Should Women Act Like Men to Get Ahead?

New research explores the effects of women who display male behavior in the workplace. “Sometimes you need to be more extreme, depending on the situation. It’s not that aggressive women need to scale it back and act like a lady — in certain situations they need to call on those behaviors,” said Olivia O’Neill, professor at George Mason University’s School of Management and author of a forthcoming study that examines women who act masculine in the workplace. The researchers discovered that “although masculine women are seen as more competent than feminine women, they are also seen as less socially skilled and consequently, less likeable and less likely to be promoted.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Janette


    April 9th, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    No we should not have to compromise who we are. We should able to feel like we can succeed on our own merits and not something trumped up as what we think that we should be or what someone else wants us to be.

  • Luke


    April 9th, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    All this does not make a lot of sense to a working woman reading this. The jobs are different the organizations are different the bosses are different as is everything else. It would be very wrong to generalize. Just be yourself and never let anybody dictate terms to you and stand up for your rights and you will do fine. End of the story.

  • gareth flower

    gareth flower

    April 9th, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    having done so much to bring about equality at the work place and even better benefits to women and laws against sexual exploitation at the work place of women have to behave ina particular way to climb the ladder then it just shows how much we have failed in actually following all the rules and everything. because if everything had been followed then this situation would not have come up in the first place.

  • mike


    April 10th, 2011 at 4:50 AM

    Honestly I cannot stand those women who try to act like more of a man than I am all in an effort to get ahead. Not attractive at all and I think that there are other guys out there who would agree with me. It is ok to have ambition but to act like you have to do it under someone elses terms is not right.

  • paula


    April 11th, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    if acting like men means paying attention to your job and not expecting extra benefits or leave because you are a woman, using your talent and skill rather than I-am-a-woman-please-help-me,then by all means YES!

  • johnna


    April 11th, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Hello people!! Haven’t we gotten past all of this? Work hard and be true to yourself. That is what makes a difference, not whether you wear a skirt or pants to work. I am so tired of having this argument and for people thinking that women are inferior in the workplace. So old school.

  • Liz


    April 11th, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Aggression and taking charge is what defines a leader in the cut-throat business world. When you need to get ahead, you need to throw manners out the window and be a leader instead of a lady. If you care about being liked, you’re not cut out to be a manager anyway.

  • Suzanne


    April 11th, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    Ironically you’re seen as arrogant and rude, yet if you were a man you would be a “high achiever”. The glass ceiling remains as durable as ever. Women just don’t get ahead in the workplace as easily because of senior male management who still want to retain the old boys network and promote their own kind. You can argue all you want with that. It doesn’t make it any less true.

  • Tina


    April 11th, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    A woman has to work twice as hard as any male counterpart if she wants to be noticed and taken seriously for promotion. Thankfully it’s not as bad as it used to be but discrimination is alive and kicking. We’re not entirely out of the woods yet.

  • Bethany


    April 11th, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    @Suzanne: Some men experience that same issue, especially in teaching or nursing jobs. There are gender divides in every line of work and all of them are wrong.

  • paulette


    April 12th, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    It’s good to be a leader but stepping on people’s toes won’t win you any friends in the workplace, irrespective of your gender. Women shouldn’t have to act a certain way to get higher up the career ladder. Their work should speak for itself.

  • Seth


    April 12th, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    It’s animalistic instinct to follow the alpha male. Even if it’s a woman. However it’s also cultural even now to find women viewed almost as second-class citizens when it comes to consideration for management jobs. Despite huge strides forward in workplace legislation, inequality is rife.

  • Calum


    April 12th, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    @Janette Not all women act the same. If they did, no man would want to marry a specific woman. They would all be very boring and predictable. Are they? No they’re not of course.

    You can’t deny though that what an interviewer gets to see is not the same side of a person that their friends or family would see. We’re all capable of putting on a act to get the job–both sexes–and happy to do it. So what’s the difference?

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