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It might not come as a surprise that men are more narcissistic than women, but did you know such narcissism can also affect gender diversity in leadership roles?
A study by University at Buffalo School of Management compiled 31 years of research data from more than 475,000 participants and studied the three main aspects of narcissism: leadership and authority, grandiose and exhibitionism, and entitlement.
It found that while there was no difference in grandiose and exhibitionism, the widest gender gap was in entitlement, “suggesting that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges”.
Another big difference was in leadership and authority. “Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power,” said lead author Emily Grijalva.
Narcissism was also shown to “boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader.”
Looking at data from college students between 1990 and 2013, the study concluded, however, that there was no evidence that narcissism increases over time.
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“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva said.
“In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behaviour,” she added.
She speculated that the disparity between femininity stereotypes and leadership could be a result of the “persistent lack of women in leadership roles”.
The study argued that these stereotypes can be self-perpetuating. With women scoring less, they were less likely to take up leadership roles, resulting in less female leaders in company boardrooms.
This reinforced the gender stereotypes that women face, in turn pushing them to suppress themselves to conform to society’s expectations.