Emily Marsh

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High Will personalities and gender bias: decisive or bossy?

January 15, 2019

Will is one of the five factors of personality measured by Facet5. It refers to the driving force behind the promotion and defence of your own ideas. The focus is inwards on personal beliefs and values and may extend to a search for ‘basic truths’.

Will is also the domain associated with decision-making and power. People with high scores are determined, committed and independent. People with low scores are consultative and collaborative with a motivation to maintain harmony. And those who score in the midrange will speak out and be stubborn when they feel strongly, or particularly knowledgeable, about something. They can flex to either side for short periods depending on the situation.

How do we perceive High and Low Will people?

You may describe someone with High Will as goal-oriented, assertive, and decisive - all traits that would generally be seen as positive qualities for career success. However, we could also describe High Will people as opinionated, stubborn, and bossy - qualities that are not so desirable.

Equally, Low Will people can be seen as flexible, adaptable, and accommodating. Or, they could be seen as too easily convinced, indecisive, and timid.

Is there a gender bias?

The question of personality differences between men and women is complicated - and often, controversial. A number of studies reveal that there are some personality traits more consistent with one gender than the other. However, other research contends that these differences between the genders are negligible and that we are far more similar than different.

Janet Hyde, a leading professor in the field of gender studies, is one such advocate of the notion that men and women are far more alike than different in terms of personality. And she warns that misrepresentation of gender differences can hurt women’s opportunities in the workplace. However, gender bias does exist. Men and women can work in the same job, have the same qualifications, and yet get paid differently.

A recent study looked at the effect of personality traits in explaining the gender pay gap in Australia. They found significant differences in how men and women are rewarded or penalised. One of the key findings was that women appear to be penalised for being Low Will when men aren’t.

The study found that people with Low Will are often labelled as compassionate, polite, and kind - qualities that may seem advantageous in the workplace. Women who are Low Will, however, received a wage penalty. Yet, the impact on men of appearing to bear the same traits was insignificant, giving them a significant wage advantage.

Could it also be that High Will in men is seen as positive, but that High Will women may be labelled ‘bossy’? There are further research studies that indeed seem to suggest that men get ahead in the workplace for being assertive and opinionated, but that women don’t.

Eliminating gender bias

Personality profiling isn’t about deciphering who possesses the more ‘desirable’ traits to succeed in your business. It’s a tool to encourage us to see individuals as individuals.

Personality profiling helps people become self-aware of their natural tendencies, so that they can use them to their advantage when needed and adapt them when required. High Will can be both a positive and a negative trait, depending on the situation.

There are certain times that require a more resolute approach, for instance when you need to make a tough business decision. And there are others that require a more consultative approach, such as when you need to get your team on board with a new idea. Knowing that you may come across as too domineering in this situation means you can be more careful about how you approach it, so that you avoid conflict and create a more collaborative team environment.

Beyond the Personality Test

Topics: Featured personality profiling


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