Danielle van Jaarsveld

Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
Sisters at Arms: Female Same-Sex Conflict at Work (2014)

I propose and test portions of a two-stage model that investigates the pervasive belief that women have more dysfunctional same-sex workplace relationships than men. In the first stage of this model, I assume that female same-sex conflict transpires more frequently than male same-sex conflict and make a series of propositions about why this might be the case. For example, I propose that perhaps women react worse than men to non-communal women in workplace contexts, which then sets the stage for enhanced conflict. In the second stage, I set aside consideration of gender differences in same-sex conflict frequency and discuss why female same-sex conflict might simply be problematized by third parties relative to male same-sex conflict. I conducted five studies to determine which of these two explanations best accounts for the belief that women have more dysfunctional same-sex workplace relationships than men. In Chapter 1, I present the entirety of the model, and associated propositions, that I have developed as the basis for my dissertation and future research. In Chapter 2, I present the results of two scenario studies, which, taken together suggest that third parties view female same-sex conflict as more person-related (e.g., caused by interpersonal disliking) (Study 1) and more disruptive to relationship quality and work-related attitudes (Study 2) than male same-sex conflict. In Chapter 3, I turn to first parties’ perceptions in order to test the first stage of my model. Study 3 provides support for my proposition that women react worse than men to non-communal women, and that this leads to greater collective threat. Study 4, however, demonstrated that men and women did not experience different frequencies of same-sex conflict, nor did their same-sex conflict differ in meaningful ways. Finally, Study 5 demonstrated that individuals did not generally report more or less negative outcomes of workplace conflict as a function of their gender and the gender of their co-party in conflict. Overall, the results of my dissertation are more suggestive of a generalized problematization of female same-sex workplace conflict (relative to male same-sex conflict) than they are of a generalized dysfunction within women’s same-sex workplace relationships.

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