The National Science Foundation is spending a quarter of a million dollars on a sociology study that seeks to ensure the "legitimacy" of women in the workplace.
Emory University in Atlanta was awarded the project, where research begins Thursday. The study will attempt to understand "what is required to ensure the legitimacy of female authorities."
"Legitimacy is critical for the effective performance of authorities in workplace settings," according to the grant for the project. "Legitimated authorities have secured support from their superiors and subordinates, who accept them as appropriate in their positions and are likely to comply with their requests."
"In contrast, authorities who are not legitimated are likely to be challenged, resisted, and scrutinized," the grant states.
The taxpayer-funded study will "integrate knowledge about how fairness and power affect legitimacy" and "how trust is involved."
The study is primarily concerned with whether women can find "legitimacy in the workplace."
"Results will allow development of strategies for authorities, especially women, to ensure their legitimacy in the workplace, thereby improving the effectiveness of modern organizations," the grant states.
The project has received $248,000. Research will continue through February 2020.
The research will be divided into three parts, the first of which addresses "perceptions of legitimacy."
"A second vignette study manipulates the gender of the authority along with her or his behavior to examine what is required to ensure the legitimacy of female authorities," the grant states. "The third study surveys working adults about their own experiences with authorities in their organizations."
"Cumulative results from these studies will identify potential strategies for authorities, especially women, to ensure their legitimacy in the workplace," the grant concludes.
It is unclear why the researchers believe women need help reaching legitimacy in the workforce, having been there for more than a century.