Women see more workplace rudeness from other women than from men: UA study

Allison Gabriel
A scene from AMC's Mad Men.
Source: AMC

Women experience more uncivil and rude behavior from other women than men in the workplace, according to a study by the University of Arizona.

"Studies show women report more incivility experiences overall than men, but we wanted to find out who was targeting women with rude remarks," said Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organizations in the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.

While men are behind the vast majority of sexual harassment, Gabriel and other UA researchers found women experience more incivility at work from other women.

More from Phoenix Business Journal:
Looking for a new career? These 10 positions will be the hardest to fill in 2018
Arizona Rep. Don Shooter's sexual harassment case offers lessons for public, private businesses
Trump uses tariffs as threat in NAFTA negotiations

"Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts," Gabriel said. "In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women."

Researchers from Southern Methodist University, Indiana University and the University of Iowa also were part of the studies, which surveyed men and women about workplace interactions.

Gabriel said the research shows employers can lose female employees who are bullied or mistreated at work. The researchers found workplace incivility can cost employers an estimated $14,000 per employee.

Poor workplace culture results in higher turnover rates, which drives up costs for finding and training new workers and can result in legal claims if the mistreatment also runs a foul of discrimination and other laws.

But Gabriel also said the research shows women that go against some traditional gender stereotypes, such as being assertive or opinionated, are on receiving end of unfriendly treatment, in particular from other women, according to interviews.

"Organizations should make sure they also send signals that the ideas and opinions of all employees are valued," Gabriel said. "And that supporting others is crucial for business success — that is, acting assertively should not be viewed negatively, but as a positive way for employees to voice concerns and speak up."