A new study finds that participants rate women who come across as angry or critical as 35 percent less competent and worth $15,000 less in pay than women who are less aggressive. Men who came across as angry or critical were penalized by roughly half that amount. The study was conducted by corporate training company VitalSmarts, who surveyed more than 11,000 people in June. Participants were asked to watch female and male actors reading identical scripts pretending to be managers delivering criticism, then to rate the “managers” in terms of their competency and deserved pay. Interestingly, when female managers hedged their criticism, results altered significantly. When a harsh comment was prefaced with phrases such as “I know it’s a risk for a woman to speak this assertively,” backlash was reduced by as much as 27 percent, researchers said. The study lends further credence to the theory that people judge assertiveness more harshly in men than in women, but it’s worth noting that drawing attention to bias seems to lessen it.
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