Surprising results fail to surprise

An article on incivility at work:

Women report more incivility experiences at work than men, but who is at fault for instigating these mildly deviant behaviors? One UA researcher set out to answer that question, with surprising results.

Surprising for whom?

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Gabriel said. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.

“This isn’t to say men were off the hook or they weren’t engaging in these behaviors,” she noted. “But when we compared the average levels of incivility reported, female-instigated incivility was reported more often than male-instigated incivility by women in our three studies.”

This will only be surprising to those who have never observed women sharing a workplace.

Participants also were asked to complete trait inventories of their personalities and behaviors to determine if there were any factors that contributed to women being treated uncivilly. The research showed that women who defied gender norms by being more assertive and dominant at work were more likely to be targeted by their female counterparts, compared to women who exhibited fewer of those traits.

I understand there are entire programs devoted to encouraging women to be more assertive in the workplace. Now we find this serves to attract the ire of other women. Meanwhile, men are busy getting on with the job, and their lives.

The researchers also found that when men acted assertive and warm — in general, not considered the norm for male behavior — they reported lower incivility from their male counterparts. This suggests men actually get a social credit for partially deviating from their gender stereotypes, a benefit that women are not afforded.

Hang on. Men acted assertive and warm. The previous paragraph said nothing about assertive women displaying warmth. Probably because they’d not found a single example of it across all three studies.

Evidence emerged in the three studies that companies may face a greater risk of losing female employees who experience female-instigated incivility, as they reported less satisfaction at work and increased intentions to quit their current jobs in response to these unpleasant experiences.

Yet we need to increase female participation in the workforce.

Organizations should make sure they also send signals that the ideas and opinions of all employees are valued, and that supporting others is crucial for business success — that is, acting assertively should not be viewed negatively, but as a positive way for employees to voice concerns and speak up.

Acting assertively isn’t viewed negatively if the person in question – either male or female – retains some form of humanity and doesn’t come across as a nasty, vindictive, petty individual bent on settling personal scores. Perhaps the best solution all around is not to employ assholes of either sex? Sadly, most modern corporations seem to recruit their management teams primarily for that characteristic.

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36 thoughts on “Surprising results fail to surprise

  1. ‘Organizations should make sure they also send signals that the ideas and opinions of all employees are valued’

    As long as you don’t have any non approved opinions of course…

  2. As long as you don’t have any non approved opinions of course…

    Yeah, let’s ask James Damore how that worked out.

  3. Catfights Over Handbags And Tears In Toilets –

    Over in one corner sat Alice, a strong-minded 27-year-old who always said what she thought, regardless of how much it might hurt someone else. In the other corner was Sarah, a thirtysomething high-flier who would stand up for herself momentarily – then burst into tears and run for the ladies.

    The venomous women were supposedly the talented employees I had headhunted to achieve my utopian dream – a female- only company with happy, harmonious workers benefiting from an absence of men.

    It was an idealistic vision swiftly shattered by the nightmare reality: constant bitchiness, surging hormones, unchecked emotion, attention-seeking and fashion rivalry so fierce it tore my staff apart.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1168182/Catfights-handbags-tears-toilets-When-producer-launched-women-TV-company-thought-shed-kissed-goodbye-conflict-.html#ixzz58OxDEv5b

  4. Times, yesterday:
    “The BBC is offering to send female staff on assertiveness courses, as if that is why they are not paid as much as men. This could backfire. A few years ago a Radio 4 editor went on an assertiveness course. A week later, at her colleagues’ request, she was sent for anger-management training.”

  5. @jwl – I read that whole article. Not surprising – put a bunch of power skirts in an organisation like that and it’s bound to happen.

    It’s also proof that women dress to impress / impose themselves on other women, as opposed to the feminist line that they do it for the benefit of men…

    I’ve worked in an organisation where women were in a position of authority over other women, and it did indeed result in tears. Completely unnecessarily, too. There was a vindictiveness that was just wholly bizarre, bitchy and unnecessary.

  6. @abacab,

    One of my proteges once wore fishnets to a job interview with a competitor. I can assure you that wasn’t for the women’s benefit.

    Sadly (for me), it was an effective tactic.

    @jwl,

    A boss admitting to sexist discrimination? I assume the police are investigating.

  7. “The BBC is offering to send female staff on assertiveness courses, as if that is why they are not paid as much as men. This could backfire. A few years ago a Radio 4 editor went on an assertiveness course. A week later, at her colleagues’ request, she was sent for anger-management training.”

    ROFLMAO!

  8. I’ve worked in an organisation where women were in a position of authority over other women, and it did indeed result in tears. Completely unnecessarily, too. There was a vindictiveness that was just wholly bizarre, bitchy and unnecessary.

    I’ve blogged about this before, but I reckon it’s down to evolution. If two grown men fall out and get into a fight, there is a very good chance one will be killed and the other terribly wounded. So unless there is something serious at stake, it’s best to learn to rub along as well as you can, or avoid each other entirely.

    Women, on the other hand, don’t run the same risks of serious injury so they can do battle with one another all day long.

  9. @Tim – Indeed. And given the murder rate amongst primitive peoples, both historic and existing, probably a good evolutionary strategy for men to learn to swallow their pride and just get on with it.

  10. @BiG – your protégée there – that’s not power dressing or being a fashionista, that’s whoring it up to get a potential employer’s swonnicles revolving.

  11. Organizations should make sure they also send signals that the ideas and opinions of all employees are valued.

    Others have already noticed this one. I have a shortlist of people at my work whose opinions are almost 100% worthless. Trying to value them only wastes company money.

    Also, since when is being warm not considered a normal male trait?

  12. proof that women dress to impress / impose themselves on other women

    I may have posted this before but I once had a female employee break down in tears in front of me because she was so stressed by the competition/bitching over dressing in the office.

    Naturally not one single man had noticed this was a thing.

  13. Ask anyone who has anything to do with horse livery yards what they think about the ‘gentler sex’. A bigger den of cattiness and downright nastiness you’d be hard to find. Horse owners are 99% female at the leisure level, and when you put even half a dozen different owners into a relatively confined area on a regular basis the sparks soon fly. I’ve lost count of the number of customers (I supply hay to horse owners) who’ve had to move yards because another woman was making their life hell.

    All this is one of those ‘Anyone with experience knows the truth is X, but the media and public sphere demand that the opposite is actually true, act as if it was, and trash anyone who dares declare otherwise’ things. Another is the public’s attitude to the NHS – if you listen to the media and politicians you’d think the UK public would happily go to war on behalf of the NHS. Whereas every person I know has hardly a good thing to say for it, and chances are would vote for a change. Brexit was another, you’d never have known such a feeling was in the country if you followed the MSM.

    We really do live in Newspeak times.

  14. “I’ve blogged about this before, but I reckon it’s down to evolution. If two grown men fall out and get into a fight, there is a very good chance one will be killed and the other terribly wounded. So unless there is something serious at stake, it’s best to learn to rub along as well as you can, or avoid each other entirely.

    Women, on the other hand, don’t run the same risks of serious injury so they can do battle with one another all day long.”

    I’ve always said the same too. Men also have a natural sense of hierarchy, where they fit into the pecking order. Only very occasionally does someone challenge the order and there is a bust-up, a short period of instability, then everything settles back down to the new order of things.

  15. Ask anyone who has anything to do with horse livery yards what they think about the ‘gentler sex’. A bigger den of cattiness and downright nastiness you’d be hard to find.

    Oh dear lord. There are women, and then there are “horsey” women. Deborah Meaden from Dragon’s Den is a horsey-type, and it shows.

  16. @Jim – we had a newcomer appointed manager, since the previous one had just had enough of head office and asked to be demoted. We just slotted into the new order of things.

    We thought it was probably head office’s plan that the old mgr would crack (they seemed to be doing everything in their power to bring it about – his direct mgr was the female mgr referred to above, who had forced a strong female manager to quit about a year before).

    I don’t suffer management any more – there’s just 2 of us who more or less do our own thing with a bit of overlap as and when.

  17. Men also have a natural sense of hierarchy, where they fit into the pecking order.

    Yup, I was talking about this to a female friend the other day. In a group of men I am quite happy for someone else to take the lead. If he’s competent, I’m content to play second fiddle. But if there’s nobody else around to take the lead, or I’m asked to, I’m happy to do it also. I only take umbrage at being second fiddle if the guy in charge is an imbecilic moron.

  18. Men in the workplace who hate each other will avoid each other as much as possible, women will never miss an opportunity to stick a barb in each other. Of all the vicious workplace feuds I’ve encountered, the sort that make an office toxic for everyone in a half-mile radius, 10% were between a man and a woman, 90% were between two women.

  19. @Tim – I like to express that concept as “I can lead, I can follow, or I can get out of the way”.

  20. I am Canadian who works from home for an American firm of consultants and its human resources department is entirely women. I am good friends with two guys who work at office and how they describe the ladies in HR, it sounds like nest of vipers. At least three times in past decade, my firm has hired outside consultant to teach women how to get along with one another but nothing changes.

    For all of human history, males have to get along with one another – hunt in packs to kill animal for meat to feed our tribe, work together to clear land or dig ditches or build walls, join militia to defend our wives and children when there are invaders. Females spend their time looking after children or foraging for berries and they don’t seem to have developed ability to function in hierarchy.

    It is my experience that women can’t be told, they do whatever they like.

  21. It is my experience that women can’t be told, they do whatever they like.

    I noticed a lot of Russian administrative departments, including HR, deal with this by putting a bloke at the top of it.

  22. For all of human history, males have to get along with one another – hunt in packs to kill animal for meat to feed our tribe, work together to clear land or dig ditches or build walls, join militia to defend our wives and children when there are invaders. Females spend their time looking after children or foraging for berries and they don’t seem to have developed ability to function in hierarchy.

    This, but you’re missing that they merely haven’t developed it the way men have. Women absolutely have a hierarchy, but theirs is based on access to the highest-status males (whereas men’s hierarchy is based on access to the tastiest mammoth). It’s simple genetic psychology – do what produces the most and fittest offspring.

    I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that encouraging women to join the workforce was a civilizational mistake.

  23. >It is my experience that women can’t be told, they do whatever they like.

    This is not a natural state of affairs. In the past women were more compliant than men, or at least equally compliant as them. (I’m not talking about bitchiness, but about doing what the job requires.) Even now, girls are more compliant than boys at school. And probably working-class women are as well-behaved at work as the men, and are good at getting on with their jobs.

    It’s the professional middle-class women who are the problem (not all, of course, and certain professions are worse for this than others). They’re like that because they’ve been told for years how wonderful they are, how the world has been waiting for them and their amazing talents, they should live their dreams, working hard 9-5 is a straightjacket, and so on.

    (In a way I approve of people who do what they want, and I hate the 9-5 as much as any of these women, but you can’t be like that and also expect long-term, well-paid employment.)

  24. “It is my experience that women can’t be told, they do whatever they like.”

    That is certainly my experience with my wife and daughters, and my secretary tends to liberally interpret requests 🙁

  25. When you live in an imaginary world of Progressive tropes, reality like this will constantly trip you up.

  26. I have worked with women, back in the day when I worked, and the results were, er… mixed. I worked with one woman who, replacing me as a manager when I switched roles in the company, liked to hand me what she saw as problems that had occurred from when I had been in charge, saying it wasn’t her job to cover me. But, she took the money nonetheless.

    One woman in a company I worked for made a lot of fuss of seeking my opinion, pushing to work with me on a variety of projects. Then I met my wife and suddenly this woman dropped any pretence of working with me, almost overnight.

    Yeah, I know… you will say she fancied me. Er… sadly, no. The reason emerged later that I was useful to her was she was screwing a married bloke in another department and I was acting as a sort of mask. My colleagues would say: ‘Oh him! I bet he’s getting something from Barbara on the side.” Well, attractive though Barbara was, I wasn’t getting anything. But, once I met my wife I found out my use as a mask for Barb’s secret bonking was not going to be needed. Anyway, within two months she had found another job.

    So, women in work… hmmm, a mixed bag.

  27. It’s the professional middle-class women who are the problem

    Men are no longer taught how to deal with women’s shit tests, is the problem.

  28. The problem starts early.
    We have three boys and then a girl came along. It seemed that a little girl can only have one friend at any one time, but is a different one each week. We had to be on good terms with our neighbours as there was always a girl complaining to mum that so-n-so did not want to play with her.
    The boys just got on with it in groups of any size.

  29. In my experience of managing multi-disciplinary teams, the best mix was a third (or less) female and two-thirds male. The next best was all or nearly all male. The worst mix was majority female.

  30. “Oh dear lord. There are women, and then there are “horsey” women.”

    Dating advice for the ages!

  31. Mencken said a misogynist is a man who hates women as much as women hate each other

  32. A lot of people don’t understand leadership. Like the Facebook chick and her assertion that she’s bossy therefore she’s a good leader. I worked with one woman who was aiming for “dominate” but was rude, sadistic, belligerent, backstabbing and incoherent. I’ve found a ton of women just pantomime what she thinks a King dick alpha would do with a focus on manipulation and control for the sake of manipulation and control.

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