Men have higher salaries than women and are more likely to be in leadership positions. These are differences that cannot be explained by abilities. Aaldering: "I will investigate whether gender differences in expectations and approval of self-interest contribute to this gap."
Specifically, this research will show whether self-interest is more accepted among men than women in the areas of leadership, negotiation, and behaviour and performance at work outside the job description.
For example, Aaldering will collect examples of leaders behaving selfishly through interviews, and then ask a group of employees from other organisations how appropriate and acceptable they find these examples. In doing so, she will change for each example whether it is a male or female leader exhibiting this behaviour, and thus see if the evaluation differs depending on gender. During another part of her research, she will present a group of employees from different organisations with scenarios where one person in a meeting is asked to take the minutes and refuses to do so. Do we find such refusal more acceptable from men than from women?
The results of this research could potentially change traditional ways of thinking about gender differences in different areas. For example, in granting high salaries, selecting negotiators or leaders, and asking for volunteers in organisations.
"This grant is a great opportunity to focus on a new line of research," says Aaldering. "Much is already known about differences between men and women and their social roles regarding dominance (men) versus caring (women). The psychology behind this intrigues me. If we look beyond social roles, do we also see that general self-interested behaviour is valued differently depending on gender?"
Aaldering also looks further ahead: "An interesting next step would be to look beyond just men and women; that gender is a fluid concept is increasingly accepted. How do we assess such behaviour from people who do not identify as binary?"
With the NWO Open Competition-SSH, NWO Social Sciences and Humanities wants to offer researchers the opportunity to carry out research into a subject of their own choosing without any thematic constraints.