Act like a man and you’ll earn more? Pft!

Oh good God, new research says us ladies have to act like men to get ahead at work. Yawn. What century are we living in?!

Allegedly, women who adopt a “masculine approach” at work earn up to $80,000 more than “nice” women. What exactly does this mean? That women are nice and men aren’t? That the only way to get ahead is by not being nice? What a load of rubbish!

Guido Heineck of the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research unveiled the study, Does It Pay To Be Nice?, at a conference at Essex University in England. It revealed that women who act more like a man at work earn 4 percent more than their “passive” female co-workers, while “neurotic” women earn 3 percent less. Cringe!

It comes after a review of Australian salaries found that male managers earn 25 percent more than their female colleagues.

Quite frankly I am fed up of this mumbo jumbo. There is no glass ceiling. The reason there are more men in senior positions is because women are mothers, who have babies, and (many) take time out of their careers to care for them, whether that be modern or not. Being able to make a human being is an amazing privilege us women have that men don’t. Do they complain? No.

No doubt the feminists will be out on their high horses soon, but if anything, this survey, which says traits such as ‘agreeableness’ aren’t beneficial in the workplace, is derogatory to men, not women.

What do you think?

  • Oh more misery. I agree Jen. It’s sad that the world seems to be pushing towards making both sexes – asexual. We would believe, that men are supposed to be more feminine and women are supposed to be more like men! What a sad state of affairs. Business is a tough exercise and not for the faint hearted. But do we have to be blokey to get along. No! Do men have to act like women to be successful – No! All in moderation. And there are plenty of wonderful examples, see front cover of this months issue, about the ability to be successful and feminine. I am certainly tough in business but happy to enjoy my very special status as a female, and a female in business! I’m glad I was born a girl!

  • I grew a moustache, scratched my non-existent balls, groped a woman and where did that get me? Fired. Ok, so I made that up but it is symbolic of the outdated view that acting like a man will help women get ahead in the workplace. The research no doubt also revealed that blondes have no brains which, we can see from your profile, is not true. Women are in fewer senior positions because they are still mostly holding down the top job in the home simply because we are genetically ‘blessed’ as the child-bearing sex. I agree Jen, the research should be offensive to the intelligence of men. It proves that women are sacrificing their career for giving men the textbook happy family they desire for the photo on their workplace desk.

  • Mad Dog Lady

    I\’m also fed up with hearing about how tough women have got it in the workplace. But I think what this research is getting at is that women ask for what they think they deserve at work, whereas men ask for – and expect to get – what they want. It probably is a more aggressive tactic, but it seems to work.

  • You’re going to hate me for saying this but the research is probably true. Guido must have had a significant sample size to be able to publish his (or her?) findings.

    As fed up as I am with all this crap, being more assertive (manly) has helped me vs. being more nurturing – I get walked all over at showing the first sign of empathy.

    But as Sharon above, I wouldn’t want to be born a man. Look at all the nice shoes we get to wear! 🙂

  • Melissa

    Bollocks! I say. Actually there has been a lot or research advocating the importance of Emotional Intelligence in leadership. Successful leaders encompass a range of behavioural ‘soft’ skills that typically women rate better on, such as empathy and reading others, self awareness and self-regulation,listening, nurturing relationships. So to act like a ‘man’ may bulldoze you to the top, but does it build performing and engaged teams to take the business forward. The jury is out on that one.

  • I have been working in the IC&T industry in an executive position for the last 10 years of my career and have always stayed true to myself as a women. Always stuck to my stilettos and curves and always got the business and I might add got more than the boys did! Earning more or less is all about what you think you are worth, not what somebody else thinks you are worth – so who cares about some stupid study that was done as far as I am concerned, its all about attitude and self belief. Thats my say!

  • I suggest that men place more emphasis on money as a reward for work and therefore use salary as an indicator for what they’re ‘worth’ whereas women tend to look at the other things a job brings, whether it’s a challenge, work/life balance, great colleagues etc.

    Unfortunately some of those things aren’t measurable, so researchers fall back on the dollar as a quantifier.

    Men may get paid more… but what else do they get?

  • Marie

    What exactly are the attributes that apparently define a man or woman in business. I’d rather look at the attributes of star performers vs the average. I don’t think sex has anything to do with it. That kind of information would be far more valuable.

  • Chick from Sydney

    So basically woman have to be able to speak ‘man’ to be understood and respected? Simple creatures aren’t they. A few grunts here and there should suffice?

  • Utterly intrigued that a survey which I imagine pitched itself as being pro-female falls down so spectacularly without realising. The issue here (for me) is not whether women need to act like men to be paid more, but that society still has such black and white definitions of male and female behaviour.

    Neurotic-ness, being nice and passive behaviours are defined as being female? I think I am spectacularly female and know I should often be nicer and am about as far from passive as America is from being carbon neutral.

    Stereotypical cookie-cutter definitions of females and males do nothing but hold us back.

  • Male gets this, Female gets that … who is the most advantaged/disadvantaged. Surely it should come down to one thing. An equal days pay for an equal amount of work. It should not matter if you are male/female, straight/gay or act male/feminine. If you do the job you should get the pay, simple as that … no what ifs or buts!!!
    The only other thing I would say … be realistic. If you do not do the same amount of work as Joe/Joanne (fit names appropriate) then don’t whinge about the fact that they get more money!

  • Adam

    It’s odd… we’ve just had ManWeek – where men are trying to work out what it means to be a man these days. If the concept of masculinity changes so much in itself, are women meant to be more 80s masculine or more 90s masculine to get ahead? Obviously that’s as ridiculous a concept as the research itself… More research on the colour origins of bellybutton fluff please…

  • Whilst these survey can be interesting to consider from a “macro” perspective people have to be careful not to let them become self fulfilling prophecies.

    I think in countries like AU it is really up to the individual.

    “The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job.” Zig Ziglar

    Interestingly I believe the fastest growing demographic of small business owners in AU is the “younger female” demographic.

    Women should just continue to be thei wonderful selves and get on with it. 🙂

  • that guy

    Most guys in the office these days are pretty good to work with – open, adaptable, considerate and easy to work with. Maybe I’m lucky at the organisation I work for though. When we say “male behaviour” here I presume we mean belligerence, narrow-mindedness, persistence for its own sake, the ability to knife your colleague in the back, delegate like crazy and take the credit anyway – those sorts of things. Sure there are plenty of guys like that – but hey, real estate agents and stockbrokers cant all be bad – right? There are plenty of women out there willing to make the same mistakes guys often make. They mistake bravado for confidence, cliches and buzzwords for real knowledge, aggression for passion etc… From what I’ve seen the women I want to work with (and for) are those that balance competence and knowledge with empathy and intution – something that a lot of men in senior positions lack. So girls, women – don’t seek to be one of the boys – its not a club you want to join. Be better than the boys and lead by example.

  • McFazza

    This survey also found that “nice” men (agreeableness was the measure) make less money and don’t rise to senior positions in business as well.

    So maybe this is not so much about gender but behaviour?

    be an @sshole and you’ll go far.

  • I agree Jen… many women’s career trajectories are “interrupted” by children (but what a nice interruption). The pay difference over a lifetime isn’t necessarily because women are paid lower salaries; it’s just because most opt to, er, opt out of the workforce.
    Re “masculine” versus “nice” – why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?

  • Turnaroundandtouchtheground

    You’re being a little too black and white here, Jen Bishop. The “glass ceiling” does exist, and will for a long time to come. Sexism still exists in the workplace, and is more rampant in some industries than others. And you can have a baby and still be a super-dooper career woman.
    Let’s address the issues of unequal rates of pay, sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace (as well as all other forms of discrimination, come to think of it) before we start pointing any fingers. Women feel enough guilt and self-doubt about their life choices as it is, let’s not pile any more on….

  • Hi Ms. Bishop,
    I agree with you to an extent… The glass ceiling doesn’t existing. If there is any victim here its any person that wants to take more time for family and friends then work. As you mentioned women take more time off(4 months off in the US) for time with their kids and family. Its just a simple equation… live at work, get more pay.

    On another note, there is a difference between being “nice” and “agreeableness”. I believe you can be nice in the workplace but agreeable you can not(in senior management and executive positions). As a boss I don’t want to hear a person that agrees with me. I want to hear the person that doesn’t agree with me. My best decisions are made when I know what I’m up-against. The person that gives me the most compelling reason to not do something is the person I need on my team to know where my plans and direction are lacking. At the same time they have to be “nice” in a sense that they are willing to work with you to overcome these obstacles(should I decide they are valid).

    Great article by the way.

  • Re turnaroundandtouchtheground, I think you’re missing my point if you think I’m suggesting women should feel guilty for taking time off to be mothers. I absolutely do not think that. I just think that, in my personal opinion, that’s why there are less women in senior positions, not because of sexism. I also firmly agree that mothers can get to the top of their game in the workplace as well as being good parents. I know so many of these women it must be true!

  • Hi Scott. Glad you enjoyed the post and great to have a reader in NYC 🙂 I think you make a really interesting point. My boss and I often come up with our best ideas after a good argument about who and what is right and why the other person is wrong. Nothing like a good debate and men and women are equally capable of those!

  • I think there are less women in senior management because the choose not to be there.

    More and more it seems that senior managers carry on with a game of “My dick is bigger than yours”. A lot of successful women I know and have dealt with decided to get out and start their own business or do something that was fulfilling and not draining. Their measure of “success” is different than $ earnt.

    I like Henry Ford’s quote of “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” While some prejudice does exist, if you go looking for it you will find it. If you are focussed on your success, you will find that instead.

    The most important questions for any person (regardless of sex, race, creed or favourite ice cream flavour) are “What do you really want and what are you prepared to do to achieve it?” There will be barriers along the way, but that is a good sign. Barriers mean you are moving forward!

    Enjoy the journey which ever way you choose.