Tag Archives: Michele Gelfand

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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Innovators’s Personality Characteristics and Shibumi Principles Drive Innovation

Øyvind Martinsen

Øyvind Martinsen

BI Norwegian Business School’s Øyvind Martinsen identified components of creative personalities as key attributes for innovative problem solving in business organizations.

Martinsen’s study of 481 people included two groups of students in creative fields: advertising and performing artists,  and a control group of lecturers and managers.

He found that creative individuals differed from the control groups in several dimensions:

  • Have an active imagination, “associative orientation”, an “experimental attitude”
  • Value originality, are comfortable rebelling against rules, standards, and systems
  • Demonstrate high motivation to succeed
  • Become absorbed in creative work
  • Are ambitious Desire recognition, fame
  • Adapt, reimagine, rebrand, and flex to meet current demands and realities
  • Express anxiety, worry, volatile emotions  
  • Demonstrate less concern, friendliness and sensitivity to others
  • Tend to be more critical of others

Martinsen says that a less creative individuals can increase this capacity when their work environments encourage rule-bending and free thought, so organizations can modify policies and practices to convey acceptance of exploration.

Employees are often urged to take chances by innovating solutions, but sometimes these Ryan Fehr - Workplace Forgiveness Modelincubation efforts may not result in a commercial success — and organizations may not “forgive” the investment of time and money in speculative efforts.

University of Washington’s Ryan Fehr with Michele Gelfand of University of Maryland suggest that organizations should establish the conditions for innovation and for accepting that experimentation may provide “lessons learned” even when efforts cannot be brought to market.

Ryan Fehr

Ryan Fehr

Their research investigated “forgiving organizations” that expand the individual practice of workplace compassion and mindfulness to an institutional level.

Michele Gelfand

Michele Gelfand

Fehr and Gelfand propose a “sensemaking” organizational model based on restorative justice, temperance, and compassion to cultivate the climate of fearless innovation and confident exploration in high-support organizations, which benefit from process and product breakthroughs and related financial rewards.

Matthew May

Matthew May

Matthew May explored a multi-faced exemplar of innovation, Shibumi,   imperfectly defined as “effortless effectiveness”, simply-expressed complexity, flawed perfection.

Baldassarre Castiglione

Baldassarre Castiglione

Shibumi shares some qualities with Baldassare Castiglione’s idea of “sprezzatura,” or making “whatever one does or says seem effortless, and almost unpremeditate,” Shibumi, says May, is typically achieved through an innovation-change management sequence of:

  • Commitment
  • Preparation
  • Struggle
  • Breakthrough
  • Transformation
Trevanian

Trevanian

Film scholar Rodney William Whitaker, who wrote under the pseudonym Trevanian, opined that “Shibumi has to do with great refinement underlying commonplace appearances,” and architect Sarah Susanka observed that “…shibumi evolves out of a process of complexity, though none of this complexity shows in the result…to meet a particular design challenge.”

Sarah Susanka

Sarah Susanka

May illustrated examples of familiar Japanese management principles including Hoshin (goal alignment) and Kaizen (continuous improvement), with less familiar principles:

  • Kata (patterns of effective behavior)
  • Genchi genbutsu (observation)
  • Hansei (reflection).

Matthew May-The Shibumi StrategyInnovation and creative problem-solving in any field can benefit from attention to Shibumi’s seven principles:

  • Austerity – Less is more
    Koko” suggests restraint, sparseness, and intentional omission, and ‘Is/isn’t analysis” provides the focus and clarity to exclude elements beyond a designated scope

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Antoine de Saint Exupery captured this principle in his view that “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

In another book, May offered 4 Ss of “elegant”, innovative, and austere solutions:

  • Symmetry” to help solve problems of structure, order, and aesthetics
  • Seduction” for creative engagement
  • Subtraction” for problems of economy
  • Sustainability” for a process or solution that is both repeatable and lasting
  • Simplicity
    Kanso” signals the “enoughness” of streamlined utility, based on prioritization, understatement, and order for the central purpose.
  • Naturalness
    Shizen” points to the paradox of intentional artlessness, or balancing nature’s randomness and patterns with intentional curation.
  • Subtlety
    Yugen” refers to the tension between stagnation of precision in contrast with nature’s growth.
    One example is Steve Jobs building anticipation through restrained information release.
  • Asymmetric Imperfection
    Fukinsei points to the symmetry of nature through its counterpoint:  Asymmetrical and incomplete representations that encourage the viewer’s participation to “complete the incomplete.”Gestalt Art
    Gestalt
    researchers and artists demonstrated increased visual impact when participants co-create and collaborate in the innovation effort.
  • Change Routine Thinking and Actions
    Datsuzoku suggests a break from routine, such as adopting free-spirited Carnival demeanor at the annual masked Fasching in German-speaking countries.Fasching
    Breaking patterns enables breakthrough innovation and creative resourcefulness.
  • Active Stillness, Dynamic Tranquility
    Seijaku is serenity in the midst of activity and provides context of datsuzoku, transcendence of conventional ideas and traditional usage, leading to surprise, astonishment, and freedom to create.
    “Doing nothing” in mindfulness practice can be provide unconscious incubation for eventual creative syntheses to solve complex design issues, and increase self-awareness, focus, and attention.
    Individuals who wish to become more creative even in more confining organizations have reported success by adopting mindfulness meditation based on conscious breathing.
    In addition mindfulness practice can enhance resilience to accept critique in the creative process.

-*How do you establish the individual and organizational conditions for innovations?
-*How do organizations become “forgiving”?

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