Strong bonding among female co-workers can be favourable for the workplace as it can help in reducing conflict among female employees, a study has revealed.
According to a study in the INFORMS journal Organisation Science, when employers encourage an office environment that supports positive and social relationships between women co-workers, especially in primarily male dominated organisations, they are less likely to experience conflict among women employees.
“While gender diversity and inequality are well documented topics in management, sociology and labour economics, few have looked closely at the gendered negative relationships within the workplace from a social relationship perspective,” said Jennifer Merluzzi of George Washington University.
Merluzzi surveyed 145 management-level employees regarding workplace dynamics at two large US firms that were primarily male-dominated, with women representing less than one-third of the workforce and under 15 per cent of the senior management.
The author revealed that while men and women are equally likely to mention having a difficult co-worker, but as compared to men, women are more likely to cite another woman as a difficult co-worker than a man. However, this tendency is reduced among women who cite having more women co-workers for social support and friendship at work.
The study “Gender and Negative Work Ties: Exploring Difficult Work Relationships Within and Across Gender at Two Firms” conducted by Merluzzi showed that unique gendered network characteristics can help organisational leaders anticipate potential trouble spots within their firms where gendered conflict may erupt.
“Understanding the relational side of conflict also bears practical importance as companies increasingly organise using diverse teams, heightening the reliance on informal ties between and within gender to get work accomplished.”