Women must be confident and caring to succeed in the workplace, according to a new study.
The study, led by Laura Guillén, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at ESMT Berlin Business School, found that women must show ‘pro-social’ behaviour, as well as confidence, but men only need to display confidence to get ahead.
Working with colleagues from IE Business School and INSEAD, Guillén studied 236 engineers from a multinational software development company, of which 22 per cent were women, and assessed how self-confident each was perceived to be by their supervisors.
The results showed that there was no difference between genders in terms of the extent to which high performing men and women were seen as confident by upper management, but that women were not rewarded equally for their self-confidence.
In order to be rewarded equally, women had to also display ‘pro-social’ behaviour – showing that they care about others and take others’ interests to heart.
Speaking about the research, Guillén said, “There are a number of studies that have shown that when women display behaviours consistent with being ambitious, it affects them negatively.”
“In other words, they are not liked.”
“Our research shows that women currently need to show pro-social orientation to counterbalance this negative effect – something men do not need to do to get ahead.”
“People want to work in a friendly environment.”
“They want their workplace to be diverse.”
“But in order to create this environment companies need to think carefully about whether being pro-social is a job requirement and then treat women and men equally accordingly.”
“Making sure this happens should not be solely women’s responsibility – organisations need to take concrete steps to promote it actively.”