No One Likes Forceful Colleagues – especially if they are female

Thanks to Forbes.Com for alerting me to this fascinating piece of research on gender bias. Do watch the video, it explains their research really well. Crucially, it also comes up with a solution to help us manage the bias against women, which helps men too! I call that a win win.

New York Times best-selling authors, Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield revealed that gender bias in the workplace is real, finding that women’s perceived competency drops by 35% and their perceived worth falls by $15,088 when they are judged as being “forceful” or “assertive.”

Compare this with the drops in competency and worth that men experience when being judged as forceful: their competency drops by 22% and their worth falls by $6,547. This significant difference reveals a true gender bias that prohibits women from succeeding fully in leadership and management roles where assertiveness is, of course, a crucial behaviour.

As part of the study, Grenny and Maxfield conducted an experiment to see if using a brief, framing statement (allowing speakers to explain their intention before sharing their content) could reduce social and emotional backlash. This experiment showed that these brief statements could reduce the backlash by as much as 27% – enabling both women and men to more consciously speak their minds to minimize backlash in the workplace.

The Video Explaining the Research

The moral of this story is explain what you are going to do before you do it, especially if you’re a woman. Effective communication. (If the link doesn’t open for you, you can see it here)

If communicating effectively at work is of interest to you, do check out my Speak Up course, written especially for women, to help you make your voice heard in the workplace. More information, plus some audio of me, is here.


Posted on August 26th, 2015 by

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