The saying “Nice guys finish last” applies to women in the workplace too. According to new research published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, the nicer you are, the less money you’ll make.
The study was meant to examine status inconsistencies between men and women through the lens of traditional male and female characteristics and found that when females fall into the old-fashioned stereotype of being meek in the workplace, they suffer financially.
The researchers surveyed 375 random men and women from different departments of a Dutch electronics company with 1,390 employees. They measured both objective and subjective criteria. For objective data, they analyzed factors like tenure, education, and performance statistics. For subjective data, for example, they asked individuals how they felt about their work conditions in relation to their education, experience, and performance.
The findings contradict what women are frequently told. We’re often advised to pipe down in the office and not seem bitchy or bossy, but according to this study, if we obey those rules, we will suffer financially. The study found that dominant, assertive women “who clearly express their expectations and do not retreat from their demands” receive more money than their more accommodating female peers.
They also found that women invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive. In fact, the more submissive women polled weren’t convinced they even deserved what they earned. “We found that women aren’t aware that more agreeable women are being punished for being nice,” said study co-author Michal Biron, of the department of business administration at the University of Haifa. “The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved.”
Of course, the survey results are in line with what we already know about the pay gap: Women earn less than their male colleagues across the board, no matter how aggressive the woman is. Even dominant women earn far less than their male colleagues — including the most agreeable men who haven’t been promoted, according to the study. That’s just embarrassing.
“This blew our minds,” said Sharon Toker, co-author of the study and a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management. “The data shows that they earn the least — far less than what they deserve. And they rationalize the situation, making it less likely that they will make appropriate demands for equal pay.”
Let this be a lesson to women: Don’t listen to anyone when they tell you to be a nice, agreeable person in the workplace because the study found that dominant women are not punished for reflecting traits like assertiveness. Be a #BossLady, and know that you deserve what you earn, if not more.