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Women And The Workplace: Giving Credit Where It Is Due

New research sheds light on women in the workforce. (University of Salford)

New research sheds light on women in the workforce. (University of Salford)

We’re going to talk now about a new study about women and the workplace.

A a new study finds that women are more likely to give credit to male team members, even if it means diminishing their own contributions. Why? And what impact does this tendency have on the workplace?


Michelle Haynes, assistant professor of psychology and an associate at the Center for Women and Work at University of Massachusetts-Lowell. You can read the study here.


The Atlantic “The series of studies looked at 34 men and 36 women who were told to complete a task that would be completed independently but would be judged on the group performance of a partner they were “paired” with. In the first study, each individual task was identical. Each participant was paired with a fictional teammate of the opposite sex he or she believed to be real.”

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  • Call_Me_Missouri

    I have a couple thoughts…

    Hypothesis…   women feel better about themselves when they give others credit.  Giving feels better than Taking.

    Hypothesis…   women feel the work they do is “just doing their job” no matter how herculean the effort.   ( I know this is me.)

    Hypothesis… women tend in all relationships to give to others that which they want for themselves. They give credit thinking the other person will give it right back.

  • Stacey

    This story reminds me why we still have a case for same-sex higher education. I still have two questions one I wonder what the study would be for women that are lesbians and had a similar conclusion and if graduates of higher ed would be studied.

  • la bibliotequetress

    In my experience, men are more likely to NOT credit women co-workers for work performed or for ideas– actually, to steal credit from women. And women working together tend to give colleagues the opportunity to take credit, and to give credit to other women and men. So I think women get a double whammy on this.

  • Tio Coco

    I work in a progressive institution of higher ed here in the Boston area–a grad school with 600+ master’s students. We have thirteen individual programs with 40 or 50 students in each, and more than 70 percent of the students are women. There are many women among the leadership of the school–including the dean of the school and more than half of the program directors. So it was a big surprise to lots of people this spring when the students nominated a clear majority of men to receive the two honors for each program–one for the intellectual leader, one for the community builder. My own program had five men and 42 women–and two of the men won those awards. One of them is a classic male clown –and the other a sweet and gentle sort in a same-sex marriage. There was no shortage of extraverted, assertive, and brilliant women in the program either. Explanations welcome! 

  • betsy w

    How could anyone NOT know why women will give men undue credit for work or ideas women have themselves done and/or defer to men rather than contest a point?  Having had a lifetime of experience I’ve seen it over and over again: in school, in work, in recreational games (whether physical ones like tennis or mental ones like scrabble) a woman will not want to incur the wrath of male colleagues by challenging the men’s sovereignty.  You can lose your job, become the target of hate and harassment, be sidetracked for promotions and ostracized.  It’s best to keep a low profile rather than jeopardize your work life or school life.  Why would any woman in her right mind want to antagonize the people she has to get along with every day?!  Especially the people who collectively dominate them in every public sphere?
    One of the first experiences I remember was as a first-grader in my one-room schoolhouse in a class of two members: a little boy and myself (a little girl).   The rule was that whoever read better would go to the top of the class i.e. be first in line.  After the male teacher put me consistently first in line for flawless reading, one day the little boy yelled and cried and said it was his turn.  Seeing his distress and uncontrollable anger, the teacher and I both conceded to his demand and let him have the lead.  I didn’t feel angry, I felt sorry, embarrassed for him and afraid of his reaction.  Repeatedly, I’ve seen the same reaction, though much better hidden, in many other environments.  There was a recent episode on 48 Hours about a man who murdered his co-worker because she got a promotion over him.  There are many like Susan Taraskiewicz, often caught between a rock and a hard place, wanting to take credit or take the job, but ominously aware of the possible consequences.

  • Europe94

    Women  defer to men in the workplace, easily, because they watched Mommy defer to Daddy.  I’m not sure by 35 why women don’t display their own confidence and self-worth unless it’s true that they need to keep their job.  My friend who writes papers at  University and is published learned a lesson last year..  She is just  2 yrs. at this but brilliant in her writing and at research.  Three men in her field (UK,Switzerland) asked to co-write  papers with her. One she knew from college days.  She couldn’t see it coming, but I could and told her to be careful. Yep, The men took credit and did none of the work and none of the research.  She later asked me,  how did you know?  How? Just like Betsy W. commented here….How could anyone not know?   I think too, that generally we women are socially interactive, while men prey.  – - –  ” A gentleman is simply a patient wolf”   lana turner

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