Remember the other day we were arguing about whether male and female military commanders are judged differently? Well, here is some data. Researchers from the Naval War College and the Naval Academy have sifted through 81,000 evaluations of 4,000 officers.

The good news for Otter: “In our analysis, we found no gender differences in objective measures (e.g., grades, fitness scores, class standing), which is consistent with prior research.”

The bad news for Otter: “We found no gender difference in the number of positive attributes assigned, but women were assigned significantly more negative attributes.”

female military commandersHarvard Business Review

The researchers explain: “women were more often evaluated as inept, frivolous, gossip, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive, while men were more often evaluated as arrogant and irresponsible.” They note that arrogance is a fault but not necessarily one that leads to dismissal, while ineptness generally calls for relief.

They also note the irony that people often say they want compassionate leaders, which is how female leaders are described more often than male leaders. But what people say they want often differs from what they really want.

Over to you.


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UPDATE: The headline on this item has been changed in response to readers noting that the underlying study on which the Harvard Business Review article was based is a survey not across the US military, but only of students at the Naval Academy. (Updated 6/4/2018; 1:07 pm EST)