Study reveals women are more reluctant to request deadline extensions than men

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It turns out that women tend to be more reluctant when it comes to asking for more time to complete projects with adjustable deadlines at work or school. According to a study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,’ women were more concerned that they would be burdening others by asking for an extension, and that they would be seen as incompetent.

Grant Donnelly, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business explained, “Women understandably feel like they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. We found that not asking for more time to complete tasks undermines women’s well-being and also their performance. But we also found a possible solution: Women were as likely to ask for deadline extensions as men when organizations had formal policies on making deadline extension requests.” 

The study also revealed that not requesting an extension could potentially hurt students. “What we found is that when students requested an extension, they made good use of that time and performed better on the task. Women may hurt themselves by not requesting additional time,” Donnelly said.

On the flip side, the study found that organizations can level the field by creating a formal way to request deadline extensions. Donnelly said he believes companies and other organizations should create formal avenues for requesting deadline extensions.

“It’s a structural issue. When organizations have formal policies about deadlines, it creates the opportunity for men and women to have equal experiences for requesting additional time. And we found evidence that allowing deadline extensions, when possible, can result in better work. That’s helpful for employers and employees,” Donnelly concluded.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need more time to accomplish something, yes. However, having some sort of structure to streamline the process could remedy this dilemma.

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