Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, ix, 152 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sylvia Roch

Committee Members

Michael Ford, Jason Randall


Backlash Effect, Female Leaders, Gender-role norms, Performance Feedback, Sex discrimination in employment, Sex role, Assertiveness in women, Sex discrimination against women, Employees

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Industrial and Organizational Psychology


Women who violate the female gender role norm of communality by acting agentically have been found to experience social repercussions, such as decreased likability (Eagly & Wood, 2012). This phenomenon has been defined as the backlash effect (Rudman, 1998). The current work draws upon this idea and expands the area to a qualitative criterion, specifically written performance appraisals, and explores the relationship between the backlash effect and individual outcomes of perceived supervisor support, affective organizational commitment and turnover intentions. The results of a mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis of a sample of 400 written performance evaluations from two organizations provide evidence of the backlash effect in the written performance feedback context for women at all levels of the organizational hierarchy. The results of a self-report survey of 271 working adults demonstrates only partial support for a relationship between the backlash effect and turnover intentions, but provides guidance for future scale development. Additionally, this study establishes differences between men and women in the experience of performance feedback, including amount of feedback favoring men, differing sensitivity to critical feedback pointing to lower sensitivity for women and evidence of shaping behaviors towards one’s gender role norm. Together, the results support further research of the backlash effect in the area of qualitative performance feedback and development of a self-report measure of the backlash effect to better understand the experiences of performance feedback and professional development for female employees in the workplace.