Assertive Men Get Jobs, Assertive Women Don’t…What?

Job hunting women? Might want to look a little more modest or reserved.  If you’re a job hunting man, it’s time to get a little more assertive.  That’s the conclusion drawn from Rutgers university recent study, “When Men Break Break the Gender Rules: Status Incongruity and Backlash Against Modest Men by: Corinne A. Moss-RacusinJulie E. PhelanLaurie A. Rudman” it’s being published in the quarterly journal “Psychology of Men & Masculinity.

All that happy talk about equality under the law aside, there have been many studies suggesting assertive women still pay a price in the job market, said Rutgers spokesman Steve Manas.

The study suggests that men who don’t waste time or modesty will benefit in the job search.

“For men and women, there are things they must and must not be,” said Moss-Racusin, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology. “Women must be communal and other-oriented, but they must not be dominant.”

“It’s pretty established that you still hear the b-word when it comes to dominant women, ” Manus said.

On the other hand, “women are allowed to be weak while this trait is strongly prohibited in men,” Moss-Racusin said.

“I’ve got to be, a macho man,” is Manus’ Village People take on the situation.

To see how this would play out in job interviews, the researchers recruited 132 female and 100 male student volunteers. They then viewed videos of 15-minute interviews for jobs requiring strong technical abilities and social skills.

While the applicants’ credentials were deliberately set as equal, some of the actors presented themselves in low-key, “modest” fashion.

The students judged the applicants as equally competent. But both females and males said they “liked” the modest men less. That reflects social backlash, according to the researchers.

Compared to their egotistical and self-asserted brothers, the mild-mannered men seemed weak to the evaluators. While a modest woman caused no ripples, a less-assertive man was pegged as having low status, according to the study.

Contrary to the researchers finding, the built-in antipathy toward reserved male behavior did not translate into hiring discrimination. Moss-Racusin speculates that because males start out with higher status, even failing to live up to all gender expectations does not cost them as much in the job market.

“From what Corinne has said, there’s a feeling that a modest man may ‘grow into’ a job,” Manus said.

“Let’s face it, men are still in a dominant position when it comes to most hiring decisions,” and may allow more slack to an easy-going guy than to a go-getting gal, he said.

For more interview resources check out’s Interview Section

1. What Not to Wear to an Interview

2. Addressing, Why Should I Hire You?

3. Addressing, Previous Termination

4. Dealing with Salary Negotiations

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