Women Face Sex Discrimination in Their Career Advancement Term Paper

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Women Sex Discrimination in Career Advancement

The delineation of the sexes is clearly established in society and impressed in people's minds. The man is to be the breadwinner and the woman is the nurturer of children and keeper of the home. Yet for the last two decades, professional women have entered the workforce and now account for almost half of the American labor force, half of them occupying managerial and professional specialty positions, about half coming from medical and law schools and an increasing number of them as corporate officers. But few of them hold line jobs, receive comparative wages with male employees, are top-earners and appointed to board seats. The majority of high-powered women employees leave their positions mainly because of dissatisfaction with job growth and advancement, a lack of flexibility, bias and discrimination and discomfort in their work environment. They are also generally less comfortable with promoting themselves and using their knowledge to become more effective. Likewise, their career is generally equated with the characteristics of their relationships with men. When women try to ascend the corporate management ladder, they are hindered by gender segregation, which is deeply impressed by society. Statistics clearly reveal this condition.

Review of Literature

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In her work, entitled Contextual and Cognitive Procedural Justice: Perceptions in Promotion Barriers for Women, Mary Lemons (2003) attempts to find out why talented women in the workplace continue to quit their posts in large numbers in recent years and what companies can do to keep them.

Ellen R. Auster (2001) offers a framework of factors, which affect mid-career satisfaction of professional women, and delineates the main demographic, career, organizational, job and stress factors in her work, entitled Professional Women's Mid-career Satisfaction.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Women Face Sex Discrimination in Their Career Advancement Assignment

What creates these barriers to the career of professional women despite their excellent performance and the encouragements offered and guaranteed by the law are the purposes of the work of Charlene Marmer Solomon (2000), entitled Cracks in the Glass Ceiling.

How companies can effectively deal with the massive and swift turnover of talented professional women despite culture change, flexible schedule and leadership training is discussed and answered by the article, Are Women Responsible for the Glass Ceiling?, by USA Today (2000).

Miguel Moya (2000) endeavors to establish the connection between these women's career salience and gender discrimination and the characteristics of their relationships with men in his work, Close Relationships, Gender and Career Salience.

On the other hand, Mia Hultin (2000) explores how gender stereotypes influence or define positions, staffing and compensations in organizations in her work, Wages and Unequal Access to Organizational Power: an Empirical Test of Gender Discrimination.

Title VII on Equal Employment Opportunity of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that gender cannot be the basis for not hiring women or for limiting, segregating or classifying employees, refusing to refer, expelling them from memberships in an organization, discriminating against them, determining their compensation or extending preferential treatment at work.

Findings and Analysis

The 1998 Bureau of Labor Statistics said that women represented 46% of the U.S. labor force and that half of them occupied managerial and professional specialty positions (Solomon 2000). It also said that women comprised approximately 46% of law school classes and 42% of medical school graduates, that almost 12% of corporate officers were women but that only 3.3% held top-earner jobs, only 6.8% had line jobs and board seats and that Fortune companies with women in the board had increased by 21% (Solomon).

Women, especially professional women, now have a commanding corporate presence and many of them seek advancement in the careers they have chosen and excelled in. But they are met with seemingly overwhelming odds, mostly in connection with their gender and gender stereotypes. One has to do with career salience. Men's career salience is more independent of the characteristics of their relationships than that of women, which suggests that men can take their careers for granted and have no problems, no matter what characteristics they have with their women (Moya 2000). In comparison, women's careers are newer and more related or viewed in connection with their personal and relationship characteristics with men. Women confront problems because of the differences in socialization and in the attitudes, role expectations, behaviors and sanctions comprising these attitudes. Women's behavior in the workplace, as well as their career advancement, is also seen as more influenced by their own attitudes as having less financial responsibility for the family income as men. Parenthood was, for example, seen to relate more to a lower career salience among women than men as does the strength of their relationship. This implies that women's career salience depends on or judged according to their men's characteristics, i.e., high educational attainment, employment and expressivity. In comparison, men's career salience is not judged according to, or independently of, their women's characteristics (Moya).

Another is the level of wages for professional women seeking career advancement. Women who work in organizations with relatively many managers who are men receive lower wages than do women in organizations with a stronger female representation in its power structure (Hultin 1999). Gender stereotypes tended to get embedded in organizational arrangements and procedures, which influenced how positions are defined, staffed and priced. Findings showed that these practices got incorporated into the organizational structure and became institutionalized. In this setting, wage differences could look like legitimate law and thus influence compensation levels and reward distribution even when the circumstances for the differences had disappeared or changed. Baron and Pfeffer (as qtd in Hultin 1999) said that dominant social and demographic groups tended to distinguish themselves by creating systems of detailed positions and standings, which would command higher rewards. In addition, female managers already and generally showed less motivation than men to initiate and sustain institutionalized discriminatory practices against them. Studies revealed that, in work organizations of few or no women holding positions of power, gender would be a prominent aspect or category. This would disadvantage women in lower organizational levels as women would lack the means to change organizational or corporate criteria for success and men would not only possess the resources but would also be generally un-motivated and disinclined to modify gender-biased treatment. The scarcity of women in senior positions reflected the disadvantage they confronted in the organization. Moreover, female organizational leaders were found to be more inclined to participate or cooperate with efforts to establish employment equality. Other findings showed men's disinclination towards positive action for gender equality and specifically for high-caliber women who seek high-status corporate jobs, although these men did not necessarily undervalue women's work than did women themselves (Hultin).

Male managers were found to be disinclined or unmotivated to set aside gender discriminatory practice in work organizations and female managers themselves did not necessarily consider women's interest in general as their own individual interest (Lemons 2003). In general, organizational justice perceptions were products of individual cognitive processes, which, in turn, developed as the response to cultural expectations. This would explain why some individuals within an organization would perceive a particular situation as unfair and others would not. Research showed that while women seemed to get more promotions than men, women continued to hold significantly lower positions than men. Gender segregation practices became a problem when women try to enter upper management posts, which were male-dominated. As women became visible in these higher posts, other members of the dominant group expressed the gender stereotypes they believed about themselves. Gender segregation would develop when the decision makers use gender-based hiring or promotion standards in hiring or promoting. Diversity training would help in changing existing stereotypes concerning male and female employees and the jobs assigned to them and thereby improve perceptions of justice in rendering promotion decisions (Lemons).

The 88th U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII on Equal Employment Opportunity outlawed gender as a basis for refusing to hire or fire an employee, referring his or her for a particular position or employment, providing or fixing wages, applying a merit system or preferential treatment and for a labor organization for excluding or expelling an employee, limiting, segregating, classifying or discriminating against an employee. The Act created an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce its provisions.

The world over, the majority of mid-career women were leaving their corporate positions not for home but for other companies or their own businesses out of dissatisfaction for their mid-career conditions at work (Auster 2001). These conditions were poor job growth and advancement, lack of flexibility, sex bias and discrimination. Mid-career was that point where organizational practices and life responsibilities collided and where these women made the critical decision of whether they would stay with their organization, move to another or put up their own businesses. An organization could incorporate micro-level factors into its organization and career context in addressing this issue. Individual, family, job design characteristics, stress and satisfaction factors, networking, mentoring, flex jobs and human resource policies would contribute to better understanding and respond to the mid-career satisfaction needs of professional women (Auster).

That invisible barrier,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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