While the phrase “Double Bind” might conger up images of ropes and knots, that’s not exactly what the terminology means.
So what is “Double Bind”?
According to the dictionary, it is “a situation in which a person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands or a choice between two undesirable courses of action.”
So while anyone can face a double bind, this article is focusing on how it affects women in the workforce. In this case, it is referring to situations that women in the workforce frequently find themselves.
This is a hurdle that, while faced by many women, is one that must be overcome by those who aspire to leadership roles. The hurdle is not merely to be overcome though, it becomes a balancing act for those women once they are in leadership roles.
When it comes to women in leadership roles, the double bind is referring to gender stereotypes. A man who takes charge is seen as strong, decisive, and assertive. However, if a woman portrays the same exact traits she may be seen as a competent leader, but she will often times be disliked. If instead, she is nurturing, emotional, and communicative she will be well-liked, but her competency as a leader will be viewed as diminished.
In other words, women as leaders are typically seen as either competent or likable. Very rarely in today’s society can a woman leader be seen as both.
The following is a wonderful infographic explaining the double-bind dilemma.
Looking for resources to learn more or learn how you can be a part of the solution?
- LinkedIn Learning’s path on “Women in Leadership”
- Book by Dorie Clark: Reinventing You, With a New Preface: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
- Book by Robin Romm: Double Bind: Women on Ambition
Personally, I’m still learning about the phenomenon. The LinkedIn Learning path was when I really first heard the terminology…although I’ve been aware of the concept for many years. So while this isn’t an all-encompassing article on the topic, I hope that it was enlightening and piqued your curiosity to learn more about the issue.