Running head: WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT: A SOCIO-CULTURAL CHALLENGE Abstract Historically, women have been facing many socio-cultural factors in order to be integrated to a world principally designed by men and for men. One way to describe this situation has been called the Glass Ceiling, by definition an invisible but real barrier founded on attitudinal or organizational bias in the workforce that prevents minorities and women from advancing to leadership positions.This paper gives an overview of the principal reasons for this behavior based on previous studies, analyzes some approaches to handle them as well as possible actions that allow women and other minorities smash the glass-ceiling effects, and finally, it suggests some directions for future investigations.
Women in Management: A Socio-cultural ChallengeAnna Garlin Spencer (1913) in her book Woman’s Share in Social Culture said: “The failure of women to produce genius of the first rank in most of the supreme forms of human effort has been used to block the way of all women of talent and ambition for intellectual achievement in a manner that would be amusingly absurd were it not so monstrously unjust and socially harmful” (p. 50). This quote is a brief way to expose a reality that, although it has been changing gradually, is still causing delays in women’s uphill journey to the top of the organizations’ management.Some people could argue that this is a simple feminist perception and support their idea on the success cases in which women have actually reached top positions, but it is evident the inequality that women still experience based on socio-cultural prejudices.
The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Web shows that although women are more likely than men to work in professional and related occupations, they are not as well represented in the higher paying job groups within this broad category.In 2008, only 9 percent of female professionals were employed in the high-paying computer and engineering fields, compared with 45 percent of male professionals. Professional women were more likely to work in the education and health care occupations, in which pay was generally lower. (http://www. bls.
gov/). Women, on their way to achieve promotion to the higher levels in organizations, have to face many obstacles supported, in the majority, by wrong ideas about work and family conflicts, women’s competence, and old management models.Nowadays, women have surpassed strong barriers to get an education, to make decisions about how many children they want to have, to decide the direction they want to give to their lives, and to exert a complete control of their goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, it seems like that transparent barrier which women face, commonly known as the glass ceiling, is pulling them apart from their aspirations. Nicolson stated in his 1996 study that “it allows them to see where they might go, but stops them getting there.In any given occupation and in any given public position, the higher the rank, prestige or power, the smaller the proportion of women” (as cited in Li, 2003, p. 2) The intention of this paper is to analyze the role of women in management and why that is considered as a challenge. Although women have made efforts and have shown great commitment in order to get an important position in management world, it is still clear the presence of socio-cultural factors such as gender stereotypes, the male managerial model, and attitudes about women’s competence.
These issues are not only leaving the feminine workforce in less status, less prestige, and lower salaries but they are also making more difficult the battle to achieve the desired workplace equality. Considering the importance of understanding the changing business world and the influence that women have on it, it is essential to present a historical background, demographic information, and statistics facts. Based on previous research journals, this paper explores important situations to show the impediments that women have to face in order to get managerial positions.In addition, this paper analyzes if there are another factors different to those already mentioned that restrict women climbing to the top level in organizations. Some implications and directions for future researches will be suggested as well as possible actions that allow women and other minorities smash the glass-ceiling effects. Women in the Workforce Background Women have always worked.
During the pre-industrial age, family was considered as a unity of production and consumption and woman had to work to support it.While men were making rural labor, women had to take care of children, do the housekeeping, feed the animals, grow crops on the home parcel, and then sell the remaining porcion at the market. Other women got temporary jobs doing similar things for somebody else.
In the early settlements of seventeenth-century America, only one group of women, domestic servants, could properly be called wage earners. By the end of the colonial period, the stage had been set for women to take their places in the nineteenth-century movement of people into the wage labor force.Women’s transition from paid and unpaid family-centered roles to wage labor of all kinds began early in the American past. (Kessler-Harris, 2003) Industrial Revolution brought an out-of-home work oportunity for women, but it faced them with the dilemma “Home or work”. Therefore, those jobs were taken for young-maiden women. Married-women work was confined to a biologic and social function.
Single women found many work alternatives, but some of them were determined as “feminine activities”, for instance: Nursing or Teaching.Fortunately, the workforce world has been evolving and new laws have supported women in a very positive way permitting them enjoy a fairer environment. Women reached among many other things, the right to vote, access to an education, birth-control methods and self-sufficiency. However, women realize that there are still some barriers to overcome in order to get their complete realization. Kessler-Harris found in her study 2003 that “women had won the battle for admission, but they lost the next round of the war for equality” (as cited in Marion, 1931, p. 2) There is a brief summary of important facts and situations regarding to the women’s history in general, considered relevants within the development of this research paper.
Taking this recompilation as a starting point, this document will analyze the reasons to determine why is still too hard for women to get important managerial positions. The Glass Ceiling History has revealed throughout the years how women have fought against prejudices and nowadays, they have reached an important place into the society.In recent decades the number of women entering the executive, managerial, or professional ranks has increased. However, these numbers still mask the reality that women continue to cluster near the bottom of professional and organizational hierarchies, with lower earnings, lower authority, and lower advancement potential than their male counterparts (Schumacher, 2005) That truth is commonly known as “The Glass Ceiling”. Can women smash it? What are the reasons why women continue being a small minority in the high level of business management?The following paragraphs discusse some of the leading causes.
The Male Culture Management styles vary from one organization to other, but many of them proclaim themselves to have a new style where the organizational pyramide is getting flat. That issue is a controversial one, considering the resistance to change and the old hierarchical structures culture. As a result, the large majority of top-level positions remain to be filled by men. The biggest hurdle for women managers remains the Old Boys’ network.Boys’ clubs still nag women who are pushing hard to gain a place alongside men in running the corporate world (Falcioni, 2004) Men in managerial positions prefer people with cultural preferences similar to their own, or that managers have a preference for appointing people similar in this respect to others already employed in the organization. This kind of homosociality implies that men have a tendency to prefer men for selfreflection, relaxation and social support, the intention being to confirm their own identity and cultural norms.
An intended or unintended consequence is the maintenance of men’s superior positions (Bihagen, E. , & Ohls, M. , 2006) In these environments, it has been my experience that women are often called upon to be “bicultural.
” To get ahead they must learn the male language of leadership, power, communication, and influence without any expectation that their male colleagues will return the favor (Reinhold, B. , 2005) Frequently, women realize that to flourish in an organization, they have to adopt some male-inspired conducts or codes.In many cases, women have to be informed about sports, cars or other kind of male conversation topics in order to fit into the select groups of male managers. Why do not men engage female discussion issues? Surpassing has become in a challenge for women trying to get into the “old boy” network and to struggle against the many harmful stereotypes related with their femininity. The Gender Prejudices and Psychological Marginalization In addition to the strong male-manager culture still existing, there is another important cause that put women apart of their ideals.Many companies do not see them as good elements of bussines success; on the contrary, female managerial role is despised according to work-family matters, women’s competence and abilities, and the old beliefs of inferiority. Women’s responsibility for raising children, performing household tasks and the need for women to take career breaks to manage family responsibilities does not enhance long-term promotion prospects.
Indeed, senior female international managers perceived that business career success is grounded on a “male career model which ignores the influence of marriage, pregnancy and children and household duties” (Li, Carmen A. 2003) Motherhood barrier no doubt plays an important responsibility in management assessments regarding whom to promote in organizations. When a decision like this has to be made, bias related to absenteeism, pregnancy, home care, rising children and the myths about “women’s real commitment” with managerial tasks seem to have a preponderant and discriminatory place. On the other hand, the skills women are known for—the abilities to listen, collaborate, empathize, be inclusive, and build consensus—are viewed by many companies as “people skills,” not as executive skills.By this logic, women may be talented specialists or even “gifted” middle managers and team leaders, but they do not possess the hard, quantitative executive skills necessary to close business deals, do analytical analysis, penetrate new markets, generate profits, and make a business run efficiently and productively (Reinhold, B. , 2005) According to emigrant women experiences who work for worldwide organizations, although the number of women on important positions has been growing lately, it is pretty obvious that them are less likely to be delegated with main projects and are still in more subordinate management ositions than men.
Therefore, there is another palpable fact of a hard glass ceiling in a global framework. Maphunye (2006) refers to the inaugural address as first democratically elected president by Nelson Mandela that states “Genuine liberation would not be achieved in South Africa unless we see in visible and practical terms that the condition of women in our country has radically changed for the better and that they have been empowered to intervene in all spheres of life as equals with any member of our society” (p. 307)