no personality trait sweet spot, as introverted women were not seen as leaders and extraverted [sic] women were viewed as aggressive."
Zoom in: Age was one of the biggest issues for women — across generations.
- Under age 40, women were patronized — patted on the head, called "kiddo," the researchers found. They also face a "credibility deficit," where they're not believed or taken seriously.
- Between ages 40 - 60 some women are judged to have too many family responsibilities, or were passed over for promotions because of "menopause concerns," or because they "don't look vital."
- Past 60, women are seen as outdated, their voices discounted and ignored.
What they're saying: "First, we are too young to be responsible or to supervise," one lawyer told the researchers. "This lasts into our mid- to late-thirties but does not for men. Then in an instant, we are too old to be hired for anything or anywhere new."
Flashback: Earlier this year, CNN host Don Lemon faced criticism for saying that at age 51, Republican Presidential candidate Nikki Haley "isn't in her prime." It's not a criticism you see leveled against men of a similar age.