September 16, 2016

"Women aren’t any meaner to women than men are to one another. Women are just expected to be nicer."

"We stereotype men as aggressive and women as kind. When women violate those stereotypes, we judge them harshly. 'A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless,' Marlo Thomas once lamented. 'All a woman has to do is put you on hold.' In one experiment, researchers asked people to read about a workplace conflict between two women, two men, or a man and a woman. The conflict was identical, but when the case study was between two women, the participants saw it as more damaging to the relationship and expected them to be more likely to quit. When men argue, it’s a healthy debate. When women argue … meow! It’s a catfight."

Write Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in "Sheryl Sandberg on the Myth of the Catty Woman."

And I'll just add: Women co-authors aren't any more credit-demanding than men co-authors. It just looks better to have their name as part of the title.

48 comments:

MayBee said...

Hahahahhaha!

fivewheels said...

"The conflict was identical, but when the case study was between two women, the participants saw it as more damaging to the relationship and expected them to be more likely to quit."

I don't see any real evidence one way or the other on the implicit assertion that the participants are wrong about that.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't know how you can test how women treat women and men treat men by having subjects of an experiment read about identical conflicts.

The reader will use his experience and belief about the world to picture the incidents and flesh out the story. You can't extrapolate that the difference is solely in the reader's mind. What was the reader's real life experience? It could be that the same line of dialogue — let's say "I'm going to destroy your career" — will cause a different imagined relationship, depending on whether the characters are male or female. That doesn't prove that in a real-life situation, the relationships will actually be the same.

Xmas said...

Sandberg gives an example of two Norwegian Cross Country Skiers as an example of congenial female relationships. I'll just throw out Hope Solo as a counter example.

mockturtle said...

The difference I've noted is this: Men usually won't tell on each other but women jump at the chance.

holdfast said...

"Ruthless" and "mean" are not at all equivalent. The former can even be admirable in the right circumstances - and someone being ruthless can still be pleasant about it (in fact, smiling and being polite may help you stick the knife in (metaphorically speaking of course)).

The latter is just petty, and often futile.

rcocean said...

My experience with women-women relationships in the office, is that many women expect their female co-worker to be their "Sister" in the struggle against the patriarchy. And they also expect a degree of sympathy and understanding they wouldn't get from a male boss.

As a result, women workers get much closer to each other than the men do, or they become much more extreme in their dislike of each other.

80% of my HR problems involve women, even though they only represent 45% of the workforce.

Xmas said...

I don't know what's in the study, but I'm hoping the it had 4 versions of the conflict. Male aggressor/male defender, Female/female, Female/male, and Male/female. I'd guess that people viewed the Female aggressor more negatively than the Male, in general. But it would be an interesting twist if the expectation was that people were supposed to be nicer to the female defender. This would put the aggressor in a Female/female conflict in the worst light.

rcocean said...

The other problem is that women are much more sensitive to slights and perceived insults then men are. Especially from other women.

Not being a woman, I often have trouble understanding, but it seems women have all kinds of expectations as to how other women are supposed to behave toward them. They take some conversation or e-mail and then read all kinds of things into it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I disagree. Men fight for a couple of reasons. One is to just practice. It is good fun to compete, and afterwards, they can be best friends and go have a beer. The other is to jockey for position. But mostly there, the competition is mostly limited to males similarly placed in the hierarchy jockeying for slight advancement. Mostly don't have fights between those too far apart in the hierarchy, because it has traditionally been too dangerous to do so, and submission is usually automatic and obvious to the two males involved. Think of two dogs coming together, maybe growling a bit, then one of them rolling over and exposing their belly. My belief is that females fight more, and do so more seriously, because the stakes are lower. They aren't going to be physically injured, as males traditionally were, if they picked a fight with a more powerful male. Note - dominance hierarchies are not unique to human males, but rather somewhat common in social mammals.

n.n said...

Not women generic, but specifically female chauvinists. Class diversitists need to reject their Pro-Choice quasi-religion and discover a set of reproducible principles that are, ideally, internally, externally, and mutually consistent.

rcocean said...

Yes, its really annoying when you have to work with some guy who is worried about "dominance" instead of just getting the job done.

There's nothing worse than some "alpha male" who thinks he should be at the top of tree - only doesn't have the brains to be there.

Most men are able to deal with authority. You're saluting the rank - not the man- as my Dad, who served in the Army, used to say.

From that perspective, having more women in the office has been a good thing.

Bruce Hayden said...

@rcocean - let me suggest thee writings of Dr Debborah Tannen, who has written extensively on the difference between how men and women communicate, using the same words, but with different meanings. Put simply, males use language to communicate facts, while females also use it to communicate feelings. One of the sublties is that females expect other females to worry about their feelings, and males mostly don't. We mostly only worry about angering the males above us in the hierarchy, whereas females seem to often worry about the feelings of all the women involved (which is a good part of why guys go crazy when a bunch of women try to decide something - we just go with the decision of the alpha male, and don't give every beta his say).

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree that dealing with male dominance can be trying. But when it works, it is more efficient than the female way of decision making - esp since women can be just as domineering as men, just go through the facade of everyone voicing their opinions and feelings first.

mockturtle said...

Most men are able to deal with authority. You're saluting the rank - not the man- as my Dad, who served in the Army, used to say.

From that perspective, having more women in the office has been a good thing.


Those statements seem contradictory to me. I my experience, women, in general, do NOT salute the rank. I have supervised both men and women and prefer to supervise men. Though a few have resented reporting to a woman, they at least respected my position and were less prone to pettiness than women.

While men are inclined toward status-seeking behavior and more concerned about pecking order, they are better team players than are women. Disclaimer: These are just my personal observations. YMMV.

rcocean said...

"Those statements seem contradictory to me."

That's because you sliced out the last two statements and linked them together as if they stood alone.

Having women in the office has reduced the alpha male - dominance fights.

rcocean said...

"Put simply, males use language to communicate facts, while females also use it to communicate feelings. One of the sublties is that females expect other females to worry about their feelings, and males mostly don't. We mostly only worry about angering the males above us in the hierarchy,"

Yeah, maybe thats it. They certainly pick up on things that I don't. Its like being around cats who can hear things you can't.

mockturtle said...

Women do take offense much more easily. Too easily, IMHO.

Howard said...

I got nothing, my job keeps shifting to areas that women can't or won't do... that's where the money is. Once a woman can do it, it is no longer challenging and becomes routine.

Bob Ellison said...

Cat and monkey playing

I saw this on wimp.com, and wimp had a good line about it, something like "this is what happens when the most humorous animal on the planet plays with the most serious one".

Patrick said...

I bet someone could do an exhaustive and very comprehensive study about how women test women and men test men by looking at Twitter. Doesn't seem that people hold back there, gender is usually clear, and there's more than enough discussion that devices into conflict.

Bob Ellison said...

Sample error problem, Patrick. Twitter users tend toward extroversion and self-promotion. That's a weird sample of men and women.

rhhardin said...

Men have guy rules about arguments. There's no eternal grudge, lest you be a bad sport.

Grudges are expected in women.

Michael K said...

My wife used to say, "A party is to a woman what a battlefield is to a man."

That, of course , was 30 years ago.

Joe said...

It's a misleading statement since it pertains the ratio of an entire group being mean while avoiding how those who are mean act. When women get mean with each other it's far nastier than when men get mean with each other. The depths women will go to to get even boggles the mind.

Incidentally, the nastiest, meanest bullies in Junior High School and High School are girls, not boys.

(Camille Paglia has a great screed about how few women understand football and that if they did, they'd get great insight into how the male business world works. IIRC, one point was men can go on the field, bash the crap out of each other, and sit down for genuinely friendly beers later. If anyone has a better recollection, be my guest.)

Howard said...

Jesus, Joe. If you need a gash to explain brotherhood, you still don't get it. And it's Rugby, not football.

rhardon: male politeness has nothing to do with good sportiness. It's the underlying threat of physical harm. Women live in a bubble where they are for the most part off limits. NPR had a great interview 7-years ago with a woman who trans to a man. Once she "passed" she noticed that on the street, men sized her up as a punk and she felt the terror of not being able to defend herself from the weakest men.

Sebastian said...

"We stereotype men as aggressive and women as kind." Huh. I didn't know "we" female CEOs stereotyped men and women that way. I wouldn't dare. But if both men and women know that women like her hold that stereotype, then it is reasonable for them to expect different outcomes for otherwise similar female-female conflict.

Bob Loblaw said...

rhardon: male politeness has nothing to do with good sportiness. It's the underlying threat of physical harm. Women live in a bubble where they are for the most part off limits.

This. Men have a stronger incentive to deescalate volatile situations, since the worst case is someone gets injured or killed rather than a good cry in the ladies room.

I've been in bar fight type situations a couple of times, where just one more ill-considered remark would have had fists swinging, and in each case the women in the party had no clue what was brewing. It's just not something they have to worry about.

tim maguire said...

I work in an office that is heavily dominated by women. There is a whole level of warfare going on that I am completely unaware of until someone gripes about it to me. I've had many female bosses and they've all been good--clear direction, dedicated, fair--but I don't know any supervisor, male or female, who wouldn't prefer a male employee to a female.

tim maguire said...


Blogger Bob Loblaw said...
"rhardon: male politeness has nothing to do with good sportiness. It's the underlying threat of physical harm. Women live in a bubble where they are for the most part off limits."

This.


A thousand years ago, maybe. Today that's absurd.

damikesc said...

Tim, women are dramatically less at risk of physical violence than men. And they are painfully oblivious to the problem before it happens.

Terry said...

A good film about how men handle conflict with one another is 1995's Rob Roy.
Liam Neeson is a petty Scottish Laird. John Hurt is Montrose, a much wealthier and well-bred English lord with wide possessions in Scotland. Rob Roy makes the mistake of treating Montrose as his peer, since they are both land owners. Montrose makes it clear that he considers Rob Roy so far below him in social status that Rob Roy does not comprehend how much lower in status he is ("You bring me a drink sir? By your own hand?"). So Rob Roy tries to make Montrose realize that he is his equal, no more, and Montrose tries to show Rob Roy that he is a trifle undeserving of even being considered his enemy.
Montrose sends his soldiers to burn Rob Roy's home and rape his wife, showing Rob Roy that he is no lord, in Montrose's eyes. Rob Roy means no more to him than some bothersome peasant.
Rob Roy responds by killing Montrose's son, taking what was most precious to him to show that he is Montrose's equal.
All this makes perfect sense, if you are a man.

SGT Ted said...

Bob: It's the underlying threat of physical harm. Women live in a bubble where they are for the most part off limits."

Tim: A thousand years ago, maybe. Today that's absurd.


Not a thousand years ago; A lot of todays men learn this when they are boys in school. That's where I learned it, initially. In some areas of male harsh work culture it carries over into adulthood. I know loggers who settled differences with a fight. In the Military it's called "taking the stripes off" and is still practiced.

Women don't do this, nor are they aware of it.

mockturtle said...

Tim, women are dramatically less at risk of physical violence than men. And they are painfully oblivious to the problem before it happens.

I vehemently disagree. Women are often the targets of genuine sexual assault and murder and are keenly aware of the potential danger. Maybe YOU live in a bubble.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry Mock - but the latter ain't just true. Males are far more likely to be the objects of violence, including murder. And, even more, of course, the perpetrators (except that females tend to actually physically assault their partners more than the other way around - it is just that males are more capable of injuring their partners, when they do). Maybe not sexual assault, because, outside prison, where sexual assault is mostly about dominance, sexual assault in the civilian world among men has a homosexual aspect that conflicts with normal male dominance. The thing is, though, that males are expendable in our species (and, indeed, in most mammalian species). That is why violence against, and killing of, females is considered much more significant than if they were males.

damikesc said...

I vehemently disagree. Women are often the targets of genuine sexual assault and murder and are keenly aware of the potential danger. Maybe YOU live in a bubble.

You can disagree. Feel free. Doesn't make the complaint true. Do you wish to compare assault numbers of men vs women? Women have a tendency to hit/slap/punch men over minor slights, knowing the man cannot hit her back without severe repurcussions, most legal and in terms of their standing in society. Do you see men hitting other men over arriving somewhere late? You see women hitting men for that. I had a girl I was dating due to that to me --- and then smirk about it. I didn't hit her --- but if it was a man, it would've been bloody.

Why?

Because women don't have to deal with violence at anywhere near the level or rate that men do. It's not even a comparable figure.

Hell, men are raped, overall (prison counts), about as often as women.

mockturtle said...

So one in five men have been raped?

damikesc said...

So one in five men have been raped?

Nope.

But neither have one in five women.

Anybody who parrots that "statistic" kind of kills their credibility.

mockturtle said...

Well, it happened to me. Not a 'date rape', either. It was a traumatic experience. I guess all the misogynists on this blog don't believe such a thing could occur because women all live in a bubble. So be it. You have zero credibility.

rcocean said...

"Well, it happened to me. "

So if it happened to you, that means 1/5 women were raped.

That's female logic for you.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Okay mockturtle, with all possible sympathy, and I do hope he's dead, that's one.

Will all the women on the board please now sound off on whether you have been raped or not? Then we can establish (for the small sample size here) the degree to which 1 in 5 is valid.

Perhaps for anonymity's sake Ann should make a poll.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem, of course, with the 1/5 statistic is that it is BS. Actual FBI crime statistics don't show anywhere near that rate, even through women's lifetimes. What the 1/5 statistic reflected (if I remembered right) was a self-selected survey on two college campuses of sexual "assault" loosely defined as unwanted touching, ranging from a peck on the cheek to rape rape. And notably, college campuses are one of the places where sexual contacted is at its highest, given the age, drunkenness, and extra time on the hands of the undergrads involved.

mockturtle said...

Well, I hope you all get raped in prison! :-D

Bruce Hayden said...

The trick is to stay out of prison, or if you are going to go, have a specialty that will get you protected (like, coincidentally, being a lawyer).

Bad Lieutenant said...

Well, as in the case of the military, Ann never minds any regulation that will make someone else's job harder, if only it may pretend to serve some SJW aspiration of hers. Definitely lawyers should get extra raping in prison, or probably out. Let's legislate that. So it may be harder to be a lawyer, but that should be ok, because justice. Think of it as reparations.

Bob Loblaw said...

Well, it happened to me.

Really? Do you have a link to the police report? Because a lot of women seem to think this is some kind of trump card, where they can falsely claim to have been raped and shut down any question of their credibility.

Even if it's true, the fact is men are more likely to be killed, more likely to be the victim of serious assault, and more likely to be raped. And yeah, that "one in five" thing has been debunked over and over. To get to the "one in five" number you have to start doing dumb shit like count "elevator eyes" as sexual assault.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Sandberg is a minor celebrity / heroine for 'the cause'. But still a funny dig about 'coauthor credit-hogging'

Unknown said...

I got in a fight in high school and won. In revenge, he and his buddies blew up our mailbox. End of story. No eternal grudge. No gossip about it. Girls never understand the story when i tell it.