This experiment supports what research has already clearly shown: success and likeability arepositively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.

When a man is successful, he isliked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less. Thistruth is both shocking and unsurprising: shocking because no one would ever admit to stereotyping onthe basis of gender and unsurprising because clearly we do.

Decades of social science studies have confirmed what the Heidi/Howard case study so blatantlydemonstrates: we evaluate people based on stereotypes (gender, race, nationality, and age, amongothers).

Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive, and driven. Our stereotype ofwomen holds that they are caregivers, sensitive, and communal. Because we characterize men andwomen in opposition to each other, professional achievement and all the traits associated with it getplaced in the male column. By focusing on her career and taking a calculated approach to amassingpower, Heidi violated our stereotypical expectations of women. Yet by behaving in the exact samemanner, Howard lived up to our. The end result? Liked him,disliked her.

I believe this bias is at the very core of why women are held back. It is also at the very core of whywomen hold themselves back. For men, professional success comes with positive reinforcement atevery step of the way. For women, even when they’re recognized for their achievements, they’re oftenregarded unfavorably. Journalist Shankar Vedantam once cataloged the derogatory descriptions ofsome of the first female world leaders. “England’s Margaret Thatcher,” he wrote, “was called ‘Attilathe Hen.’ Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, was ‘the only man in the Cabinet.’

President Richard Nixon called Indira Gandhi, India’s first female Prime Minister, ‘the old witch.’