Timothy Judge, the Franklin D. Schurz Professor of Management in the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, has a new research project, "Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income." His study finds that men benefit from being "disagreeable" in the workplace. Women do not.
"No matter what, men make more money than women," Judge says. (Tell us something we don't know.) He continues, "If you're a disagreeable man, you're considered a tough negotiator. But, the perception is that if a woman is agreeable, she gets taken advantage of, and if she is disagreeable, she's considered a control freak or 'the B-word.'"
Judge also notes that there's a difference between acting like a jerk and standing up for yourself:
"I make a distinction between being disagreeable and being assertive in what you ask for, and I think it's especially important for women to be assertive in what they ask for. We know, often, when you negotiate, you get what you ask for. But I think women have to be really careful in how they present it… To present it in a non-threatening way that tries to acknowledge the other side of the story."
Judge doesn't, as far as we know, get into the details of working for a female boss versus working for a male boss. But it's certainly upsetting to hear him say, in plain English, what many of us have always suspected to be true: Women enter the workforce already at a disadvantage, just by being women. Play it nice and sweet and you're a pushover doormat who gets walked on. Act tough and all-business and you're a bitch. Unless you're a dude! Then you can be "disagreeable" and get a raise. I don't know about you, but I've worked with plenty of mediocre borderline assholish dudes who somehow would just rise to the top of their department, leaving perfectly smart, nice women behind in entry level. (Once I talked to an associate about a mutual colleague's surprise promotion, and he put it succinctly: "Sometimes shit floats.")
Final words from Judge:
It's a double standard, that's to be sure. Because men don't really have to worry about that as much. But that doesn't make it any less important for women to not only think about what they're asking for — but how they present it.
Behaving 'Disagreeably' Is The Way To Get Ahead At Work (But Not If You're A Woman) [Daily Mail]
Research Shows Men Get Ahead For Being "Disagreeable" In The Workplace; Women Don't [Notre Dame News]
Do Nice Guys – and Gals – Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income [PDF]