Tag Archives: Peter Glick

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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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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