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Research Shows More Incivility Amongst Women In Work Places

By: The University Of Arizona

Women report more incivility experiences at work than men, but who is at fault for instigating these mildly deviant behaviors? One UA researcher set out to answer that question, with surprising results.

The phenomenon of women discriminating against other women in the workplace — particularly as they rise in seniority — has long been documented as the “queen bee syndrome.” As women have increased their ranks in the workplace, most will admit to experiencing rude behavior and incivility.

Who is at fault for dishing out these mildly deviant behaviors? Has the syndrome grown more pervasive?

“Studies show women report more incivility experiences overall than men, but we wanted to find out who was targeting women with rude remarks,” said Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organizations in the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

Gabriel and her co-authors set out to answer that question across three studies. Men and women who were employed full time answered questions about the incivility they experienced at work during the last month.

The questions were about co-workers who put them down or were condescending, made demeaning or derogatory remarks, ignored them in a meeting or addressed them in unprofessional terms. Each set of questions was answered twice, once for male co-workers and once for female co-workers.

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Gabriel said. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.

“This isn’t to say men were off the hook or they weren’t engaging in these behaviors,” she noted. “But when we compared the average levels of incivility reported, female-instigated incivility was reported more often than male-instigated incivility by women in our three studies.”

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