Working Women Might Be Too "Nice" To Get Ahead


In the NY Times blog Economix, Nancy Folbre tackles the idea women are “nicer” than men, which hurts how much they earn for a living. Good times!

Apparently, women are not as likely as men to have Machiavellian personalities. There’s generalization and rampant simplification going on here, but Folbre claims that “conventional economic theory tells us that people earn more when they contribute more to society.” And yet:

Some personality traits — like conscientiousness — are likely to increase productivity. But other traits, including Machiavellianism and aggressiveness, can increase earnings via a more direct route. They can increase both efforts to demand higher pay and propensity to lie, cheat and steal.

An addition, doesn’t it seem like women who choose “nice” careers which directly contribute to society — like teaching, nursing, social work and caring for children — traditionally make a hell of a lot less than, say, stockbrokers or bankers? Still, men are often paid more than women for doing the same job; and some would argue that women expect less and negotiate less pay for themselves than men. Folbre asks: “Shouldn’t we try to reward nice behavior? We could start by making stronger efforts to penalize bullies and cheats.”

Sounds like a good idea! Until you read the comment by “CM,” which reads, in part:

What is the remedy when studies have shown that people presented with the same description/resume but labeled with different gender-specific names consistently identify the ‘man’ as a leader even while questioning the qualifications of the ‘woman’? Or when studies have shown that women who are competent are regarded as not nice, and that women who are nice are not regarded as competent?…Or that women are expected to be both competent and attractive, while men get a pass as to the second characteristic?

Uh, not sure… Quit life?

Do Nice Gals Finish Last? [NY Times]
Are Working Women Too Nice? [BusinessWeek]

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