We know that being perceived as “pushy” can be punitive for women, but it can be costly as well: almost $16,000, in fact. Writing at Forbes.com, Kathy Caprino spoke with researchers David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny, authors of a study that finds gender bias in the workplace is very real.

The perceived competency for women seen as “forceful” or “assertive” drops by 35% and their perceived worth dips by $15,088, according to Maxfield and Grenny’s research. Men are not punished nearly as sharply for being seen overly assertive: their competency perception takes only a 22% hit and their worth declines by just $6,547.

As part of the study, Grenny and Maxfield conducted an experiment to see if using a brief, framing statement (that allowed the speakers to explain their intent before sharing their content) could reduce social and emotional backlash,” Caprino writes. “This experiment showed that these brief statements could reduce the backlash by as much as 27% – enabling both women and men to more consciously speak their minds to minimize backlash in the workplace.”

Maxfield and Grenny told Caprino that the backlash against so-called “assertive” people of either gende “came when observers thought the actor had lost his/her temper. And observers were much more likely to think the female actor had lost it. The goal of the 4-second framing statements was for the actor to signal to observers that he/she was not out of control.”

The researchers say organizations should shoulder some responsibility for eliminating bias in the workplace and can do by discussing the issue: “If we can’t talk about a problem, there is little we can do to solve it. Finally, organizations are encouraging leaders to warn people to look out for their biases, and to guard against them during crucial moments. People are quite skilled at avoiding bias or correcting for it, while they are attending to it. For example, they can guard against it during a specific period of time and during a specific task. As they practice during these brief periods, they are probably becoming more skilled at avoiding it in general—though the data aren’t in on this yet.”

Kathy Caprino’s article contains a brief video with deeper explanation of Maxfield and Grenny’s research methods. Share your reactions and opinions at GlassCeiling.com. Step up.

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