Many organizations all over the world have often been faced with the challenge of addressing issue of gender diversity in relation to top jobs allocation (Powell GN and graves LM, 2003). Despite frequent calls by the stake holders to embrace the diversity, the achievement has been notably mean (Maimmunah & Roziah, 2006). According to the diversity it can in no doubt be attributed to the rigid organizational culture and the prevalent bias towards women leaders in many organizations (Ridgeway, 2001).
Women careers in management are faced with a host of challenges that are the most likely barriers for their progression in the management careers (Roziah & Maimmunar, 2007). The male dominance in the boardroom is in itself intimidating for the few women present hence it takes great courage and determination for a woman to break through the glass ceiling to the boardroom (Rosser, 2004).
Empirical analyses reveal that the diversity and inequity in organizations management still remain very wide (Mattis, 2002). One of the most devastating finding to women aspiring to rise to management positions is that, despite women consisting of 37 % of managerial workforce (US bureau of labor statistics) just a mere 14.7 percent were in the top management basing on the findings of study carried by catalyst on 500 fortune organizations (Rosser, 2004).
The researchers admitted previous studies had not provided the answer as to why some organizations had women representatives in their boardrooms while others did not have. In this report therefore it gives an analysis of the issues and challenges those women in management or career women manager’s encounter in the endeavor to advance in the latter. It also give a compressive conclusions based on the findings of the report and gives appropriate recommendations based on the conclusions
Issues Faced By Women in Management
Interview and evaluation stereotype
According to a research carried out by academics in the University of Rutgers, Departments of psychology it found that women candidates are discriminated at during interviews thus making it very hard for them to rise to or even occupy management positions (Ridgeway, 2001). The research found out that such women candidates are disadvantaged to their male candidates irrespective of how well they try to present themselves in the interview.
From the findings of this research it was found out that majority of women irrespective of presenting themselves as confident, modest and more competent than theirs male counterparts with similar qualifications, they are often less sought after. In fact women are faced by the interview stereotyping (by men) hence makes them less competitive than males irrespective of being ambiguously better, more capable and ambitious (Schuck & Liddle, 2004).
This according to the latter is an explanation as to why there are less women representatives in top management positions within the firms that made the study sample in a research published by Julie Phelan et al., (2009) women are often rebuked for showing some endeavor of moving up to top management positions. As a result they in most cases end up not getting the positions or facing hard times at work if they succeed to attain the positions (Scandura & Baugh, 2002).
During management interviews, women are left out irrespective of displaying a more consensual and cooperative characteristics while men with similar characteristics and who are virtually less socially skilled often get favors for showing masterful interview skills and styles (Maimmunah & Roziah, 2007).
In a survey of business executives carried out by UK consultancy, the Aziz corporation, it was found that 80% believed that most hiring panels tended to be biased against women candidates especially where positions to be filled were top management positions. In the same survey 90% felt that the macho culture where candidates were picked basing on how well they were able to master and exhibit interview styles in front of the hiring panel was a big blow to acquiring gender balance.
Moreso 50% felt that the latter was a great contribution to the extent of the financial crises that had rocked the financial services sector; which formed the study social population. Irrespective of women applicants showing more philanthropic characteristics such as being more people oriented, cooperative and open than men and being more suited to lead the modern day organizations, the research concluded that the interviews biases against women had made it difficult for them to rise to management positions (Mattis, 2007).
According to the research, the recruitment panels emphasized more on social skills than competency when interviewing female candidates thus putting them in a double bind consequently making it extremely difficult for them to make the right impression (Phelan et al., 2009)
Empirical studies have found that there is a big gap been male and female managers irrespective of their qualifications. In fact female managers have a tendency of being paid less than their male counterparts irrespective of both having similar qualifications and holding the same positions (Miller, 2004). In a study carried out by Marianne Bertrand and published by UK association of MBAs in January 2009 (that studied MBA salaries and postgraduates careers), it found out that there was a clear and wide salary gap between genders with similar qualifications. According to the findings of the research, while the average salary of a male MBA graduate was 74441 sterling pounds and other bonus payments of 27179 pounds the female counterparts earned an average of 59309, with a variable earning of 11230 sterling pounds.
Although at the beginning of their careers male and female managers have almost equal returns, the salaries of the managers immediately swerves with the males managers annual earnings reaching thirty log points five years upon completion of an MBA and almost double the latter in 10 to 16 years upon graduating from the MBA School (Bertrand, 2009). The researcher explained the disparity in remuneration to three possible reasons. First, there were suspected training disparities before graduating from the MBA School these women were virtually less qualified than their male counterparts. In addition the woman careers commitments of women, they were likely to be faced with disruption than that of men hence females were likely to work for a few weekly hours.
Societal expectation and Career stagnation and interruption
Naturally women are expected by the society to balance between careers and social life, that is, the family and work (Ridgeway, 2001). As a result, their management careers are more likely to stagnate or be interrupted more often than it is the case with their male counterparts (Nonaini, 2002).
For instance, a research carried out by the Harvard university (opt-out patterns across careers) and that studied the experiences of 100 women 15 years after graduating from an MBA school found out that the number of female MBA graduate who were not working ten years after graduating was large relative to that of their males counterparts. If found than more than a quarter i.e. 28% of female MBA graduates were house wives without exercising their careers, much higher than the medical and law counterparts with out of work rate of 6% and 21% respectively. An addition, the study found out that women were more likely to suffer career interruption and worked even for shorter hours.
According to the research findings women had up to six months career experience ten years from graduation. In fact, women were found to work for 52 hours compared to 58 in the case of men. In fact the job experience of women with children was indeed more adverse, with such having even lesser job experience, facing more career discontinuity and worked for much shorter hours. According to the research women with children had up to eight months in real post MBA experience relative to that of an average MBA counterpart.
In addition, the mothers had a tendency of choosing jobs with that favored their family schedules and predicaments hence sought for jobs with less time commitments and little chances of career progression so as to commit most of their time to care for their families (Bertrand, 2009). According to the latter, MBA mothers especially those whose spouses are well of simply undertook to slow down with their careers within a few years after giving birth. Such women according to the authors of the research worked nearly 25% less weekly hours that the average men while MBA women without children worked just for 3.3% less hours in a week than average MBA males.
Although women are inherently less ambitious than men natural disparities across the social and psychological circles is still a major challenge facing career female manager (Fel, 2004). According to a research done by Hay group in 2006 (a management consultant group in UK) it was found that women were less ambitious and less motivated than men and their priority in the work environment differed sharply between the two genders. The results of the survey also unearthed significant discrepancies, between the level of motivation and ambition between men and women as well as the basic objectives of looking and taking to do a certain job (Fel, 2004).
A research carried out in the same year (2006) by a UK recruitment company (Praxis executive resourcing) concluded that it was not that women were discriminated against when it comes to top management job but it is because the women candidates were not prepared to fully sacrifice and commit themselves to the responsibilities associated with the managerial jobs. The survey that interviewed 105 female director in the United Kingdom found out that majority of females (close to 65%) believed that having to break away from the career to have a family or attend to family matters gave men an edge over them in the boardroom.
Furthermore 48 percent of the sample believed that family was a major challenge to management careers and contended that the tendency to put family before career was a major disadvantage to female managers. In the survey, close to 50 percent of women suffered from inferiority complex and opted out of the race to top management assuming that it was not possible for them to rise to top management slots
Biased organizational culture
Many organizations tend to have a culture that is seemingly biased against female managers, perhaps one of the reasons why there are fewer women in the boardroom (Mills, 2002). According to the latter it is much of a risk taking venture for a female to seek top management position due to the existing organizational structure and culture that greatly underpins these efforts. In many organizations it takes more that sheer determination and leadership skills for a woman to rise to top management position has they have to deal with the masculine ego and politics against female leadership in set by the rigid organizational culture (Powell & graves, 2003). According to the latter, it takes exceptional courage and stubbornness to break the cultural barriers.
According to a research done by clutter consortium in January 2009, 75% of the 150 females interviewed felt that the organizational culture was a major barrier in the endeavor to strike gender balance in the organizational management and strongly felt that such culture was way passed by time and had to be abolished for the organization to reach the desired heights. In the survey, close to 50 percent of the respondents felt that they were being looked down upon by their male counterparts and hence the latter did not provide them with the required cooperation to enable them effectively do their work.
In the survey more than 65%, felt that their social responsibilities were a major stumbling block in their career as managers since they were the primary family care giver. The respondents contended that it was difficult to balance both the management careers and the family. Furthermore, the number of women in top management positions was far fewer relative to the males irrespective of clear evidenced of steps to reduce the gender imbalance. In addition, fewer females in the management positions meant that there were few role models for women wishing to rise to top management hence the cycle is likely to continue.
Gender based stereotypes a major blow to women career advancement
Gender based stereotypes are a challenge to female managers’ advancement in management careers (Ridgeways, 2001). According to a report by catalyst (a United States research and advisory firm) entitled women take care, men take charge which was dedicated at advancing women at work found out that there were gender based stereotypes that made it particularly very difficult for women to advance upwards in the work place. The effects of these stereotypes have devastating effects to the women careers since they undermines the women their chances to rise in to top management and even ability to lead once they get there thus presenting a serious challenge for career advancement among the members of female gender (Maimmunah & Roziah, 2007).
In the survey done by catalyst for instance, close to 80% of the respondent accepted that females were biased against irrespective of having better feminine caretaking skills such as supporting and rewards. According to the responses obtained in the survey, almost an equal percentage felt that men managers were favored irrespective of exhibiting less popular conventionally typical dictatorial masculine skills as influencing superiors and passing on responsibilities to junior staff. 75% of men admitted that they show female being better than them in the only 2 out of the “required” ten to make a good business leader i.e. supporting and rewarding subordinates.
According to Jeanine prime, the author of the study and the director of catalyst it is often the masculine ability to be in charge that satisfies the preconditions for the top management positions and not the women’s’ attributes thus making it extremely difficult for women to advance their careers in management.
Women considered women as better problem solvers while men had the same feeling towards their fellow men (Schuck & Liddle, 2004). Since men are the majority; this man- held stereotype dominates the boardroom. This according to Jeanine fact is likely to be responsible for the fact that irrespective of women occupying more that 50% of all managerial and professional positions, they comprise less that 2% of United States fortune 500 and fortune 1000 chief executive officers. In the year 2003 for instance, the actual number of women in the 500 fortune CEOs was eight. By 2009 however the number reduced to seven.
The ability of influencing superiors delegating responsibilities and other dictatorial nature typical to male managers constitutes the “interpersonal power” (Mattis MC) and since women who are much fewer in the top management they have robbed off this power from women leaving them only with positional power, which is limited further by their absolutely smaller number in percentage representation (Maimmunah & Roziah, 2007).
According to Powell & Graves (2003), it is expected that the exposure of women to education and management jobs would help lessen the gender stereotypes however Rosser (2004) argues that such exposure has not worked to reduce the stereotype but has made it to sink even further via creation of negative perceptions of women leaders towards the male counterparts. Unless organization takes measures to do away with this bias, women leaders will have problems advancing their managerial careers since they will always be looked down upon regardless of their capabilities and talents (Maimmunah & Roziah, 2007).
Education system and its gender based discrimination
Just like the number of female representatives into management positions the number of moment studying or intending to pursue an MBA is relatively lower compared to males (Scandura & Baugh, 2002). In a research carried out by Harvard business school in 2008 and which interview 100 women occupying managerial positions 75% of the respondent believed that the education system did not give equal opportunities for all genders to obtain at par training. In addition, close to 65% of the respondents felt that the bias against women in management job had indeed demoralized females from enrolling in MBA classes arguing that the females had lost interest in the same.
This meant that the number of women with the right qualifications to rise up to the management positions were fewer than male hence making it difficult to end the gender inequality in management jobs allocation.
In a similar survey by miller (2004) and which interviewed 150 career women in the UK manufacturing sector, close to 79% of these interviewed felt that organizations that they worked for discriminated against women when offering study leaves, vocational training and employees development programs did not give equal opportunities to both sexes. This means that it is difficult for women to break through to the boardroom since the education and training is the fundamental for being into management positions.
The report was able to make a several conclusions basing on the findings
- There is a big inequity in gender representation in management positions in many organizations i.e. women are much fewer than their men counterparts in management positions irrespective of them making a larger percentage of career professional. This means that the boardroom or organizations management are men dominated
- The societal expectation that women be the fundamental family caretakers is a major challenge to women who want to curve management careers in their lives. This is because it is difficult to balance between the family and the career. As a result most career women especially those in management career are Likely to have their career stagnate or disrupted by attention to the family matter. In addition, women tendency to put the family before career is a big hindrance to their advancement in management careers since they cannot be able to fully commit themselves to management and may even opt out.
- The organizational culture is full of bias towards women manager. It is this stereotype therefore that makes it difficult for women to break through the glass ceiling to the top management positions. The gender based stereotype starts as early as during the interviews and evaluations creating barriers for women to enter the organizations top management right from the point of recruitment. Male dominance culture makes executives misjudge women’s managers potential hence dismiss them on the basis of this misguided mental conception. As a result they ends up loosing vital source of talents and managerial capabilities
- The human resource department should come up with a more objective and stringent criteria for evaluating, interviewing and hiring managers as well as educating the recruitment panels on the profound consequences of dismissing applicants on the grounds of stereotypes and gender bias
- Companies should indeed take measures to fight stereotyping via instituting more rigorous and transparent recruitment and evaluating procedures as well as educating managers and male executives about this bias and the imminent dangers i.e. by undoing the long-held misguided perceptions towards women and earmarking their potential damage. In addition, companies need to show case the achievements of female managers especially in areas of management which are believed to be dominated by men since the gender bias make organizations to misjudge women potential hence losing out a vital source of talents in order to get, develop and retain such talents therefore, women must too be considered and evaluated fairly. This means that the bias that currently exists in the organization against the female manager will have to be done away with in the shortest time possible.
- There is need for organizations to adopt a gender balanced approach that offers equal education opportunity for all employees irrespective of gender in so doing the bias that exist against women will be greatly minimized or avoided all together. As a result, the number of women in the boardroom as well as female managerial effectiveness will be greatly enhanced. For instance the available study leaves or scholarships should be shared equally among the genders represented in the organization. In addition, the education stake holders will have to take speedy and effective measures to ensure that the system of education available presents equal opportunities for all gender to advance their careers.
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