SEXISM IN THE CORPORATE WORLD

  “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: "It's a girl.” ― Shirley Chisholm INTRODUC

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“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.” ― Shirley Chisholm

INTRODUCTION

Not so long ago, overt gender bias was a perfectly acceptable office practice. The sort of in-your-face sexism is much rarer in today’s work environment, even if it’s only driven away by fear of a lawsuit. But the disappearance of explicit sexism can give the false impression that it no longer exists.

“The Wall Street” journal coined the phrase “glass ceiling” to refer to the invisible barriers to women’s advancement to top echelons in the corporate world.  It has also been ten years since the Glass Ceiling Commission, created by Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, issued its fact-finding report, “Good for Business: Making Full Use of the Nation’s Human Capital,” describing and explaining the dismal status of women and minorities within the corporate world.

At this juncture, it is not even worthwhile discussing this topic. But we are doing so only because the problem at hand is quite big and needs to be pondered upon to wipe it from its roots. Let us commence with some statistics. In India, Women’s Labour Force participation rate fell from 34.1% in 1999-2000 to 27.2% in 2011-2012. Out of 323 total executive directorship positions (generally considered to be prerequisite to becoming CEO) on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100, just eight (2.5%) are held by women. 54% of companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100 have no women board directors. Women hold only 7.7% of board seats and just 2.7% of board chairs.

WHAT IS “GLASS CEILING”?

Invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving employees. Such barriers exist due to implicit prejudice on the basis of age, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, and/or sex. Although generally illegal, such practices prevalent in most countries.

SCENARIOS FACED BY WOMEN AT WORK

Being mistaken for a secretary, being accused of menstruation when voicing a firm opinion, being asked if a man is available instead, having an idea that is ignored only to be appreciated later when it comes from a male collegue, being accused of baby brain, being considered an area of interest.

 

CLAIM TO BE A MODERN SOCIETY, IS IT?

Some taboos that are prevalent even now are for example; Women who work outside the home are still generally responsible for the jobs they would perform had they decided to be a housewife; fixing meals, cleaning the house, and so on. And while maternity leave is obviously a concern only for women, not only is paternity leave essentially a non-issue in America, but it is still almost universally expected that if one parent leaves a career in order to care for children, it will be the wife.

The modern gender bias takes two forms:

  • The Descriptive Bias

The female stereotype characteristics are young, warm, deferential, emotional, sensitive. The male descriptive stereotype characteristics are competent, assertive, decisive, rational, objective.

 

  • The Prescriptive Bias

There is empirical evidence that women who succeed in male domains are disliked, women who promote themselves are less hireable, women who negotiate for higher pay are penalized, and women who express anger are given lower status.

 

Workplace gender bias not only persists but thrives in ways many of us don’t even realize.

The problem lies within: Self-Actualization. The bias is the block in the minds of people and states clearly that in spite of the modern era we still characterize woman with soft skills and men with the complement.

WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

  • High Potentials – And the plum assignment goes to….

Men get more of the critical assignments that lead to advancement than women do. On average the men’s projects had budgets twice as big and three times as many staffers as the women’s. Only 22% of the women, but 30% of the men, were given budgets of more than $10 million, and just 46% of the women, versus 56% of the men, received P&L responsibility.

 

  • Work-Life Balance- Why women really leave

If high-potential women are leaving their careers to care for their families, they’re not doing it on purpose.

 

 

  • The Corporate Ladder- Ladies Vanish

Data from McKinsey’s most recent survey of 60 major corporations show that both the number and the percentage of women fall off dramatically in the higher ranks of organizations.

 

 

  • Stacking the Deck- Unmerited Pay

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the largest gaps in wages between men and women are in sales. In insurance, for example, saleswomen make only 62.5% of what their male colleagues earn, in retail just 64.3%, and in real estate only 66%. This is surprising considering that sales pay has long been thought to be less political and more merit-based.

 

CORPORATE GENDER EQUALITY AROUND THE WORLD: THE BEST & THE WORST

It will take another 118 years to close the global gender gap, research conducted by the World Economic Forum has revealed. The annual Global Gender Gap report tracks changes in equality between men and women by analysing female participation in four key categories: the economy, education, health and politics.

 

Bottom 10 Countries

1. Egypt

2. Mali

3. Lebanon

4. Morocco

5. Jordan

6. Iran

7. Chad

8. Syria

9. Pakistan

10. Yemen

 

Top 10 Countries

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Ireland
  6. Rwanda
  7. Philippines
  8. Switzerland
  9. Slovenia
  10. New Zealand

SEXIST EXAMPLES FROM RIO OLYMPICS

1. Katinka Hosszú’s husband getting the credit for her win.

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú crushed the world record and won gold in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday, but one NBC commentator said her husband and coach was “the person responsible for her performance,” leading to a wave of unhappy viewers.

2. These heinous Fox News panelists debating whether female Olympians should wear makeup.

When introducing a segment on Fox’s Sports Court about whether Olympic athletes should wear makeup, host Tamara Holder said:

We all know that old adage, sex sells. Well now female Olympians are sexing it up more than ever by wearing makeup during their competitions. Some say this is about empowerment. Well, really? Do women who are elite athletes need to wear makeup to feel stronger or is it simply a fashion statement like when LeBron James wears funny hats?

 

3. A BBC commentator calling the women’s judo final a “catfight.”

One of the best moments of the games had to be when Majlinda Kelmendi competed in the women’s judo final and won Kosovo its first-ever gold medal. But it wasn’t quite as fun when a BBC commentator described the event as a “catfight.”

 

BREAKING THE TRADITIONAL SHACKLES : NEED FOR DISRUPTIVE CHANGE

Decades’ worth of social-psychology research has demonstrated that humans classify each other by race and gender and respond instinctively based on stereotype and social norms. In the workplace, these unconscious biases mean white men are more likely to be hired, promoted, and paid well compared with equally deserving women or racial minorities.

A key difference between this sort of unconscious bias and more deliberate discrimination is that those perpetuating it often wish they could stop it, if only they knew how. Existing efforts—such as diversity training programs and exhorting women to “lean in”—may actually backfire; for example, women who negotiate for raises may do themselves more harm than good. “There are all kinds of really well-meaning people in corporate America who are sincerely distressed that they have spent many millions of dollars trying to retain and advance women and minorities and it ain’t working.

  1. Media training

Media training would have been a good start, according to Inc. columnist and corporate HR expert Suzanne Lucas. But it’s not just Kalanick who lacks a level of corporate decorum that is often expected of high-profile company executives.

“Before, you didn’t get to be a CEO of a giant company without decades of corporate management experience, and you were rarely authorized to speak to the press,” Lucas says. “In this new economy you have these young CEOs who think they’re cracking jokes over dinner with friends when they really should be acting like grown-ups.”

But whose job is it to tell their boss to grow up? Internally it can be complicated to address the behavior of the founder or CEO directly. According to Heathfield, the responsibility may fall to external stakeholders. “Their investors, people like Jason Calacanis, should be concerned about this,” Heathfield says.

  1. . Hire more women into leadership positions

Uber may in fact find itself in a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting top female executives to work for the company, according to Lucas. Even if such highly publicized screw-ups aren’t in fact representative of the company culture, they still send a message about the brand.

Ironically, accomplished women executives would be exactly the type of hires that could help a startup clean up its reputation, according to Heathfield. “Bringing a woman to the top … who can form positive relationships with existing executives can greatly influence the culture,” she says.

  1. Empower current female employees

Heathfield suggests that adding more women at the top of the org chart could serve as a way to launch a women-led mentorship program to engage the company’s other female employees. Following Kalanick’s comments and the Lyon promotion, she says, current women employees could be feeling that their career at Uber is “tenuous at best.”

Mentorship opportunities have helped many other companies retain female employees. McGraw-Hill Education provides a good template: In 2010, Michelle Ferguson, the company’s senior vice president of international operations, developed a program that gave women the opportunity to choose their own mentorship goals and then paired them up with a fellow employee for help achieving them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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