Women brave enough to enter the world of business are consistently told not to be too bossy or too abrasive in the workplace because it ‘creates a hostile environment’. Dominance, we are told, hurts our career opportunities. Being ‘nice’ and ‘subordinate’ is apparently the only way for us to succeed in the working world. This myth has become so pervasive that women everywhere hold themselves back because they think doing so will aid their career. In the spirit of 2017 being the ‘Year of the Woman’, we want to help to unleash fiery, powerful women everywhere by quelling this myth once and for all!
Although there is the common belief that employers desire women who are agreeable, sympathetic and cooperative because they are seen to create more positive relationships in the office, a recent study published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology has found that being ‘nice’ can actually inhibit a woman’s career. This study confirmed the findings of previous studies that agreeable women are actually paid less than more assertive, dominating women. This is partially because agreeable women tend to have lower perceptions of self-worth thus accepting lower pay. But it is also because employers see assertiveness in a positive light, relating it to ambition and self-drive and thus they financially reward dominant behavior. Meaning that assertive women in general earn more than submissive ones! And the benefits of being dominant aren’t only in the form of a bigger salary… Although all women face the problem of being placed in positions lower than what they are qualified for, dominant women experience this to a much lesser extent.
Possibly the most important part of Professor Toker, Professor Biron and Professor Reuver’s research, was the fact that despite the career and salary benefits of being a strong woman being so evident, the majority of women remain unaware. The study found that many women were actually scared of showing confidence and self-assurance because they are traits usually associated with men. They believe that showing these ‘male’ characteristics would hurt their career in the long-term, so instead try the ‘nice’, submissive route. But as this study shows, they should be doing the opposite!
Now we are not saying that women should all simultaneously stop being nice to everyone in order to get a promotion. But if you are one of those individuals who feels like you are holding yourself back because you are afraid of hurting your career through seeming bossy, abrasive or unfeminine– then stop holding back and unleash your full potential, because as this study shows, you will reap the benefits!