Study Says Black Women Naturally Make Good Leaders

39 comments
February 23, 2012 ‐ By

When a new study came out earlier this month suggesting that assertive black women receive less backlash than white women on the job because they’re expected to be strong, it seemed like a bit of a catch 22. But the researchers behind the study say black women can use this information to their advantage in the work place because what the results really show is that they are good leaders.

“There’s this idea that acting dominantly is explicitly proscribed for white women and explicitly proscribed for black men,” says Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, co-author of the study and an associate professor at Duke. “However, for black women there is this stereotype out there of the ‘angry black woman.’ Some of these behaviors we often think of as extremely negative but actually, if you think about it, that angry black woman stereotype is also congruent with things like being aggressive, dominant, assertive, and self-assured—and those are our typical leader characteristics.”

In an online survey of 84 non-black participants conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, subjects were asked a series of questions based on eight different scenarios with executives either communicating dominant or communal behaviors. When the results were tabulated, aggressive and direct leadership reflected negatively on white females and black males, but surprisingly it was seen as positive coming from black women and white men.

The reason for this, Rossette says, is that in the minds of most people, “Black women aren’t just a mirror image of white women—they occupy a new and unique space.” When you think of women, white females typically come to mind, and when when it comes to race, there’s usually an image of a black man. Because black women fall in between the two, they are seemingly safe from the negative outlooks placed on either group.

Rossette says these results require a new way of thinking about the power black women currently hold in the workplace, yet there is still much to do.

“When a black woman occupies a leadership position, she may have more behavioral freedom than we previously thought to communicate more forthrightly and recognize that she won’t necessarily be penalized because of that.

“But the presumption in our research is that she currently occupies the position. It’s completely counterintuitive to what we thought would happen when black women occupy these top positions, but the next aspect is how do we get them into these positions.”

Do you agree with this study’s findings about black women’s assertive nature making them good leaders?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • A.J.

    Tell us something we don’t know, haha!  Black girl power, y’all!

    • Rachel

      Being seen as an angry black women or apure b***h IS NOT POWER AT ALL. THIS IS A PLOY TO CONTINUE THE PROBLEM OF SINGLE WOMEN IN BLACK COMMUNITIES DON’T BE FOOLED GIRLS.

    • Rachel

      No …girl power is accomplishments not nastiness and pettiness.

  • Menelik Charles

    Ever stop to think that white men view Black women as she men, and thus give them a pass to act “assertively”?

  • Behorne

    I see where they are trying to go with this. But, I think we are just not there yet. I am a Black  Female Professional, in the Training Field. When I walk into a room to conduct a seminar or class there are still times that I am met with “ignorant compliments” such as “Wow SHE really knows that stuff”. I am thinking really, why do you think they are paying me to be here or why do you think I am the person in front of the room.
    Or, I am asked 5 times if I am the person that is here to teach the class ;as if the ID I used to get in the buidling was false (from my name, the client does not know that a Black Woman will be arriving)  I do think there is a stereotype that Black women are more assertive then White women and sometimes that can help , there will be moments when we are able to turn it into an advantage under a narrow set of circumstances. But in general, like most stereotypes, I have found it to be more of a problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Natika-Brown/100000086135856 Natika Brown

    THE WILLIE LYNCH LETTER  READ IT

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/B6V4PFSWF623A3TXLIMXO7BZFQ SB J

      The Willie Lynch Letter, like the man himself is pure fiction.

      • http://www.facebook.com/RosarioRed Rosario Stefania Scarsci

        I think we all know that (I hope!). I think it shows less of a real life portrayal of a person and more of a real life mindset. Just because the man was not does not mean that people were not thinking that way.

  • KIR12

    Aggressive and direct leadership…..seen as positive coming from black women… smh This is laughable, Feminist propaganda to promote an already failed Matriarchal black society. This is not a knock on black women. I’m just exposing the lie that feminist are feeding you. The white feminist are going home to their husbands or communities full of homes headed by men. They are not in the hood. The historical record contains no reliable evidence of any society in which women dominated. There has never been a matriarchal nation in the history of civilization. This ghetto Matriarchal society is doing a hell of a great job in the black community. No men in the home 31% of African American women by their early forties have never married 72% black illegitimacy, 50% abortions, 50% of black kids drop out of H.S. Shall I continue….. I think not. It’s too depressing.

  • KIR12

    Aggressive and direct leadership…..seen as positive coming from black women… smh This is laughable, Feminist propaganda to promote an already failed Matriarchal black society. This is not a knock on black women. I’m just exposing the lie that feminist are feeding you. The white feminist are going home to their husbands or communities full of homes headed by men. They are not in the hood. The historical record contains no reliable evidence of any society in which women dominated. There has never been a matriarchal nation in the history of civilization. This ghetto Matriarchal society is doing a hell of a great job in the black community. No men in the home 31% of African American women by their early forties have never married 72% black illegitimacy, 50% abortions, 50% of black kids drop out of H.S. Shall I continue….. I think not. It’s too depressing.

    • Shelia

      Maybe if BM took there role in society then we would not have Matriarchal society.  BW have to work because BM don’t.  Most BW do not have a choice.  I notice that evertime a compliment is given to a BW then the BM is always there to try to bring her down.  BW can not do it all.  No other race of women are expected to carry the load that BW have been expected to carry.  The absence of the BM in the community caused the BW to have to be more assertive.  If it had not been for your Mother you would have starved to death because most BM are not in the home and even if they are not they do not take their role in their childrens lives.

      • KIR12

        You’ve been brainwashed. The black community will never be productive with 72% illegitimacy and non men in the home. It has never been done in the history of civilization by any race, fact. The future AT THIS TIME is already set in stone for the black community. It’s called “A Permanent Underclass”. From 1900 to 1950 black women had a higher rate of marriage than white
        women. Don’t believe the lie that the black man always abandoned his wife and kids. The black community was poor but extremely stable. In the last 50
        years, black women went from the highest percentage of married women to the lowest. Why? I’m not saying liberalism, progressivism and feminism doesn’t work. I’m just telling you it doesn’t work in the hood. Stop believing the liberal lies and start using your brain. These white elitist, liberals and progressives with their social engineering programs don’t live in the black community.

        The worst thing to ever happen to the black community was giving money to poor black women who were uneducated, unskilled, unemployed and unmarried for every kid she had. The poor black woman no longer needed the poor black man to put a roof over her head, food on the table and clothes on her and the kids backs. Hell, she even had enough money left over to buy a couple of smokes. This is the root of the destruction of the black family and the black community. Many of the problems that blacks face today have actually been created by welfare. Who’s boys do you think are running around terrorizing black communities and who’s girls do you think are having 4 and 5 babies by multiple different men? Kids of welfare black babymammas! It’s not politically correct but it’s the truth. Yes, black women are now going to college but less than 18% graduate.
        What about the other 82% of black girls/women? These are the majority of
        black women/girls having kids.

        • LadyT

          and you have yet to address the fact that the statistics are so staggering because so many black men are not pulling their weight. have a seat!

          • KIR12

            Black women let the white elitist, Progressives, liberals and Feminist (the man is wanted but not NEEDED in the home) into their beds and homes do something that 400 years of Slavery, Jim crow and discrimination was unable to do. Destroy the black family. This was accomplished with their failed social engineering programs and policies and their agenda of the “New Familial Structure”. How can a boy learn how to be a responsible man without responsible men in the home and in the community, Osmosis? If a boy growing up see’s 3+ men in and out of his mammas bed, a bunch of baby mammas in his family and in the hood or black men in the hood with multiple baby mammas he thinks that’s what men do and how women are to be treated.

        • Elegance

          This guy is a Men’s Right’s Movement troll. They have speaking points that they post on any post that is positive about women or negative about men. Read their sites and you will easily learn to spot them. Their goal is to sabotage women because they hate women. Don’t feed the trolls!

          • Menelik Charles

            @ ‘Elegance’,

            and you are a ‘Black Woman’s Empowerment’ troll. I’ve read your sites and you post anything negative about Black men. Your goal is to form a racist alliance with white males (with them as the silent partners) because you cannot leave Black men alone: even when you are busy having white men’s babies!

            Your envy and anger towards Black men and white women knows no bounds! 

            Just saying.

            • Elegance

              I am a Black women on a BLACK WOMEN’S WEBSITE. You are the troll here and so if your friend above. I don’t like seeing Black women being put down or held back by anyone because that would be sabotaging myself. It’s just common sense. But why are men like you even here commenting on Black women’s leadership? Because you are a troll! 
              You haven’t read my sites because I do not report about black men other than one post about trolls like you! You are paranoid about White men and I have chosen to leave Black men alone in all aspects of my life, unless they intrude into Black women’s spaces with their foolishness as you are doing now. 

              Yeah, I don’t have envy or anger towards Black men or White women and your are just assuming that. 

              Ladies, google go to The Spearhead or read ManBoobz.com and you will learn how to spot MRA creeps. You guys brought this on yourselves by posting your crap all over the web and discrediting yourselves. Not too bright I guess. 

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Menelik-Charles/747108672 Menelik Charles

                Elegance,

                why do you call yourself such when you are clearly lacking the decency to date without malice towards anyone? Seriously, if I wished to date white women, this does not give me the right to bash black women!Like I say: your obsession with Black men and white women knows no bounds!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1374293770 Tanisha Waggoner

          Um, there have been plenty of Matriachal societies in history.  You’d know that if you ever opened a book.

      • KIR12

        You’ve been brainwashed. The black community will never be productive with 72% illegitimacy and non men in the home. It has never been done in the history of civilization by any race, fact. The future AT THIS TIME is already set in stone for the black community. It’s called “A Permanent Underclass”. From 1900 to 1950 black women had a higher rate of marriage than white
        women. Don’t believe the lie that the black man always abandoned his wife and kids. The black community was poor but extremely stable. In the last 50
        years, black women went from the highest percentage of married women to the lowest. Why? I’m not saying liberalism, progressivism and feminism doesn’t work. I’m just telling you it doesn’t work in the hood. Stop believing the liberal lies and start using your brain. These white elitist, liberals and progressives with their social engineering programs don’t live in the black community.

        The worst thing to ever happen to the black community was giving money to poor black women who were uneducated, unskilled, unemployed and unmarried for every kid she had. The poor black woman no longer needed the poor black man to put a roof over her head, food on the table and clothes on her and the kids backs. Hell, she even had enough money left over to buy a couple of smokes. This is the root of the destruction of the black family and the black community. Many of the problems that blacks face today have actually been created by welfare. Who’s boys do you think are running around terrorizing black communities and who’s girls do you think are having 4 and 5 babies by multiple different men? Kids of welfare black babymammas! It’s not politically correct but it’s the truth. Yes, black women are now going to college but less than 18% graduate.
        What about the other 82% of black girls/women? These are the majority of
        black women/girls having kids.

    • Shelia

      Maybe if BM took there role in society then we would not have Matriarchal society.  BW have to work because BM don’t.  Most BW do not have a choice.  I notice that evertime a compliment is given to a BW then the BM is always there to try to bring her down.  BW can not do it all.  No other race of women are expected to carry the load that BW have been expected to carry.  The absence of the BM in the community caused the BW to have to be more assertive.  If it had not been for your Mother you would have starved to death because most BM are not in the home and even if they are not they do not take their role in their childrens lives.

    • KamJos

       You need to drop the belief that white feminists are feeding black women anything. Read Soujourner Truth. Never in our history could we ascribe to the luxury of “white feminism”.

      • KIR12

        Where in the world do you think the ghetto black baby mamma anthem “I don’t need no man” came from? The white feminist anthem of “The man is wanted but not NEEDED in the home”. Welfare and other social programs financed (money for women without a man in the home) and accelerated this nonsense agenda. Now, after four generations, we now know that to have a productive community you must have men in the home.

        • KamJos

           It came as a defense against men who were continually absent. Not white feminists. And that’s all I will say because I do not want to turn this into a discussion about Black male absence.

          • LadyT

            that’s the thing, you can’t talk about what KIR12 is talking about WITHOUT bringing black male absence into the fray. but he tries to be so slick and dance around that tidbit of information. smh. yeah, black woman all around the country got together and decided they were gonna cut black men completely out of their lives and the lives of the children they made with them as some mass conspiracy to get government cheese. KIR12 clearly has no idea how silly he sounds. 

            • KIR12

              Conspiracy? No, it was a well intentioned attempt by white elitist, liberals and feminist who think they’re smarter than everyone else to help poor women and kids by using flawed social engineering. The social engineering programs awarded irresponsible behavior. It gave poor unmarried uneducated, unskilled and unemployed black women money for every kid she had. If that same woman was married or had a man in the home, she was not given money and aid.

              It’s now 50 years later legions of black baby mamma kids are running wild terrorizing the black community. The liberals refuse to acknowledge their mistake and correct it.

          • KIR12

            Black women refuse to acknowledge that this is a SELF INFLICTED
            relationship tragedy. Yes, today, there are a lot of black men who are
            players, thugs/convicts and bums. But how did this happen? Black men did
            not always abandon their families. From 1900 to 1960 the majority of
            black women were married, almost every black kid had a father in the
            home and in some decades black women married at a higher percentage than
            white women. Remember, the black illegitimacy rate was between 10 to
            24% from 1900 to 1960. These are facts not revisionist history. Today
            illegitimacy is 72%+. Which is incredible when you think about it.
            That’s an increase of over 50% in less than 50 years.

          • KIR12

            The black man was not always absent. This is a recent phenomenon that many want to portray as always being our culture. That is a lie. This is a self inflicted relationship tragedy. Baby mammas have very little or no interest in their sons marrying and treating a woman better than the baby mammas sons father ever treated her.

        • KamJos

           It came as a defense against men who were continually absent. Not white feminists. And that’s all I will say because I do not want to turn this into a discussion about Black male absence.

      • KIR12

        Where in the world do you think the ghetto black baby mamma anthem “I don’t need no man” came from? The white feminist anthem of “The man is wanted but not NEEDED in the home”. Welfare and other social programs financed (money for women without a man in the home) and accelerated this nonsense agenda. Now, after four generations, we now know that to have a productive community you must have men in the home.

    • KamJos

       You need to drop the belief that white feminists are feeding black women anything. Read Soujourner Truth. Never in our history could we ascribe to the luxury of “white feminism”.

    • Ksl5

      This has nothing to for with feminism, feminism is for women’s rights. Feminist fight for women the right for women to receive equal pay. ALso for the rights of gay,lesbian,straight,bi, trans, and queer groups. SOme do. BUt do not denounce feminism when you do not know what it even means.
      Throughout history white and black feminist fought for different things because white and black women faced different issues but i know men that are feminist. its just the right to be given equal rights not just for women, but things considered feminine like free birth control

      • KIR12

        I’m not saying liberalism, progressivism and feminism doesn’t work. I’m just telling you it doesn’t work in the hood. This is the problem with liberals they only want to point out the positives they never want to acknowledged the failures of those same policies. What I’m saying is let’s reevaluate keep what works and denounce and get rid of what doesn’t.

        Yes, black women are now going to college but less than 18% graduate.
        What about the other 82% of black girls/women? These are the majority of
        black women/girls having kids. Think about it like this. Who had a better life. Shaniqua never married living alone on welfare with her 4 kids by 3 different men in a dysfuctional black community with the majority of other black women also single baby mammas OR her great great grand mother Martha Louise who got married in 1950 at age 18 and her and her husband had 6 kids. They were poor and faced racism, discrimination ect. but raised the kids together in a stable black community where other black husbands and wives also raised their kids. Who had a better life Martha lou or Shaniqua? Which kids were in a better home? I’m not advocating going back to the 1950’s I’m just pointing out that this Matriarchal Utopia Lie the liberals promised you all needs to be reevaluated. You must reject (loudly) this Feminist big lie “The man is wanted but not NEEDED in the home”.

    • Ksl5

      This has nothing to for with feminism, feminism is for women’s rights. Feminist fight for women the right for women to receive equal pay. ALso for the rights of gay,lesbian,straight,bi, trans, and queer groups. SOme do. BUt do not denounce feminism when you do not know what it even means.
      Throughout history white and black feminist fought for different things because white and black women faced different issues but i know men that are feminist. its just the right to be given equal rights not just for women, but things considered feminine like free birth control

  • Shelia

    I am a BW and I endorse this message.  This is also why in the workpalce when a WW is in a position of power she will try to do everything to sabatoge a BW especially if the BW is attractive and educated.  On every job that I was on that the Manager or Director was a WM I was given opportunies and training; however if the person over me was a BM or WW I was met with a feeling that I would get their job.  I feel that therer is a lot of truth to this statement and that BW should use this in a positive way to advance overselves in business and other fields. 

  • Shelia

    I am a BW and I endorse this message.  This is also why in the workpalce when a WW is in a position of power she will try to do everything to sabatoge a BW especially if the BW is attractive and educated.  On every job that I was on that the Manager or Director was a WM I was given opportunies and training; however if the person over me was a BM or WW I was met with a feeling that I would get their job.  I feel that therer is a lot of truth to this statement and that BW should use this in a positive way to advance overselves in business and other fields. 

  • L-Boogie

    LOL! Black women are the underdogs especially in American society.  Always the first to be called who**s and other negative comments.  The sad thing is that it comes from Black men and other Black women.