Often No Reward for Innovative Women in the Workplace

By: Marie Donlon

Employers are always on the lookout for the latest in innovation. But according to research, when that innovation comes from a female employee, that employee is less likely to be rewarded than if it had come from a man.

Calling it the "think innovation, think male" bias, researchers from Wake Forest University School of Business demonstrated that both male and female managers tend to rate females high during performance ratings when they demonstrated low levels of innovative work behaviors.

To correct such behavior, Derek Avery, professor, and David Darnell, chair in principled leadership at Wake Forest University School of Business said, "Being aware is a start, but the workplace is an extension of society, which has long undervalued women as innovators."

Communications Professor Rebecca Gill suggested that women can change the face of the workplace by bringing their ideas to the table first.

"Bringing an idea to the table that isn't fully fleshed out may validate the gender-bias that innovators tend to be youthful, male, white Silicon-Valley types," said Gill. "Presenting a promising idea, even if small, builds confidence. Innovations are often enhancements or improvements on what we already know and are already familiar with. An Elon Musk-size idea is not necessarily the best one. A small win that makes a difference for a client or customer gives confidence to put up a bigger new idea."