Standards for Women Still Differ

Businesswoman in front of staircase with obstacles including fire and a sharkMen are judged on potential; for women, it's strictly performance.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Common patterns of gender bias include holding women to higher standards than men and expressing contradictory expectations (“double binds”) for women.

Different standards: People expect more of women than of men and they hold women to higher standards. This sets the bar higher for women who aspire to leadership and makes it more difficult for them to prove their value to the organization, even though research shows that women outperform men in 17 of 67 critical leadership skills, while men outperform women in only four.

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People also judge women and men differently: women on their performance and men on their potential.

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Ida O. Abbott



About the Author

Ida O. Abbott has long been recognized as a leader in the fields of mentoring, leadership development and professional development.

Abbott is the author of Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

For many years, Ida has been at the forefront of efforts to promote women in the professions. She is co-founder of the Hastings Leadership Academy for Women at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she is also a Faculty Fellow.

She is on the Advisory Board of the New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation and operates the Roundtable for Women Leaders. Ida is a member of the Executive Committee for the National Legal Mentoring Consortium, Advisor to the Institute of Mentoring and Special Advisor to the International Bar Association Law Firm Mentoring Program.

She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. Before starting her consulting firm, Ida practiced law for 20 years. She specialized in complex litigation at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, where she also ran the firm’s professional development and pro bono programs. Ida received her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law, M.A. from the University of Miami, and A.B. from Smith College. Ida is the author of several books and publications, including Women on Top: The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms and The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring.

Click here for more by Ida O. Abbott