Chastised for expressing emotion and raising their voices at work, many women empathize with Serena Williams
“Studies say women are less likely than men to be tapped for leadership roles when they speak up
‘Women are judged for being emotional,” says Dudley, author of ‘Work It! Get In, Get Noticed, Get Promoted.’ ‘We’re considered to be difficult when we get angry, whereas men are perceived as being tough and powerful. I’m going to be labeled as a ball-buster and men are going to be labeled as take charge. This is exactly what happened to Serena Williams at the U.S. Open on Saturday. I’m not saying she should have done what she did, but it’s an emotional game. At the same time, a double standard was applied. Had she been a male, it wouldn’t have been the same.’
At the U.S. Women’s Open final, Williams, 36, got into a heated discussion with the umpire Carlos Ramos after he penalized her for receiving hand signals from her coach. She denied that her coach was giving her such signals. She later smashed her racket on the court, incurring another penalty and, after calling Ramos a ‘thief’ for docking her a point, he gave her a third code violation, costing her a game and a $17,000 fine. She ultimately lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka, 20, 6-2, 6-4. (The U.S. Tennis Association and World Tennis Association have both said there’s a higher tolerance of such behavior by men in the game.)
… Research shows that men who get angry at work are perceived as strong and decisive, while women are more likely to be regarded as hysterical and, as such, may show more restraint than their male colleagues. ‘Both men and women are held to norms of appropriate emotional expression in the workplace, but emotional expressions by women tend to come under greater scrutiny than those by men,’ according to a 2016 paper, ‘Constrained by Emotion: Women, Leadership, and Expressing Emotion in the Workplace.’
Women incur social and economic penalties for expressing stereotypical ‘masculine’ emotions because it threatens society’s patriarchal barriers against the ‘dominance of women,’ the researchers — Jacqueline Smith, Victoria Brescoll and Erin Thomas — wrote in the paper, published in the ‘Handbook on Well-Being of Working Women.’ At the same time, when women express stereotypical ‘female’ emotions, ‘they are judged as lacking emotional control, which ultimately undermines women’s competence and professional legitimacy,’ the researchers noted.
In fact, women employed in male-dominated workplaces are more likely to say their gender has made it harder to be heard at work and they report gender discrimination at higher rates, a survey released in March by the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., concluded. When women express emotion at work, they’re often regarded as weak, says Colleen Huber director of e-learning design and development at Seattle-based MediaPro, which focuses on cybersecurity and data privacy threats. And how are men perceived? ‘They’re showing passion.'”