Words Matter: Recognizing the Power of Gendered Language in Entrepreneurship

Posted: 6 Oct 2014

See all articles by Edie Williams

Edie Williams

George Washington University

Ronald Sheffield

Independent

Vesselina Tossan

Independent

Pascal Etzol

Independent

Date Written: October 6, 2014

Abstract

In the June 2013 issue of Inc. magazine, Leigh Buchanan declared that “the most effective leaders right now — men and women — are those who embrace traits once considered feminine: empathy, vulnerability, humility, inclusiveness, generosity, balance, and patience”. Asked to classify 125 traits as either masculine, feminine or neutral, 32,000 people identified these words among others like “selfless” as distinctly feminine. Another 32,000 people were asked to rate the importance of the same 125 traits to effective leadership. When the results were tabulated, these seven traits, all feminine, were strongly linked to effective leaders. The impact of these findings for entrepreneurship researchers is that words matter, traits are still gender biased, and the more laudable traits in leaders are now feminine.

Suggested Citation

Williams, Edie and Sheffield, Ronald and Tossan, Vesselina and Etzol, Pascal, Words Matter: Recognizing the Power of Gendered Language in Entrepreneurship (October 6, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2506242

Edie Williams (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Ronald Sheffield

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Vesselina Tossan

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Pascal Etzol

Independent

No Address Available

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