Women are less likely to be rewarded for innovations in the workplace

October 16, 2018 by Stephanie Skordas And Kim Mcgrath , Wake Forest University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Organizations are eager to find innovative workers because of their ability to see opportunities for improvement in areas that might otherwise go overlooked. But research shows that if these innovative employees are women, they are less likely to be rewarded for their innovations than if they are men.

The "think innovation, think male" – Recent research by Derek R. Avery, professor and the David C. Darnell Chair in Principled Leadership at the Wake Forest University School of Business, showed both men and managers can struggle from a "think —think male" bias that affects performance reviews. Female employees receive more favorable performance ratings when their levels of innovative work behaviors were lower than when they were higher. Avery can talk about how organizations can help managers overcome their own biases. "Being aware is a start," says Avery, "but the is an extension of society, which has long undervalued women as innovators."

Women win by putting their best forward first – Communication professor Rebecca Gill says women can better position themselves to lead change in the workplace by bringing their most promising ideas to the table first. "Bringing an idea to the table that isn't fully fleshed out may validate the gender-bias that innovators tend to be youthful, male, white Silicon-Valley types," says Gill. "Presenting a promising idea, even if small, builds confidence. Innovations are often enhancements or improvements on what we already know and are already familiar with. An Elon Musk-size idea is not necessarily the best one. A small win that makes a difference for a client or customer gives confidence to put up a bigger new idea." Gill can talk about strategies for how to decide what ideas are the most likely to be wins.

Explore further: Men are still more likely than women to be perceived as leaders, study finds

Related Stories

A slam dunk for women head coaches—so drop the bias

August 30, 2017

Having a man in charge of a US female basketball league team does not necessarily translate into more on court success. This is the conclusion of Lindsey Darvin of the University of Florida, lead author of a study in Springer's ...

Incivility at work: is 'queen bee syndrome' getting worse?

February 20, 2018

The phenomenon of women discriminating against other women in the workplace—particularly as they rise in seniority—has long been documented as the "queen bee syndrome." As women have increased their ranks in the workplace, ...

Recommended for you

Frog choruses inspire wireless sensor networks

January 21, 2019

If you've ever camped by a pond, you know frogs make a racket at night; but what you might not know is how functional and regulated their choruses really are. Frogs communicate with sound, and amid their ruckus is an internally ...

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.