Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.
She offers some practical advice:
In my coaching practice and training courses for women, I often encounter women who don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of dependence on praise or fears of criticism. …
I’ve found that the fundamental shift for women happens when we internalize the fact that all substantive work brings both praise and criticism. Many women carry the unconscious belief that good work will be met mostly — if not exclusively — with praise. Yet in our careers, the terrain is very different: Distinctive work, innovative thinking and controversial decisions garner supporters and critics, especially for women. We need to retrain our minds to expect and accept this.
There are a number of effective ways to do this. A woman can identify another woman whose response to criticism she admires. In challenging situations, she can imagine how the admired woman might respond, and thereby see some new possible responses for herself. It can be helpful to read the most negative and positive reviews of favorite female authors, to remind ourselves of the divergent reactions that powerful work inspires.
For more on Mohr’s work, check out her new book Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message.