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Women give more credit to men on team projects

Monday, May 13, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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Women have a tendency to devalue themselves ― and their work ― when teamed in projects with men, according to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

In a series of four experiments, women were told they were working with remote partners in exercises as a team. While no actual remote partner existed, each participant received feedback about their team’s performance, eliciting responses that indicated varying levels of self-worth. Responding to positive "group” feedback, female participants valued male teammates’ contributions more highly than their own. The study indicated that unless women were given specific individual positive feedback, explaining how they had done a good job, they deferred more credit to their male partner.

Women who were told they were working with other women, however, did not sell themselves short on their work in team projects. When given positive group feedback, they did not undervalue their work and when given positive individual feedback, they rated themselves higher than their teammates.

"This finding is critical because it debunks the notion that what we found is simply a function of women being modest in groups,” said the study’s co-author Michelle Haynes, of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. "Rather, it underscores how the expectations women hold of themselves, and those they work with, influence how they process group feedback. Furthermore, it reveals that gender continues to play a role in how individuals derive these performance expectations.”

Haynes and colleague Madeline Heilman of New York University point out that despite their findings, there is no such thing as "innate low self-worth among women.” The variances in women’s self-perception are dependent on each person’s individual situation and shaped by exterior factors, many of which do contribute to a marked tendency for women to shy away from fully accepting recognition around men.

"The biasing effects of stereotypes” has a negative impact on women’s ability to perceive their value to group projects, Haynes said. "This is one of many factors, among a great many, that may hinder women’s earning power and career progress.”

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