Women Need To Be ‘Liked’ To Advance At Work, But Men Can Be Total A-holes

by Cassandra Stone
Image via shutterstock

A new study says unlike men, women have to be ‘nice’ and well-liked to be influential at work

As if women didn’t have enough disadvantages in the work place with the gender pay gap being what it is, a new study recently concluded that women have to work twice as hard as men at work. Why, you ask? Apparently we have to be “nice” in order to have any influence in our jobs. Turns out popularity contests didn’t end back in high school; if you’re a woman, they follow you into the workplace.

The study, authored by female professors at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and the IE Business School in Madrid, surveyed 200 male and female engineers who work in teams at a global tech company. Participating supervisors were asked to rate employees on confidence, competence and influence.

It’s difficult enough for women to feel confident at work. We’re talked over and mansplained to in meetings, our dress codes are held to different standards than those in place for men, we’re constantly told to “smile” and we’re expected to be warm and welcoming at all times. Do men have to worry about these things? Are they expected to be well-liked and compassionate in order to succeed at work?


Men are perceived as confident if they’re simply just good at their jobs, the study finds. The study concluded that women basically need to show kindness and empathy in order to be valued at work. Men only need to do well at their jobs to be viewed as confident, according to the study. And when workers project confidence, they are more likely to elicit respect, appear trustworthy and gain credibility in their organization, the authors write.

As women, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t when it comes to the workplace. We’re expected to fit stereotypically “feminine” traits, all while acknowledging that confidence and assertiveness (traits typically associated with masculinity) are valued and influential. Raise your hand if you’re just plain tired of the endless double standards for men and women at work.

“Our results showed that […] the penalty for being low on characteristics related to warmth is not proportionate for women,” the research states. “It was more difficult for high-performing women than men to influence others in their organization, unless in addition to their high performance the women had others’ interests at heart, as is stereotypically expected from women.”

Yes, tell us more about the male advantage in the work place. So in order to succeed at work, we need to possess the traits of Leave It To Beaver‘s June Cleaver while being strong and sharp enough to exude confidence. Got it.

*Insert frustrated eye roll.*

We’re not suggesting that being confident and kind should be mutually exclusive when it comes to who we are at work. You can and should try to be both. But the fact that those characteristics are optional for men but required for women in order to achieve the same amount of success – well, it’s exhausting.

And unfair.