Feldberg, A. C. (2022). The Task Bind: Explaining Gender Differences in Managerial Tasks and Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 0(0).

This multi-method study of managers in a grocery chain identifies a novel mechanism by which threats of gender stereotypes undermine women’s ability to be effective managers. I find that women managers face a task bind, a dilemma that managers experience as they try to disprove a negative group stereotype by doubling down on one set of tasks at the expense of other essential tasks. My analysis of interview, observational, and archival data reveals that, compared to men, women do more tasks in front of subordinates—in this setting, supervisory tasks “on the floor” of the store—in order to showcase their qualifications as managers. In doing so, they forgo attention to other tasks that are less public but no less important to being effective managers—in this setting, planning tasks in the office of the store. Neglecting office tasks ultimately undermines the profitability of women managers’ departments. This study’s identification of the task bind has implications for theory and practice related to stereotype threat and women leaders, showing how the threat of negative gender stereotypes, prompted here by concern about subordinates’ perceptions, can affect managers’ behaviors in ways that detract from the performance of managers themselves and that of their organizations.