News: Women get less Credit than Men at Work: Research


Women get less Credit than Men at Work: Research

A research shows that women get less credit than men for presenting their ideas at work and when most individuals imagine a leader, by default, they are likely to assume that the leader is a man.
Women get less Credit than Men at Work: Research

In yet another confirmation of the deep-rooted sexist and misogynistic perspectives that are prevalent in our workplaces, a research undertaken by University of Delaware shows that women get less credit than men for presenting their ideas at work. 

What is the study?

The study that came out last week in Science Daily suggests that women receive less credit for speaking up in the workplace than their male colleagues. The authors of the study - Kyle Emich (Assistant Professor of management at University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, along with Elizabeth McClean (University of Arizona), Sean R. Martin (Boston College) and Todd Woodruff (United States Military Academy) studied the issue to quantify this disparity. They analysed different sample groups – like military cadets and working adults – and deduced that women who speak up ideas and give their suggestions are much less likely to be credited for the same. The research was conducted in United States of America.

What did they find?

In the case of military cadets, for example, on the average 10-member team, men who spoke more than two-thirds of their teammates were voted to be No.2 to take on team leadership, whereas women who spoke the same amount were given the eighth position to be able to lead. 

Similarly, when studying working adults, the researchers found that even if men and women said the exact same thing, men tend to get more credit, acknowledgment and appreciation for it. Furthermore, when most individuals imagine a leader, they are likely to assume that the leader is a man, by default. 

What do the authors have to say about the results?

Kyle Emich, lead author of the study says, "In sum, we find that when men speak up with ideas on how to change their team for the better they gain the respect of their teammates -- since speaking up indicates knowledge of the task at hand and concern for the wellbeing of the team... Alternatively, when women speak up with ideas on how to change the team for the better, they are not given any more respect than women who do not speak up at all, and thus are not seen as viable leadership options."

He adds, “Of course, when I discuss this with women they are not shocked. The most common reaction I get is gratitude that we finally have data to show something they have been observing for years. However, men are mostly oblivious. This is because they do not need to consider their gender in most organizational contexts, thus their unconscious biases remain just that, unconscious. This is the reason it is so easy for people -- both men and women -- to link men's voices (speaking up) with leadership. Implicitly, men are already considered leaders to a greater extent than women are. The reason I mention this is that correcting the problem will take effort and the conscious attention to biases against women in the workplace."


The lead author says that the study was a personal revelation, and recommends a few steps to combat this bias, which is so deep rooted, that is often goes unnoticed. He says, “I challenge any man reading this to go into your next meeting and see who comes up with ideas and who gets credit for them. At first, just observe, then, eventually, step up and give credit where credit is due. If a woman's ideas have been floated around the room, you can acknowledge that by saying, ‘I think we all really like [name]'s idea.’... Finally, at the very least, understand that we all use cognitive shortcuts to get through each day. We simply don't have the energy or ability to fully consider everything we run into... we have patterns and shortcuts involving people too, and one of them is more easily considering men leaders even when women exhibit the exact same behaviours. And this shortcut has very real negative consequences for women and workplaces alike."

Despite rapid progress in technology, connectivity and innovation over the last few years, the business world has not given nearly enough emphasis on creating a level playing field for different genders. Every parameter – salary, leadership role, access – reflects the presence of an unbreakable glass ceiling. In today’s day and age, some domains are considered to be ‘better’ for men, and some more suited for women – and this is a phenomenon that is not restricted to a country or region, but rampant all over the globe, with variable emphasis. The study is a fitting reminder of just how much intention and effort is needed to ensure that men and women are on an equal footing in the office, and subsequently, in the society. But, the very first step is the utilisation of this recognition – that barriers which disallow women credit for even speaking up exist – to unite all concerned stakeholders with a united vision and goal, which is easier said than done. 

You can access the entire study here (

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Topics: Diversity

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