Women who are perceived as confident in job interviews also seen as lacking social skills

December 10, 2008

A new study in Psychology of Women Quarterly finds that women who present themselves as confident and ambitious in job interviews are viewed as highly competent but also lacking social skills. Women who present themselves as modest and cooperative, while well liked, are perceived as low on competence. By contrast, confident and ambitious male candidates are viewed as both competent and likable and therefore are more likely to be hired as a manager than either confident or modest women.

Julie E. Phelan, Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, and Laurie A. Rudman of Rutgers University taped both male and female applicants interviewing to be a computer lab manager. All applicants presented themselves as competent, but also as either confident and ambitious or modest and cooperative. Participants then evaluated the applicants' competence, social skills, and hirability.

Results show how disparate hiring criteria further discriminates against ambitious, competent women. When judging the ambitious women's hirability, a perceived lack of social skills formed the basis of the hiring decision, and the womens' high competence was relatively neglected. For ambitious men, however, perceived competence and interpersonal skills were weighed equally in the hiring decision. Women were doubly disadvantaged because even when female applicants adhered to stereotypic expectations by presenting themselves as modest, they were unlikely to be hired because evaluators emphasized their relatively low competence and discounted their (high) social skills.

According to this research, women who seek managerial roles face a double bind. In order to be viewed as sufficiently qualified for leadership, they must present themselves as confident and ambitious. But if they do so, they risk prejudice for acting "unfeminine," which can result in hiring discrimination. Thus, in performance settings where confidence and ambition are required to get ahead, men have a clear advantage.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?

Related Stories

Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?

March 6, 2015

Ana Redmond launched into a technology career for an exciting challenge and a chance to change the world. She was well-equipped to succeed too: An ambitious math and science wiz, she could code faster, with fewer errors, ...

Challenging the public's view of gender and science

May 24, 2013

According to She Figures 2012, which analyses gender equality in research, in 2010 women accounted for only 10 % of university rectors in Europe and 15.5 % were heads of institutions of the higher education sector. Although, ...

US-Russian crew blasts off for space station

November 14, 2011

A Russian spacecraft carrying an American and two Russians blasted off Monday from the snow-covered Kazakh steppes in a faultless launch that eased anxiety about the future of U.S. and Russian space programs.

Google Maps taking armchair explorers to the Amazon

August 19, 2011

Two women washed clothes in the dark water of the Rio Negro as a boat glided past with a camera-laden Google tricycle strapped to the roof, destined to give the world a window into the Amazon rain forest.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.