By BJ Bjornson
Every now and again, it�s nice to remind myself how nice it is to born male in our society. Actually, not so nice a reminder, and more it�s about how much it sucks to be female in our society.
First up is this story on how its better for a guy to be on the disagreeable side if he wants to get ahead in life, at least financially, with the disagreeable types averaging about $7,000 more than their agreeable colleagues. Such tactics don�t work near as well for women, on the other hand, with the disagreeable women only getting an extra $1,100, and more to the point, women overall were still earning almost $5,000 less than their male colleagues on average.
The point about there not being much of a disagreeability premium for women brought to mind this post by Kevin Drum regarding the whole �men get paid more because they�re more willing to negotiate for a better salary� issue, and quotes from another story where some research was done into the subject, with again less than pleasant results.
Their study, which was coauthored by Carnegie Mellon researcher Lei Lai, found that men and women get very different responses when they initiate negotiations. Although it may well be true that women often hurt themselves by not trying to negotiate, this study found that women's reluctance was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more -- the perception was that women who asked for more were "less nice".
"What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not," Bowles said. "They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not."
Lovely no? This in part explains why there isn�t that much of a disagreeableness premium for women. They are far more likely to be penalized, one way or another, for their willingness to stand up for themselves. And if that wasn�t enough, there is one more depressing result from the first story I linked to.
What�s driving this depressing correlation? In their final study, the researchers conducted an experiment on 460 undergrads in a business management class at a large Southern university. The students were given eight hypothetical job candidates, all of whom were described as smart, insightful and conscientious. However, their levels of agreeableness were varied, so that some candidates were described as much more trusting, altruistic and humble than others. The undergrads were then asked which of these male and female candidates should be fast-tracked for management.
Once again, the results were unforunate: Those candidates with higher levels of agreeableness were much less likely to get fast-tracked, especially if they were male. (Women were slightly less likely to get picked for promotion regardless of their personality.)
That�s actually doubly depressing, even if not much of a surprise. After all, it says something about society overall when trustworthiness, being humble, and altruism are seen as barriers to getting ahead in life. Even here though, simply adding a penis seems to improve your chances.
I like to think of myself as being somewhat enlightened on these matters, and I hope I�ve behaved better than the average male in those studies, but it seems pretty clear that collectively, we still have a ways to go when it comes to treating the sexes equally.