Module 12: Gender Through an Industrial/Organizational Lens
In this module, we are going to focus on women’s experiences in the workplace. We will first look at the ways in which career goals may differ between men and women, and why differences in career goals exist. We are then going to take a look at equality in the workplace. Do women and men get the same experiences and pay? Do women have specific barriers that men do not in the workplace? We will find out. Finally, we will look at how women try to balance work and family roles/obligations.
- 12.1. Occupational Goals
- 12.2. Sex and Gender Equality
- 12.3. Obstacles
- 12.4. Work and Family
Module Learning Outcomes
- Outline the varying goals that men and women may have regarding occupations and careers, and how sex-typing and sex-roles impact those goals.
- Discover how equal or unequal the workplace is for women and men.
- Understand the various obstacles women face in the workplace.
- Gain a foundational understanding of how women balance work and families, the benefits or risk of such, and obstacles they may encounter in doing so.
12.1. Occupational Goals
Section Learning Objectives
- Define sex-typing
- Understand how sex-typing impacts career goals for men and women
- Define self-efficacy and understand how self-efficacy may impact career choices
12.1.1. Sex Typing and Career Choice
Sex-typing essentially is when we hold the belief that men and women are suitable for specific jobs, based on their biological sex, and thus, occupations are segregated into gender-typical categories. For example, jobs such as engineering, mechanics, and emergency response are largely considered masculine jobs and are male-typical whereas jobs such as teaching, service-related jobs, and nursing are largely considered feminine jobs that are female-typical jobs. So, does this happen in society? Do males tend to gravitate toward masculine jobs and women toward feminine jobs? Most of the research says this happens quite frequently!
Parents strongly impact children’s’ perceptions of occupations and contribute to early sex-typing. In a study by Jacobs, Chhin, and Bleeker (2007), parents’ gender-typed expectations correlated with children’s expectations and career choices. Moreover, having a gender-typical career was linked to more job satisfaction in adulthood (Jacobs, Chhin, & Bleeker, 2007). Gettys and Cann (1981) also found that children as young as 2 recognize gender-typical jobs and label traditionally male and traditionally female occupations as such. Thus, sex-typing is taught and observed at a very young age.
Gadassi and Gati (2009) studied adults between the ages of 20-30 years old. They found that males tended to prefer more masculine careers whereas women preferred more feminine careers. However, stereotypes largely impacted this. These preferences dissipated some when gender stereotyped expectations about the careers were made less obvious (Gadassi & Gati, 2009). Etaugh and Riley had male and female college students read job applications. The job the applicant was applying to was either feminine or masculine. Participants were told if the applicant was male or female, married or single, and if they had children. In general, participants evaluated women that applied for sex-typical jobs best, especially if they were single. Participants evaluated women and men, especially single men, more negatively when they applied to sex-atypical jobs (Etaugh & Riley, 1983). Moreover, males and females alike tend to rank male-typical jobs with higher prestige (Oswald, 2003).
For careers that are strongly sex-typed (e.g., teacher = feminine, engineer = male), we see both explicit (e.g., verbally acknowledged and recognized) and implicit (e.g., instinctual, unware) stereotyped bias. However, for careers that are not sex-typed quite as strongly, implicit and explicit bias does not always align. For example, White and White (2006) found that, although participants explicitly ranked accounting as less masculine, they implicitly scored accounting as more masculine; thus, their implicit and explicit bias did not align.
In general, men tend to prefer to work in solitude, desire more autonomy, and seek high earnings, whereas women value working with others, having an easy commute, positive coworker/boss experiences, and benefits rather than earnings (Helgeson, 2012). In general, neither male nor female college students deliberately or explicitly make career choices based on future family planning (Cech, 2015).
Interestingly, sex-typing that leads to the segregation of genders in the occupational field leads to variance in pay, because of the way in which male-typical and female-typical occupations are reimbursed (read pay discrimination for more).
12.1.2. Personal Self-Efficacy
First, what is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is a person’s belief about their ability to enact influence in their lives. Ultimately, this belief is what leads to a person’s motivation to take on activities and to persevere in hardship (Bandura, 2010). If a person does not have high self-efficacy, they may not believe they have the ability to bring about change. Thus, in the face of adversity, they may not persevere, and although they may want to attain a goal, they may not be motivated because they do not believe they can actually achieve it.
So what impacts self-efficacy? Parent and teacher support may impact self-efficacy in career decision making which then may impact an individual’s optimism about their career (Garcia, et al., 2015) and adaptability (Guan et al., 2016). Women’s self-efficacy may be more impacted than male’s self-efficacy by having supportive role models. Increased self-efficacy also led to women expressing higher intentions for entrepreneurial careers (BarNir, Watson, & Hutchins, 2011).
A theory that has recently developed, social cognitive model of career self-management (CSM), posits that person dependent factors (e.g., gender, abilities, race) and societal background impacts learning experiences which is where we get some information about efficacy. That then impacts self-efficacy and the expectations we have about outcomes (including career outcomes), which then impacts our goals, actions, and outcomes (Lent, Ireland, Penn, Morris, & Sappingtoon, 2017; see Figure 18.1 for a pictorial representation of the model). Experiences of mastering tasks, vicarious learning, and high positive/low negative emotion impacted self-efficacy which then impacted outcome expectations about careers (Lent, Ireland, Penn, Morris, & Sappingtoon, 2017).
Figure 12.1. Directly Sourced from Lent et al. (2017) Figure 1.
12.2. Sex and Gender Equality
Section Learning Objectives
- Define discrimination
- Recognize how women may face hiring and pay discrimination
- Learn about gender differences in negotiating and how this impacts pay gaps
12.2.1. Hiring Discrimination
Discrimination is when someone is treated differently based on a demographic variable, may that be their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical status/ability/disability, etc. For the purpose of this book, we will focus on discrimination based on gender (sex), orientation, and family status. The rate of women in the workforce has gradually increased over the years, and based of the most recent data in 2016, 46.8% of the workforce is female (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010 & 2016). The number of women wanting to work has also increased.
Affirmative action is an attempt to prevent discrimination. Affirmative action policies are aimed to help ensure that populations that have typically been disadvantaged or overlooked in particular settings do not continue to get discriminated against. Interestingly, affirmative action appears to benefit men more than women in some scenarios. For example, Ng and Wiesner (2007) found that males applying for male-typical jobs (e.g., nursing) were more likely to get the job, even when they were less qualified than a female counterpart whereas a female applying for a male-typical job (e.g., police officer) often needed to show excessive qualification to get the position, and still, they struggled to secure the position (Ng & Wiesner, 2007).
The difficulty in getting hired based on sex is also known as accessdiscrimination. Essentially, accessing the opportunity to work in a particular field is difficult. We will talk about access discrimination as it relates to the glass ceiling, but it can be seen in other realms as well. For example, less women are typically represented in judicial roles (Helgeson, 2012).
Study after study shows, males are often preferred over females (Zebrowitz, Tenenbaum, & Goldstein, 1991; Olian, Schwab, & Haberfeld, 1988). And, it is not just males preferring to hire females. Research shows that males and females are both likely to prefer a male candidate over a female candidate (Steinpreis, Anders, & Ritzke, 1999).
12.2.2. Pay Discrimination
The counterpart to access discrimination is treatment discrimination. Treatment discrimination is when an individual is paid less or given less opportunity at work (e.g., promotion; Helgeson, 2012). Specifically, as it relates to gender, when a female earns less than a man, despite having the same position/title, or when a woman is less likely to be promoted than a male coworker, despite having the same qualifications and reliability/work performance at work. The pay gap, although improved to some degree, still exists and is sizable. According to the most recent data reports (at the time this chapter was first written), women made only 81.4% of what men make (U.S. Department of Labor, 2019). Although it has increased since the mid-2000’s estimates of 78%, this still breaks down to sizable deficits. The most recent 2019 numbers indicate that women’s weekly salaries, on average, are $812 whereas men’s weekly salaries are $1,005 (U.S. Department of Labor, 2019).
Although the gap has been decreasing, data shows that women are offered starting salaries, on average, that are $11,000 less than their male counterparts. The gap is even worse if women are older. Moreover, this gap holds true even in female-typical and female-dominated fields (Ancis, 2017).
Why does this occur? Well, there are a few theories. One theory is the supply-side theory. This theory posits that people have different skills and qualities to offer and differences in those abilities lead to differences in pay. Although this seems logical, it does not explain the pay gap entirely. Even when men and women have the same skill sets and qualifications, women make far less than men. Thus, there must be something else that explains a portion of the picture. That is where demands-side theory comes in. This theory posits that the environment or workplace contributes to the pay gap, meaning that the workplace desires females less, and thus pays them lower. Ultimately, both theories likely explain portions of the pay gap; however, because the gap is still present when male and females are equally qualified, and despite women becoming more qualified than men in many fields, yet still being paid less, the demand-side theory likely explains a larger portion of the pay gap (Helgeson, 2012).
Another reason for the pay gap may be sex typing/sex segregation of occupations. The occupations that women tend to work in are traditionally paid lower than the occupations men tend to work in. Thus, because women work in jobs that have lower reimbursements more often than men, there is a pay gap. Moreover, even when roles are equal across jobs, we tend to think that jobs women hold will pay less. This is known as the salary estimation effect (Dunn, 1996). Thus, we expect women will make less. Men tend to hold this salary estimation belief more strongly than females, and this may be largely explained by implicit biases with gender.
Finally, the “mommy tax” or maternal wall, may also contribute to pay discrepancies. Mothers are viewed as less desirable, and because of this, they receive less opportunity. Mothers also tend to work fewer hours and have to take off more time, leading to less experience. When looking at data from Dey and Hill (2007), women with children (63% pay gap) experience a much greater pay gap compared to women without children (77% pay gap). Women without children were more likely to be called for an interview than women with children in an experiment conducted by Correll, Benard, and Paik (2007). However, fathers were actually more likely to be called for an interview over nonfathers, when looking at male applicant pools.
Males are more likely to negotiate a starting salary at a higher rate than females. However, even when both males and females negotiate, men often have better results. Men tend to ask for more money in an initial request than women do. Men also have better outcomes after negotiating than females (Gerhart & Rynes, 1991). For example, men asking for more at the beginning of negotiations may lead to their negotiating of a higher salary than females. This starting salary difference between men and women then continues to grow. For example, both a male and a female negotiate a starting salary, but the male negotiates one that is $5,000 higher. Each year, they both get a 3.5% bonus. Think about that, after year one, the male makes $56,925 ($1925 raise) and the female makes $51,750 ($1750 raise). The male getting $175 more in a raise doesn’t seem like much. But, after 5 years, the male makes $65,322 ($10,322 in raises), and the female makes $59,384 ($9,384). Now, the male is getting $938 more in raises than the female. That means that initial $5,000 pay gap is now nearly a $6,000 pay gap just 5 years later. Can you see what this looks like as the years go on? This is the phenomenon of accumulation of disadvantage – the gradual increasing of a pay gap based on an initial salary gap (Babcock & Laschever, 2003). Want to play with more numbers to see how much this gap can grow? This website is a great, easy calculator to do just that: http://www.easysurf.cc/fsalary.htm .
So why does this happen? Why do women and men not negotiate at the same frequency or get the same results in negotiation? Well, it may be a combination of factors. First, think about the gender role and socialization of women. Women’s gender roles script them to be cooperative, affiliative, and communal whereas men are scripted to be direct and assertive. What does it take to be successful in negotiation? Well, you certainly need to be assertive. Research indicates that women tend to be more cooperative in negotiations than men (Walters, Stuhlmacher, & Meyer, 1998). They also may be less likely than men to know their worth; thus, advocating for less reimbursement. Women also have lower feelings of entitlement whereas men are more inclined to negotiate a higher salary because they feel they deserve it, and women tend to fear conflict related to negotiations more than men. In a laboratory study, Bowels and Babcock (2007) found that, in general, participants penalized women more than men for initiating negotiation of pay. Interestingly, males penalized females more for initiating negotiates, and females penalized everyone (male and female), suggesting that males do not like when women negotiate, and women do not like when people negotiate at all. They also found that women are less likely than men to initiate a negotiation if the evaluator in the study was male, but if the evaluator was female, men and women were equally likely to negotiate (Bowels & Babcock, 2007).
Are there situations when women are better at negotiating? Yes! Women will show more assertion if advocating for another person, rather than when advocating for themselves (Babcock & Leschever, 2003; Babcock, Laschever, Gelfand, & Small, 2003). Women may also negotiate better if they know they have experience in negotiation, were given more information about the range in which bargaining could occur, and again, were negotiating for someone else. Women were also better at negotiating when the occupation they were negotiating for was most congruent with their ender role (Mazei, et al., 2015).
Section Learning Objectives
- Define the glass ceiling and understand, not only what this is, but what contributes to the continued presence of the glass ceiling.
- Understand what the glass cliff is and the impact it has on women.
- Recognize what sexual harassment is, the prevalence of sexual harassment, and the impacts it has on work performance and goals.
12.3.1. Glass Ceiling
The term glass ceiling was first used to define an invisible barrier that prevents women from promoting to the highest positions in a company/organization. The barrier exists due to stereotyped beliefs that drive discriminating behaviors. Despite women being equally likely to be employed compared to men, women being more likely to hold entry-level positions with college degrees, and women holding the majority of higher education degrees (undergraduate and masters), only 14% of top executives at companies are females with even fewer are top earners or CEOs at fortune 500 companies. However, improvement has happened since the 1980’s and continued to improve until about 2009, which is when improvement for women, regarding upward movement in the workplace, stalled (Kernodle, 2017). The glass ceiling contributes to women having lower-level positions, getting less opportunity for promoting, and getting paid less.
For women, their level of commitment may be questions. For example, companies may wonder if a woman will want to have kids, and if she does, she will have to then divide her time and attention between work and her family. Interestingly, this assumption is not made for men in the same way it is for women. This mindset reveals that maternity is actually viewed as an expense by companies (Kernodle, 2017). Women tend to have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove themselves. And, when they do have families, they may struggle to make afternoon/after-work commitments and events, which can limit their networking opportunities, which may then impact their upward mobility. Moreover, because upper-management tends to be dominated by males, women in these upper positions may feel like it is difficult to “fit in” and may be excluded from informal after work events that also open up opportunity for networking and engaging. They also may not be as able to work overtime, thus, limiting work performance in some fields (Soleymanpour Omran, Alizadeh, & Esmaeeli, 2015).
Women are viewed as affiliative and men as assertive, and this may impact the glass ceiling. Upper-level positions are typically leadership positions. Leadership aligns with masculine-typical characteristics such as assertiveness; and thus, traditional leadership qualities are often the opposite of female stereotype of warm, passive, affiliative, and nurturing. Women in leadership roles are often held to higher standard than men as well. If women don’t adopt some masculine traits, they may not be respected in their role; however, when they do adopt some of these traits, they are actually perceived as less liked (Ancis, 2017).
12 .3.2 Glass Cliff Phenomenon
Alexander Haslam and Michelle Ryan (2005) were one of the first to coin the term glass cliff phenomenon. (2005). The glass cliff phenomenon is the overrepresentation of women being promoted to leadership positions in companies that are underperforming or are severely unstable. Whereas men are more likely to be promoted to leadership positions in high performing, stable companies, women are more likely to be promoted in unstable and underperforming companies. Yup, you read it right – after women push through the glass ceiling and get a high promotion, they often find themselves at risk of losing everything and teetering on the glass cliff of an unstable company. So why does this happen? Well, some research indicates that women may be put in these roles during crisis because they are good at managing people as well as easier to place blame on for the company failures (Ryan, Haslam, & Postmes, 2007). Placing a female in the role of leadership during crisis may also signal to others that there is an organizational change occurring (Brukmuller & Branscombe, 2011; Oelbaum, 2016). Females tend to have attributes of warmth and caring, qualities desirable when a company is unstable; whereas men are known to be more assertive and direct, qualities that may be more desirable when a company is doing well. Although research appears pretty consistent in its findings, while women readily acknowledge the phenomenon, men may be more reluctant to acknowledge the phenomenon (Ryan, Haslam, Postmes, 2007).
12.3.3. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be difficult to find, largely due to the fact that although some behavior may be very obvious and overt, other behaviors that make up sexual harassment may seem less obvious, more covert, and may be dependent on an individual. Ultimately, if a “reasonable” person would say that labels behavior as hostile, then it is likely considered sexual harassment (Weiner & Gutek, 1999). Moreover, if the behavior is not a choice (it is forced) and it makes someone uncomfortable, it is hostile (Helgeson, 2012).
There are two types of sexual harassment – a hostile environment, and quid pro quo. A hostile environment is sexual harassment that occurs when a person experiences unwanted sexual communication or behavior from a coworker, boss, or someone else. For example, every time Anna comes into work, her male coworker overly comments on her appearance, calls her ‘babe,’ or comments on her physique. Quid pro quo sexual harassment literally means this for that. Thus quid pro quo sexual harassment is when sexual advancements are made and tolerating this allows the individual to advance (or keeps them from punishment). More specifically, this harassment is when someone, often with higher authority than the victim, threatens or asks for sexual acts in exchange for the victim getting some work-related benefit (such as a promotion, raise) or threatens them with punishment (such as a demotion, fired) if they do not engage in the act (Helgeson, 2012). For example, Sally’s boss asks her to perform a sexual act and promises her to get Friday’s off as long as she does this act.
Sexual harassment can occur to anyone; however, 84% of sexual harassment claims are by women, indicating that women experience sexual harassment more often than men. Keep in mind that not all sexual harassment is reported. About 50% of women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace. On college campuses, 2/3 of students experience sexual harassment (Helgeson, 2012).
The experience of sexual harassment may lead to negative outcomes for an individual’s psychological wellbeing (e.g., increased anxiety and depression), health (e.g., increased somatic complaints such as headaches, and job satisfaction and performance (Helgeson, 2012; Willness, Steel, & Lee, 2007). If an individual has been harassed at work, they likely are unhappy at their job and may perform worse – they may also be more likely to quit or be fired. The more severe the harassment, or the more repetitive/frequent it is, the worse an individual’s outcomes may be (Collinsworth, Fitzgerald, & Drasgow, 2009); However, even in low frequencies, sexual harassment can have very negative impacts on women (Schneider, Swan, Fitzgerald, 1997).
12.4. Work and Family
Section Learning Objectives
- Define and understand stereotype content model and how this relates to stereotypes of women, especially pregnant women.
- Recognize multiple role theories and the risk and benefits of holding multiple roles
- Recognize the unique challenges women may face when holding multiple roles.
12.4.1. Stereotype Content Model
The perception of warmth and competence leads to perceived competition and status, according to the stereotype content model. The various combination of these characteristics (i.e., warmth and competence) leads to differing outcomes of perceptions. Essentially, stereotypes are made from a systematic assessment of warmth and competence in an individual. Warmth refers to how friendly and sincere someone may be, whereas competence refers to how capable, competent, and skillful someone is. Someone may be perceived as high in one area and low in another, high in both, or low in both. These combinations lead to stereotypes that are associated with emotions and specific behaviors. For example, an individual with high warmth and low competence (perhaps elderly or women that do not work) may be pitied. Below are the four combinations that occur listed (Fiske, et al., 2002).
- Admired Group: High in warmth and high in competence. Middle class individuals may be classified here.
- Hated/Contemptuous Group: Low in warmth and low in competence. Homeless or low-income individuals are often stereotyped here.
- Envied Group: Low in warmth and high in competence. The female CEO may be classified here.
- Pitied Group: High in warmth, but low in competence. This group may include elderly people and disabled individuals, as well as pregnant women.
These stereotypes then lead to specific emotions and behaviors. Group 1 brings out active and passive facilitation, whereas Group 2 brings out Passive and active harm. Group 3 brings about active attacking behavior and passive neglect. Group 3 brings about active attacking behavior and passive neglect. Group 4 tends to lead to both active helping behavior but also passive neglect (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2008).
12.4.2. Pregnancy Discrimination
An amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) protects women from discrimination related to pregnancy or child birth, defining such as sexual discrimination, and thus, unlawful. This amendment is known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA; US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2018). The PDA was established in 1978. The act essentially indicates that an employer cannot fire or refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant. It also states that an employer cannot discriminate in other ways such as passing a woman up for a promotion, etc., simply because a woman is pregnant. An employer must allow all of the same rights to medical clearances and leave as they would to someone else with an inability to work due to medical concerns. Moreover, although not required to be paid, if a woman has worked for an employer for at least 12 months prior to birth, she may likely be eligible for 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2018).
Despite this, pregnant women are often pitied and seen as less capable. And despite laws, discrimination of pregnant women is still very common. For example, in 2013, a New York City police officer was set to sit for the Sergeant exam, but she went into labor the day of her exam. Although policies are in place to allow for rescheduled exams due to emergencies, she was denied a retest date. In fact, in manual labor or blue-collar work, women are often pressured to take disability earlier in their pregnancy because employers feel it is too complicated to find appropriate accommodations for them (Chrisler, 2017). Again, this is supposed to be protected under the PDA.
Moreover, because pregnant women are often implicitly placed in the “pitied” group, based on the stereotype content model, pregnant women may be liked but also viewed as delicate and receive over assistance. She may even be patronized. Men tend to worry more than women do about the potential for pregnant women to be irrational or overly emotional (Chrisler, 2017).
12.4.3. Balancing Work and Family
Nearly 70% of women that work also have children and a partner (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). So, how does this work? Is it helpful and beneficial for women and families? Well, it depends on what theory you look at. The role scarcity hypothesis posits that multiple roles actually leads to negative health outcomes because an individual is trying to spread their resources across too many domains leading to strain. This strain is referred to as role strain and can be due to either overload (role overload) or conflict (role conflict). Role overload is when time prevents or makes it hard to fulfill more than one role; essentially, time is a limited resource, and you start having to choose where to devote time, because you don’t have enough to devote equal time to all of your roles (Helgeson, 2012). Working full time and going to school fulltime may be an example of nonfamily-related role overload. A family-related example may be when you cannot work overtime at work and come home finish all of the laundry. Role conflict is when one role prevents or conflicts directly with the other; essentially, you have two obligations at once. An example of this would be an after-hours work event and your child’s baseball game being at the same time. These two things conflict with each other, and you cannot physically be at both.
Role expansion hypothesis, also referred to as role enhancement hypothesis, argues that individuals actually benefit from having more than one role. In fact, one role may actually support and empower another role. The theory posits that there are more gains to multiple roles than there are drawbacks (Helgeson, 2012). An example of this may be that, while at your child’s baseball game, you network with a company that can alleviate a burden in your current company’s end-of-the-year budget. Or, when your significant other offers a suggestion for meeting at work that ends up proving helpful. Or perhaps your role as a physicians’ assistant allows you to understand the level of care your child needs when running 103 fever. Most of the research evidence actually shows that there are benefits to multiple roles (Barnett, 2004).
In this module, we are started our discussion by understanding how men and women’s career goals differ and why differences in career goals exist. We then discussed the specific hiring and pay discrimination and inequalities women often face in the workplace. We also took a look at negotiation strategies and skills, and uncovered the tendency of women to negotiate less often, and for lower amounts, and the factors that contribute to this. We also took a detailed look at many barriers women face in attempting to advance in their careers, with a specific focus on the glass ceiling and glass cliff. We then focused our conversation on sexual harassment of women. Finally, we ended our conversation about how women attempt to balance work and family life, and particularly challenges, such as pregnancy discrimination, they may face.