Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders

The Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders is designed for organizations to administer to women to assess 15 factors of gender bias. This scale has been validated with a sample of 1,606 women leaders in four industries: higher education, faith-based nonprofits, law, and healthcare. The results can be used to identify specific types of bias prevalent for women within a group, department, or organization and apply interventions accordingly.

While this scale was not designed to be scored at an individual level, individual women may use the scale questions to reflect on their own experiences. Many types of bias are subtle and unconscious. Considering your experiences with each question can be helpful in determining how bias has impacted you. Some questions are marked as Reverse-coded, meaning that the opposite meaning indicates experience with the bias factor. A reverse-coded example is “I have received significant mentoring.” Not receiving significant mentoring would represent a facet of “Lack of Mentoring.”

Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders
Male PrivilegeGlass CliffI have been asked to do a job that everyone knew was likely to fail.
I have been held responsible for organizational problems outside of my control.
Women in my organization seem to be given leadership roles with a high risk of failure.
Male CultureIn my organization, there is pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.
People in my organization assume that top leaders will be men.
The decisions in my organization are made by men.
The “boys’ club” mentality is present in my workplace.
Two-Person Career StructureEven though my spouse/partner does not work for my organization, s/he is expected to host events.
My organization expects spouses/partners of senior leaders to contribute as unpaid volunteers.
My organization vets spouses/partners of senior leaders as part of the hiring process.
Disproportionate ConstraintsConstrained CommunicationI am mindful of my communication approach when exercising authority at work.
I wait to be acknowledged prior to speaking in a meeting.
I am cautious when self-promoting at work.
I downplay my accomplishments when speaking to others.
Cultural Career ConstraintsI chose my field of study because it was considered suitable for women.
I would have chosen a different field of study but it was considered inappropriate for women.
Growing up I was encouraged to pursue certain careers that were appropriate for women.
Unequal StandardsMy ideas seem more likely to be taken seriously when a man repeats them.
My job performance has been scrutinized more closely than that of my male colleagues.
As a woman I am expected to be nurturing at work.
I work harder than my male colleagues for the same credibility.
Insufficient SupportExclusionI feel welcome while attending social events with my male colleagues. (Reverse-coded)
Male colleagues socialize without me.
I have been excluded from leadership events (e.g., off-sites, retreats) because of my gender.
Lack of MentoringI have received significant mentoring. (Reverse-coded)
I have had a female mentor. (Reverse-coded)
I have had to learn how to lead on my own.
Lack of SponsorshipOther leaders have recommended me for advancement opportunities. (Reverse-coded)
I have had another leader sponsor me for promotion. (Reverse-coded)
DevaluationLack of AcknowledgementAt work, I am interrupted by men when I am speaking.
When I am the only woman in a meeting, I find it difficult to gain support for my ideas.
It is taken for granted when I help my male colleagues with their responsibilities.
My efforts at creating harmony at work are noticed. (Reverse-coded)
Salary InequalityI have made less money than my male counterparts.
I have made less money than men who have held my position prior to me.
HostilityQueen Bee SyndromeI have had opportunities blocked by other women at work.
Women in higher positions have made my job more difficult.
High-level women in my organization protect their turf.
High-level women in my organization help other women succeed. (Reverse-coded)
Workplace HarassmentI have experienced verbal abuse at work.
The behavior of my male coworkers has sometimes made me feel uncomfortable.
I have been sexually harassed at work.
AcquiescenceSelf-silencingI speak up about challenges women face at work. (Reverse-coded)
I advocate for women’s rights at work. (Reverse-coded)
Self-limited AspirationsIt requires the encouragement of others for me to accept a new opportunity.
I have turned down a promotion because I felt unqualified.
My personal obligations have prevented me from pursuing opportunities for advancement at work.

Diehl, A. B., Stephenson, A. L., Dzubinski, L. B. M., & Wang, D. C. (2020). Measuring the invisible: Development and multi-industry validation of the Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 31(3), 249-280. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.21389

Meet the Author

Amy Diehl, PhD, is an award-winning information technology leader and gender equity researcher who has authored numerous scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Her writing has also appeared in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Ms. Magazine. Glass Walls is her first book. She is a sought-after speaker, consultant, and lawsuit expert witness.

Amy Diehl, gender equity researcher

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