You have no doubt heard the expression, “nice guys finish last.” Well now researchers from Tel Aviv University say that it may also be true that nice women finish last.
Women should be more assertive at work. If they are then they are more likely to succeed. This according to a study was conducted by Prof. Sharon Toker of the Tel Aviv University Coller School of Management, Dr. Michal Biron of the Department of Business Administration at the University of Haifa, and Dr. Renee De Reuver of the Department of Human Resource studies at Tilburg University in The Netherlands.
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Women have always had one big problem as professionals that men do not have: An assertive woman is usually criticized for being a “bitch, ” but when a man is assertive it is what is expected of him. So how do women walk this tightrope, balance between being assertive enough without being labeled difficult and not being too passive and never getting ahead?
But this study has some good news for women. Assertive women do get ahead and earn more money, it finds.
The researchers surveyed 375 men and women at a Dutch multinational electronics company with 1, 390 employees. The subjects were selected at random from all 12 of the company departments.
The researchers analyzed tenure, education, and performance data relative to income and promotion statistics. They also examined how the individual perceived the fit between their education, experience, and performance on the one hand, and their income and rank on the other.
“We have witnessed dramatic changes in the definition of traditionally male and female qualities over the past several decades. But some people still really cling to the idea that some qualities are exclusively male and exclusively female, ” Prof. Toker said. “Some professional women are still afraid to exhibit a trait that’s incongruent with presumed notions of female character. The result is financial retribution.”
“We found that women aren’t aware that more agreeable women are being punished for being nice, ” said Dr. Biron. “The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved.”
The researchers hope to replicate the study in Israel and the U.S.