Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Incivility


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If you have worked long enough, you have likely experienced incivility. This represents rude and insolent behavior that violates norms of mutual respect. Examples include being interrupted or being excluded from conversations or events.

Researchers have found that most people have experienced incivility at some point. However, some employes are more likely than others to be the target of incivility, including people who are different from the typical majority member or people who lack power at work.

Lauren Zurbrugg and Kathi Miner, both of Texas A&M University, recently examined incivility among faculty members. They were interested in whether one’s gender and sexual orientation were associated with experiencing incivility. They also examined outcomes, including job stress, job satisfaction, and how important the job was to the faculty member.

The researchers collected data from 1300 law professors. As expected, women experienced more incivility than did men. Gender and sexual orientation also interacted, such that lesbian and bisexual women were most likely to face incivility.

People also responded to incivility in different ways. The impact of incivility on heterosexual’s job identity and job stress were especially strong.

Interestingly, even though lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals experienced incivility, it did not negatively impact their work experiences.  The authors suggested that, “it may be the case that sexual minorities have habituated to living in a society where they regularly experience subtle incivilities and have gained resilience in the face of such stressors, thereby lessening the negative effects on their well-being.”

Finally, the authors pointed to a number of implications, including the need for formal workplace policies prohibiting mistreatment and better training and education programs, among others.