Tag Archives: Linda Babcock

Women’s Self-Advocacy: Self-Promotion and Violating the “Female Modesty” Norm

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Many women experience anxiety when required to showcase their accomplishments and skills, yet many in the U.S. have repeatedly heard that self-promotion, personal marketing, and “selling yourself” are required to be recognized and rewarded at work.

Gender norms about “modesty” contribute to women’s discomfort in highlighting their accomplishments.
These unspoken rules include holding a moderate opinion of one’s skills, lacking pretentiousness, minimizing responsibility for success, and accepting responsibility for failure.

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

In contrast, many American men freely share their skills, which leads others to see them as “competent,” “capable,” and “confident.”
In fact, this norm is associated with “backlash” against men who adopt the “modesty” norm and do not advertise their successes, according to Skidmore’s Corinne Moss-Racusin, Julie Phelan of Langer Research Associates, and Rutgers’ Laurie Rudman.

Women from cultures that value cooperation, collaboration, and collective accomplishment over individual recognition have even greater challenges adopting local career advancement strategies.

Marie‐Hélène Budworth

Marie‐Hélène Budworth

Yet, conforming to these norms limits women’s career advancement, found York University‘s MarieHélène Budworth and Sara L. Mann of University of Guelph.

Deborah A. Small

Deborah A. Small

Women who adhere to implicit “female modesty” expectations experience this career handicap because they are less likely to ask for promotions and raises.
This reluctance to ask contributed to women’s long-term pay disparity in research by University of Pennsylvania’s Deborah A. Small, Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland’s Michele Gelfand and Hilary Gettman.

Peter Glick

Peter Glick

However, if women violate “modesty norms”, they can experience discrimination in hiring, promotion, and wages, reported Rutgers’ Rudman and Peter Glick of Lawrence University.
In addition, they can also experience other adverse interpersonal consequences, noted Yale’s Victoria Brescoll.

Mark Zanna

Mark Zanna

People who violate norms typically experience situational arousal including discomfort, anxiety, fear, nervousness, perspiration, increased heart rate, according to University of Waterloo’s Mark Zanna and Joel Cooper of Princeton.

However, if women attribute this physical activation to something other than the norm violation, they were more likely to:

Jessi L Smith

Jessi L Smith

Despite women’s career “double bind,” targeted interventions can help women to communicate more effectively about their successes, noted Montana State University’s Jessi L. Smith and Meghan Huntoon.

More than 75 women wrote sample essays for a merit-based “scholarship” valued up to USD $5,000.
One group was composed essays about their own accomplishments whereas another group wrote about another person’s accomplishments.

Andrew Elliott

Andrew Elliott

They also completed Achievement Goal Questionnaire – Revised by University of Rochester Andrew Elliot and Kou Murayama of Tokyo Institute of Technology to evaluate “performance approach” and “performance avoidance.”

The laboratory contained a black box described as a “subliminal noise generator.”
Half the volunteers were told the box produced “inaudible but potentially uncomfortable ultra-high frequency noise,” and they were later asked to evaluate “the effects of extraneous distractions on task performance.”
The remaining participants received no information about the black box.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Women who could attribute their experience to the “noise generator” produced higher-quality, more convincing descriptions of their achievements, measured by being “awarded” significantly higher scholarships prizes – up to USD $1,000 more.
These women also said they were more interested in the task, which is typically associated with greater intrinsic motivation to showcase personal accomplishments.

In contrast, women who violated the “modesty” norm without reference to the “noise generator” said they were:

  • Less interested in describing their achievements,
  • Negatively evaluated their performance,
  • Produced lower-quality essays,
  • More likely to fear failure 
    than when they advocated for another woman.

Women perceived as displaying their accomplishments in essays were negatively evaluated by judges, who “awarded” an average of USD $1,500 less to people wrote about their own accomplishments rather than about someone else’s.

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

One “workaround” for women’s double bind is to reciprocally advocate for female colleagues.
This strategy highlights women’s accomplishments as organizational policies evolve to support and encourage women’s self-promotion.
An example is Google’s self-nomination process for advancement and promotion, coupled with reminder emails to submit self-nominations.

When women reconstrue self-promotion, “selling” and “marketing” professional accomplishments as “part of the job,” they tend to experience less cognitive dissonance and perform more effectively when showcasing their capabilities.

  • How do you manage the norm against women “bragging” and showcasing their accomplishments?

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Implicit Discrimination Associated with Meritocratic Beliefs, Low Empathy

Michael Young

Michael Young

Americans more than other nationalities, embrace the idea of meritocracy – that rewards are distributed based on merit, a combination of ability + effort with success, described by University of London’s Michael Young with Sheri Kunovich of Southern Methodist University, and Ohio State’s Kazimierz M. Slomczynski.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, made headlines when asked his advice for women who are uncomfortable asking for a raise at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
He told more than 12,000 women: “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise … It’s good karma. It will come back.”

Although his response resulted in widespread criticism, he may have been referring to the social penalty women experience when negotiating for salary increases and promotions.

Hannah Riley Bowles

Hannah Riley Bowles

Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles with Linda Babcock and Lei Lai of Carnegie Mellon demonstrated this social penalty when they showed volunteers videos of men and women asking for a raise using identical scripts.
Participants agreed to give both genders a pay increase, but evaluated women as “too aggressive” and not someone they would want to work with.
However, men in these salary negotiation situations were seen as “likable.”

Emilio Castilla

Emilio Castilla

The unequal impact of merit-based compensation on minorities was demonstrated in MIT’s Emilio J. Castilla’s analysis of almost 9,000 employees in support roles at a large service-sector company.
The organization espoused commitment to diversity and had implemented a merit-based compensation system intended to reward high-level performance and equitably reward employees.

Lei Lai

Lei Lai

Despite these egalitarian goals, women, ethnic minorities, and non-U.S.-born employees received smaller increases in compensation compared with white men, despite holding the same jobs, having the same performance score, working in the same units for the same supervisors.

These results illustrated what he called the performance-reward bias – the need for minority groups “to work harder and obtain higher performance scores in order to receive similar salary increases to white men.”

Stephen Benard

Stephen Benard

With his Indiana University colleague, Stephen Benard, Castilla uncovered the paradox of meritocracy” – organizations that espouse meritocratic values awarded a larger monetary reward to male employees compared with equally performing female employees.

Despite their positive intentions and policies, these organizations perpetuated unequal evaluations and rewards across equally performing employee groups.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

In fact, people who think they are the most objective exhibited greatest evaluation bias, found Northwestern’s Eric Luis Uhlmann and Geoffrey L. Cohen of University of Colorado.
They attributed this finding to overconfidence in objectivity, leading to lack of self-scrutiny and self-assessment of potential and implicit bias.

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

This bias was also demonstrated when volunteers provided significantly more positive evaluations of resumes were attributed to whites and men than identical resumes linked to minority-group members and women, reported by Yale’s Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J. Graham, and Jo Handelsman.

John Dovidio

John Dovidio

Since egalitarian aspirations and performance management systems do not result in equitable reward distribution, MIT’s Castilla advocated increased transparency and accountability by creating a performance-reward committee to monitor compensation increases and to share information about pay segmented by gender, race, and nationality.
Five years after these changes were introduced in companies Castilla studied, he found that the demographic pay gap had disappeared.

Grit Hein

Grit Hein

Another way to reduce bias is to increase empathy, found Universität Bern’s Grit Hein, Jan B. Engelmann of Tinbergen Institute, and University of Zurich’s Philippe N. Tobler, with Marius C. Vollberg of University College London, in their study of 40 young men of Swiss or Balkan descent.

Participants and two research confederates received an electric charge on the back of the hand.
Next, one of the two confederates was attributed a typical Balkan name or a Swiss name, and was designated a “decision maker.”

Jan B. Engelmann

Jan B. Engelmann

Volunteers were then told they would receive “painful shocks,” but the “decision maker” could prevent this “by giving up money he would otherwise earn.”
Participants received help from the other person 15 times out of 20 trials, and received a shock five times.

Two new confederates, one with a Swiss name and one with a Balkan name, replaced the first two and the participant watched as one of them received the painful electrical pulses.
A brain scan measured the volunteers’s level of empathy for the person receiving the shock.

Philippe Tobler

Philippe Tobler

When the confederate with the Balkan minority name “helped” the participant avoid a shock by “sacrificing” a payoff, the volunteer’s brain scans demonstrated increased empathy for both the specific helper, and for other Balkan people.

The team interpreted this finding to suggest, “…empathy with an out-group member can be learned, and generalizes to other out-group individuals.”

If this trend can be replicated in the workplace by increasing organizational and managerial empathy for members of minority groups during the appraisal process, organizational rewards may be more equitably distributed.

-*How do you reduce bias in appraisal and reward processes?

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Men Negotiate More Assertively with Women Managers

Ekaterina Netchaeva

Ekaterina Netchaeva

Men volunteers negotiated more assertively with women in supervisory roles in laboratory tasks, compared with strategies they used with male supervisors, reported Bocconi University’s Ekaterina Netchaeva, Maryam Kouchaki of Northwestern University, and Washington State University’s Leah D. Sheppard.

Maryam Kouchaki

Maryam Kouchaki

This cross-gender negotiation trend was reduced when woman in supervisory roles demonstrated directness and proactivity (“administrative agency”) rather than self-promotion and power-seeking (“ambitious agency”).

The team told 52 male and 24 female volunteers that they would negotiate their salary at a new job in a computer exercise with a male or female hiring manager.

Leah D. Sheppard

Leah D. Sheppard

After the negotiation, participants completed an implicit threat test by identifying words that appeared on a computer screen for a fraction of a second in a variation of the Implicit Association Test developed by Harvard’s Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald of University of Washington.
Participants who chose more threat-related words like “fear” or “risk,” were inferred to feel more threatened.

Mahzarin Banaji

Mahzarin Banaji

Male participants who negotiated with a female manager selected more threat-related words on implicit association test, and they negotiated for a higher salary ($49,400 average), compared to men negotiating with a male manager ($42,870 average).

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

The manager’s gender didn’t affect female participants, who negotiated a lower salary ($41,346 average), reflecting a common trend where women tend not to negotiate, or to negotiate less vigorously, as noted by Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles of Harvard.

Anthony Greenwald

Anthony Greenwald

In another experimental task, more than 65 male volunteers decided how to share a $10,000 bonus with a male or female team member or with supervisor.
Male participants tended to equally divided the money with male or female team members, but reacted significantly differently with a female supervisor.

Men who endorsed more threat-related words chose to keep more money for themselves when the supervisor was female, compared with when they were paired with a male supervisor.

Hannah Riley Bowles

Hannah Riley Bowles

A related online survey of 226 male and 144 female volunteers found that male participants decided to keep a larger share of the $10,000 bonus when the female manager was described as ambitious or power-seeking, but responded significantly more favorably when the female supervisor was described as proactive or ambitious.
In the latter case, male volunteers offered approximately the same bonus amount to female managers.

This suggests that women managers with male direct-reports enhance these relationships by adopting a consciously direct leadership style, characterized by consistent communication, and proactive problem-solving.

Netchaeva’s group posits that women who adopt a direct, active leadership style reduce threat in cross-gender reporting relationships, and enable greater cooperation in bargaining and negotiation situations.

-*To what extend have you observed evidence of implicit threat responses in cross-gender workplace reporting relationships?

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“Feminine Charm” as Negotiation Tactic

Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

“Feminine charm” was one of the only power plays and negotiation tactics available to women for centuries, and has been portrayed in novels by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and George Eliot.

When former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright conceded to interviewer Bill Maher that she has used “charm” in challenging negotiations with heads of state, University of California, Berkeley’s Laura Kray and Alex Van Zant with Connson Locke of London School of Economics sought to define the component of “feminine charm” in negotiation situations.

George Eliot

George Eliot

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright

Their investigation led to an operational definition of “feminine charm” as characterized by:

  • Friendliness (concern for the other person) coupled with
  • Flirtation (concern for self and self-presentation)

Like ingratiation, “the aim of feminine charm is to make an interaction partner feel good to gain compliance toward broader interaction goal,” according to Kray, Van Zant, and Locke.

Laura Kray

Laura Kray

Alex Van Zant

Alex Van Zant

They found that “feminine charm” (friendliness plus flirtation) created positive impressions that partially buffered the social penalties or “backlash” against negotiating, identified by Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and her colleagues.

Connson Locke

Connson Locke

Hannah Riley Bowles

Hannah Riley Bowles

Women who were perceived as flirtatious achieved superior economic deals in their negotiations than women who were seen as friendly, validating suggestions by Stanford’s Deborah Gruenfeld and Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock, that women achieve better negotiation outcomes when they combine power tactics with warmth, which may stop short of flirtation.

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Kray, Van Zant and Locke concluded that their findings expose “a financial risk associated with female friendliness:  Although it may facilitate the expansion of the proverbial negotiating pie and create positive impressions of female negotiators, the resulting division of resources may be unfavorable if she is perceived as ‘too nice’.”

-*How do you mitigate the “financial risk associated with female friendliness”?

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Have You Agreed to Every Bad Deal You’ve Gotten?

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wasn’t inclined to negotiate her proposed salary until she was forcefully urged by her late husband and brother-in-law, she revealed while promoting her book, Lean In.

Accenture

Accenture

In contrast, the majority of respondents to Accenture’s 2012 online survey of 4,100 business executive women and men born between 1946 and 1994 working in medium to large organizations across 33 countries said they had asked for or negotiated a pay increase.

Almost as many women as men asked, and the number of women who negotiated increased by 10% in the 2013 survey.
These negotiation efforts were effective: Four out of five respondents who negotiated received a pay increase, confirming the mantra “Just Ask”  — and be prepared for “No.”

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

This result is more encouraging than Linda Babcock’s earlier finding that women tend not to ask for raises, and are less likely to receive salary increases when they do ask.

The Accenture study also found that nearly half of women and men respondents reported asking for a promotion to greater job responsibility, suggesting willingness to advocate for themselves to achieve monetary rewards.

Emily Amanatullah

Emily Amanatullah

University of Texas’s Emily Amanatullah and Michael Morris of Columbia University argued that gender differences in negotiations reflect women’s “contextually contingent impression management strategies.”
Translated, this means that women’s assertive bargaining behavior is judged as “congruent” with female gender roles in some contexts yet not in others.

As a result, most women intuitively consider this “contextual variation” and potential “backlash” against perceived incongruity when negotiating.
Many then adjust bargaining behavior to “manage social impressions” in contexts where assertive bargaining behavior may be seen as incongruent with female gender roles.

Michael Morris

Michael Morris

Women who advocated for themselves reduced their assertive behaviors and competing tactics, resulting in poorer negotiation outcomes in one of Amanatullah and Morris’s lab studies.
In contrast, when women advocated for others, they achieved better outcomes because they did not reduce assertive behaviors or engage in “hedging.”

Margaret Neale

Margaret Neale

Margaret Neale of Stanford Graduate School of Business said, “Negotiation is interdependent process – every bad deal you’ve gotten, you’ve agreed to.”

-*Harsh or true?

From her empirical research, Neale offers practical model to structure more effective negotiations, summarized by the acronym APAP:

–          What are the alternatives or fall-backs to negotiating?

–          What are the aspirational goals, or optimistic assessment of the best possible outcomes?
-Are these realistic?
-What’s the walk-away bottom line?

–          Assess: How much influence do you have?
– Could the benefits of negotiating outweigh the costs?

–          Prepare: What are your interests (not positions, or proposed outcome)?
-What are the other person’s interests?

–          Ask: Propose a solution that packages issues with benefits to the other, the group, and you
Share information

–          Package:  Avoid issue-by-issue negotiation by trading among issues
Use If-then statements for counter-proposals
Bundle alternative proposals.

Deborah Kolb

Deborah Kolb

Simmons College’s Deborah Kolb and Carol Frohlinger of Negotiating Women, Inc. identified three types of negotiation maneuvers in their critique women’s leadership development programs that focus on solely skill development to “fix women”:

Power Moves to interest others in participating in the negotiation discussion:

  • Offer incentives,
  • Raise the cost of not negotiating,
  • Enlist support.

      Process Moves to structure the negotiation interaction:

  • Take control of the agenda,
  • Seed ideas
  • Appreciative Moves to enable the negotiation conversation to continue:
  • Solicit new perspectives,
  • Enable the conversation to continue,
  • Help others “save face.
Carol Frohlinger

Carol Frohlinger

Kolb and Frohlinger advocated skill building coupled with organizational development to overcome structural barriers to women’s advancement. Likewise, these interventions can reduce unconscious bias that may exclude women from participating in developmental assignments and being considered for advancement.

A counterpoint argument is that women can control their self-development, but they have less control over their organization’s willingness to transform its culture, practices, and awareness of bias.

Recommendations to Craft and Sell a Better Deal in Salary Negotiation

–          Adopt the mindset that “everything is negotiable,

–          Verify which elements are most negotiable,

–          Research “market worth” in comparative jobs: Salary.com, Glassdoor.com, anonymous industry surveys,

–          Examine whether low sense of entitlement to higher salaries and job roles reduces willingness to advocate for compensation commensurate with skills and experience,

–          Scan for negotiation anxiety in oneself and negotiation partners,

–          Define goals (optimistic upside, walk-away bottom-line),

–          Assess your leverage: Competing offers, past accomplishments, future potential,

–          Plan negotiation rationale (citing specific accomplishments, results, value to the organization, benefit to the negotiation partner),

Linda Putnam

Linda Putnam

–          Use mutual inquiry to co-construct solutions to replace traditional Distributive Exchange and Integrative Exchange models, suggested by Linda Putnam, Texas A&M University and Deborah Kolb, Simmons College,

           Inquire about other person’s interests and needs in negotiation,

–          Practice a positive-stated, confident negotiation “pitch” that creates value for both parties by “bundling” solutions (rather than issue-by-issue negotiation),

–          Propose timing

–          Set an advantageous anchor point,

–          Plan counterarguments and counter-offers, “self-talk” to resist conceding and to manage anxiety,

–          Expect “No” and plan for it,

–          Embody powerful demeanor in speech, dress, posture,

–          Justify the salary request based on a well-supported “business case,

–          Communicate concern for organizational relationships,

–          Justify the salary request based on the relationship with the co-negotiator,

–          Establish a positive yet persuasive tone,

–          Employ delay tactics to avoid being the first to name a salary figure,

–          Incorporate tips to sell yourself while anticipating objections and being personable but not personal.

-*How likely are you to ask for a salary increase or promotion?

-*What factors do you consider before making a request for more money or an expanded role?

-*Consider your reaction to negotiations you have observed, and ask others who participate in salary negotiation their reactions to these questions:

  • What is the best negotiation pitch you’ve heard for a job-related salary increase or role promotion?
  • How did the person overcome objections?
  • How did the person manage the relationship with the negotiating partner?

-*How do you ask for what you want at work?

-*What power tactics do you employ to influence your negotiation outcomes?

-*How do you prepare for negotiations and overcome objections during negotiations?

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What Do (Executive) Women (and Men) Want? Accenture Uncovers Priorities

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Accenture’s online survey of 4,100 business executive women and men born between 1946 and 1994 from medium to large organizations across 33 countries sought to answer the updated version of Sigmund Freud’s question: “What do women want?”

Conducted in November 2012, the survey’s margin of error is +/-2 percent, with at least 100 respondents from each country, except Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where the combined number totaled 200.

It provides some answers:  Women’s – and men’s top priorities in defining career success are:

  • Work-life balance
  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Autonomy
Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

This finding contradicts Frederick Herzberg’s theory that people are less motivated by “hygiene factors” like work-life balance and money than “motivation factors” like recognition and autonomy.

In contrast to Yahoo’s much-publicized ban on working remotely, 80 percent of male and female respondents reported that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work-life balance and more than three-quarters (78 percent) agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.

This is an important value statement in light of landmark findings that lack of flexibility and control in work environments has been associated with poorer health indicators and status than roles with greater flexibility

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper and Michael Marmot of University College London analyzed health outcomes of British civil service workers in the Whitehall I and II studies and found employees with least control over their work lives, typically associated with lower employment grade and lower social class, consistently had the poorest well-being and the highest mortality rates.

Michael Marmot

Michael Marmot

Marmot with other researchers who analyzed Whitehall study data, including Geoffrey Rose, surmise that not having discretion over how a task is accomplished, underutilizing skills, lack of clarity and predictability in job role can lead to job stress and physical indicators like abnormal heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood cortisol.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly

Phyllis Moen

Phyllis Moen

More than half of all respondents said they declined a job due to concerns about its impact on work-life balance, also reported by Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen of University of Minnesota, suggesting that Yahoo’s policy could lead to significant attrition over time.

To realize monetary goals, the majority of respondents – 49 percent of women and 57 percent of men – had asked for or negotiated a pay raise, and four out of five respondents who negotiated a pay raise received one.

These rates represent a substantial increase over the year before in which 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men reported asking for a pay increase.
Notably, the percentage of men requesting more money increased considerably more than the percentage of women in that year period.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

This result is more encouraging than Linda Babcock’s finding that women tend not to ask for raises, and tend not to receive them when they do ask.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Even Sheryl Sandberg wasn’t inclined to negotiate for her salary when offered the role as COO of Facebook until she forcefully urged by her husband and brother-in-law, she revealed on 60 Minutes while promoting Lean In.

The Accenture study may demonstrate a changing trend for the better:  Almost half of all respondents reported that they had asked for a promotion, suggesting greater willingness to advocate for themselves to achieve the second priority, monetary reward.

-*How well do Accenture’s findings reflect your career priorities?

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Women’s Likeability – Competence Dilemma: Overcoming the Backlash Effect

Madeline Heilman

Madeline Heilman

Aaron Wallen

Aaron Wallen

Almost a decade ago, New York University’s Madeline Heilman and colleagues Aaron Wallen, Daniella Fuchs and Melinda Tamkins, demonstrated the challenge women face when they are seen as successful in traditionally-male roles.

Melinda Tamkins

Melinda Tamkins

The team conducted three experimental studies with 242 volunteers to investigate reactions to a woman’s success in a male gender-typed job and found that when women are recognized as successful in roles dominated by men, they are less liked than equally successful men in the same fields.

Tyler Okimoto

Tyler Okimoto

Heilman extended the work with Tyler Okimoto, now at University of Queensland, in three additional experimental studies to evaluate whether successful women’s likeability challenge is attributable to perceived deficit in nurturing and socially- sensitive “communal” attributes, which include warmth and “niceness.”
They found that successful women managers avoided interpersonal hostility, dislike, and undesirability when they or others conveyed “communal” attributes, through their behaviors, testimonials of others, or their role as mothers.

Frank Flynn

Frank Flynn

Stanford’s Frank Flynn demonstrated the competence-likeability disconnect when he taught a Harvard Business School case of Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur Heidi Roizen.

Heidi Roizen

Heidi Roizen

He and collaborator Cameron Anderson of UC Berkeley changed Heidi’s name to “Howard Roizen” for half of the students.

Cameron Anderson

Cameron Anderson

Flynn and Anderson asked student who read the Heidi case and those who read the Howard case to rate Heidi and Howard on several dimensions before the class meeting.

Students rated Heidi as highly competent and effective as Howard, but they evaluated her as unlikeable and selfish, and wouldn’t want to hire her or work with her.

Whitney Johnson-Lisa Joy Rosner

Whitney Johnson-Lisa Joy Rosner

A more recent example of backlash toward high-profile, accomplished women was illustrated by Whitney Johnson, co-founder of Rose Park Advisors (Disruptive Innovation Fund), and Lisa Joy Rosner, Chief Marketing Officer of NetBase, in their evaluation of social media mentions of Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Johnson and Rosner evaluated “Brand Passion Index” (BPI) for Mayer, Sandberg, and Slaughter over 12 months by

  • Activity (number of mentions)
  • Sentiment (positive or negative)
  • Intensity (strong or weak sentiment).

Public Opinion-Mayer-Sandberg-SlaughterThese competent, well-known women were not liked, and were evaluated with harsh negative attributions based on media coverage and at-a-distance observations:

  • Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, was described as impressive and super-smart, and annoying, terrible bully
  • Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg‘s was characterized as truly excellent, successful working mom and crazy bizarre
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, was depicted as an amazing, successful mother and destructive, not a good wife
Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

The competence-likeability dilemma is illustrated in hiring behavior, demonstrated in experiments by Rutgers University’s Laurie Rudman and Peter Glick of Lawrence University.

The team asked volunteers to simulate hiring decisions for male and female candidates for a “feminized” managerial role and a “masculinized” managerial role.

Peter Glick

Peter Glick

Applicants were presented as:

  • “Agentic” (stereotypically male behaviors) or
  • “Communal” (stereotypically male behaviors) or
  • “Androgynous” (combining stereotypically male and female behaviors)

Women who displayed “masculine, agentic” traits were viewed as less socially skilled than agentic males.
They were not selected for the “feminized” job, but this hiring bias did not occur when agentic women applied for the “male” job.

In contrast to the “agentic” women, both male and female “communal” applicants received low hiring ratings, pointing to the penalty for being perceived as “nice.

“Androgynous” female applicants were not discriminated against.

Rudman and Glick noted that “… women must present themselves as agentic to be hireable, but may therefore be seen as interpersonally deficient.”
They advise women to “temper their agency with niceness.”

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Once women receive job offers, the competence-likeability disconnect continues when they negotiate for salary and position, reported by Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon.
Her research demonstrated and replicated negative evaluations of women who negotiate for salaries using the same script as men.

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

Stanford’s Deborah Gruenfeld suggested that the likeability-competence dilemma may result from women’s challenges in integrating expansive, powerful body language with more submissive, appeasing behavior to build relationships and acknowledge others’ authority.

She posited that many women have been socialized to adopt less powerful body positions and body language including:

  • Smiling
  • Nodding
  • Tilting the head
  • Applying fleeting eye contact
  • Speaking in sentence fragments with uncertain, rising intonation at sentence endings.

In addition, many people expect women to behave in these ways, and negatively evaluate behaviors that differ from expectations.

Body language is the greatest contributor to split-second judgments of people’s competence, according to Gruenfeld.
She estimated that body language is responsible for about 55% of judgments, whereas self-presentation accounts for 38%, and words for just 7% — in less than 100 milliseconds.

Her earlier work considered the impact of body language on assessments of power, whereas her more recent work investigates gender differences in attributions of competence and likeability.

The likeability-competence dilemma may be improved by shifting from “playing high” or taking space when demonstrating competence and authority.
Gruenfeld noted that this powerful body language may be risky for women unless counterbalanced with “playing low” or giving space when conveying approachability, empathy, and likeability.

Posing in more powerful positions for as little as two minutes can change levels of testosterone, a marker of dominance, just as holding a submissive posture for the same time can increase cortisol levels, signaling stress, according to Gruenfeld.

To enable versatile application of powerful “playing high” with more familiar “playing low,” Gruenfeld urges women to practice both awareness and “the mechanics of powerful body language.”

Alison Fragale

Alison Fragale

Women’s competence-likeability dilemma is not mitigated by achieving workplace success and status.
University of North Carolina’s Alison Fragale, Benson Rosen, Carol Xu, Iryna Merideth found that successful women – and men, like Mayer, Sandberg, and Slaughter, are judged more harshly for mistakes than lower status individuals who make identical errors.

Benson Rosen

Benson Rosen

Fragale’s team found that observers attributed greater intentionality, malevolence, self-concern to the actions of high status wrongdoers than the identical actions of low status wrongdoers, and recommended more severe punishments for higher status individuals in two experiments.

Iryna Meridith

Iryna Meridith

The team found preventive and reparative value in the shunned qualities of warmth and likeability.
Wrongdoers who demonstrated affiliative concern for others, charitable giving, and interpersonal warmth built a reservoir of goodwill that could protect from the impact of subsequent mistakes and transgressions.

Navigating the Likeability-Competence dilemma requires demonstrating both capacities, depending on situational requirements.
Learning this skill can take a lifetime.

-*How do you convey likeability AND competence?

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