February 21, 2012

Do Nice Guys — And Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income

Key Findings

• The pay gap between agreeable and disagreeable males is significantly larger than the gap between agreeable and disagreeable females. That is, there is a“benefit” of being (moderately) disagreeable as a male, but this “benefit” is minimal for females.

• Employees are subject to gender stereotypes in the workplace. Males are expected to exhibit masculine qualities, including disagreeableness. Females are expected to exhibit feminine qualities, including agreeableness. When one gender defies such stereotypes, the employee can be perceived as deviant.

• Males who are agreeable are disadvantaged (vs. disagreeable males) for two reasons: first, agreeableness is negatively correlated with income; secondly, they defy the male stereotype of being assertive and disagreeable.

Recommended Citation

Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. (2012, February). Do nice guys — and gals — really finish last? The joint effects of sex and agreeableness on income (CAHRS ResearchLink No. 18). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School.

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