Article

Feminized management and backlash toward agentic women: The hidden costs to women of a kinder, gentler image of middle managers.

Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8040, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 12/1999; 77(5):1004-10. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.77.5.1004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Women who display masculine, agentic traits are viewed as violating prescriptions of feminine niceness (L. A. Rudman, 1998). By legitimizing niceness as an employment criterion, "feminization" of management (requiring both agentic and communal traits for managers) may unintentionally promote discrimination against competent women. Participants made hiring recommendations for a feminized or masculine managerial job. Agentic female job applicants were viewed as less socially skilled than agentic males, but this perception only resulted in hiring discrimination for the feminized, not the masculine, job. Communal applicants (regardless of sex) invariably received low hiring ratings. Thus, women must present themselves as agentic to be hireable, but may therefore be seen as interpersonally deficient. Ironically, the feminization of management may legitimize discrimination against competent, agentic women.

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