Theses Doctoral

Working Hard and Getting Nowhere: Jane Henryism and the Recognition of Black Women’s Efforts in Corporate America

Yearwood, Shana M.

The purpose of this study was to understand whether strength is a prescriptive stereotype for Black women professionals in organizations. This study investigated whether a woman’s race (White or Black) affected how her level of work (overwork, not overworking, or control) was evaluated and rewarded by others (performance evaluation ratings, likelihood of promotion, and monetary rewards.)

In particular, the study sought to understand whether Black women would not reap benefits for overworking, and whether they would be penalized for not overworking. In addition, the study examined whether race moderated the relationship between level of work and employee characterizations (strength, competence, laziness). This study built on previous prescriptive stereotype research that found that men, but not women, benefitted from performing organizational citizenship behaviors at work, and that women, but not men, face negative consequences when they withhold those behaviors (Allen & Rush, 2001; Heilman & Chen, 2005).

This study collected responses from 235 MTurk workers to better understand how expectations of strength at work influence the career outcomes and perceptions of Black women. Results indicated that neither Black nor White women received a boost in outcomes when engaging in overwork; however, Black women, but not White women, were penalized for declining to engage in overwork. Black women received lower performance ratings, had a lower likelihood of promotion, and received lower monetary rewards when they did not overwork, while there was no difference for White women.

Furthermore, Black women were perceived as less competent and lazier when they were not overworking. These findings imply a unique type of double bind for Black women, who may face burnout before reaping the benefits of overworking, and yet are also penalized if they set boundaries around how much they work.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Block, Caryn J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 13, 2024