Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Men's Issue for MRAs to Solve*: Workplace Feedback!

Ugh, check out this lede, from Fortune:
"You might want to rethink the way you give feedback—particularly when it comes to women. 
A group of researchers led by Margarita Mayo, a professor of leadership at IE Business School in Madrid, found that women are far more sensitive to peer feedback than men are."
Gosh, it sounds like women are overly-delicate ninnies who simply can't handle honest, tough talk in the workplace.

Yet, things get interesting when we keep reading:
"The study involved 221 MBA students—169 men and 52 women—who were assigned to “learning teams” of five or six members. At the end of each trimester, the members of each team rated each other on leadership skills. Looking at the feedback over time, Mayo found that while all the students started off by rating themselves higher than they were rated by their peers, women adapted to their team members’ perceptions of them much more quickly than men did.

For example, if at the beginning of the experiment, a female MBA student gave herself a rating of ‘5’ on understanding the class materials, while her peers gave her a ‘3’, she would then become much more likely to give herself a lower rating—such as a 3.5 or a 4—than a male student would. (He would also lower his rating, but not by much—maybe a 4.5.)" (Emphasis added)
Oh. So then another possible lede for this same exact story could have been:
You might want to rethink giving feedback in the workplace - particularly when it comes to men. 
A group of researchers found that men are far less likely to internalize and adapt to peer feedback than women are. Other studies find that men are more likely than women to believe that they are more competent than they actually are and to believe that they are more competent than women. 
Peers and supervisors might want to brainstorm strategies for assisting male workers to become more humble and reality-based about their own competence level so as to not replicate destructive behavior patterns and gender dynamics that have been ongoing in workplaces for many years.
Wonder why that's not the story.  Seems like a pretty big one to me.

Stories like these fit into a larger context of anti-feminists whinging about the so-called feminization of workplaces and schools, as well as railing against "PC culture."  You can already pre-emptively hear Internet men saying that women just need to toughen up if they want to make it in the working world argle bargle. If women can't handle feedback, it's their own problem!  That the status quo of men being more likely than women to be incompetently over-confident likely (a) primarily benefits men, and (b) makes a workplace worse off doesn't seem to matter.

People will whine about all of the special treatment and accommodations in the workplace that women require.  That the feedback-giving process also needs to be changed based on how men receive feedback, since it seems they are less likely to.... receive it, is rendered invisible.

(*In reference to the title, I'm sure MRAs will be all over this! Workplaces should also adapt to men's unique needs and personalities, right?! ..... Oh. No? I mean, I'm sure there's an Internet feminist who needs harassing, so.)

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