Yale School of Management Study Examines Gender Differences in Organizational Behavior

Victoria L. Brescoll, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, has conducted research which shows that powerful women in organizations tend to talk less than men in similar positions. Her research found that men with power in organizations talk more than men with less power. But she found that women with power did not talk any more than women with lower levels of power in the organization.

For her study, Dr. Brescoll examined how much men and women senators spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate. She also conducted an experiment where participants were asked to imagine themselves as the most powerful or least powerful member of a work group. She found that powerful women were the only ones who adjusted their talking time over concerns of being disliked or being perceived as controlling.

“When men talk a lot and they have power, people want to reward them either by hiring them, voting for them, or just giving them more power and responsibility at work,” said Brescoll. “But when women do it, they are seen as being too domineering, too presumptuous. Women perceive this, and that’s why they temper how much they talk.”

Dr. Brescoll is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Yale University.

The study,“Who Takes the Floor and Why: Gender, Power, and Volubility in Organizations,” was published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly.

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