Men More Likely to Respond Negatively to Gender Threats at Work
When male workers believe their gender status is threatened, they are more likely than their female counterparts to engage in deviant behaviour, such as lying or stealing in the workplace, new research suggests. They also become less helpful to coworkers and less willing to pitch in on organizational initiatives.
The findings shed light on the consequences of perceived gender threats at a time when traditional masculinity has become a heated topic of political and cultural debate.
The research was featured in the article, “Fragile or robust? Differential effects of gender threats in the workplace among men and women”, which was recently published in the journal Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes.
The article was written by Keith Leavitt, lead author of the paper and associate dean for research at the College of Business at Oregon State University, together with Luke Zhu from the Schulich School of Business, Maryam Kouchaki from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and Anthony Klotz from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
“Research in the psychology of motivation has generally found that people have three key needs: to feel autonomous and in control, to feel competent, and to relate to others,” said Zhu. “We found that for men, gender threats erode their sense of autonomy, which in turn motivates them to behave in ways that demonstrate their independence from rules and from others.”
Added Zhu: “By contrast, because femininity is generally associated with communal behaviour in organizations, women’s gender standing at work does not affect their perceived ability to behave autonomously.”