Women who want to work in jobs typically held by men need to show employers they have what it takes to act like the guys, new researcher shows.
When applying for jobs in male-dominated fields, women have a better chance of getting hired when they play up their masculine qualities, according to a Michigan State University study.
In a laboratory experiment, women who described themselves using traits traditionally associated with masculinity were evaluated as better fits for the job than those who emphasized traits often considered feminine. The male-associated traits included assertiveness, independence and being achievement oriented, while female-like traits included warmth, supportiveness and a nurturing nature.
"We found that 'manning up' seemed to be an effective strategy, because it was seen as necessary for the job," Ann Marie Ryan, a co-author of the study and a Michigan State professor of psychology, said in a statement. [The Funny Personality Trait Most Likely to Land You a Job]
Researchers said their results, which appear online in the research journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, refute the idea that women who emphasize counter-stereotypical traits might face a backlash for not conforming to expected gender roles.
When hiring for a leadership position in a male-dominated field, such as engineering, hiring managers appear to look for take-charge candidates, regardless of gender, Ryan said.
The study is just part of research Ryan is conducting on discrimination that certain groups face when searching for new jobs, and what they can do to counter it.
In another of her studies, which is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, Ryan and her co-authors surveyed unemployed job seekers of all ages under the theory that older people perceive more discrimination and make an effort to downplay their ages during interviews. The results not only supported the researchers' hypothesis, but also showed that younger workers avoided discussing their ages. The researchers said this was presumably so they wouldn't be seen as too inexperienced.
Ryan said, in the end, it's not the responsibility of job seekers to ensure their own equal treatment during the hiring process.
"Companies and recruiters should make sure they are not exhibiting discriminatory screening practices," Ryan said. "There's a lot of advice out there for applicants to help combat this type of bias, but our research is aimed at figuring out what kind of advice is beneficial and what kind of advice may harm you."
Originally published on Business News Daily