Act Like a Man—Sometimes


Moving up the corporate ladder isn’t just a matter of rockin’ the spreadsheets. A new study finds that if you want to climb the rungs, you have to act like a man… but not all the time.

Researchers at Stanford studied 132 business-school grads over 8 years and found that women who showed a lot of masculine traits—aggressiveness, assertiveness and confidence—but who could also sense when to dial them down, were promoted more often than male and female peers.

The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Love or hate the dynamics of the corporate world, this study is good news for all women.

Some women hesitate to get aggressive for fear of backlash.

Solution? Flex yourself. If you sense that a situation calls for a more cooperative and encouraging approach, soften up.

Otherwise, give yourself permission to be confident, outspoken and firm.

“There’s no evidence that ‘acting like a lady’ does anything except make women more well-liked,” says Olivia O’Neill, one of the study’s lead authors.

And being well-liked doesn’t translate to a bigger paycheck—but being more assertive will. Luckily, you can do both.

Man up. What’s your behavior style at work?