Women who behave like men earn more than those who are nice, according to new research.
But even assertive women still don’t earn as much as their male counterparts.
A study found women who express their demands and don’t retreat are compensated better - and their more accommodating peers don’t even realise.
Dr Michal Biron, of the University of Haifa, Israel, said: “We found women are not aware more agreeable women are being punished for being nice.
“The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved.”
The same goes for dominant men compared to their more conciliatory male counterparts.
But even bossy women earn far less than all their male colleagues, even the friendliest ones.
Professor Sharon Toker, of Tel Aviv University, said: “We have witnessed dramatic changes in the definition of traditionally male and female qualities over the past several decades.
“But some people still really cling to the idea some qualities are exclusively male and exclusively female.
“Some professional women are still afraid to exhibit a trait that’s incongruent with presumed notions of female character. The result is financial retribution.”
The new research analysed “status inconsistencies” between men and women through the lens of traditional male and female characteristics.
It surveyed 375 randomly selected men and women from all 12 departments at a Dutch multinational electronics firm with 1,390 employees.
Tenure, education and performance relative to income and promotion were analysed.
For subjective statistics how the individual perceived the fit between their education, experience and performance on the one hand, and their income and rank on the other, was examined.
Explained Dr Biron: “We found women were consistently and objectively status detracted, which means they invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive; and are compensated less than their male colleagues across the board.”
Added Dr Renee De Reuver, of Tilburg University, The Netherlands: “But dominant women were not punished for reflecting such female incongruent traits as extroversion and assertiveness.
“In fact, we found the more dominant a woman is at work, the less likely she is to be status detracted.
“We found a similar pattern among men - the more dominant a man is, the more likely he is to be better compensated.
“But alarmingly, dominant women were still found to earn less than even the most agreeable men who aren’t promoted.”
In the subjective part of the study, almost all the employees responded they felt dissatisfied with their ‘input-compensation’ ratio.
But agreeable and non dominant women answered that they felt they earned too much.
Prof Toker said: “This blew our minds. The data shows they earn the least - far less than what they deserve. And they rationalise the situation, making it less likely they will make appropriate demands for equal pay.”
The researchers, whose findings are published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, hope to replicate the study in Israel and the US.