Dealing with rejection: another reason why female lawyers are underrepresented at the top?

Is perfectionism stoking fear of failure among female lawyers?

Business-WomanI loathe admitting this, but it’s true: women take rejection harder than men. Rather than bouncing back from a botched job interview or a less-than-stellar review, women are more apt to lick their wounds and think twice about placing themselves in the firing line next time.

That reaction is one reason women are underrepresented at the top, according to a recent study. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Raina Brands and Isabel Fernandez-Mateo of London Business School report that women are less likely to apply for a job if they had been rejected for a similar position in the past. Their study, which involved more than 10,000 senior executives competing for management jobs in the UK, finds that women took themselves out of the running 1.5 times more than men who had been rejected.

Women won’t apply for a job unless they think they are 100% qualified. Men will gun for it when they meet 60% of the criteria

There’s ample evidence that women can be their own harshest critics. A 2014 internal Hewlett Packard report found that women won’t apply for a job unless they think they are 100% qualified. Men will gun for it when they meet only 60% of the criteria. Arguably, it’s this perfectionism that stokes women’s fear of failure.

This premium content is reserved for
Legal Week Subscribers.

Continue reading by getting
started with a subscription.

Subscribe Now For Unlimited Access

For enterprise-wide or corporate enquires, please contact David Sampson on corpsubslegalweek@alm.com