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Women report more incivility from other women at work than from male coworkers, according to a new study.

The phenomenon of women discriminating against other women in the workplace—particularly as they rise in seniority—has long been documented as the “queen bee syndrome.” As women have increased their ranks in the workplace, most will admit to experiencing rude behavior and incivility.

Who is at fault for dishing out these mildly deviant behaviors? Has the syndrome grown more pervasive?

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“Studies show women report more incivility experiences overall than men, but we wanted to find out who was targeting women with rude remarks,” says Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organizations in the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

Rude coworkers

Gabriel and her coauthors set out to answer that question across three studies. Men and women who were employed full time answered questions about the incivility they experienced at work during the last month.

The questions were about coworkers who put them down or were condescending, made demeaning or derogatory remarks, ignored them in a meeting, or addressed them in unprofessional terms. Each set of questions was answered twice, once for male coworkers and once for female coworkers.

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Gabriel says. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.

“This isn’t to say men were off the hook or they weren’t engaging in these behaviors,” she notes. “But when we compared the average levels of incivility reported, female-instigated incivility was reported more often than male-instigated incivility by women in our three studies.”

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Researchers also asked participants to complete trait inventories of their personalities and behaviors to determine if there were any factors that contributed to women being treated uncivilly. The research shows that women who defied gender norms by being more assertive and dominant at work were more likely to be targeted by their female counterparts, compared to women who exhibited fewer of those traits.

The researchers also found that when men acted assertive and warm—in general, not considered the norm for male behavior—they reported lower incivility from their male counterparts.

This suggests men actually get a social credit for partially deviating from their gender stereotypes, a benefit that women are not afforded.

The researchers report their findings in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Additional coauthors of the study are from Southern Methodist University, the University of Iowa, Indiana University, and First Person Consulting.

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Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
February 28th, 2018