Imagine If a Female CEO Acted Like Elon Musk

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Photo Credit: BEN MACMAHON/EPA/Shutterstock
August 30, 2018
Updated 4mo ago

By Carlo Versano

What would happen if a female CEO behaved as Tesla's Elon Musk has been acting lately?

She probably wouldn't get fawning praise for being authentic, said Amy Nelson, CEO of The Riveter, a female-led community of co-working spaces. And she probably wouldn't be commended for showing "such vulnerability" by the New York Times.

"I don't think a woman would have ever gotten emotional in an interview about her business," Nelson said. "Women are conditioned to walk a tightrope at work ー strong but not too strong, kind but not too kind. Letting their guard down, to a reporter no less, would be considered career suicide by many."

Nelson wrote a widely shared essay for Forbes about the double standard for male and female executives.

Musk deserves praise for being authentic, she said, though he could have used the opportunity as a "teachable moment," to show "that everyone can be human in the workplace."

Instead, Musk responded to Nelson's essay on Twitter by denying that he cried ー his voice merely cracked once, he said ー furthering the stereotype that men who cry seem weak and vulnerable.

The opposite perception is actually much preferred. After all, how often have we heard stories of executives screaming at reporters or underlings?

"They never deny that," Nelson said.

For full interview click here.