The nicer and more agreeable a woman is at work, the lower her salary is likely to be, say researchers.
Researchers also discovered that dominant, assertive women, who clearly express their expectations and do not retreat from their demands, are compensated better than their more accommodating female peers.
“We found that women aren’t aware that more agreeable women are being punished for being nice,” said one of the researchers Michal Biron from the University of Haifa in Israel.
“The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved,” Biron added.
The same goes for dominant men versus their more conciliatory male counterparts, but even dominant women earn far less than their male colleagues, dominant or otherwise, the researchers said.
The research, published in The European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology, examined status inconsistencies between men and women through the lens of traditional male and female characteristics.
For the purpose of their study, the researchers surveyed 375 men and women at a Dutch multinational electronics company with 1,390 employees. The participants were selected at random from all 12 of the company departments.
The researchers 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.
“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.
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.
In the subjective part of the study, nearly all the employees responded that they felt dissatisfied with their input-compensation ratio, but agreeable and non-dominant women answered that they felt they earned too much.
“This blew our minds,” said Sharon Toker of the Tel Aviv University Coller School of Business Management in Israel.
“The data shows that they earn the least — far less than what they deserve. And they rationalise the situation, making it less likely that they will make appropriate demands for equal pay,” Toker noted.
(With agency inputs)