Are female leaders any different from male leaders?

The percentage of women in senior leadership roles in the UK has remained low, slightly rising to 22% in 2018.*


  • Many companies recruit and promote people by “gut feeling”and whether the person is “similar to us”, like going to the same pub or club.
  • The confidence factor: when men consider applying for jobs, they focus on the 80% of the skills and experience they have, whereas women focus on the 20% of the skills they don’t have.
  • Many organisations lose women when they go on maternity leave as there is often little support or flexi time working opportunities when they come back.

We all have biases. When a male and female display the same behaviour, the men tend to be described as decisive, passionate and composed, whereas women are bossy, emotional and unapproachable.

A recent study used psychometric (behavioural) assessments to measure the leadership styles of male and female executive leaders, to establish if there are any differences. The results answer questions such as:

  • Do female and male leadership personality differ at the executive level?
  • Do female and male leaders have differing levels of emotional intelligence?
  • Are the behaviours associated with specific personality and emotional intelligence traits interpreted, recognised and rewarded the same way for men and women?

The study measured behavioural traits like  adaptability, assertiveness, optimism, impulse control, stress management and empathy.

The results show that there are NO noticeable differences between male and female leaders. Not in any of the traits measured.**

There is ONE significant difference, though. What the study did find, was that age and education are 150% more likely to predict why a man is a senior leader compared with women.

What does it mean to the localization industry and what can we do?

Psychometrics is a pragmatic science. You can incorporate preferred behavioural traits in your hiring process. We have a psychometric tool which hiring managers can use to select preferred behavioural characteristics for a particular role, and it only takes 5-10 minutes.

Then we can match the candidates’ psychometric profiles against that , so we can see objectively how they match those preferred traits. This creates a level playing field, regardless of gender, age, background, education, orientation, disability and status.

Networking is important. There are many great international localisation conferences: LocWorld, GALA, ELIA, Slator… If you are looking for free, local events, check out Women in Localization. With its 16 global chapters and more than 4,500 members, they organise events worldwide to educate, support and promote inclusion among all localization professionals.


*Cranfield School of Management


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