Women who demonstrate stereotypical masculine traits should be mindful of their behavior if they want to get ahead in the workplace. That is the finding of researchers at George Mason University and Stanford University who recently completed a study that examined the effects of self-monitoring on womens promotions.
Previous research has shown that women who exhibit conventional male characteristics such as self-confidence and dominance may suffer from the backlash effect in which they are viewed negatively for not acting in a traditionally feminine manner.
But according to researchers Olivia ONeill, assistant professor in Masons School of Management, and Charles OReilly, professor in Stanfords Graduate School of Business, women who are able to self-monitor their masculine behavior use it to their advantage and get more promotions at work than both men and other women.
Although masculine women are seen as more competent than feminine women, they are also seen as less socially skilled and, consequently, less likeable and less likely to get promoted, says ONeill. Our research shows that self-monitoring this behavior can have beneficial effects for masculine women, leading to more promotions and success in the workplace.
For the study titled Reducing the backlash effect: Self-monitoring and womens promotions, the researchers collected information at two different time periods.
During the first assessment, which took place in 1986-1987, 80 participants (47 percent of whom were women) who were enrolled in the first year of a two-year business school program, completed personality and management questionnaires. The researchers followed up eight years later after the participants had graduated to gather information on their career history.
The results showed that masculine women who are good at self-monitoring, or knowing when to turn on and off these masculine traits, had a higher likelihood of being promoted than those women who were not as successful at self-monitoring. By contrast, self-monitoring did not make a difference in the number of promotions men received.
Were not saying that women have to start acting more feminine to succeed in the workplace, says ONeill. The most important thing to remember is being able to accurately assess social situations and respond appropriately.
Explore further: Public boarding school—the way to solve educational ills?
More information: The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology and can be found here: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8325.2010.02008.x/pdf