For starters, in terms of sheer numbers of attributes, we found no gender difference in the number of positive attributes assigned, but women were assigned significantly more negative attributes.
Our research on leadership attributes found significant differences in the assignment of 28 leadership attributes when applied to men and women. While men were more often assigned attributes such as analytical, competent, athletic and dependable, women were more often assigned compassionate, enthusiastic, energetic and organized. Consistent with our results, societal attitudes suggest that women leaders are described as more compassionate (the most assigned attribute overall) and organized than men leaders. In contrast, women were more often evaluated as inept, frivolous, gossip, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive, while men were more often evaluated as arrogant and irresponsible.
A huge body of work has found that when women are collaborative and communal, they are not perceived as competent—but when they emphasize their competence, they’re seen as cold and unlikable, in a classic “double bind.”
—David Smith et al., “The Different Words We Use to Describe Male and Female Leaders”