"The question I wanted to answer was: Did review tone or content differed based on the employee’s gender? I also wanted to know whether the manager’s gender was a factor in how they reviewed their employees. I was especially interested in employees who shared reviews given by both male and female managers.
In all, I collected 248 reviews from 180 people, 105 men and 75 women. The reviews come from 28 different companies and include large technology corporations, mid-size companies, and smaller environments....
....This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women." (emphasis added)That's quite a discrepancy, yeah?
The author also found that men more often had critique framed as constructive suggestions for additional skills to develop, rather than as personality failings.
These findings suggest that men and women are often judged differently for engaging in similar or the same behavior - men are "go-getters" when they're assertive or conversation-dominating in the workplace, while women are "bitchy" and "too talkative."
Yet, I also wonder if perhaps women are critiqued more frequently and in a more personal way because supervisors know, think, or instinctively pick up on, men on average being highly sensitive to critique. Women, of course, are often portrayed as overly sensitive, but anyone who's spent about 2 seconds on Internet has experienced how hell hath no fury like (many) male egos being taken down a notch or three.
My suggestion here is just that, a suggestion. Yet, it seems no coincidence that these findings were in the tech industry, specifically - although I also wouldn't be surprised if they're replicable in other industries.
It is, after all, highly demonstrable that, just on Internet - where many tech guys and self-proclaimed geek guys- hang out, many men can't even handle "their" games, TV shows, movies, and other shit being substantively critiqued without groups of them banding together to derail all mature conversations into rape threats, temper tantrums, and other varied expressions of violent misogyny.
See, for just recent incidents, this link roundup at Geek Feminism Blog (which, by the way, consistently has some of the best link roundups out there, in my opinion!).
Maybe one reason women endure more criticism is because people know women probably won't go apeshit after hearing it. Not that that makes the super-personal criticism okay in the workplace. It's just something to consider as another contributing factor both to this criticism discrepancy and to male overconfidence.