By Erika Harrington
Teamwork makes the dreamwork and two is always better than one, right? Well yeah, kinda. And maybe not if you’re the type of person that gives all the credit for a job well done to your partner. The success of the group should mean success for all parties—and should is the key word here.
We’ve seen the research that suggests that women have trouble with self promotion, and tend to shy away from boasting about themselves. The problem reaches a different level when women start to give all the credit to their partner after a successful collaboration.
You know the moment when your boss asks, “How much do you think you contributed to the success of this project?” Please tell me you didn’t answer “oh it was all them.” Because we both know that’s not true.
Researchers Michelle Haynes and Madison Heilman found that women give their credit away more often than you might think. They set up an experiment in which participants worked on a project and were told that they and a partner working from a separate location—a partner they would never have any contact with—would have to complete individual tasks remotely. Their separate contributions would be compiled for the final product. The catch: the partner is completely made up.
Did you pick up on that? A partner, that only exist in the land of make believe, is supposedly helping these participants with their assignments when the reality is that no one is contributing but them.
This is where it gets really wild. When some participants were told that they had done good work, the researchers asked who they thought deserved the credit. And they said their partner. Their partner. Their completely not real, totally made-up partner who totally did not deserve credit for their totally fake help on the project.
Fake people, man.
I was speechless when I learned this. I couldn’t believe it. How could these women attribute all their greatness to some pretend person?
Okay, now let’s take a step back. Not all of the participants gave away their credit to Casper the Friendly Ghost™ and the Easter Bunny™. The male participants did a good job of talking about their contributions.
And this is a trend we know holds true for many, real professional women. We have trouble taking credit for our own success and we struggle to promote the skills that our employers have benefited from. It’s also worth mentioning that when the participants of this study were told that their remote partner was female, they tended to take more credit for their work. They simply gave into misconceptions about male superiority.
The reason why you are constantly creating quality work and seeing projects you’re a part of achieve success isn’t because of everyone around you. And it’s definitely not because you’re fortunate enough to have male coworkers. It’s because of you! And it’s high time that you start making sure people know that.