A woman sorts boxes in the storage room all by herself.

Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions

Here’s a work scenario many of us know too well: You are in a meeting and your manager brings up a project that needs to be assigned. It’s not particularly challenging work, but it’s time-consuming, unlikely to drive revenue, and probably won’t be recognized or included in your performance evaluation. As your manager describes the project and asks for a volunteer, you and your colleagues become silent and uneasy, everyone hoping that someone else will raise their hand. The wait becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Then, finally, someone speaks up: “Okay, I’ll do it.”

https://hbr.org/2018/07/why-women-volunteer-for-tasks-that-dont-lead-to-promotions

“Gender Differences in Accepting and Receiving Requests for Tasks with Low Promotability,” By Linda Babcock, Maria P. Recalde, Lise Vesterlund,and Laurie Weingart

Abstract: Gender differences in task allocations may sustain vertical gender segregation in labor markets. We examine the allocation of a task that everyone prefers be completed by someone else (writing a report, serving on a committee, etc.) and find evidence that women, more than men, volunteer, are asked to volunteer, and accept requests to volunteer for such tasks. Beliefs that women, more than men, say yes to tasks with low promotability appear as an important driver of these differences. If women hold tasks that are less promotable than those held by men, then women will progress more slowly in organizations.

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