London: Women who want to succeed at work should resist the temptation to act like men, scientists said yesterday.
Their studies show that women who take an aggressive approach are often less likely to get ahead than those who exhibit more feminine traits. If however, they try to conform, promotion comes their way.
The findings, which will dismay feminists, suggest the best way for a woman to succeed in a man’s world is to act like a lady.
They tally with past research that showed women oozing with self-confidence, assertiveness and other characteristics linked with successful management can be sidelined at work in favour of meeker types.
It is thought that while such traits are highly-prized in men, go-getting women are penalised for not being feminine enough and are seen as less likeable. The study asked 80 young men and women about their personality while they studied for a master’s degree in business administration. Eight years later, the researchers got back in touch to find out how their careers were progressing and found that “macho” women who took an aggressive approach had been promoted less than more feminine sorts.
The bossy women who made a conscious effort to not appear too threatening by “self-monitoring” their behaviour had done better than those who had carried on regardless.
Some had been promoted five times, others just once or twice, a journal published by the British Psychological Society reports. Self-awareness did not affect the fledgling careers of men, the research from George Mason University in Virginia found.