‘Heroics’ are usually valued more than women in leadership.

Research shows that organisations tend to ignore or undervalue the behind-the-scenes collaborative work that women tend to do. Things like building a team and avoiding a crisis. In contrast, organisations tend to reward ‘so called’ heroic work, which is most often done by men.

In letters of recommendation for academic faculty positions, systemic differences occur. Letters for women are more likely to refer to compassion, teaching and effort as opposed to achievements, research and ability. The word used are different too. Women are described as kind, helpful sympathetic and warm, whereas men are confident, dominant, intellectual and ambitious.


Mother Nature Needs Her Daughters: A Homeward Bound Global Review and Fact Sheet Investigating Gender Inequality in STEMM

Prepared by Fabian Dattner, Homeward Bound CEO and Co-founder;
Dr Mary-Ellen Feeney, Jacobs Group (Australia); and
Professor Tonia Gray, Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University.
Compiled by Homeward Bound Alumni from 2018 & 2019

Copies can be download at https://doi.org/10.26183/5d22d5fbe2349

Online version here.

Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers.

Ibarra H, Ely RJ, and Kolb DM. (2013) Harvard business review. 91(9):62-66.


Gender and letters of recommendation for academia: Agentic and communal differences

Madera, J. M., Hebl, M. R., & Martin, R. C. (2009). Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1591–1599.


Women in the workplace: A research roundup

The women received more positive comments in workplace evaluations (excellent! stellar! terrific!) than the men, but only 6% of the women (as opposed to 15% of the men) were mentioned as potential partner material, reflecting, the researchers concluded, the application of lower standards to the women and (self-fulfilling) lower expectations. This is consistent with the bias that women need protection and special consideration, which restricts women’s advancement.



The Different Words We Use to Describe Male and Female Leaders

HBR – We know that men and women are often described differently in performance evaluations, and now we have more information on exactly what some of those differences are. Researchers analyzed a large-scale military dataset (over 4,000 participants and 81,000 evaluations) to examine objective and subjective performance measures. They found no gender differences in objective measures (e.g., grades, fitness scores, class standing), but the subjective evaluations were very different.



How have you experienced this gender fact in your life or in your workplace?

Share your story, or how your organisation has overcome this fact.

New research? Let us know.


It’s time to give women in STEMM a bigger voice. Share these facts with everyone you know*. Shout it out loud. Be heard. Rally together. Pass it to your peers, your networks and social circles.


* Steal the Gender Facts resources from our public TRELLO board. We don’t mind at all.