Performance Review Gender Bias Is Alive And Well In The Workplace
More bad news when it comes to inequality in the work place: being a woman won't get you a good performance review.
An original investigation conducted by Fortune shows that critical feedback in performance reviews are largely reserved for women. The study was conducted by linguist Kieran Snyder and focused exclusively on tech professionals.
Snyder asked women and men in the tech industry if they would share their performance reviews with her. She collected 248 reviews. When looking them over, Snyder explained her thought process when looking over the reviews. She asked, "Did review tone or content differ 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."
Almost all of the reviews submitted were positive, but 71 percent of them included critical, over constructive, feedback. Men received critical feedback in 58.9 percent of the reviews, compared to the 87.9 percent of women.
Personality criticisms showed up in 71 or the 94 critical reviews in women. Snyder notes that personal critiques were noticeably absent in men's reviews. Snyder says that people often suggest women "pipe down" in their reviews.
Snyder noted that words like "bossy," "abrasive," "strident" and "aggressive" were commonly used to describe women's behaviors when they lead. Words like "emotional" and "irrational" describes their behaviors when they object. In fact, she highlighted the fact that the word "abrasive" was used 17 times to describe 13 different women.
Snyder also revealed that the gender of the person writing the reviews didn't matter Female managers were just as likely to critique female employees in this manner as males. Apparently there is no sisterhood in the workplace.
Snyder's study uncovers pattern of systematic bias in the work place. She states, "This is a call to action to bring the same rigor to the review language itself."