It’s totally unfair but apparently it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re running for president or looking for a clerical job, you cannot afford to get angry if you are a woman, Yale University psychologist Victoria Brescoll has found.
Brescoll and Eric Uhlmann at Northwestern University recently completed three separate studies to explore a phenomenon that is all-too-familiar to women like New York Senator Hillary Clinton: People accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as less competent.
The studies, published in the March issue of Psychological Science, provide women with recommendations for navigating emotional hazards of the workplace. Brescoll says it pays to stay emotionally neutral and, if you can’t, at least explain what ticked you off in the first place.
Clinton’s presidential campaign has put a spotlight on the question of whether anger hurts a female candidate. The answer, according to the studies, appears to be an unequivocal yes – unless the anger deals with treatment of a family member.
"An angry woman loses status, no matter what her position,” said Brescoll, who worked in Clinton’s office as a Congressional Fellow in 2004 while she was preparing her doctoral thesis on gender bias. She noticed over the years that women pay a clear price for showing anger and men don’t.