Archive for October, 2008

Women, Gender, and Ambition

Posted on October 26, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Fels, Anna. Do Women Lack Ambition? Harvard Business Review. April 2004. Pgs. 50-60.

In addressing whether or not women lack ambition, author Anna Fels highlights many different characteristics that may affect women’s pursuit of recognition and ambition. She does this by first evaluating the pursuit of childhood dreams and its external factors such as support and guidance and discusses its progression throughout adulthood, conveying the negative gender-biased influences against women. The two overlapping elements were mastery of a special skill and recognition.

The word “ambition” implies two separate meanings for women and men. According to Fels, this difference in definition and understanding is rooted in socialization and the practice of supportive reinforcement toward children at an early age. “Childhood ambitions were direct and clear. They had a delightfully unapologetic sense of grandiosity and limitless possibility…there was a plan that involved a real accomplishment requiring work and skill, and there was an expectation of approval in the form of fame, status, acclaim, praise, or honor (52).” However, as children age, boys continue to receive the same level of recognition, if not more, whereas girls received less. As children mature and enter the academic systems, girls continue to receive lower levels of recognition and praise compared to boys.

Consistent documentation proves that males receive more recognition than females in school and in the workplace. According to Fels, nursery schools act as structural foundations for which this phenomenon is founded, in that boys receive more attention, direction, and instruction than girls from their teachers. This observable fact carries through to grammar school and college. Throughout college, teachers allow and encourage male domination of classroom participation, even though there are proportionately more women than men pursuing higher education. In the professional setting, characteristics that were characterized as being typically male were rated higher than those assigned to women.

It is also important to consider the development of ambition and mastery. Ambition is fueled by continuous support and guidance in which mastery is completely dependent upon, using ambition as the foundations of mastery, and consequentially, recognition. “An evaluating, encouraging audience must be present for skills to develop…It is vital for the expertise to be recognized by the others (53).” However, women receive lower levels of these attributes, thus increasing the likelihood that women will not receive the recognition they deserve.

Psychologist Jerome Kagan and Howard Moss used a longitudinal study examining the relationship between recognition and mastery. This study followed each participant from childhood through adulthood, confirming that mastery and recognition are hand-in-hand. “Without earned affirmation, long-term learning and performance are rarely achieved (54).” This confirms with the two elements Fels described earlier as being critical to leadership development, both of which are lacking for women. Fels proposed the following question: ‘what’s dashing women’s dreams?’ Several factors unfolded, including; attributing them to luck, deflection, withdrawal, gender expectations, or homosocial affirmation.

Fels references Sylvia Rimm’s best-selling book See Jane Win: The Rimm Report on How 1,000 Girls Became Successful Women, and highlights a couple passages portraying successful professional women attributing their successful careers to luck and being in the right place at the right time, or in other words, being too modest. Women are more apt to deflect recognition rather than accepting it because accepting it may be construed as expressing high-levels of non-gender conforming poise and self-confidence.

However, women exhibit high levels of homosocial affirmation. “According to social context: Girls and women may openly seek and compete for affirmation when they are with other women – for example, in sports or in all-girl academic setting (54).” Social context suggest that women would rather compete amongst themselves than against men, thus competing against a smaller piece of the pie, allowing men to openly challenge and engage in leadership activities. Social context also demonstrates women’s orientation to complement male counterparts as opposed to challenging them. Unfortunately, in order to gain recognition and be seen as feminine, women must unconsciously forfeit recognition and resources.

One method of gender description is the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI). This is a 60-descriptive adjective test, providing certain adjectives that had previously been classified as being either masculine or feminine, and are used to evaluate the conscious/unconscious assignment of traditional feminine and masculine traits. Results show that the concept of femininity places relationships as its focal point, meaning that women must provide something for another, albeit a husband, boss, child, etc. “Giving is the chief activity that defines femininity (56).” On the contrary, the male identity is based on independence and the ability to influence others. Fortunately, today’s college-aged women are beginning to identify with traditionally-assigned masculine traits; however, research has not been able to conclude how this shift has occurred.

Although this positive social advancement is growing stronger, it comes at the expense of home or work life. Women must “have first satisfied the needs of all their family members: husbands, children, elderly parents, and others, (58)” before fulfilling ‘ambitious’ endeavors. To combat this belief, Fels proposes 5 recommendations and observations; organize, don’t expect things to fall into place, provide for structures of recognition, blow your own horn, and to realize it’s never too late.

Fels also reminds us that recognition and mastery are not the only factors in leadership development. Women must also believe that they will succeed. “Boys and men, by contrast, have repeatedly been shown to have an inflated estimation of their capabilities, (59)” thus providing them with an inherent belief system that helps to stimulate ambition. Women on the contrary, are more likely to abandon their ambitions because their goals are not satisfying enough and don’t receive adequate recognition for them. Today, most women do not encounter this problem until they have entered the workforce and are threatened with career and or life ultimatums.

This article seems to agree with this weeks readings (Elsass and Graves – Demographic Diversity), where they evaluate diverse decision-making groups. In this article, research demonstrates that women and racial minorities are marginalized and denied access to their full potential. In conclusion, Fels’ article concludes that recognition, mastery, and ambition are interdependent, and are each critical to women’s leadership development. By using the BSRI and social context theories, Fels proves that women do not lack ambition, but rather, lack the resources necessary for success.

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Gender National Differences in Leadership

Posted on October 24, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Gibson, Cristina B. An Investigation of Gender Differences in Leadership across Four Countries. Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2. (2nd Qtr., 1995), pp. 255-279.

This study investigates the influences of gender, culture, and nationality on management leadership styles. The author focuses on four countries and two cultural dyads, Norway and Sweden, and Australia and the United States. The author’s framework explores five leadership behaviors and six leadership styles by using over 200 managers, 55% male and 45% female, to complete a questionnaire and conduct interviews. While proposing 12 separate hypotheses, “post-hoc analyses suggest that across all four countries, males emphasize the goal setting dimension, while females emphasize the interaction facilitation dimension (255).” Although this study discusses sample and limitations to its effectiveness, it demonstrated that there gender and national origin do affect leadership styles.

The three main objectives for this study are to evaluate how gender, culture, and nationality influence leadership. Much of the research was based on Eagly [1987] work on communal and agentic qualities. Communal qualities are oriented toward others, including affection, sympathy, and the ability to nurture, all of which are traditionally assigned to female characteristics. Agentic qualities are oriented toward aggressiveness, goal-setting, independence, and decisiveness, all of which are traditionally assigned to male characteristics. Both qualities are expected to be fulfilled by their respective gender assignments, proving that the communal qualities are more highly valued among women and agentic for men.

As previous research has demonstrated (Powell and Graves), female leaders exhibit transformational characteristics whereas male leaders exhibit transactional leadership styles. Research has proven that female leadership involves communal interactions, encouraging group participation and the development of the others through motivation and empathy, whereas men execute transactional behavior on the basis of rewards and punishment.

In addition to gender influences, the author sets out to demonstrate cultural influences on behavior. In using the definition of culture by Kluckhohn [1951:86], the author proposes that culture requires communal sharing of values, symbols, feelings, and thought processes, and that, within a country, individuals would share these same value orientations, and thus, value the same leadership qualities and performance measures. In short, it is expected that similar countries will share similar values, which is why the author has paired the four countries for equal comparison and evaluation.

The first three hypotheses tested evaluate whether gender, culture, and country would have any significant effects onto leadership behavior and styles. Countries that often share similar cultural values often times group together, thus exercising similar business practices and measures. In countries like Australia and the U.S., who ranks high in masculinity and self-reliance, would value competitiveness and sympathy for the strong, whereas countries like Norway and Sweden would not rank high in masculinity and value solidarity and sympathy for the weak. In order to evaluate the validity of these statements, the author used Flamholtz leadership framework model.

This model includes five leadership behavioral dimensions; goal emphasis, interaction facilitation, work facilitation, supportive behavior, and personnel development. In assessing leadership styles, Flamholtz [1986] devised a six leadership style continuum, including; autocratic, benevolent autocratic, consultative, participative, consensus, and laissez-faire, all of which range from directive to non-directive. This framework served as the basis for the next seven hypotheses that involved assigning agentic qualities, such as goal setting and work facilitation to men and communal qualities to women via interaction facilitation, supportive behavior, and personnel development. The last two hypotheses evaluated national origin and its affects onto leadership behavior and styles.

The author used the Leadership Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ) that was developed by Flamholtz [1986], to measure the behavioral and leadership styles mentioned earlier. Scores were correlated with the Leadership Behavior Descriptive Questionnaire (LBDQ), which is used in leadership research and papers. The LBDQ measures relationship-emphasis and task-emphasis. These methods seem to hold true across cultural applicability.

Research results on the goal setting and interaction facilitation dimensions demonstrated that “males scored significantly higher on goal setting (M= 6.16) than did females (M= 5.64) indicating that males tend to emphasize this dimension more than females (268).” Conversely, women scored significantly higher than men on interaction facilitation, indicating females emphasize interaction facilitation methods more than the goal setting dimension, thus confirming the first hypothesis. Regarding the second hypothesis, Australia scored the lowest in interaction facilitation and laissez-faire style dimensions, but scored the highest in benevolent autocratic style, demonstrating that Australians place strong value on goal setting and autocratic styles, as opposed to communal development.

Research results also proved the third hypothesis to be invalid, as male and female leaders across all four countries, shared different leadership behavior standards. Goal setting and interaction facilitation were the two most varied dimensions across gender, confirming hypotheses four and six. “However, no gender differences were obtained on any other behavior or style dimensions (thus P5, P7, P8, P9, and P10 were not confirmed) (271).” These findings suggest that male leaders do not directly require following agentic qualities as prescribed earlier, and that female leaders do not require communal qualities either. Thus, men and women may equally value improvements and 360° relations.

What I would like to see further research on is the prediction of Australian evolution of leadership behavior and styles, particularly because of increasing immigration and globalization. Also, as Australia made recent political announcements to immigrants trying to ‘Americanize’ Australia, the Prime Minister publicly proclaimed to the world that immigrants must adopt to Australian style of living and that the country will not conform to immigrant practices and cultures. Will this political position affect future business practices and operations? I predict so, but this research may serve as a compliment to studies using Australia in comparison to other countries.

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Politics, Networking, and Mentoring Regarding Race and Gender

Posted on October 20, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Blass, Fred R., Robyn L. Brouer, Pamela L. Perrewe, Gerald R. Ferris. Politics Understanding and Networking Ability as a Function of Mentoring: The Roles of Gender and Race. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. Vol. 14, No. 2. Nov 2007. Pgs. 93-104.

The authors devised their hypotheses around the premise that employees who have access to networks and mentorship programs will receive higher benefit than those who do not have mentors and networks. Those employees who most strongly benefit from mentorship and networks are white men and those at the greatest disadvantage are women and racial minorities. Those with mentors will report a greater understanding of internal organizational politics, and thus, will have a greater political and organizational success.

This article focuses on Van Maanen and Schein’s (1979) taxonomy of socialization, with particular emphasis on serial tactic, which suggests that experienced workers and managers will act as role models for new members. “The serial approach is commonly referred to as ‘mentoring,’ because experienced members essentially groom newcomers who are destined to assume similar positions in an organization (94).” One example provided is a more senior police officer showing the novice cop ‘the ropes,’ resulting in increased exposure and visibility. As the level and frequency of visibility increases, so to does their work networks and networking abilities increase.

One of the advantages to establishing organizational networks is that you are more visible. As managers and supervisors search to promote internal candidates, those with strong networks are first to be considered. “Individuals who are well socialized into organizational politics may be more promotable than those who are well socialized with people (94).” Strong performance and high evaluation scores are not key factors in advancement under this theory. The networking advantage is a direct result from learning the internal game of politics, demonstrating that mentees develop a set of organizational competencies, including expectations, informal rules, and boundaries that provide them with necessary resources for career advancement.

Learning the ropes also includes learning and adopting the social nuances of a new environment. The development of political skills grants individuals with the ability to understand ‘shared meanings’ among peers and superiors. They define political skill as “the ability to effectively understand others at work, and to use such knowledge to influence others to act in ways that enhance one’s personal and/or organizational objectives (95).” This definition of political skill does not allude to gender or racial differences, however, and implies a degree of cultural assimilation, a concept that is not so easy for women and racial minorities.

The development of political skills also suggests that access is required in order to gain access to various political networks. Organizational politics, as mentioned earlier, requires a degree of assimilation, and as more experienced members ‘groom’ their protégés, it is natural to select those most similar to you. As Elliot and Smith wrote in Race, Gender, and Workplace Power (2004), race and gender are key components to network access and promotion, most prominently through homosocial reproduction (select someone most similar to you). Those dissimilar to superiors are less likely to gain access to information that is critical to career advancement, and thus, will not participate in network development as well as others, resulting in “two groups of people: the aware ‘insiders’ and the unaware ‘outsiders’ (96).” As white men are typically in superior positions, they set the organizational tone and thus, decide who will reside in which groups of people.

Most organizational politics are taught through informal social interactions, and as women and racial minorities remain as dissimilar to their superiors, they will remain as the unaware ‘outsiders.’ Women and racial minorities are at a disadvantage, forced to participate in organizational politics with political deficiencies, resulting in fewer promotions and networking capabilities. The low percentage of their managerial presence (excluding qualifications) suggests that either they are not politically savvy or that they are not adopting strategic tactics that make them attractive to networks, and or, white men.

In conclusion, organizational political deficiencies is a reasonable assumption in defining the low percentages of women and racial minorities in senior positions. However, the women and racial minorities that do succeed are considered as exceptions, most likely due to a select number of similar superiors who fulfilled homosocial reproduction, providing them access to information and opportunities that would enhance their political abilities. “Results indicated that mentoring had significant indirect effects on networking ability through its relationship with politics understanding (100).” This confirms hypothesis 2 and 3, in that strong political understanding would help mediate the relationships between networks (white men) and networking abilities, but would not increase mediation or benefits for dissimilar others (non-whites).

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Homosocial Reproduction

Posted on October 18, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Elliott, James R. and Ryan A. Smith. Race, Gender, and Workplace Power. American Sociological Review, Vol. 69, No. 3. (Jun., 2004) pgs. 365-386.

This article addresses the power differences in the workplace due to ‘homosocial reproduction,’ (select candidates that most closely reflect themselves) and its affects on women and racial minorities. It goes into depths regarding barriers to promotion, in which women and racial minorities are only able to obtain ‘modest’ degrees of power due to their authority level within organizations, and because of that, are unable to successfully navigate through the intricate channels of networks.

Much of the analyses were based on statistical data regarding income disparities and workplace promotion between Caucasians and minorities. Much of the research confirms what previous research has demonstrated, stating that, ‘past inequalities’ via social dynamics has weaved itself into the fabric of corporate America, and is thus, increasing gender inequality throughout the advancement of corporate ladders (367). Much of the wage and power disparities are rooted in racial and gender differences.

As Kaufman highlighted in his article, Assessing Alternative Perspectives on Race and Sex Employment Segregation, less racial minorities and women will be seen in upper-management and executive positions because these types of jobs require extensive experience and knowledge within their fields and industries. Kaufman states that race-sex segregation, in which assessments are made according to their race or sex, are placed in positions accordingly, confirming this article’s emphasis on homosocial reproduction. As white men dominate executive positions, women and racial minorities will not achieve the same levels of promotion from networking due to homosocial reproduction.

These barriers deny access to leadership opportunities. “Networks help workers gain skills, acquire legitimacy, and climb promotional ladders (368).” The exclusion of women and racial minorities prevent the sharing of informal instruction and mentorship throughout the organization. Other readings, such as Blass et. al, confirm that by enhancing the understanding of organizational politics, networks are pipelines to success.

Network membership does not necessitate direct success and access to competitive projects. Within networks, women and racial minorities continue to experience discrimination. “Workers, not just employers, use race and gender to rank network members, and this ranking influences the type and amount of assistance available to members of different groups (368).” This research suggests that women and racial minorities obtain less power within organizations due to their limited access to training, mentorship, and contacts. This makes them more competitive for positions as they climb the corporate ladder, resulting in a battle against qualifications and experience.

Their second hypothesis evaluates the inverse relationship between power and position, in relation to white men. As mentioned above, “women and minorities often rely more on education and experience, relative to white men, to ‘break into’ higher levels of power, often having to ‘out-credential’ white-male counterparts… (368-369).” This supports their third and fourth hypotheses, suggesting that homosocial reproduction is more prevalent as women and minorities advance in the workplace. As power, influence, and importance increase up the corporate ladder, executives feel more comfortable in working with someone more like themselves, easing the potential tension and misunderstandings that may cause damage to company performance due to gender or racial differences.

Another key component regarding access to leadership development and networking capabilities consists of the gender and racial composition of those superiors to whom the subordinates will report. “White men, by virtue of being dominant, nearly always rise to power under ‘similar others,’ whereas women and minorities generally take two tracks: they advance under white men, or they advance under similar others (370).” As previously mentioned, networking is more important to women and minorities throughout executive positions because they are competing against qualifications, as opposed to white men, who benefit from networking and homosocial reproduction as a direct result of superior compositions. As one advances under similar others, education and qualifications become less important, but when advancing under non-similar others, networking is essential in avoiding barriers to leadership positions.

Results from research prove that white men benefit from homosocial reproduction and network advancement. White men are twice as likely to benefit from networks and access to leadership projects when directly reporting similar-others than dissimilar superiors (377). This phenomenon (homosocial reproduction) is evident throughout all levels of the organization, whereas women and minorities rely more heavily on networks as they advance in the workplace. In addition, research has provided an enlightening statistic regarding black women and networking.

As networking benefits members of different gender and racial groups, black women seem to be the most resourceful. “The odds of Black women advancing from workers to supervisors increase 39% when they receive network assistance, and the odds of Black women advancing from supervisors to managers increase 500% when they receive network assistance (379).” Black women rely more heavily on similar superiors for advancement than dissimilar superiors. As Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has proven, diversifying the workplace has positively influenced society’s racial and gender perspectives on women and minorities. As this statistic demonstrates, efficient networking and network assistance may help prevent gender and racial discrimination, as it proves that stereotypes should not be used in formal or informal evaluation methods. Concurrently, women and minorities use homosocial reproduction at a larger rate than white men, proving that this phenomenon is present in different gender and racial groups.

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Race and Sex Employment Segregation

Posted on October 16, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Kaufman, Robert L. Assessing Alternative Perspectives on Race and Sex Employment Segregation. American Sociological Review, 2002, Vol. 67 (August: 547-572).

Robert Kaufman sets out to outline what he believes to be the most influential components to employment segregation. By formulating numerous metrics and predictors, he outlined his justification theory for segregation, namely: skill deficits, worker preferences, economic and organizational structure, and stereotyping/queuing.

In order to conduct fair and marketable data, Kaufman divided segregation’s dominant perspectives. These were then evaluated according to two different models, the supply-side approach or the demand-side approach. The supply-side approach concentrates on skill-deficits between blacks and whites. “A human capital/skills deficit approach sees segregation as resulting from group differences in human capital (548)”. Skill deficits call into question, the qualification differences between races, primarily focusing on blacks and whites.

It is critical to examine the varying components that go into evaluating racial disparities. Components of human capital include education, skills acquired in the field (or relevant fields), and experience. These differences will impact the development of human capital, and if denied, will also impact the skill deficit of all races. Fortunately, recent research suggests that the gap between racial differences is slowly decreasing due to the increase in education, training, and experience.

Racial segregation, in addition to its social influences, is impacted by corporate culture and employment structure. Studies have demonstrated that as more skills are required for positions, a disparity develops between racial and gender demographics. “Studies of racial segregation find that higher general skills and training requirements increase the segregation of positions (549).” Consequentially, less racial minorities and women will be seen in upper-management and executive positions because these types of jobs require extensive experience and knowledge within their fields and industries. As long as the job training and experience is concentrated around white men, higher-level positions will and employees will enjoy the benefits of racial segregation.

However, many would argue that the gender disparities are due to women’s preference between balancing work and life. “Regarding sex segregation, a common argument is that women prefer positions that can accommodate their family responsibilities (549).” In non-managerial positions, it is assumed that women would prefer flexible work schedules in order to accommodate their family interests and responsibilities. These positions and gender differences are conditioned by assumed familial responsibilities.

Although this method may suggest inherent sex segregation, when using the sex-role socialization approach, it presents the external influences differently. The sex-role socialization approach suggests “that men and women have preferences for different types of skills and working conditions, primarily resulting from childhood or adult sex socialization (549).” This would indicate that there are inherent gender differences between positions due to societal influences from childhood. This suggests that men are predisposed to select positions that require physical or manual labor and ‘status-superior’ occupations, arguing that stereotyping occurs in the hiring process.

The second model is the demand-side approach. This method accounts for economic and organizational structures as constraints, advocating that stakeholders, including customers, can exercise discriminatory behavior. This argues that competition should eliminate discrimination, but this does not account for those preferences mentioned earlier, for white men. Fortunately, “such ‘tastes’ are more intense and salient only in firms protected from competition or with slack resources (549),” implying that as competition increases; there is an inverse reaction to discrimination. However, as inherent barriers to competition are in place, such as private institutions or organizations, gender and racial discrimination is more likely to occur because preference-selection dominates the selection process.

An additional approach to sex and gender discrimination is the race-sex stereotyping and queuing approach. This method suggests that the level of productivity is directly correlated to race and gender. This method pays more attention to their “membership in a race or sex group and less attention paid to their personal qualification (550).” For example, certain positions are valued as either ‘appropriate’ or ‘not appropriate.’ Early in this article, they mention that black women, according to this theory, are destined to be ‘pressers in laundries’ and black men as ‘garbage collectors or other sanitary services.’ This implies an inherent ranking system involving race and gender, resulting in fewer minorities in upper-management.

In conclusion, race-sex stereotyping is the largest factor in formulating desirable employment. As long as high skill levels are assigned to those who receive its benefits, there will be gender and racial segregation in management. Again, there is a greater demand for highly skilled employees, which come from additional experience and responsibilities that come with high-performing positions.

This article continues to highlight the disparate differences between the availability and placement of minorities compared to white men. Jobs that require less brain-work are generally assigned to blacks and women. Skills and experience remain key factors in marketability and market power. Unfortunately, stereotyping does occur in the workplace, denying minorities the opportunity and access to upper management. Without further developing their leadership skills, racial minorities will not be able to enter the highly competitive management market.

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Corporate Black Tokenism

Posted on October 16, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings, Corporate |

Jackson, Pamela Braboy; Peggy A. Thoits; Howard F. Taylor. Composition of the Workplace and Psychological Well-Being: The Effects of Tokenism on America’s Black Elite. Social Forces, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Dec., 1995), pgs. 543-557.

In evaluating work stress and psychological symptoms of token black employees, this article uses Rosabeth Kanter’s theory of proportional representation to determine the differences between gender and race and work related difficulties. Kanter’s theory “argues that individuals who occupy token positions in their work settings experience three sources of stress: performance pressures, boundary heightening, and role entrapment (543).” Leadership manifests itself through juggling the delicate balance between the personal and professional lives, but for token minorities, additional stress factors must be added in order to accurately reflect leadership access and capabilities in the workplace.

As workgroup dynamics research unfolds, it is evident that group demographics greatly influence the interactions of its members, and that its success is rooted in the perspective and accomplishments of its participants. “Research suggests that minority-group size affects attitudes, achievement, and the frequency and quantity of interpersonal contact between majority and minority group members (543).” As Kanter’s theory supposes, additional stress factors influence the interactions between majority and minority group members. With fewer minorities, they inherently exhibit token-like behaviors whereas groups with larger numbers of minority-group members, interpersonal dynamics enhance workplace performance and decrease stress factors.

Racial differences are experienced across all aspects of the workplace. As the authors suggest, minorities entering a white-male dominated environment will undergo racial categorization and stereotypes that must either be overcome or fulfilled. In fact, “Hughes…described the potential perpetuation of status conflict based on stereotyped expectations for behavior, highlighting the particular dilemmas faced by women and blacks who enter male and white occupations (544).” For this reason, women and minorities, including black women as well, are conditioned to operate according to their environments. These interactions are manifested through three different forms of workgroups in white-male dominated environments.

Workgroups vary among composition, either being fully mono-racial, slightly integrated, or as a fully diverse group. According to Kanter, these groups were labeled ‘uniform,’ ‘skewed,’ and ‘balanced.’ In uniform groups, the members are homogenous – meaning that they are assigned to the same gender and racial categories. Skewed groups have a small number of women and or racial minorities and are the majority remains in control, whereas balanced groups have an even split of diverse group members for both race and gender. However, in the skewed groups, thee minorities are seen as the token representatives of their race or gender, and are expected to experience higher levels of work stress and lower levels of performance.

In these groups, tokens experience three sources of stress; performance pressure, boundary heightening, and role entrapment. “Because their ‘differnetness’ is highly visible, tokens feel that they are always under scrutiny (545).” In order to compensate for expected failure, women and racial minorities must perform at higher levels in order to compete at a ‘level playing field.’ Because performance measures and evaluations are primary tools used to assess potential management, tokens must work diligently to prove their worth and strength, particularly since their careers are at stake. One key factor in this belief is that tokens believe that they are being evaluated more heavily by their master status than their performance, which results in either two effects; to overachieve in order to be recognized, or to avoid the spotlight by completing tasks as assigned as discretely as possible.

The second stress factor is boundary heightening. In order to demonstrate their affability, majority group members will either exaggerate their similarities or point out their differences in order to connect with group members. “Tokens are repeatedly reminded of their difference through jokes, interruptions, exclusion from informal activities, and various ‘loyalty tests’ (545).” This leaves tokens with limited options, including; either to isolate themselves from their counterparts, or to demonstrate their defining professional attributes in the pursuit of inclusion.

The third stress factor is role entrapment. This factor involves the application of stereotypes and behaviors onto tokens from majority members. Tokens are expected to behave under applied stereotypes and are evaluated accordingly, and consequentially, assume the inferior status prescribed by the majority. “Those who resist stereotyped roles are ‘trapped in a more militant stance than they might otherwise take’ (545).” These tokens deny token assimilation and stereotyping, resulting in a perceived aggressive stance against it. In either situation, they both hinder the perception and evaluation of token leadership. In order to succeed, tokens must undergo behavioral readjustments in the workplace.

These stress factors result in higher levels of distress for tokens in skewed and homogenous groups. “Black leaders who are outnumbered by whites in their work situations exhibit higher levels of distress than those in balanced situations in which blacks outnumber whites (550).” This social and statistical relationship holds true to gender tokens as well. In groups other than balanced, tokens exhibit these three stress factors, resulting in psychological and social hindrances, and thus, hindering their professional development.

In conclusion, as more blacks enter a workgroup, less stress factors are applied, which can also be applied to the gender model as well. Tokenism is an applicable model in all group interactions, contributing to increased levels of distress and decreased levels of performance and job evaluations.

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African-American Female Leadership Styles

Posted on October 15, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings |

Parker, Patricia S. and dt Ogilvie. Gender, Culture, and Leadership: Toward A Culturally Distinct Model of African-American Women Executives Leadership Strategies. Leadership Quarterly (1996) 7(2): 181-197.

The author sets the tone for the chapter by stating that power and authority are traditionally not associated with Black women. This is due to, what was summarized in previous literature reviews and numerous readings, the double-edged sword. Many women experience difficulties in leadership roles because they are both women and mothers, however, Black women bare a larger burden. Black women also experience racial and gender discrimination. Black women thus, experience a different upbringing, have different perspectives on leadership, and are raised with different ideals and values.

Currently, there are two types of leadership models based on gender differences, which influence leadership decision making and representation. Unfortunately, due to the lack of research, most studies are “formulated from a middle-class Anglo-American perspective and reflect the socialized traits, behaviors, styles, and culture of members of that group (181).” Thus, research data is skewed according to race, class, gender, and behavioral styles. The authors then argue that Black women have adapted to living bi-culturally, crossing gender and racial boundaries, which demonstrate androgynous activities that can be translated to successful leadership traits.

The authors stress five points of differences; racial discrimination, gender discrimination, racial/gender interactive efforts, complex organizational interactions, and devalued leadership abilities. These “leadership strategies reflect and are shaped by heir socialization as Black women, and by their unique social location within dominant culture organization (182).” Black women engage in leadership activities that are inherent in their social and professional careers.

They also set out to determine if gender similarities and differences operate across racial and cultural groups. They also evaluated any parallel relationships between racism and sexism and whether or not they will generate similar affects. These studies proved that they are not parallel, but rather, they intersect and interact with one another, which directly affect black women’s leadership approaches, behaviors, and styles.

Socialized leadership traits, behaviors, and styles vary among ethnic, racial, and cultural groups. Successful leadership traits are “task-orientation, operationalized as ‘initiating structure,’ and interpersonal-orientation, operationalized as ‘consideration (184).” Much of these studies were set out to determine the relationship between them and their influences on Black women and their leadership abilities. Research has traditionally focused on two components of gender leadership, the first regarding their democratic decision-making orientation, and communication strategies, evaluating their ability to inspire coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates.

One major gender leadership difference is that female leadership is relational and environmental, as opposed to male leadership which exhibits dictatorial and autocratic strategies. Interestingly, Black women exhibit both gender leadership qualities, resulting in ‘the cement wall,’ in which they are Black, female, and exhibit direct male qualities. Because Black women may exhibit the ideal leadership qualities, the authors pursue the question of whether or not leadership traits and behaviors vary across cultures and races.

Prominent influences for Black women are rooted in family structure. “African-American family structures tend to have flexible gender roles (186).” Young Black girls are taught to be independent, self-confident, and proud of their culture and background. Much of the familial influences stem from post-slavery efforts among Black families to encourage their youth to fight against oppression and pro-slavery sentiment, resulting in confidence, strong cultural appreciation, and independence.

Research has proven that bi-cultural Black families have stronger self-images and emotional stability than mono-cultural families. Bi-cultural members exhibit these qualities because their identity is not rooted in one culture. Black women are forced to live in two separate worlds, one ruled by the dominant group and one among themselves. Because of their racial and cultural adaptability, they demonstrate strong traditional leadership qualities. “African-American women tend to have traits and behaviors corresponding to both the Anglo male and female leadership models indicates they are likely to be androgynous in their leadership approach (187).” Essentially, Black women are raised to demonstrate male and female traits – to be both nurturing and interpersonal, and confident and self-confident.

Black women also endure racial and gender discrimination, in addition to dealing complex organizational interactions, and devalued leadership abilities. Black women believe that racism as opposed to sexism is still the dominant factor in preventing career advancement opportunities. In addition to racial discrimination, they suffer from gender discrimination, prohibiting them from gaining access into networks and organizations. In order to overcome these obstacles, Black women have formulated a strategic network among Black superiors, crossing all racial boundaries, whereas other racial groups work more closely with members of their own racial categories.

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Leadership

Posted on October 14, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings |

Robin Ely begins her introduction by highlighting a modern definition of leadership. She states that “leadership, by which we typically mean a particular constellation of valued abilities, including the ability to provide a vision and influence others to realize it (153).” This modern definition differs from that of the ‘traditional’ definition in that it does not incorporate gender roles or stereotypes, permitting only the excellence of character and qualities as key stimulants.

Most research and evaluation methods are founded in traditional male-leadership qualities and do not accurately reflect modern leadership quality and standards. The change in definition is not mandated from state or federal policy, but the changing demographics of business leaders and executives. This is not to say that the definition has officially changed and used in corporate evaluatory measures, but rather, it is an application that includes gender neutral relational and emotional competencies.

In continuing with changing demographics, the contemporary workplace has experienced gender differences in expectations, goals, and advancement opportunities for women and racial minorities. “Gender stereotypes, limited access to mentors, and workplace practices that fail to accommodate family commitments have clearly made it more difficult for women to achieve and succeed in leadership roles (155).” Most women are less-prepared to enter into upper managerial roles due to several reasons; male standards remain intact, sex differences, and less education, few challenging projects, and little access to training and mentorship opportunities.

Unfortunately, leadership is still measured by male standards and images. According to this philosophy, women must adopt male characteristics and roles in order to fulfill leadership expectations; however, it is not expected for men to engage in traditional ‘feminine’ roles. These standards influence leadership application and are imbedded in its philosophy. “Two-thirds of surveyed men and three-quarters of male business leaders do not believe that women encounter significant discrimination for top positions in business, the professions, or government (160).” This misconception clearly suggests the inherent faults of corporate leadership identity, particularly in traditionally white-male dominated industries such as law, medicine, and politics.

This disparity has caused an imbalance between male and female percentages in managerial positions. The largest percentage of women remain in low and non-management positions. Unfortunately, women comprise nearly 50% “of managerial and professional positions but only 12% of corporate officers, 4% of top corporate earners, and about 1% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s (161).” Statistically, this demonstrates a significant difference in corporate leadership expectations, particularly since women make up over 50% of the U.S. population. This disparity suggests that there are remaining factors that have yet to be identified.

There are several assumptions that are used to justify these statistics. One assumption is that women are continuing to enter the workplace and are no longer remaining house-wives, and that they need to remain in the workplace longer in order to qualify for leadership opportunities. They haven’t been in the “pipeline” long enough to earn merit, networks, or challenging projects. Another assumption is that “they are the product of cultural lag; current inequalities are the legacy of discriminatory practices that are no longer legal, and it is only a matter of time until women catch up (161).” However, as recent research has demonstrated, the ‘pipeline’ theory does not accurately reflect the new definition of leadership – the ability to influence and inspire others to perform responsibilities and duties outside of requirements. Research also portrays the percentage of gender difference in equally-qualified candidates applying for similar positions.

Gender still plays a significant role in understanding professional and social interactions. Professionally, women suffer from the double-edged sword, in that if they achieve upper-management positions, it supposed that they benefited from an affirmative action policy or that they portray traditional leadership characteristics, which stereotypes women as being overly aggressive or bitchy. Once in these positions, “they are held to higher standards than their male counterparts…and their performance is subject to special scrutiny and more demanding requirements (162).” Women are expected to behave and perform according to traditional leadership qualities, and must do so at a higher and more efficient manner than their male-counterparts in order to be considered for higher positions.

In order to maintain these positions, women are forced to make trade-offs, which are generally associated with child-rearing responsibilities. Because female managers must undergo gender adaptation, they must sacrifice personal and gender identity in order to fit into leadership roles. As their male counterparts receive promotions, women internalize these activities as barriers to advancement and rewards, inferring that their levels of performance are inadequate for leadership positions. This orients women to being risk-adverse and to not pursue other challenging positions that may increase their chances for leadership opportunities.
These standards and practices place women into categories of underperforming and unmotivated employees, not willing to try challenging positions, resulting in devaluation and undervalued contributions. “Expectations affect evaluations, work assignments, and other career development opportunities (164).” Because they receive poor recommendations, supervisors are unlikely to suggest mentors, network groups, projects, and opportunities which continue the vicious cycle of gender stereotypes and assumptions.

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Ely Robin J. and Erica Gabrielle Foldy, and Maureen A. Scully. Reader in Gender, Work, and Organization. Blackwell Publishing. 2003. Pgs.153-172.

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Beyond Good Intentions

Posted on October 10, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings |

Much of my research has suggested access and treatment discrimination experienced by minorities in the workplace. This article outlines the subtleties behind corporate America and its effects onto business operations. As the article suggests, as traditional racism slowly becomes a cultural no-no, there are new forms of racism that continue to inhibit minority leadership development and success within organizations.

Just fifty years ago, blatant racism and few efforts to support women were condoned and accepted in the workplace. Although these discriminatory practices are not tolerated today, they are in fact punishable by federal and state regulations. The post civil rights era has brought about a new form of corporate discrimination that inhibits the advancement of minorities in the workplace. “Blatant racism has been replaced by a more subtle form of racism that reflects an adherence to such traditional American values as individualism rather than open bigotry (pg. 59).” Because blatant racist behaviors are no longer accepted, top executives and managers have woven cultural and racial stereotypes into the corporate fabric of equality. As it will unfold, these authors demonstrate that business objectives have been tainted by racist thinking, and that corporate discrimination is well-justified in unquantifiable ways.

While analyzing 1993 data, the U.S. Census Bureau showed that while white [non-Hispanic] family income increased by 9% and black families’ income experienced no change, this suggests that there is an underlying factor that is not quantifiable by corporations or the government. One significant factor lies within the workplace, where “blacks are segregated not only vertically; some evidence also shows rather striking forms of horizontal segregation in the workplace (60).” This evidence provides some insight into the 1993 Bureau statistic, in that Black corporate income is experiencing a halt or slow decline in advancement and leadership opportunities.

This new form of racism is present in several corporate facets, including managerial top-down mandates, feelings that reside in entry-level managers in the hiring process, and so forth. Believing that racism belonged to previous generations, these corporate citizens unknowingly participate in modern-racism in their business functions. For example, believing that “blacks are not sufficiently self-reliant, self-disciplined, or otherwise do not adhere to the values embodied in the Protestant Ethic,” an employee may use these prejudices to evaluate or interact with another colleague, continuing the cycle of racism.

These beliefs do not lead to open bigotry, but can be justified through personal and qualitative reasoning, making the following justifications; they don’t “fit in” with the culture, personality, and so forth. Because this is harder to quantify, substantial and quantifiable evidence is required to make claims against racial discrimination. All of these examples mentioned above play significant roles in minority leadership development. If low-percentage of Blacks resides in executive positions, it makes it difficult to counter the many forms of new racism, forcing high-percentage concentrations of minorities in low-level managerial and entry-level positions. Secondly, “as companies pursue what Loden and Roesner call the homogeneous ideal (63),” Blacks and other racial minorities will continue to encounter these problems until upper management implement programs tailored to the development of corporate minority leaders. These corporate programs must be fully embodied by the CEO and other executive members in order for the trickle down affect to occur.

This article helps to explain many of the observed statistics that minorities often suffer from slow rates of income inflation while White, non-Hispanic men enjoy faster salary increases and more rapid promotions. This reading also challenges a few articles I have read regarding reasons for sub-par income levels and job performances.

Brief, Arthur P. et al. Beyond Good Intentions: The Next Steps Toward Racial Equality in the American Workplace. Academy of Management Executive, 1997. Vol. 11 No. 4.

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Gender and Racial Differences in Approaching Leadership

Posted on October 5, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings |

A leader does not have to fly on a straight-path to management to become successful in his or her field. There are many variables in which success can be realized, but as previous research has suggested, there are many inherent road blocks for women and minorities in achieving their goals. One evaluative method of leadership is found through each individual. The notion of realizing business success varies among others, so before diving into what it means to be a leader, I would like to briefly discuss success. “Career success has been measured by objective variables such as earnings, level of position in the organizational hierarchy, and rate of advancement or promotion…careers are deemed successful in relation to their receiving more pay, holding positions at higher levels, and advancing at a faster rate (185).” This traditional perspective is assigned to the expectations of most men and thus, the expectation from all, to follow in order to hold managerial and executive positions.

However, objective variables do not equate end-all success and happiness. “Career success also measured by subjective variables that reflect individual’s satisfaction with various aspects of their work and non-work lives, including their current job, potential for advancement, job security, relationships with family members, and opportunities to pursue hobbies and other personal interests (185).” So what is important to consider is that, according to previous research, many women pursue successful careers through the subjective, with emphasis on social development and satisfaction. These gender differences will affect the way they approach similar situations and what is equally if not more important, how others will view gender behavior in relation to the traditional subjective approach.

The traditional view of leadership is evaluated alongside success. If minorities suffer from access discrimination and are unable to obtain managerial positions, their understanding or approach to leadership development may vary among races and gender. “The stereotype of a successful career, largely based on the experiences of [white non-Hispanic] men, focuses on uninterrupted work. Time away from work…is often assumed to lead to deterioration of skills and knowledge and to reflect less commitment to work (188).” What I would like to have seen this chapter focus on, was the racial make-up of full and part-time employees. I’m anticipating finding significantly higher rates of part-time working single mothers or for less educated working people, which may be the Black and Hispanic populations.

As alluded to earlier, if women and minorities encounter access discrimination, their opportunities in developing their professional experience are limited. “In stretch assignments, managers learn to handle a variety of responsibilities in the spotlight and under fire. Male managers are more likely to receive these assignments (189).” What is interesting is that minority women suffer from a double-count, or rather, the 2-strike rule, where they receive less attention and benefits because they are both minorities and women. Traditional managers make assumptive decisions by assuming women will want less challenging positions because they need to handle their domestic affairs as well, which automatically grants men with the more challenging and career-oriented opportunities.

On average, men also receive more on-the-job training than women, making their job experiences more attractive. In addition to job training, women also experience access discrimination for mentorship opportunities. “Males are sent to a greater number of formal training programs and off-site development activities and receive greater financial support from their employers for outside educational programs (e.g., part-time BMA) than females (190).” These mentor programs provide employees with access to executives, opportunities, and more challenging projects, however, women suffer from both access and treatment discrimination, inhibiting their ability to develop their leadership and managerial skills.

This chapter highlights several problem areas that women and female minorities must overcome in order to remain competitive in the job market. It provides insight into access and treatment of women and minorities and the direct relationship with leadership. Those who experience access and treatment discrimination have a different perspective on leadership because their experiences require work above-and-beyond that of their male counterparts. Men will have a more direct access to management and leadership opportunities whereas women must ‘zigzag’ and work harder to achieve the same goals. This reading does support my assumptions and readings.

Powell, Gary N. and Laura M. Graves. Women and Men in Management. 3rd Edition. Sage Publications. 2003. Chapter 8. Pgs. 183-210.

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