IT Employment

Are angry women incompetent?


I mentioned in a previous blog that the annual meeting of the Academy of Management was being held last week in Philadelphia. The topic I mentioned in that blog was how a study that seemed to indicate that the best way to get ahead in the workplace is to be a tyrant.

According to CNN, the controversial results of another survey were going to be released at that same conference. This study, conducted by Victoria Brescoll, a post-doctoral scholar at Yale University, shows that "a man who gets angry at work may well be admired for it but a woman who shows anger in the workplace is liable to be seen as 'out of control' and incompetent."

(You have to wonder if the conference itself is not a big ole lab experiment. It's like they're releasing all of these survey results just to see how long it takes the men and women attendees to break out in fist fights.)

Conspiracy theory aside, here's the basic breakdown of the experiment conducted on anger and gender:

Brescoll conducted three tests in which men and women watched videos of a job interview and were asked to rate the applicants' status and assign them a salary. In the first instance, the scripts were the same except where the candidate described feeling either angry or sad about losing an account due to a colleague's late arrival at a meeting. Here's how the ratings broke down in order of status assigned, in descending order:

  • Man who said he was angry
  • Woman who said she was sad
  • Man who said he was sad
  • Woman who said she was mad (this was last by a large margin)

And, it gets worse. The average salary assigned to the angry man was almost $38,000 compared to about $23,500 for the angry woman and in the region of $30,000 for the other two candidates.

At the risk of coming across as incompetent, WHAT KIND OF CRAP IS THAT?!

In the CNN piece, Brescoll explains that the attitude is not conscious, that "People are hardly aware of it." That makes me feel better...not at all.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

45 comments
mdiaz
mdiaz

Great article. I am an HR guy and I'm shocked that the disparity in "assigned" pay between an angry man & woman in the example is almost $15,000! And not at the $100,000 level! Really shocking. I don't think you need to be a tyrant to get ahead, regardless of gender. Some organizations are dog-eat-dog, some are actully caring. I prefer the latter. I don't think you get co-opted or marginalized if you're an angry woman, but I prefer a female manager with sensitivity versus a my-way-or-the-highway attitude. The same goes for what I prefer in a male boss. Who needs that crap? Gender bias, like many kinds of bias is subtle, nearly subconscious, and pervasive. Having some sensitivity is important for management, but keeping a workplace as free of bias as possible is an ongoing challenge. BTW, Backdoor Man - I hope you were joking, because your post was really offensive, and I don't claim to be the most enlightened male on the planet. Your comment displayed a complete lack of comprehension about what it's like to be in a class of people who face untoward challenges simply because of their class. I really hope you were joking. If not, please decline any offers to be in management. You don't belong there. Again, great article. Thanks for posting it.

dawgit
dawgit

This whole article was about 'Management' right? 30k? With a top of 38K? And the Women (I'm assuming here) only 23.5? Did I get that right? Is in IT or Fast Food? 23.5k is poverty. And since the Dollar (US) is about worthless. I would say the Garbage Collecters probably make more money here. (and they're complaining.!.) That just can't be true. Managers only make that? Tell me it ain't so. -d

maecuff
maecuff

All humans get angry. It's an honest emotion. However, any HUMAN who allows anger to prevail when making decisions or dealing with peers or subordinates in the job place has a problem. It IS possible to control your anger. And if you are in a spot where you just can't get a grip, then you need to walk away until you are in control of yourself. Anything less is incompetence. This isn't a male/female thing. It's a maturity thing. The worst tirades I have EVER witnessed have come from men. This isn't a sexist statement, it is merely my experience. Each time I walked away with a little less respect for the person.

robinabo
robinabo

I am not surprised by the results of this survey. It just says the obvious; there are different expectations from men and women. What beats me is why women have to be on the receiving end. If ???People are hardly aware of it.??? It happens all the time, a lot is expected from the woman, but no body remembers this when it comes to compensation

pshaw0423
pshaw0423

Someone who can't hold their temper and civility in a business situation is incompetent by any definition. Such a person is a fool -- and a fool may be admired only by other fools. Be careful about what you call "success." As Lily Tomlin once said, "The thing about the rat race is, even if you win, you're still a rat."

Robert
Robert

Ever Divorce an Angry Woman?? I have .. they do the Stupidest stuff.. Of course , my Angry woman would never darken the door of a board room, It is unfair but with half the population experiencing divorce.. It doesn't surprise me.

agilebrainz
agilebrainz

Women who express any kind of emotion in the workplace including anger generally leave co-workers at a loss as to how to deal with them. Men especially still don't like to deal with emotions. So while the 'angry' woman may not initially be incompetant she soon becomes so when co-workers and management fail to interact. That leads to isolation and avoidance, which is no way to get anything done. Fair? No. But, ime, true. Strong women, take note. What's assertive in a man can sometimes be perceived quite differently in a woman.

bcastle1986
bcastle1986

I personally have had a man scream, yell and almost come over the table at me during a meeting... This happened twice over a few months with the same person. Checking with my peers and fellow witnesses to these incidents, they did not understand why he acted the way he did. Would I want to work with this person again? No. Would I ever want to work for this person? I would seriously consider finding another job. Do I view anyone who acts this way as competent? NO! It seems that often these outbursts are to cover up a perceived lack of competence. This person was accusing me of exactly what he had done. Am I perfect? No. However, if someone sees an issue there are more professional ways to handle it than getting angry and sounding mad (in other words, uncontrolled).

Meesha
Meesha

Anger is best left out of the workplace regardless of gender. Male anger represents a fear response (both for himself and to those he directs his anger to). This leads to the ostrich effect with the bottom line of little productivity gain if any. Female anger becomes more personal but rarely engenders fear but may have the same outcomes of little or no productivity. Regardless of gender, anger is not a management tool but is indicative of low EQ (EQ - is a measure of your emotional intelligence, or your ability to use both your emotions and cognitive skills in your life. Emotional intelligence competencies include but are not limited to empathy, intuition, creativity, flexibility, resilience, coping, stress management, leadership, integrity, authenticity, intra personal skills and interpersonal skills.) When I'm approached by a manager displaying anger, my first instinct is to flee. But that lasts a micro millisecond. I actually become calmer and quieter until the anger is spewed back on the manager giving it. Responding "kind for kind" may be a male bonding ritual but in the real world where both genders must coexist in all manner of emotions, your EQ at the end of the day will determine your true management/leadership capability. By the way, my calm approach to these issues are sometimes misconstrued as "cold" and emotionless. But that's far from the truth. As to seeming incompetent, it's in the eyes of the beholder. Female anger for males = no fear and see incompetence. Male anger for females = fear and see a father type/leader figure. Do I like this? No but this is the reality born by years of societal conditioning. Will the female gender ever achieve, at minimum, equality in this area? I do see it happening even now; but it's slow and often achieved at the expense of loosing one's current social pecking order.

DreganTepis
DreganTepis

I'm a 6'4", 290lbs guy (mostly still muscle, despite a middle age tire), and work with an attitude of "everything looks like a nail, if you carry a big enough hammer". And yet my underlings are much more submissive to my 4'11" female partner. Some of the more annoying ones go as far as fearing her due to her scoldings of their incompetency. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm sorry that so many people stereotype assertive women this way. Personally, I like working with a "pit boss" I can trust. I know she has never let me down, nor would she. And to those of us who do their job well, she is a pleasant person to socialize with. To all the people who find an angry woman incompetent, I wish you well digging ditches for a living, because it's more a statement of your attitude's then her's. Or better yet, I hope you get on the wrong side of my partner one day....

AV .
AV .

Theres that ol' double standard again. The truth is men, angry, sad or whatever, always make more money than women even if they are doing the same job. They are also perceived as more competent because, why? Old school thinking. Companies go to extremes to push diversity, equality and everything else like that in the workplace, but if you look past the BS at places like the Academy of Management, you realize the mindset is still 1950. What an insult to women professionals. AV

Satha Arumanayagam
Satha Arumanayagam

Anger is definitely something that you do not want to cultivate - and those who do it either consciously or unconsciouly are harming themselves more than harming others... In business we all could (and perhaps do) pretned to be angry to deal with certain situations. This is alright provided the person understands the emotion and is in control of it...But in the long term it is best to cultivate other tools... rather than pretend to be angry to deal with a situation... To a more plesant life without too much anger!!! Cheers Satha Chief Executive Officer SVA Global Pty Ltd m:+ 61 417 321 257 e: satha@svaglobal.com w: www.satha-svaglobal.com

bill
bill

Boudicea became more effecient as she got angry and they gave her the top job. She lasted well until she met a more angry man.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

So are angry men. Victoria must have been very angry. You do know that statistically you are less likely to have a car crash if you wear odd socks. This is why women are seen as bad drivers, you can't get odd tights. If this appeals to your sense of logic, I can only assume the wife has just put your new car through a wall or some such. Complete and utter drivel, almost enough to make a bloke angry :D :D

Mycah Mason
Mycah Mason

I always find these "new" discoveries a bit amusing due to the fact that they are not "new" at all. How long have examples (like this one) of inequality in the work place been thrown around? ...pretty much as long as I can remember. I think that the problem is that the idea is to move from point A to point C, but, we never move past point B. More specifically, point A is stating that there is a problem, point B is getting people to agree with A, and point C is changing A. We repeatedly transition from point A to point B with these types of examples of inequality and never make the transition from point B to point C. My opinion is that people need to stop starting at point A. Get over it, move forward! We've already been at point B for decades (at least). So, rather than just continuing to transition from point A to point B why not start at point B and come up with a new idea of how to get from point B to point C. Then I think you would have something.

Wayne M.
Wayne M.

My reaction upon reading this is to question the experiment itself. First, were the differences statistically significant? Unless this was an extremely large study, it is quite possible that the differences in status and average salary may be entirely due to random variation and these values would not be repeatable. Second, what experience level did the survey people have in setting salaries? This is not a skill set common in the population at large and the variation in salaries could be based more on this inexperience than anything else in the experiment. Lastly, and to me the most significant, is that I personally would not have given any of them a good review. I don't care if the individual is mad or sad, male or female, I am not going to accept the premise that the individual lost the account because a colleague arrived late. If that was the case, I didn't need the individual in the first place, just the colleague. Problems arise, I expect my staff to take responsibility and not pass the blame to someone else.

dave.denson
dave.denson

The problem is not that women are seen as incompetent if they get angry. The problem is that the men aren't.

F4A6Pilot
F4A6Pilot

Sometimes anger is used to motivate others. Their fear stimulates them to greater effort. Some people need to feel threatened to do any productive work. Case in Point. Call him Brain: Brain is smart; talks a great line; always can come up with a workable solution; he doesn't ever implement the solutions when left alone to work on them(which, when in fear he does admirably) He needs to micro managed and driven. His manager, Lois Lenient is a smart competent person who gets nothing out of him. The carrot doesn't work, but the stick does. We have an angry (at Brain) manager who gets a crapload of work out of him... Case in point: Manager Lois Lenient gets nothing out of him in six months. Manger Helen Wheels turned him into a star performer by cracking the whip on him. In this situation the person wasn't incompetent who lost their temper was the solution. Next case in point, Lois Lenient was actually go along-get along guy named Bob. Helen Wheels is a tough, smart, attractive woman. She isn't considered incompetent because of what she gets angry at. By the way she makes more money than Bob. The difference is perception. She gets mad at the right things. There are other women here who don't get mad at the right things. They aren't considered competent. From my point of view most of them are under educated for their job, and she gets mad because a man will not pay attention to them, or will pay her attention. Betty Betterbody fumes when men pay attention to her for her short skirts and low cut tops and files SH charges every place she works. She plays the victim game. She is even more angry at men who pay no attention to her. with her lack of education and track record of litigation nobody wants to pay her much money. That makes her angry... Betty may have great ideas, but Betty hasn't paid her dues via education, or achievement and gets angry at being passed over for promotion. Smart management doesn't want to work too closely with her. She is trapped, and peeved about it... This isn't conclusive, but it is an interesting concept that those with no education want the same opportunity,and pay that those with education and experience get for trying for the same job without the same qualifications. It seems that most of these people are women. Not a sermon, just a thought.

bferreri88
bferreri88

In today's society I believe that men and women are looked at very differently especially in the work place. With woman being angry/mean they are known as being "bitchy" and when men are being the same way they are just being "stern" and "in control". This seems like a double standard however when men are controlling they get rewarded for it and when woman try to be the same way they get demoted for it. Wouldnt you think in this day and age when woman have had the same rights and power as men we could get over this?

roxanne371
roxanne371

I worked for a director just like you and he utilized myself as manager in exactly the same way. The only time that we get angry is when repeated requests for others to do our jobs without constant oversight or repeated requests for people to correct the underlying issue rather than sticking their fingers in each and every hole in the dyke! So, it should be just as understandable for us to get angry as it is for my male boss - once it's done & over, we forget and go on like it never happened - unlike most of my male counterparts!

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I work in a place where the women play a dominant role. We have women on th board and all the way down. In my dept alone, there are 2/3 women.

Tig2
Tig2

And the fact is that I run multiple teams and am the only woman in the room. Unless my senior is present. Then WE are the only women in the room. Until we stop seeing gender boundaries, this kind of thing will persist. And a shame that it does.

MyLittleMansAnIdiot
MyLittleMansAnIdiot

"You do know that statistically you are less likely to have a car crash if you wear odd socks. This is why women are seen as bad drivers, you can't get odd tights." Excuse me while I go wipe the tears from my eyes.

donaldcoe
donaldcoe

The overall issue is always Men and Women working in the same environment, who is your daddy or who is your mama-who is in charge or who thinks he or she?s in charge. Having had both men and women as bosses / colleagues and both showing a level of incompetence whether they are angry or not. Human nature is controlled by the hormones and what levels each of us brings to the table. I have never cared who is angry or not as long as they help get the damn job done and give me my space. A colleague once said to me ?We can?t change the bark in a DOG, so what makes us think we change the tension between a Man and Women. Many years ago the roles were split like a wedge, what a man job role or woman job role was defined as. It has just a few years jobs started opening up to both sexes, then the mountain of sexual harassment complaints rose to the Moon because we just could not redefine our roles so we had to be cattle prodded to get and keep our attentions focused to accept the task at hand. Everybody thinks they know what makes you tick or tock and what your moods are at any one moment. When my mother got angry she was never incompetent about what made her angry and I just hoped that I wasn?t the cause of that anger. So my answer is: Women are Not Incompetent when they are Angry but Energy focused. (Hell Hath No Fury to a Woman?s Scorn) If you can not take working around women, angry or not, get your box ready to pass on and I will send you some flowers.

PG123
PG123

I was wondering the same thing, how differently did the applicants behave? It's possible one only expressed some anger and the other ranted and raved. Often, the people who create these studys have a desired outcome and the participants play a role to achieve that outcome. I am a woman and while I certainly would be offended if I knew for sure that we were comparing apples to apples here, I just don't like to form opinions when I don't have all of the facts.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I am tempted to discount the experiment entirely. It seems to be long on conclusions, short on controls and details.

royhayward
royhayward

Boss comes into a meeting after being chewed on by a client/upper management, and yells at the team. Ted starts to CYA. Jane starts to work on the solution but is worried she will be fired and is distracted. Bill finds the anger directed at him unreasonable and copes by blogging about it on TR while at work. How was effectively affected? Negatively. Now the questions is what was the gender of the Boss?

Va-EConsultant
Va-EConsultant

It's really a project pain when people like Betty have to with others as a team. Time and time again I see the Betty's and the Brain's think they are the best things and are better than the educated teammates. Look, yes, you are basically "Street Smart" but you still have a ways to go when it comes to working as a team member, because "It's not all about you", but all about the team effort. Final Note: By the way work is work, not a NIGHT CLUB. You are representing your company, so Dress Appropriately, we don't work on a corner. Enough Said??

Shesca
Shesca

I believe there is something being said in your reply. Unfortunately, there are so many typos, lack of punctuation, missing words, etc., that it is too hard to read! You obviously typed this as a stream of consciousness. Someone better get mad at you, if this is the way you write in your job. Always read what you have written before you submit it.

brianbrian
brianbrian

Great post! really gets the point across

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I know many people who worked very well. Then the company started targeting them, their managers started to micro-manage, and their performance dropped considerably. When the employee is just too tired of the crap, they will often decide to do 'just enough' to get by until something better comes along. This happens to people who are driven on their own to get things done, and seem to be 'penalized' for being that way.

Ripley8
Ripley8

yet you took the time to reply to what you think is obvious. ?????????????????

royhayward
royhayward

I was following you until you fell into the classic trap. "...in this day and age when woman have had the same rights and power as men ..." I hear these statements and I wish they still made me laugh. Sadly, people really believe this, and this is where problems are created. I'll go out on a limb here and state what I consider the obvious. "Men and Women are different." And I will continue to affirm that these differences are deeper than anatomical. Not all men or women think the same way, but it is ridiculous to think that time has changed this much, if at all. Sadly, some are upset my straight talk like this. I hope you are not one. I like to think that we are getting better about creating working arrangements that better accommodate both genders working together. Anger, the topic du'jour, is just a small part of how this is visible. Being angry is what it is. The fact that the same anger is perceived differently coming from a man than from a woman, is evidence that 'rights' and 'power' may be equatable, but that does not make them equal. A man or a woman that works hard and plays the game of work advancement will be required to do different things to succeed. This is life. It is not bad or good, it just is. Sometime in the recent past, we were sold the idea that "getting over this" would be a good thing and that if and when it happens we will all be happy and live in a utopia. Well, that is a nice idea, but no matter what we "get over" we will not live in a utopia, and not everyone will think they are treated fairly.

Drakaran
Drakaran

That's no surprise since women are much more likely to hire women than men. (no sexism there eh? hahaha)

roxanne371
roxanne371

I agree - although anger is sometimes necessary from us on the job. Teamwork is important too, however when you have to actually get angry to get them to do something, it's ridiculous. Love those people who want to take on the world and then take all those shortcuts.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I went from going above and beyond to doing the BARE MINIMUM. In addition, we started 'booking' management. Booking is a job action that involves doing everything STRICTLY by the book, following every procedure TO THE LETTER and double checking everything. It usually brings output down to a crawl. Suddenly trouble tickets become important again, the chain of command is followed with excrutiating detail with attempts to reach management for authorization tending to occur when they are unavailable in meetings.

bferreri88
bferreri88

Yes I do agree with your thoughts about even in todays world we are still not equal. Many people in today's society do believe that but when looking indepth to this assumption you can easily find the truth. I know I just contridicted myself but even I get caught up on this whole gender equal idea. Because of the idea I am a woman and want to be equal successful in todays world than any man is. This topic is about dealing with anger and how others perceive it. Men and women take their anger out differently and it seems that when men are angry they get left alone and when woman are it is a very big deal and get bombarded with people. Just like everyone says they cant figure out the opposite sex.. People need to learn to get over this and try (at the very least)to equalize eachother. As I said before we are still very much stuck in the old ways and it is up to new generations to change this road we are going along.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

when these were running across my desk, men were hired far more often. The women seem to stay around (maybe due to hiring practices elsewhere), while many of the men seem to move on pretty quickly (and happily).

Shellbot
Shellbot

been there..has gotten better, but i just don't care anymore..hanging on a wee bit longer till soemthing better comes along.

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