Are you a high achiever, but too afraid to show it? A new study shows that women could be holding themselves back by not boasting enough
Research was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, conducted by Montana State University, which found that women underplay their successes, whereas men are more likely to boast, advertise, or even exaggerate theirs.
This could be to do with a female sense of humility, or because of how working women are viewed in today’s world. Jessi L Smith, psychology professor and leader of the study, said, ‘We live in a society where cultural gender norms are powerful and embedded in our history. This is no way, shape or form to be blamed on women. It’s just part of our culture, and it is our job to find ways to change these cultural norms.’ Smith herself has now started to work with companies or address these issues.
Women did score highly on one thing in the study though, and that was, unsurprisingly, boasting about their friends. When asked to write an essay about themselves or a mate, the essays written about the friend was rated much higher by judges.
However, there was a catch in the essay writing test. A black box was placed in the room, and a section of the group were told that this was a ‘subliminal noise generator, which could cause them discomfort ( the others were given no explanation). The box actually had no function at all, but interestingly, those who had the fake distraction wrote much better essays.
‘The key here,’ Smith said, ‘is that when women had an alternative explanation for why they might be feeling uncomfortable, the awkwardness they felt from violating the modesty norm by writing about themselves was diverted, and they did just fine.’
This doesn’t mean we should all jump on eBay looking for magic black boxes that don’t exist. Really, women should be tackling the bigger problem by toughening up and speaking out about their achievements.
I lost half a pound over the Christmas period. There. I did it.
Bragging Rights: study shows interventions help women’s reluctance to discuss accomplishments
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