Angry men get ahead, angry women penalized: study

Friday, July 23 2010

Claudia Parsons, Reuters

Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NEW YORK - 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, according to a recently released study.

What's more, the finding may have implications for Hillary Clinton as she attempts to become the first female U.S. president, according to its author Victoria Brescoll, a post-doctoral scholar at Yale University.

Her research paper When Can Angry Women Get Ahead? noted that Mrs. Clinton was described last year by a leading Republican as "too angry to be elected president."

Previous research has indicated that anger can communicate that an individual feels entitled to dominate others, and therefore perhaps is.

"As Senator Clinton's experience suggests, however, for a professional woman anger expression may lead to a decrease rather than an increase in her status."

She conducted three tests in which men and women recruited randomly watched videos of a job interview and were asked to rate the applicant's status and assign them a salary.

In the first, the scripts were identical except where the candidate described feeling either angry or sad about losing an account due to a colleague's late arrival at a meeting.

Participants conferred the most status on the man who said he was angry, the second most on the woman who said she was sad, slightly less on the man who said he was sad, and least of all by a sizable margin on the woman who said she was angry.

"It's an attitude that is not conscious," Ms. Brescoll said. "People are hardly aware of it."

Ms. Brescoll said the findings revealed a "difficult paradox" for professional women -- while anger can serve as a powerful tool to achieve status at work, women may have to behave calmly in order to be seen as rational.


© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

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