‘Removing the Barriers to Gender Equality’ – Gender Bias Feedback Loop

Part Two

‘Removing the Barriers to Gender Equality’ – Gender Bias Feedback Loop

What is a gender bias feedback loop? Well, in its simplest form, it is similar to a vicious circle … Management teams continue to be male dominated, meaning there is a lack of senior role models for women aspiring to top leadership positions, which further exacerbates the problem. The situation is then perpetuated as women are not appointed to senior roles and so forth.

This bias feedback loop has many implications but the 3 most significant areas that this affects are:

  1. Talent management continues to reflect an underlying male oriented leadership paradigm
  2. Organisations and existing managers view upcoming high potential female talent which focuses more on softer skills such as team and consensus building
  3. Female employees often experience additional pressure to outperform male colleagues in order to qualify to be considered for senior roles

Business leaders must evaluate the extent to which roles are cast predominantly as ‘male’ roles vs ‘female’ roles.  Such bias is almost always unconscious yet pervasive. Decisiveness and strategic planning are not male or female traits, they are skills that certain people irrespective of gender may have.

Roles and the organisational design that accompanies them should look at how roles should be structured for the creation of long term customer and shareholder value.

A common bias in assessing women in senior management roles is that women tend to be required or valued for their softer skills rather than for their business acumen.  It is often the case that women are seen to be good at ‘managing teams’ rather than having strategic and financial responsibility or vision. In business today women are less likely to:

(a) hold positions with authority

(b) have opportunity for promotion

(c) be equally rewarded in their roles

(d) be part of political networks and support systems.


There are very real consequences to this which are part of the gender bias feedback loop.  Women continue to be more likely to face barriers to progression. It has become well documented that in addition women also tend to receive lower remuneration than their male counterparts.

Understanding and gaining perspective on these barriers as part of a gender bias feedback loop is key for organisations and women at work. This feedback loop starts right at the very early career stages its effects become amplified over time. In short these barriers serve to perpetuate a situation for women in which their ability to succeed is less equal (to men) from the earliest stages of their careers.


In Part Three of my Blog Series ‘Removing the Barriers to Gender Equality’, I will discuss: The role of Society & Social Expectations and how it impacts Gender Equality and How we all have a role to play in shaping the future


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