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17 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol'y 363 (2010)
Likeability v. Competence: The Impossible Choice Faced by Female Politicians, Attenuated by Lawyers

handle is hein.journals/djglp17 and id is 371 raw text is: LIKEABILITY V. COMPETENCE: THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE FACED BY
The 2008 election highlighted a dilemma often faced by women in the
professional world-a double bind between being perceived as competent or as
likeable. Both qualities are imperative for success but the incongruity of
normative female roles (warm, nurturing) with characteristics perceived
necessary for professional success (independence, assertiveness) means that
women are either seen as likeable, but incompetent, or as competent, but
unlikeable. Wherever you fell along the political spectrum, it is clear that
Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy for the Presidency of the United States
followed by Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice-President provided a unique lens
for considering how gender is viewed in our culture. Of course, Clinton's loss in
the Democratic primary and Paln's (and McCain's) loss in the election was
determined by multiple factors specific to their personalities and their
campaigns. Yet, the election coverage demonstrated what workplace and social
science research have shown for years: women face unique constraints when
trying to be successful in traditionally masculine domains. Characteristics such
as independence, assertiveness, self-reliance, and power are thought of as
masculine, and therefore, properly in the domain of male behavior, whereas
characteristics such as warmth, communality, caring, and helpfulness are
thought of as feminine. An assertive, powerful female whose characteristics and
behavior violate expectations created by the core female stereotype threatens
societal conventions of how women ought to behave and results in backlash.
Women seem to face a choice of being seen as likeable or as competent, but not
as both.
Interestingly, lawyers do not seem plagued by this same double bind.
After reviewing election coverage and social science research, this Article
* Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School. I would like to thank the participants
in the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School Faculty Research Seminar and the Marquette
University Works-in-Progress seminar for their very helpful comments on this article.
** Professor, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.
Vernon M. and Minnie I. Lynch Professor, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution,
George Mason University.
**** Assistant Professor, McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin.

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