Full Program »
The Mitigating Effect of Desiring Status on Backlash Against Ambitious Women
Although previous literature finds that power-seeking women face backlash, research has identified two methods of ascending the social hierarchy: power and status. Across five studies (N = 1205) using samples of undergraduates, female executives, MBA students, and online participants, we investigate perceptions of men and women who desire power and status to varying degrees. We uncover that status-seeking women incur less backlash than power-seeking women (Study 1). Moreover, we find that women anticipate less backlash when they appear status-seeking instead of power-seeking (Study 2) and that female executives’ tendency to define power in terms of status positively correlates with more positive attitudes towards power (Study 3). For women, desires for power and status interact to influence backlash (Study 4). Specifically, women who desire both power and status benefit as they are perceived as highly leader-like but incur less backlash than women who only desire power (Study 5).