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Study Finds Workplace Bullying Makes Women Work Harder

An Australian study making the rounds in the foreign press finds that women respond to workplace bullying by working even harder. Men, meanwhile, respond to workplace bullying by doing pretty much the opposite. Let's go a few rounds in the ring to find out what's going on here.

I've been following this study since it first appeared in a Perth, Australia newspaper a few days ago. Now it's running everywhere except here. You know what I love about workplace articles in the foreign press? That foreign journalists use the word "scheme" instead of "plan." As in, "The government is proposing a new workplace safety scheme that would cover millions of employees." It always makes it sound slightly sinister.

Anyway, back to the study. Researchers at Perth's Edith Cowan University and the University of New England surveyed about 320 Australian employees to measure the impact of incivility on employee performance and behavior. As I mentioned at the outset, the researchers concluded that women respond to incivility by working even harder while men stop working as hard. Cue the Johnny Paycheck song!

Why do we women lean in to our jobs when we're bullied at work? Why on earth would we do this? Because we're people people, that's why!

ECU senior lecturer Dr Jennifer Loh, an organisational psychologist, said women tended to place importance on good personal and social relationships with colleagues.

"Therefore when they are faced with incivility in the workplace - and this would generally be over work issues - women are more likely to attempt to work harder with the aim to improve their work relationships," she said.

She said the research found that men experiencing the same treatment would either ignore their aggressor or retaliate by withdrawing from work, either by taking frequent breaks, making excuses to get out of the office or arriving late for work.

Thank you ma'am, may I have another. Well, (wo)mano-a-(wo)mano bullying has been on the rise lately, so maybe we're starting to see the ramifications. Rest assured, managers, that workplace bullying is making the women in the office work even harder to contribute to the company's rising productivity levels. That is, until they collapse into a puddle of goo and suddenly quit one day. Then you can hire a man who will respond to the bullying by taking extra-long work breaks and maxing out his sick days, potentially decreasing overall company productivity in the process. Take this job and shooooooove it!

Hmm. Maybe it would be better to nip all of the workplace bullying in the bud? But that would require real people management skills, and all your boss has is a MBA. Bummer. Nothing to see here, keep moving. This month's productivity numbers sure look good though, don't they?


  1. For the first time in my career i have seen one female manager get bullied by not only fellow management but women below her in rank. She has been in situations so often where she comes out looking so week its frustrating.


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