As a woman in business you know the fine line you tread between being assertive and being labelled as ‘hard nosed’, ‘aloof’ or worse. The good news is that by self monitoring these ‘masculine’ traits and knowing when to use them, researchers have found you have a better chance of promotion than other women and surprisingly, men. The British Psychological Society has just published research by Olivia O’Neill, assistant professor of management at George Mason University and her co-author, Charles O’Reilly, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The study followed 132 business school graduates, of which 43 percent were women. They assessed them at the beginning of their studies and again seven to eight years after they graduated. They found that the women who were able to monitor a social situation and respond using ‘masculine’ behaviour, received three times as many promotions as women who didn’t have this skill. They also received one and half times more promotions than men! Being adept at using this skill, helps woman in business balance ‘masculine’ traits associated with competence without the risk of losing ‘likeability’ if they behave against gender stereotyping. The key message to take from this research is that you can be assertive and even aggressive, but first you need to learn to read situations and act accordingly. For more artciles on office behaviour and politics click here.