The perks of being a 'nasty woman': Being assertive means you earn more than passive female colleagues, research finds

Women who were more 'bullish' or assertive at work earned more than passive female colleagues, the researchers found

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Women who are perceived as ‘nice’ earn less than their more assertive female colleagues, research has suggested. 

A new study, published in The European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology, correlates the relationship between how women are perceived as conforming to traditional gendered expectations of behaviour and salary.

Researchers surveyed 375 employees at a Dutch multinational electronics company; analysing their education and performance versus their income and promotion statistics.

The study found dominant, assertive women earn more than fellow colleagues who conform to more passive stereotypes. Researcher Dr Michal Biron said: “We found that women were consistently and objectively status-detracted, which means they invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive; and are compensated less than their male colleagues across the board.

“But dominant women were not punished for reflecting such female-incongruent traits as extroversion and assertiveness. In fact, we found that the more dominant a woman is at work, the less likely she is to be status detracted.”

Findings also suggested passive women were much more likely to believe they were paid too much. Researcher Professor Sharon Toker said: “This blew our minds. The data shows that they earn the least- far less than what they deserve. And they rationalise the situation, making it less likely that they will make appropriate demands for equal pay.”

The researchers now hope to replicate the study in other countries in order to see if the findings are either culture or company specific or more common.

A gender pay gap continues to persist in many countries. In the UK, the gap for full time workers is 13.9 per cent. Women are much more likely to be in low paid and low skilled jobs, especially part time work. They are also much more likely to be socialised towards taking responsibility for unpaid care roles such as providing care for a child or an elderly parent.

During the US presidential election, Hillary Clinton was accused by Donald Trump of being a "nasty woman", which some political commentators perceived as him disparaging her for stepping outside of traditional gendered expectations. In response, some US women took to social media to reclaim the term "nasty women" and stand up for the right to be "pushy" or "assertive" about job expectations.