Perceptions of Team Contributions for Men and Women
Doctor of Philosophy
More than ever before, organizations are relying on teams to complete complex and creative work. Given this trend, along with the fact that women make up half of the U.S. labor force, understanding the interplay between teamwork and gender is critical. Though some research has explored this topic, it has centered primarily on gender stereotypes, the impact of gender composition on team-level outcomes, and general gender differences in interaction styles. Guided by the literature on teams and gender stereotypes, the current research extends beyond these topics to examine how men’s and women’s contributions are perceived in teams, and further, how different perceptions of the contributions of male and female team members may influence workplace-related outcomes. Using an experimental design, Study 1 shows that female team members who enact more agentic than communal behaviors are perceived as contributing significantly less than their male counterparts who enact the same behaviors. On the other end of the spectrum, female team members who enact more communal than agentic behaviors are also perceived as contributing significantly less than their male counterparts. Female team members are only perceived as contributing equally to male team members when they enact moderate amounts of both agentic and communal behaviors. Using another experimental design, Study 2 explores the effects of gender and behavior on other career-related outcomes for male and female team members that may emerge as a function of being perceived to be essential group contributors. Results show that women—and those who behave in highly agentic or highly communal ways—receive more positive perceptions of contributions, effectiveness, leadership, relative rankings, and performance, as well as more favorable career opportunity and compensation recommendations. Taken together, the two studies suggest that men’s and women’s contributions in team settings are not perceived equally, and that the factors at play may be more nuanced than previously thought.
Gender stereotypes; teams