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


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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    • "Women's persisting lack of fit with high-status leadership positions (Eagly & Karau, 2002; Heilman, 2012; Koenig, Eagly, Mitchell, & Ristikari, 2011) is not equally reflected in all dimensions or stages in personnel selection procedures for high-status leadership positions: Research has revealed that in hiring-simulation paradigms where female and male applicants are described as well qualified for the job and therefore perceived as similarly competent, female applicants are evaluated less favourably for the positions than their male counterparts. For instance, studies by Glick, Zion, and Nelson (1988) as well as by Rudman and Glick (1999, 2001) showed that female applicants were perceived as less hireable for typically male positions than male applicants, even though evaluations of female and male applicants' competence were similar. Biernat and Fuegen (2001) asked participants to evaluate applicants and draw up a shortlist (i.e., to pre-select a number of applicants for the final hiring decision) as well as to make a hiring decision. "

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    • "measuring task-related competence and communion on scales from 1-6 (Rudman & Glick, 1999; 2001). The number of items was increased by adding nine items previously used to measure taskoriented leadership competence (e.g., competing, responsible, power striving) among further fillers measuring person-oriented leadership competence (e.g., modest, creative, fair, taken from Sczesny, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: The traditional stereotype of the typical woman has been described as “nice, but incompetent.” However, such general gender stereotypes are applied to individual targets only under certain conditions: They are used to “fill in the blanks” (Heilman, 2012) if little personal information is provided about a target. “Typical lesbians” are regarded to have more typically masculine (agentic) characteristics such as task competence than the typical woman does. We thus hypothesized that if a woman displays behavior coinciding with the stereotype of the typical woman, it is more readily interpreted as stereotypically female if performed by a heterosexual woman than by a lesbian. Participants (N = 296) read a hypothetical job interview in which we manipulated the target’s sexual orientation (between subjects). Findings demonstrated that a lesbian was judged as more competent than a heterosexual woman in the presence of behavior that may be interpreted as gender-stereotypical (Experiments 1 and 2). This difference in competence judgments was not found in the absence of gender-stereotypical behavior (Experiment 1). Judging the heterosexual woman as low in masculinity was related to a judgment of lower competence (Experiment 2). Our findings demonstrate that there are conditions under which lesbians, a group often stereotyped negatively, are less susceptible to invoking negative female stereotypes than heterosexual women are.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
    • "For example, Rudman (1998) showed that self-effacing behaviors, such as appearing meek or humble, decreased competence perceptions for men but not for women. Also, Rudman and Glick (1999) showed that male job applicants who behaved communally by speaking modestly about their skills and accomplishments were evaluated as less competent than male applicants who behaved agentically, conveying confidence and providing specific examples of their achievements. Furthermore, Heilman and Wallen (2010) showed that this gender-incongruent behavior may not only influence competence perceptions but also negatively influence perceptions of leader effectiveness. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study draws on research derived from role congruity theory (RCT) and the status incongruity hypothesis (SIH) to test the prediction that male leaders who seek help will be evaluated as less competent than male leaders who do not seek help. In a field setting, Study 1 showed that seeking help was negatively related to perceived competence for male (but not female) leaders. In an experimental setting, Study 2 showed that this effect was not moderated by leadership style (Study 2a) or a gender-specific context (Study 2b). Study 2b further showed that the cognitive tenets of RCT rather than the motivational view espoused by the SIH explained our findings. Specifically, leader typicality (perceptions of help seeking as an atypical behavior for male leaders; the RCT view), and not leader weakness (a proscribed behavior for male leaders; the SIH view), mediated our predicted moderation.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · The Leadership Quarterly
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