Sorry, Women — Your Performance Review Would Go Better If You Were Just Male
Hey, listen up, professional female harpies! Turns out, that whole "equality in the workforce" thing isn't going so hot. I mean, they'll hire you, I guess, but an original investigation from Fortune shows that gender makes for very different performance reviews. Basically, you can be here, but don't be too mouthy.
While this study, conducted by linguist Kieran Snyder, only focuses on tech professionals, it's many of the same tired things that we've been seeing. For instance, calling the editor-in-chief of America's largest newspaper "pushy." Or having to have entire books about how to "lean in" to the absolute bedlam that springs from women in the work lace.
Snyder's research backs all of that up. She asked women and men in the tech industry if they would share their performance reviews with her. She collected 248 reviews, which she looked over with this question in mind:
Did review tone or content differed based on the employee’s gender? I also wanted to know whether the manager’s gender was a factor in how they reviewed their employees. I was especially interested in employees who shared reviews given by both male and female managers.
Snyder came up with a few different conclusions from her analysis.
Men are coached more
Almost all of the reviews submitted were positive, but 71 percent of them included critical, rather than constructive, feedback. The critical language, however, was heavily reserved for women. Men received critical feedback in 58.9 percent of the reviews, compared 87.9 percent of women.
So, men, who are set up to succeed at much higher rates than women in the first place, are given constructive feedback to help them succeed as employees. Meanwhile, the hopeless cases (women) are criticized in performance reviews. But, you know, that's probably because men are just better at their jobs, amiright?
Constructive feedback for women is usually along the lines of "Hey, shut up."
Personality criticisms showed up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews in women, but personal critiques, Snyder notes, were noticeably absent in men's reviews. She found that much of the feedback was telling women they should watch their tones or stop smothering other employees.
We don't need an office mom, okay? Unless you're bringing in baked goods. Then we totally need an office mom.
The manager's gender didn't make a difference
When looking at if the critical feedback would change by gender, Snyder found that solidarity of sisterhood is DEAD. Do we need another Spice Girls reunion? Female managers contributed 23 percent of the negative critical feedback in the reviews, but female managers only had 25 percent of the negative reviews, so that is right where you would think it would be.
Snyder raises a worthy issue: We should be looking at bias beyond the numbers. While HR people keep track of quantitative bias, language does matter in how female employees are evaluated. Good or bad reviews can ultimately decide an employees future in the company, and unless we want to keep the working order of men at the helm, we should take studies like Snyder's seriously.