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Interactional Contexts of Workplace Inequality: Differential Emotional Responses to Men and Women in Authority Positions

Kate Hawks (Emory University, USA)
Karen A. Hegtvedt (Emory University, USA)
Cathryn Johnson (Emory University, USA)

Advances in Group Processes

ISBN: 978-1-83797-477-1, eISBN: 978-1-83797-476-4

Publication date: 14 December 2023



We examine how authorities' use of fair decision-making procedures and power benevolently shape workers' impressions of them as competent and warm, which serve as a mechanism whereby authorities' behaviors shape workers' emotional responses. We investigate how the role of these impressions differs depending on authority gender and consider whether emotional responses differ for male and female subordinates.


We conducted a between-subjects experimental vignette study in which we manipulate an authority's behaviors and gender. We use multigroup mediation analysis to test our predictions.


Authorities who employ procedural justice and benevolent power elicit reports of heightened positive emotion experiences and intended displays and reports of reduced negative emotion experiences and intended displays. These behaviors also enhance views of authorities as competent and warm. The mediating role of impressions differs by authority gender. Authority behaviors prompt reports of positive emotions through conveying impressions that align with authorities' gender stereotypes (competence for men, warmth for women). In contrast, warmth impressions mediate effects of behaviors on reported negative emotions when authorities are men, whereas when authorities are women, benevolent power use directly reduces reported negative experience, and procedural justice reduces negative display. Female respondents are more likely to report positive emotion experience and display toward male authorities and negative display toward female authorities.


By examining competence and warmth impressions as mechanisms, we gain insight into how the process by which authority behaviors affect worker emotions is gendered and shed light on micro-level dynamics contributing to gender inequality at work.



Hawks, K., Hegtvedt, K.A. and Johnson, C. (2023), "Interactional Contexts of Workplace Inequality: Differential Emotional Responses to Men and Women in Authority Positions", Kalkhoff, W., Thye, S.R. and Lawler, E.J. (Ed.) Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 40), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-140.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024 Kate Hawks, Karen A. Hegtvedt and Cathryn Johnson. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited