By Alexandra Wilson and Ollie Field
Women are catty, talk behind one another’s back, and compete to be the best dressed. These are all common stereotypes of women, and most people would agree that women are more judgmental than men, right?
Psychologists who have studied gender differences in the development of personality, such as Carol S. Dweck, have discovered that many females are less likely than males to believe that negative personality traits in an individual are permanent when they are asked to evaluate an unfamiliar person. To find out this information, Dweck and her research partner, Gail Heyman, conducted a study in which they asked elementary school-aged children, “Imagine a new girl is in your class. She steals your things, calls you mean names and trips you at recess. Do you think the new girl will always act this way?”
The children either responded as a “sociomoral stability endorser” (children believing the new girl will not change) or as a “sociomoral stability rejecter” (children believing the new girl will change). The results found that 55.0% of males were considered sociomoral stability endorsers, compared to only 8.7% of females. Simply put, the females believed that a girl who exhibited pretty bad behavior for elementary school would change, while the males were significantly more doubtful.
This means that by the time boys and girls have reached elementary school, they already have a preconceived notion of behavior, personality, and the capacity for behavior to change.
Why might this matter? …..
Well, these findings can be exemplified in the professional world, too. Women in high positions of power might be more open to an employee’s behavior changing, or giving said employee a second chance, after a first impression. Additionally, there are times when women need to leverage this openness to change because it makes them better bosses, and other times they need to cut their losses and move on from a co-worker or fire an employee.
So how can we, as women, find a balance between being too forgiving and too cut-throat?
It all comes down to decision making. Whether you’re choosing whether or not to give your employee a deadline extension or figuring out if that awkward first impression really represented your new co-worker, use the following techniques to make the best possible decision:
- Identify the purpose of your decision.
- Gather information.
- Identify the principles to judge the alternatives.
- Brainstorm and list different possible choices.
- Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences.
- Determine the best alternative.
- Put the decision into action.
- Evaluate the outcome of your decision.
No matter your decision, isn’t it comforting to know that the data says your lady friends will be supportive of your change? … even if you do trip someone at recess.
Disclaimer: don’t trip anyone at recess or in the office.