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Why Female Bosses Get Different Reactions Than Men When They Criticize Employees

By | Martin Abel |

Imagine that your boss Ethan calls you into his office. He expresses disappointment in your recent performance and lack of commitment. How would you react? Would you accept the feedback and put in more effort? Or would you pout in your office and start looking for a new job?

Now, would your reaction be different if your boss was not named Ethan but Emily?

I’m a professor of economics, and my research investigates this very question.

This has important implications for the success of women in leadership, such as Jane Fraser, who will take over Citigroup in February, becoming the first woman to lead a major Wall Street bank.

If giving feedback is more likely to backfire for women in positions of power, they may adopt less effective management strategies or become altogether less interested in holding leadership positions.

Women in the workplace

Women make up 45% of employees of S&P 500 companies. Yet, they only make up 37% of managers at the midlevel, 27% of bosses at the senior level and about 6% of CEOs.

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