The nicer or more agreeable a woman is at work, the lower her salary is likely to be, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and University of Haifa in Israel, examined status inconsistencies between men and women through the lens of traditional male and female characteristics.
Dominant, assertive women, who clearly express their expectations and do not retreat from their demands, are compensated better than their more accommodating female peers.
According to the researchers, the same goes for dominant men versus their more conciliatory male counterparts - but even dominant women earn far less than all of their male colleagues, dominant or otherwise.
"We have witnessed dramatic changes in the definition of traditionally male and female qualities over the past several decades," said Sharon Toker, professor at Tel Aviv University.
"However, some people still really cling to the idea that some qualities are exclusively male and exclusively female," said Toker.
"Some professional women are still afraid to exhibit a trait that is incongruent with presumed notions of female character. The result is financial retribution," she said.
"We found that women are not aware that more agreeable women are being punished for being nice," said Michal Biron from the University of Haifa.
"The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved," said Biron.
For the purpose of their study, the researchers surveyed 375 men and women at a Dutch electronics company with 1,390 employees. The subjects were selected at random from all 12 of the company departments.
They used both objective and subjective criteria for the study. For objective data, they analysed tenure, education, and performance data relative to income and promotion statistics.
For subjective data, they 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 found that women were consistently and objectively status-detracted, which means they invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive; and are compensated less than their male colleagues across the board," Biron said.
"However dominant women were not punished for reflecting such female-incongruent traits as extroversion and assertiveness," said Renee De Reuver from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.
"In fact, we found that the more dominant a woman is at work, the less likely she is to be status-detracted. We found a similar pattern among men - the more dominant a man is, the more likely he is to be better compensated. But alarmingly, dominant women were still found to earn less than even the most agreeable men who are not promoted," she said.
The study was published in The European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology.
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