February 24, 2014
Listen here. Aired on Marketplace. This piece was prompted by some reading I'd done last year on the different ways men and women are treated when they show various emotions in the workplace. And by something I frequently read in interviews with powerful women: the advice to other women not to cry at work because it makes you look bad.
When I put a call out to a professional women's group on LinkedIn asking for feedback on this topic, I was inundated with responses. Interestingly, the consensus was that if you showed emotions at work, you suffered for it. By emotions I mean displaying anger, frustration, or starting to cry (which is often prompted by anger or frustration). Women told stories of their own experiences and contrasted that with occasions when male colleagues had lost their tempers or 'acted out' and not been reprimanded. This piece is just three minutes long. There's a lot I couldn't say in that time. I plan to produce a future episoe of The Broad Experience that will explore this issue in more depth.
Victoria Brescoll of Yale University has carried out research showing women lose status when they show anger at work, and men are sometimes rewarded for being angry at the office. I'm still exploring the issue of men and sadness at work. Are men still supposed to be emotionless rocks or is it OK if they cry in front of colleagues? If you have experience with this, let me know in the comments below.