Peter Glick, Lawrence University

Masculinity Contest Culture
Peter Glick


Fall 2019
Lecture Time: 
Friday, October 25, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business
Introduced By: 
Allura Casanova


Cultural norms prescribe “real men” to prove their masculinity by dominating others, fostering a Masculinity Contest (MC), a perceived zero-sum competition to prove masculinity. The newly developed and validated Masculinity Contest Culture (MCC) scale assesses four norms: (1) Show No Weakness (e.g., showing “soft” emotions, seeking advice, or admitting doubt are seen as weak), (2) Physical Strength (e.g., preferring “jocks” even in white collar jobs, valorizing work stamina), (3) Put Work First (e.g., working extreme hours, not letting family “interfere” with work), and (4) Dog Eat Dog (a hypercompetitive environment where coworkers cannot be trusted). Factor analyses show the four norms as distinct, though correlated subfactors that represent facets of an overarching latent construct (MCC). Items on the MCC scale do not specifically reference masculinity or male gender, with the notion that MC norms are legitimized simply as “the way we do business,” their origins in masculinity obscured. As a result, both female and male employees may be judged by how well they fit MCC prescriptions, creating obstacles to women’s leadership. The more strongly respondents (both male and female) viewed their work environment as fitting MCC norms, the more dysfunction they reported, from the organization to individual level. Specifically, MCC scores correlated with (a) poor organizational climate and leadership (e.g., toxic leaders, sexist climate, low psychological team safety), (b) negative behaviors (e.g., bullying, gender and ethnic harassment), and (c) poorer individual outcomes (burnout, job dissatisfaction, turnover intentions, lower organizational dedication, poorer psychological health). Although the evidence is correlational, the MCC seems a likely culprit as a cause of organizational dysfunction, breeding toxic leadership and misconduct that, in turn, leads to poor individual outcomes for employees. I suggest that mission-based interventions can mitigate MC norms by focusing instead on more productive ways to work.

Recording & Additional Notes

Peter Glick, PhD, is the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor in the Social Sciences at Lawrence University and a Senior Scientist with the Neuroleadership Institute. As a visiting Professor of Management and Organizations at Northwestern University, he co-designed the Kellogg School of Management’s first course on diversity management. He has also taught executive education at Harvard University. The Harvard Business Review recognized the warmth-competence model (co-developed with Susan Fiske, Princeton, and Amy Cuddy, Harvard) as a "breakthrough idea for 2009.” His highly cited work on benevolent sexism (with Susan Fiske) received the Allport Prize for best paper on intergroup relations. In addition to more than 70 articles, Dr. Glick has co-edited or co-authored three books, including the Sage Handbook of Prejudice.