Females 'can't handle stress' of boardroom, claims Stanford study

Women are missing out on reaching the boardroom because they ‘can’t handle stress’ as well as their male counterparts can.

New research from California’s Stanford University has suggested that female workers’ struggles with anxiety levels could be the main reason for hitting a glass ceiling when it comes to reaching the C-suite.

In spite of legislation introduced to prevent gender discrimination, Sociologist Susan Fisk – a doctoral candidate at Stanford University in California who conducted the research – said women were still struggling to achieve workplace equality. 

“My findings have troublesome implications for women’s ability to achieve equality in the workplace,” Fisk explained.

The research showed women performed worse in risky situations - even when they have the same ability in a non-risky setting.

“Prior research suggests even if a woman has the same objective performance as a man others are likely to judge her performance as worse and attribute her failure to incompetence instead of poor luck,” Fisk said.

The study claimed that risky situations send anxiety levels soaring in females, but leave men significantly less flustered. A significant find as ‘success in these kinds of circumstances is often a precursor to career advancement and promotion’, according to Fisk.

“People frequently encounter high-risk, high-reward situations in workplaces and if women avoid these situations or perform more poorly in them because they are more anxious they will reap fewer rewards than otherwise similar men.”

“Furthermore this body of research suggests failure in a risky situation is more costly to women as it may reinforce or create self-doubt about their own competence.'”

She added: “if encouraging businesses to decrease the prevalence of risky environments allows employers and companies to get better ideas and enhanced performance from their employees it’s a win-win solution for both women and employers.”