News 19/02/2021 by "Natalie Jaafar"

Women vs. Men on Empathy – The Results Are In

women vs men showing empathy at work

Table of Contents:

Catching Up With The Movement
Empathy Survey Results Are In
Women Lead With Empathy, But Men Are Performing Highly


Working for a female-led business, with a great number of women under its employ, discussions on how women tend to lead differently is pretty common around our (virtual) watercooler. 

As we raised in a previous article, most female leaders today came through their careers under extreme scrutiny. Whether overt or passive, judgement came from all angles. Too strong and they were chastised, too soft, and they were chastised. 

Now, while being ridiculed no matter which step you take is immensely irritating, it did give women unique socialisation that set them up to be the perfect jugglers of high performance and high empathy. Five plus years ago, most would automatically agree that women are the more empathetic members of the leadership team. Today, however, things are balancing out.

Catching Up With The Movement 

It would be extremely unfair to fail to acknowledge the big strides we’ve seen in recent years toward gender equality. It is no longer a begrudging initiative to avoid bad PR. Most organisations are staunchly aware of the benefits of diversity, and many are working to rectify the wage gap and structural issues that disadvantage women.

Gendered comments are less common, and most leaders are mindful that compassion goes much further than criticism. But still, we feel the weight of a traditional past and wonder… Who is more empathetic in leadership? Have the men caught up, or are women still leading the charge on the empathetic workplace? 

Empathy Survey Results Are In

To find out who has more empathy in the workplace, we conducted a survey including 45 participants (27 females and 18 males) to ask them which leaders were more empathetic.  

Of our participants, 11 currently had female managers, and 34 had males. Ten of our female participants and eleven of our male participants were leaders themselves. Accounting for 21 leaders in our group of 45. 

To get a general sense of each individual, we asked them first to rate themselves. The results for the women were: 

Exceptionally Empathetic – 9

Highly Empathetic – 9

Above Average – 6

Below Average – 1

Minimal Empathy – 2

No Empathy – 0 

And the results for men were: 

Exceptionally Empathetic – 3

Highly Empathetic – 8

Above Average – 6

Below Average – 1

Minimal Empathy – 0

No empathy – 0 

Now to look at how they rate their leaders, those with female leaders gave rating as follows:  

Exceptionally Empathetic – 4

Highly Empathetic – 2

Above Average – 2

Below Average – 1

Minimal Empathy – 2

No empathy – 0 

While those with male leaders gave the following ratings for their leaders:  

Exceptionally Empathetic – 11

Highly Empathetic – 5

Above Average – 9

Below Average – 5

Minimal Empathy – 3

No Empathy – 1

Women Lead With Empathy, But Men Are Performing Highly

While it’s really tough to actually gauge the level of empathy in a workplace, the end result of our survey was that 36 percent of female leaders and 32 percent of male leaders were judged as being exceptionally empathetic. 

These results are incredibly encouraging as we move forward in 2021 trying to refocus our sights on building our teams, building our businesses and coming out of a tough year with equality and empathy still front of mind. 

Let us know what you thought of these survey results and how you’re building your teams to foster empathy and create diversity. Get in touch with the team at Launch Recruitment today.