We explore one possible factor contributing to the proverbial glass ceiling for women—manifestation of the backlash effect, defined as social repercussions received by women who violate the female gender‐role norm, in performance feedback. Feedback phrasing may have consequences for employee commitment to the organization and intention to leave. The results of study 1, 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 feedback language used in women’s performance appraisals at all levels of the organizational hierarchy, not just for women in leadership roles as expected. The results of a self‐report survey of 271 working adults (study 2) suggest differing sensitivity to the use of backlash‐related words according to gender, unexpectedly pointing to lower sensitivity for women and evidence of shaping behaviors toward one’s gender‐role norm through positive feedback. Implications are discussed.