Confident women less influential than male colleagues

Confident high-performing women are only influential at the workplace if they are also perceived as “nurturing”.

What’s wrong with being confident? Nothing at all – unless you’re a woman in the workplace, that is.

A new research study from business school INSEAD indicates self-confidence in the office is more rewarding for men than women.

The study, which analysed the judgements of 236 computer engineers at a multinational software company, found that the correlation between confidence and influence was straightforward for a man: the better he performs, the more self-confident he is perceived as being, and the greater the influence he wields in the workplace.

High-performing and confident women, on the other hand, were only considered influential by peers and supervisors if those traits were partnered with “nurturing” behaviour (e.g. “I care about benefiting others through  my work”).

The study, led by INSEAD Associate Professor of Decision Sciences Natalia Karelaia, measured and analysed job performance, “prosocial orientation” (one’s level of concern for others’ welfare), self-confidence, and organisation influence to draw the above results.

“For companies that care about gender equality, if being a good organisational citizen and helping others is a requirement, it should be so for men and women equally,” said Professor Karelaia.

“Organisations should be willing to question the assumptions of meritocracy. It is obvious that women are not accepted on their merits alone, so supervisors should take these findings into account when appraising the performance of their female staff,” she added.

Appearing self-confident and getting credit for it: Why it may be easier for men than women to gain influence at work

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