Integrating Gender in Research: Paper on Self-Confidence and Influence in Organisations




Organisational Behaviour; Human resources

Short Summary

The paper challenges common assumptions that self-confidence differs between men and women. It asks whether gaining influence varies per gender and examines the role of self-confidence appearance in influencing an organisation. Essential practices of gender integration include:


  1. Integrating the gender dimension throughout the research project, from the conceptualisation of the problem to the discussion of results.
  2. Specifying how the research findings have different practical implications for female and male employees, both at the individual and organisational levels.


Appearing self-confident is instrumental for progressing at work. However, little is known about what makes individuals appear self-confident at work. We draw on attribution and social perceptions literature to theorise the antecedents and consequences of appearing self-confident for men and women in male-dominated professions. We suggest that performance is one determinant of whether individuals are seen as confident at work and that this effect is moderated by gender. We further propose that the appearance of self-confidence increases the extent to which individuals exert influence in their organisations. However, for women, appearing self-confident is not enough to gain influence. In contrast to men, women

in addition are “required” to be prosocially oriented. Multisource, time-lag data from a technology company showed that performance had a positive effect on self-confidence appearance for both men and women. However, the impact of self-confidence appearance on organisational influence was moderated by gender and prosocial orientation, as predicted.

Through self-confidence appearance, job performance directly enabled men to exert influence in their organisation. In contrast, high-performing women gained influence only when their self-confidence appearance was coupled with prosocial orientation.

How is Gender integrated in this Research

  • Gender issues are shown to be relevant in understanding the research problem. e.g., how gender is associated with self-confidence appearance and influence in an organisation and how it is coupled with prosocial orientation
  • The context examined is acknowledged to be gendered, i.e., a multinational software development company
  • Gender is used to formulate three of the five hypotheses of the study e.g., the positive relationship between job performance and self-confidence appearance is moderated by gender, such that it is stronger for men than women. Or the relationship between job performance and organisational influence is mediated via self-confidence appearance and moderated by gender and prosocial orientation.
  • The sample includes both male and female respondents (even if 77% were male and 23% were female).
  • The analysis of data and the interpretation of results are offered for both male and female samples.
  • One of the challenges of examining the selected measures in a male profession was that the sample of women included was small. In this study, only 23% of the engineers in the sample were women. This challenge was addressed by acknowledging it as a limitation.

What could be done differently

The integration of the gender dimension was consistent in the research paper. However, the analysis of other intersecting factors (age and ethnicity, for example) in understanding self-confidence appearance and influence in an organisation could have been included.

Also, a better understanding of the organisation could be helpful in the interpretation of results. 

Key Learning Points

Our results have practical implications for gender equality and leadership. They suggest that HR and senior management should play a key role in building more diversity-friendly organisations. In particular, ensuring that the same job requirements – explicit and implicit – are applied to both female and male employees is crucial for fair individual outcomes in organisations.

Resources to explore

Guillen, L., Mayo, M., Karelaia, N. (2017). Appearing self-confident and getting credit for it: Why it may be easier for men than women to gain influence at work, Human resource management, 57 (4),