Why Women are often not taken seriously in Business

Many women feel they are not always taken seriously in business relations. The reason may be, as some seem to think, that they are discriminated against – either consciously or unconsciously.

In this article, I will discuss the reason by referring to scientific experiments.

Stereotypical image of women as home-based

A lot of people grew up without having any sort of relation with women who were actually doing business or similar work. Since humans build and imagine images, roles and stereotypes for others, it is hardly strange that men who grow up without female role models who are active business women, may struggle when they attempt to place a female business associate at a later stage in their life. This failure to relate the person to a given mental image is often entirely unconscious and

A number of tests has highlighted how people (even women) tend to associate women with stereotypical professions and tasks. When men and women are shown images of men and women, and get listed a similar number of professions as there are pictures, the women almost exclusively gets associated with professions like teacher, nurse and other common professions women have. Both men and women typically also ascribe passive roles to women. If they are told, for example, that of three pictures of two men and one women, one is an active Christian, another is a passive Christian and the last is an active member of an atheist organization, the active roles are quite often assigned to the men, whereas the women is more often seen as the passive Christian.

This indicates that the problem is not solely about lacking female role models in childhood, ones own gender, but perhaps rather about a cultural trait. Women may help preserve this by maintaining more passive roles: They often, for example, let their men focus on career while they focus on family when children are born. This has physiological reasons, for sure, but may harm women as a group – and that particular woman too.

Solutions for women who feel they are not taken seriously

Most men do not want to discriminate against women in any way. Women who deal with men they feel do not take them seriously should seriously consider whether to talk about it – in particular if it is with people they know well and feel are not at all trying to treat the women unfairly. Women should be careful, however, since talking to others can have negative consequences. Laws protect women against discrimination, but making an unfortunate situation worse, is perhaps desirable.