Study Finds That Angry Women At Work Pay the Price


Aug 11, 2015

Study Finds That Angry Women At Work Pay the Price

According to aFast Companyarticle, women who appear angry at work face financial and social repercussions.  

A new study formulated by research from ViralSmarts, an organizational performance consultancy in Utah, finds that women who appear forceful or angry in their communication could suffer immense backlash in the work environment because of severe "emotional inequality" between them and their male coworkers.  

The study was broken down into two parts.

The first component of the study contained what researchers considered to be filed under "high-stakes conversations." The second component of the study covered possible solutions and strategies to overcome such a gender bias. 

The first part of the study used three scripts on two actors — man or woman — varying in four different levels of forcefulness, from neutral to strong. The actors were then placed in a room at a conference table with the camera focused tightly on the actor, as he or she played the role of boss, peer or subordinate to a group of observers. 

Observers were responsible for rating the actor's delivery of the high-stakes scripts. When the scripts were delivered in an aggressive manner, the actor's perceived status or worth dropped significantly.

The gender bias came into play when the female actor then played the role of a subordinate or peer. When the female actor spoke in a forceful manner, her perceived competence dropped by 35 percent, estimating a whopping $15,088 in losses — a much bigger drop than the men who behaved similarly.

The second part of the study assessed whether or not framing statements to avoid possible backlash and scrutiny would help mitigate a communication faux-pas. When the woman actor was cautious with her words, the social backlash was reduced by 27 percent.

The study certainly raises questions about women censoring their behavior and language to appease others and succeed in the work environment. Do women really need to go through this amount of red tape to counter possible backlash just for speaking up in ways deemed socially unacceptable?

In this case, the framing is more of a top-down approach to something inherently grounded in gender stereotypes and inequalities.

Vice president of the research, David Mayfield also agreed that framing statements are probably not the best alternative.

"Fighting long-term gender roles and that society evolves but it evolves very slowly. Hopefully, the forefront of the evolution would be opinion leader organizations take the lead, eventually the legal structure catches up."

Read more specifics about the study here.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

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