The Confidence Gap
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The Confidence Gap

on 29 November 2020

Assertive v Aggressive – how men and women think differently in the workplace.

Exploring the impact of gender-psychology on workplace practices, from recruitment and selection to internal promotion and Board appointments, and understanding how changing the way we think, can change the way our business looks and performs.

Psychology helps to understand recruitment in a more holistic manner. It helps us recruiters to understand the client as well as the candidate market, the recruitment and application process as well as the thoughts and beliefs behind these processes.

The ‘Caveats’

  • Recruitment trends are ever changing.

  • What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow.

  • It is crucial to know the market and understand how it is segmented in order to be successful

  • The talent pool is also constantly changing so it is also important to carry out research

The Female Millennial

  • The millennial generation is now in the workforce, and reshaping it

  • Female Millennials have also grown up in a new era of:

    • Higher, and growing, female participation in the workforce

    • More highly educated – 59.2% of graduates were females

    • Different career mindset – more confidence and ambitious

  • The female millennial is a new phenomenon and also presents a new opportunity for employers.

The Talent Pool

  • Female millennials are even more important when one thinks about the fact that, especially in Malta, the talent pool is definitely getting tighter.

  • Malta has a very high employment rate – only 4 % are unemployed

  • It is now an employee’s market and companies are usually competing for the same candidate

  • This tight talent pool has created an urgency for organisations to tackle gender imbalances, and gender parity has become a business imperative

  • The fact that companies are addressing gender imbalance helps to also address the problem of a tight talent pool that Malta is facing.

Females in Gaming

  • Female participation in the workplace has increased in various sectors.

  • However, Gaming still lags behind.

  • According to a study done by the MGA, in June 2017, men occupied 78% of oles while females occupied just 22% across the whole gaming industry.

  • These statistics, again dating from June 2017, do vary somewhat between sectors.

How do women approach job applications?

  • A well known study done by Hewlett Packard showed that:

    • Women tend to be more selective when applying for a job and would only apply if they fit the criteria completely.

    • Men, on the other hand, would apply for a job even if they only match 60% of the criteria.

Job Descriptions

  • Words matter – and the words you use in a job description has a direct impact on who applies.

  • Research has shown that women respond better to words such as: responsible, committed, dedicated, sociable.

  • On the other hand they respond more negatively to words such as: individual, superior, aggressive etc.

  • It is important to use a balance of words to appeal to all candidates and in this way not lose out on any strong talent.

What do women look for at the workplace?

  • Women look for flexibility

  • They look for a positive working environment

  • A work life balance is critical.

  • Salary, of course, also ranks as one of the important elements

  • They ask a number of questions “ Is this job the very best for me?”, is the best situation for my family?”, “is it allowing me to pursue other interests outside of work?”.

  • Employers who would like to appeal to more potential female recruits must realise the importance of being transparent

  • Employers must also recognise that everyone is making flexibility demands.

Interview stage, appointments and promotion

A study done this year by PwC, called Time to Change: what has to change for women at work – shows that women traditionally are not self-promoters.

Women approach promotions in the following ways.

Salary Negotiation

  • Linda Babcock – in her book “Woman Don’t Ask”, showed that 7% of women negotiate for a better salary vs 57% of men.

  • This could be due to the fact that females face a double bind.

  • On one hand they are perceived as pushy, or too assertive when they negotiate. Men negotiate without any fear.

  • On the other hand, women are also much more used to considering their surroundings when promoting their own interests

  • “Women negotiate like lions when they represent a collective interest or negotiate on behalf of others” says professor Margaret Neale, who has long focused her research on negotiation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

  • Researchers have concluded, that deeply ingrained societal gender roles lie at the root of the gender gap in negotiated outcomes.

  • These differences can also be seen in the use of language.

  • Men tend to discuss more facts and use more direct language, whilst women ask more questions and are less direct.

  • Women use a conversation as a way to establish a connection. We tend to value human relationships and understand the other person’s point of view. Men tend to be more aggressive.

  • Negotiation is a skill that can be learnt

  • In reality, both empathy and aggression play a role in negotiating. Therefore, if we understand what works when negotiating salary, one can adopt that particular negotiation style irrespective of gender.

  • Rather than adopting a gender specific approach to understanding negotiating salary, one must adopt a more holistic approach


  • Gaming Industry still has work to do

  • There are differences between men and women in expectation and approach to applying for jobs / developing career

  • These differences, however, are not huge

  • With a little more understanding – big change could be affected

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