A Man’s (Precarious) Place: Men’s Experienced Threat and Self-Assertive Reactions to Female Superiors

Ekaterina Netchaeva*, Maryam Kouchaki, Leah D. Sheppard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Across three studies, we investigate men’s reactions to women in superior roles. Drawing from precarious manhood theory, we hypothesize that when a woman occupies a superior organizational role, men in subordinate positions experience threat, which leads them to behave more assertively toward her and advocate for themselves. In Studies 1 and 2, we demonstrate that men feel more threatened (relative to women) by women in superior roles (relative to men in superior roles) and, as a result, engage in more assertive behaviors toward these women. In Study 3, we investigate a boundary condition to this effect and demonstrate that a woman in a superior role who displays qualities associated with administrative agency (e.g., directness, proactivity) rather than ambitious agency (e.g., self-promotion, power-seeking) elicits less assertive behavior from men. We conclude by discussing implications as well as directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1259
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2015


  • gender
  • leadership
  • precarious manhood
  • status
  • threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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