The Theresa May Effect: When A Female Leader Deemed Inept Is Replaced By A Far More Incompetent Man

Theresa May was still the British Prime Minister when my latest book, “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders (And How To Fix It)?” was released earlier this year. The book is based on a simple premise: that a major obstacle preventing women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men. In other words, if we want to make it easier for competent women to get to leadership roles, we should start by making it harder for incompetent men.

In response to this argument – or rather, the book’s title – many men (and a few women) have since written to me to remind me that “there are also incompetent women who become leaders”. This is of course true, but it simply doesn’t happen with the same level of frequency as it does with men. Indeed, while incompetence can be found in both women and men, it is actually much harder for women to become leaders when they are incompetent. To be sure, from a fairness perspective one could argue that we should be making it easier for incompetent women to become leaders, but a much better idea is to raise the bar for men instead of lowering it for women.


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