Fragile or robust? Differential effects of gender threats in the workplace among men and women

Keith Leavitt*, Luke (Lei) Zhu, Maryam Kouchaki, Anthony Klotz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Drawing from precarious manhood theory, which proposes that manhood is an unstable social status and requires repair when threatened, we argue that gender threats at work motivate deviance and inhibit citizenship behavior for men, but not women. Beyond extending the tenets of precarious manhood theory into the work domain, we also integrate it with self-determination theory and explain why such effects are mediated by thwarted autonomy needs. We initially test these propositions in a survey study with working adults and an experiment, demonstrating that men respond with greater deviance when their gender status is threatened, relative to women. We then test our entire theoretical model in an experimental experience sampling (i.e., twice-daily diary) study within an organization. Here, our findings indicate that gender threats at the beginning of the workday (but not other threats to self-integrity) uniquely lead to increased daily workplace deviance and reduced daily organizational citizenship behavior for men (but not women), via autonomy needs thwarting (but not other self-determination needs). Collectively, our results shed light on the nature of gender threats, and their consequences for employee behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104112
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Gender roles at work
  • Organizational citizenship behavior
  • Precarious manhood
  • Self-determination
  • Workplace deviance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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