x) Women In Organisations/Business

There are 2 extreme stereotypes about women managers, ie they are nurturing mothers or manipulating traitors. On the other hand, research is showing that women are like all human beings and respond to the situation they are in.

One key element is women having other women to mentor them or act as unofficial support groups. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are their worst enemy as

"...women tend to cut one another down..."

Olga Khazan, 2017

Some research (Kim Elsser of UCLA, 2011 as quoted by Olga Khazan, 2017) shows that women have a preference for working with male bosses and colleagues; similarly, males prefer male bosses but by a small amount than their female equivalents.

Another study showed that women who report to a female boss have more symptoms of distress, such as trouble sleeping and headaches, than those who work for a man.

It is hard to believe that women would hold such a fierce bias against members of their own gender. Some research indicates that women are evolutionarily pre-destined not to collaborate with women they are not related to, ie

"...Women and girls are less willing than men and boys to cooperate with lower status individuals of the same gender; more likely to dissolve the same gender friendships; and more willing to socially excluded one another..."

Joyce Benenson as quoted by Olga Khazan, 2017

Apparently a similar thing happens with chimpanzees, ie females undermine one another because they have always had to compete for mates and for resources for their offspring.

"...Women can gather around smiling and laughing, exchanging polite, intimate and even warm conversations while simultaneously condemning one another's careers..."

Joyce Benenson as quoted by Olga Khazan, 2017

On the other hand, other researchers argue against this "biologically in-grained behaviour". They argue that bitchiness is a by-product of the modern workplace, ie as there is only a limited number of high ranking positions, the competition for them is intense. This intense competition can result in women viewing their gender as an impediment; thus they avoid cooperating with each other and sometimes turn on one another. As men dominate the senior positions, women can take on male traits, such as aggression, confidence and dominance, as an attempt to enhance their chances of success. On the other hand, women behaving like queen bees is not necessarily always successful. How people behave at work depends on how safe they feel at work, ie are you given a chance to thrive or do you feel thwarted at every step? How are you are addressed at work, ie are you called sweetie or treated professionally?

Using certain measures, women make better managers than men like relationship building, people handling skills, more detailed focus, etc

"...we need to change our society so that it becomes normative for women to see other women succeeding in all kinds of roles..."

Laurie Rudman as quoted by Olga Khazan, 2017

. There can be a disconnect between communicating about importance of gender issues and the policies, regulations, practices, etc involved in addressing the issues.
Sometimes accepted and preferred leadership qualities and behaviours have more in common with men than women. For example, as there are more men in senior positions, this reinforces entrenched beliefs, prompts and supports men's bid for leadership and thus maintains the status quo. Sometimes women are advised to take a less senior role to accommodate the family!!!!!

"...in the upper tiers of organisations, women become increasingly scarce, which heightens the visibility and scrutiny of those near the top, they may become risk-averse and overly focused on details and lose their sense of purpose...... people are less apt to try unfamiliar behaviours or roles if they feel threatened..."
Herminia Ibarra et al, 2015

Some of the reasons for the lack of women reaching  the higher echelons of the corporate world is documented in a paper written by Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change:

- failure to explain the business case for the gender diversity

- failure to communicate the benefits of gender balance

- a negative reaction to the drive for gender diversity

- not a top priority

- lacked resources, like time, to drive greater equality

- just consider as a nice thing to have

- concern about disrupting workplaces, especially in male-dominated industries

- men fear that they could lose opportunities if women are promoted

- women are concerned that they are regarded as token gestures in the gender diversity situation

Sally Patten 2018a

. Gender balance impacts organisational culture at a deeper level with men and women perceiving organisations differently, ie
"...Female employees tend to agree more than men that management hires people who fit in well, management should have a clear view of where the organisation is going and how to get there, management should lay people off only as a last resort and that people should avoid politics and backstabbing as ways to get things done.
Male employees agree more than females that they receive a fair share of the profits made by the organisation and people are paid fairly for the work they do.
Gender also affects the more superficial side of being a great place to work - the perks of the job..
."
Caitlin Fitzsimons et al, 2015

The lack of perks like paid parental leave, flexible working hours, etc affects women more than men

· Only 5% of chief executives of the world's largest companies are women (2013).

Yet

"...women control 27% of the world's wealth, which is about US $21 t...."

Jo Burston (JobCapital) as quoted by Yolanda Redrup 2016

· Women CEOs are more likely to be sacked than their more numerous male colleagues, ie 38% of the departed female CEOs over the past 10 years were sacked, compared with 27% of men (Economist, 2014). Furthermore, linked with this is that 35% of female CEOs are hired from outside the company, compared with just 22% of males. Generally, outsiders have a higher chance of being sacked and generate lower returns to shareholders than insiders. Furthermore, as these businesses are often already in financial trouble, they are more likely to turn to an outsider. Remember: outsiders do not have the support network within the organisation that an insider has to rally around them when times get tough.

· Women face a "glass cliff":

"...They get their best shot at the top job by taking the helm of a firm in trouble..."

Michelle Ryan as quoted by the Economist, 2014

· As women are a rarity in the top jobs and if they come from outside, they attract disproportionate publicity when they hit problems, eg Carly Fiorina (2005) when she was removed from HP while Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM since 2012) is having problems at IBM but is receiving less pressure as she was promoted internally.

· On the other hand, predictions are that women will make up to a third of incoming CEOs by 2040. This stresses the need for organisations to internally create a pipeline of future female CEOs rather than relying on those from outside.

. A study in 2007 was conducted on Fortune 500 organisations. It found those firms with more women board members experience higher financial performance than those with low a female representation. This study considered return on equity, return on sales and return on invested capital. Performance differences were significant; those organisations with a high percentage of women directors outperform those with the least representation by

- 53% on return on equity

- 42% on return on sales

- 66 % for return on capital invested

. Despite the lack of women in senior management, US research has shown

"...companies with a higher representation of women in senior management positions financially outperformed companies with proportionally fewer women at the top - doing 35% better in return on equity..."

Ilene Lang as quoted by Dianne Jacobs, 2004

This highlights the benefits of having more women in senior management positions

 

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