The chart below is not part of a study that examines a statistically random set of data. It’s quite informal, and probably suffers from some inherent sampling biases. Nonetheless, it’s pretty astonishing:
Here’s the background: Kieran Snyder asked men and women working in the tech industry to share their performance reviews with her. Virtually all of them were high performers who got generally strong reviews. But it wasn’t all positive:
In the 177 reviews where people receive critical feedback, men and women receive different kinds. The critical feedback men receive is heavily geared towards suggestions for additional skills to develop….The women’s reviews include another, sharper element that is absent from the men’s:
“You can come across as abrasive sometimes. I know you don’t mean to, but you need to pay attention to your tone.”
This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.
This comes via Shane Ferro, who concludes that there’s probably good reason for women to be more cautious than men in their professional lives. It’s easy to tell women they shouldn’t be afraid to fail. “But we as a society (men and women), need to stop judging women so harshly for their flaws. For them to be equally good, it has to be okay that they are equally bad sometimes.”