Psychological Science has just published an eye-opening study that found that women who express anger at work were thought of more negatively than men and were assumed to be ‘angry people’ or ‘out of control’. Male colleagues who did the same were typically viewed in a more positive light and were assumed to be upset by circumstances.
The study was led by psychologist Victoria Brescoll and the abstract of the study is below:
Can an angry woman get ahead? Status conferral, gender, and expression of emotion in the workplace.
Psychol Sci. 2008 Mar;19(3):268-75.
Three studies examined the relationships among anger, gender, and status conferral. As in prior research, men who expressed anger in a professional context were conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness. However, both male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals than on angry male professionals. This was the case regardless of the actual occupational rank of the target, such that both a female trainee and a female CEO were given lower status if they expressed anger than if they did not. Whereas women’s emotional reactions were attributed to internal characteristics (e.g., “she is an angry person,”"she is out of control”), men’s emotional reactions were attributed to external circumstances. Providing an external attribution for the target person’s anger eliminated the gender bias. Theoretical implications and practical applications are discussed.
Along similar lines, a study we reported last year found that women who bargained for more money during job interviews were typically thought of as more ‘difficult’ than men who did the same, particularly when a man was doing the evaluating.
Link to abstract of study on women and workplace anger.