Research Shows Women Are Told White Lies in Workplace Reviews More Often Than Men

According to new research, women are told white lies in workplace reviews more often than men, hurting their opportunity for career advancement and perpetuating gender inequality in professional settings. Cornell University conducted the research and based its results on two studies.

The first study revealed that whenever a workplace assessment was truthful, participants assumed the employee was a man. When the assessment was an extreme lie, telling an employee they were doing great when they weren’t, participants assumed the employee was a woman.

The second study involved badly written essays from which participants had to give feedback. When participants were told the essay was written by a man and had to give feedback face to face, they gave constructive advice. But when they were told to give feedback to a woman who had authored an essay, they gave more positive advice. 

Researchers say the lies prevent workplace advancement and equality. “This happens all throughout an individual’s development - girls are treated more softly,” said Vivian Zayas, associate professor of psychology at Cornell. “It might seem kinder, but if you’re not getting valuable feedback, it could actually be detrimental.”

The researchers of this paper, entitled, “Gendered White Lies: Women are Given Inflated Performance Feedback Compared with Men,” said that if women aren’t given the truth about their performance, they never get a chance to improve and will lead to missing out on promotions and bonuses.

The Realist Woman’s take:

It doesn’t take a study to understand that unless we are evaluated in an honest way, our opportunities for upward mobility and advancement decrease. Nevertheless, I appreciate this study because we need to confront why women are treated as if they can’t take constructive criticism. In society, men are perceived as having more physical, mental, and emotional strength than women. The truth of the matter is, women are being treated with kid gloves because there’s a perception that they can’t handle criticism.

It’s such a disservice to women and is even insulting because women can handle a hell of a lot more than society assumes. I hope that with this information, people can reflect and consider the fact that women are more than able and ready and willing to receive constructive advice or criticism.

A lack of constructive criticism is hurting women’s career opportunities