“This report was commissioned to examine three main perceptions of female workers in business industry. This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the three main opinions:
- Women are discriminated in the business environment at their workplace;
- Women are not discriminate but rather not interested to pursue a business career;
- Women are not biologically equipped to equally participate in business industries.”
Here how my boring business research starts 🙂 Since I am still completing my daunting business degree there is a lot of research involved all the time. Most of the stuff I already studied back in high school or while completing my other two degrees… Anywho, I am still at Uni and still studying.
I want to add that Australian education is fairly easy. However before I switched to Business (degree) I was conquering Accounting which did not go well. Although it was hard I must say it was taught a-w-e-f-u-l-l-y. I know that if I was into it I would have studied it myself but I guess I wasn’t… so I switched to Business. Now when I am almost finished with my bachelor degree (another 2 semesters to go, to be precise) in business I am thinking How The Heck People Apply This Crappy Degree in Life – it’s so basic and general?!
I guess I will stop whinging now and show what I am here for today 🙂 My business research … Who cares you say?! (giggling) Fair thought. Well, I was researching women’s role in modern world reading some Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s articles and watching interviews with her when a business assignment went through – a business research. So I decided to go with the flow 🙂
Let me get it straight from the start, I am NOT a feminist or anything similar or opposite. I am curious yes but don’t belong to any political or religion party or view. I prefer to stay away from groups and remain an individual. It’s just the way it’s always been … well, for my entire life so far.
Tomorrow I am presenting my work and I am a little worried because to be honest I got bored half way through (I don’t last that long on one repetitive project I guess lol) and did not dig deep enough; however I have totally showed my point I was chasing. My supervisor kept asking me what is that I wanted to prove or disapprove by conducting the research (make your thesis clearer, Anna, in other words lol). Well, why the heck have I chosen this topic and what am I trying to do here… Initially, I was curious about number of opinions. Later on I had to do my assignment so I had to chose some topic. Down the track I realised that proving that most of the societies are still very racist, sexist and homophobic (we are not covering the last one) indicates that we all need to do something about it, BUT please let me make this clear as well I am NOT chasing equal right or any other feminist idealistic goals. Equal opportunities, helpful and assisting personnel, simply nicer people… Yes, these are the valuable I stand by! So, in short….
Women’s Place in Business: Three Schools of Thought
- Equal Rights Revolution
Only in 1920s with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, women were finally given their political voice: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Almost hundred years ago women were not allowed to vote because they were women. Women did not work and few were educated. However as centuries were passing by and time was changing, more women were getting university degrees and climbing career ladders alongside with men. Although women are now seen to be in full possession of the previously exclusively males’ rights, they still claimed to be treated differently at their jobs.
In Australia, women gained their voting rights earlier. In 1884 (Australian Women’s History Forum) the First Australian Suffrage Society was established. State by state, Australia slowly accepted women’s presence on the political arena. On the 16 of December in 1903 first Australian women stand for federal parliament elections. In 1921 Edith Cowan was the first woman to be elected in Australian Parliament.
- No, Thank You
At the same time there is a strong opinion that many women are not interested in excelling in certain jobs as much as men. Some people say that women are naturally not as aggressive career hunters as men. Women are not suppressed or kept away from getting to the top of the businesses leaderships; they are simply not interested in it as much as men are. Women are not excluded from succeeding in male dominating professions, but their brain is simply not wired to be interested in such jobs. For many activists including feminists it is an offensive thought; however medical advancement allows us to look inside human’s brain, exploring men and women similarities and differences. Interestingly, female brain is wired very differently from males therefore it is so common to see airplane pilots and engineers to be men and teachers or managers to be women – this is what they are best at and, most importantly, interested in.
- Not Brain Equipped
The 21st century brings a lot confusion regarding the position of women in the workplace. The current generation is the first one generation which struggles to identify women’s place in business and at home. The women’s role is shifting causing a lot of interest and many debates among professionals and general public. A number of professional areas are interested in the phenomena of women’s new role in the business world including varies of business industries, psychology, education and general studies.
Women in Business: Not Making it to The Top – Pro & Against
“Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world” (Sandberg, S 2010) says Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook. Only 3.5% (Mitchell L 2013) of ASX 200 companies have female CEOs, making it one of the lowest rates in the Western world which Sheryl believes people need to talk about. She is certain that whatever the reason for female workers to rarely excel, either because of inevitable tough choice between career and family or exempted from asking for a promotion, the matter needs to finally get out there and be discussed.
There are 12 women who are chief executives at Australia’s top 200 companies. Although this number looks very miserable, “very concerning is that almost two-thirds of ASX 500 companies have no female executives and only 12 have a female CEO and, if you look internationally, Australia has the lowest percentage of female executives compared to countries with similar government structures” (Lannin S 2012).
Sheryl Sandberg believes that women climbing career ladder are seen as aggressive and bossy (negative) which is never attributed to ambitious men (Sandberg S 2013). She believes that there is a stereotype in the western society that working women eventually give up chasing their careers and settle down at home with many children. Based on such stereotype many men do not see much potential in their female workers hence never offer them a promotion or a project. “We socialize our boys to be leaders and we socialize our girls to be nurtures” says Sheryl.
Thus, there is a strong opinion in the society that women are being paid less for the same work, denied promotions and otherwise discriminated against (Smith K 2013). Women make 75c to each dollar men make. It appears to be true; however not there is a reason for it and economists argue that it is not a discriminative one. Women simply invest differently hence get a different outcome than men. Professor Steven Horwitz (Horwitz S 2011) argues that women do earn less than men but because they invest their capital that way. By capital he means the following:
- Decision making
- Part time vs Full time
By education, Mr Horwitz means that while men are choosing engineering and math related subjects and degrees, women are tend to go into humanities and arts which are generally lower paid professions. Therefore if women make less money than they are probably have chosen the education, child care, psychology or other similar professions which are regarded to be lower pay specialties. By getting women interested in math, we can minimise the gap between the men’s and women’s salaries.
Similarly to Sheryl Sandberg, Steven Horwitz mentions that women used to know that by the time they have children they will leave their jobs, looked after by a husband. Based on such assumption many women would not pursue an aggressive career hunt, knowing they won’t go far anyway. Although nowadays it is different, many women make their decision based on the knowledge that they would want a time off when time comes to have children. As a result, women’s performance and career development is affected and often towards not being promoted and have lower pay.
More women tend to work part time than men who are predominantly full timers. Part timers are paid less which is not a discriminative matter.
Finally, women still spend more time looking after children rather than men which affects their professional opportunities. It can be balanced if men were persuaded to share household duties equally. Meanwhile, women spend months and years on raising children missing out on professional opportunities. When back to workforce women find themselves at the back of the pack.
In addition, there is a study proving that women not being happy with the workplace situation (whether it is their pay or the lack of promotion) is in fact not true. According to Forbes and Gallup research, “fifty percent of women (as against 45 percent of men) say they receive suitable recognition for their accomplishments” (Smith K 2013).
Women in Business: Not Interested in Getting to the Top – Pro & Against
On other hand, psychologists and writers Allan and Barbara Pease have written in their book “Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps” that women often do not want to excel in certain types of jobs or positions. For example, accordingly, there are professions which require high spatial ability which in some jobs can be life threating or lifesaving. This is why there are not many female airplane pilots. Women’s spatial ability is less developed than men’s simply because, evolutionary, women never had a need to calculate the distance, speed or read maps and directions (Pease A&B 2001). Many activists including feministic groups had been convinced for many years that once women were free from the suppressed chains of male oppression, they would quickly climb the tops of all the professions they were missing out on for so many centuries. However as we can see now, men are still leading most of the industries, dominating across all the jobs.
Nowadays, when women finally received equal opportunities rights and obligations in many societies, they are not using them. Allan and Barbara Pease believe that women haven’t failed in using their new opportunities; they in fact failed to be like men. Accordingly, men and women are dramatically different from one another. Therefore, women cannot be men as well as other way round. Men and women’s brain is different from one another sharing skills between them, not equally distributing to the both.
A new study from Zeno Group found that millennial women have little to no desire to fight for top leadership positions. Accordingly, many women do not find it worthwhile or attractive climbing a career ladder knowing that at some point in future they will chose family over work anyway (Murphy C 2013). Men, on other hand, do not need to make such decisions. Therefore, while Allan and Barbara Pease are saying that many women are simply not interested in certain positions, Sheryl Sandberg believes that women are underestimating themselves at a very early stage in their careers, de-motivating and discouraging themselves from performing better and eventually filling top posts.
Interestingly, many women argues that top leadership and management positions are often a turn off for many female workers. According to Allan and Barbara Pease, not just the unattractiveness of the positions makes the female’s engagement percentage lower but the actual jobs. Accordingly, women on average are simply less or not interested in the jobs like engineering, architect or accounting (Pease A&B 2001).
According to latest Forbes’ article Are Women Earning More Than Men?, “without husbands, women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology. Without children, men have more liberty to earn less–that is, they are free to pursue more fulfilling and less lucrative careers, like writing or art or teaching social studies”. This illustrates how most of the societies work. By making certain decisions, we pursue appropriate outcomes regardless our sex.
Interestingly, since the first article came out stating that women were not in fact interested in higher salaries, promotions and top positions, none of the following work has been done. Many business and general public forums show a large number of people discussing the issue of women being discriminated at work clearly stating both sides of the coin. Women simply want self-actualisation, just like men do, and if it means higher paid position than so be it. However, women are often interested in lower paid jobs in arts or humanities, pursuing careers of nurses, teachers of psychologist. Saying that, no one is stating that lower paid jobs necessarily means low pay, some people make a fortune out of being a writer or a child career. Therefore many women are not missing out on career opportunities; they simply want a different career. Some say it is avoiding responsibilities, other – managing won desires.
Women in Business: Wrong Brain – Pro & Against
Allan and Barbara Pease in their Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps argue that women are not equipped enough for certain jobs. That does not mean that they cannot run a business or cannot develop the lacking skills. However the authors claim that women’s lack of spatial ability and more profound natural interest in humanities is not good or bad, it is the way nature shaped women’s brain. Evolutionary, men were the hunters, protectors and providers. Women did not have to be leaders of a pack. In fact, most likely would not be able to simply because most men are physically stronger than women.
Since the beginning of humankind men have been leaders everywhere suppressing women by using their physical power. In order to survive, women would stick with men not trying to overpower them. Thus, women started their conquering journey so late in the history. With men in power, many horrifying wars have been happening, scientists and even different from the crowed people were executed. Women, therefore have developed many other skills which are of high value nowadays including communication, persuasion and patience.
On other hand, although women might not be mentally equipped for certain jobs, their brain is definitely wired to succeed in business if they want it. Accordingly, ‘the prefrontal cortex, which controls judgment, organization, impulse control, and planning, is more active in women” (Amen D.G. 2013). The study Daniel G. Amen, M.D conducted compares single photon emissions computed tomography (SPECT) scans of 26,000 people which revealed that women are better at brainstorming, decision-making, and problem solving tasks (Woolley A. & Malone T. 2011).
In the course of the research, women showed increased activity in the hippocampus which plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. According to the research, women are seem to have an increased activity in this area, remembering things for longer which is definitely a highly useful skill for leaders and CEOs. Men, on other hand, were well equipped with visual perception, form recognition and object representation. Men are better at tracking objects in space and identifying the distance between, for example, a car and a curb. Women, on the other hand, excel in several highly regarded skills including empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control and appropriate worry which make perfect sense for women to lead.
Men have been in power since the human world started constancy engaging in wars, power struggles and poor health ending up dying earlier than women. Therefore many scientists believe that applying female brain in business as often as possible is highly beneficial because it is naturally neurologically wired to accomplish modern business tasks.
Conclusion & recommendations
“Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world” says Sheryl Sandberg. Politician and academician Anne Marie Slaughter adds “… women still can’t have it all. Not only can’t they have it all, they don’t want it all anymore” (Susan S. 2013). This is why Sheryl and Anne believe that many women start their own business, leaving corporate world, so they can be leaders on their own terms with no need to constantly prove that they deserve to be where they are or worry about making tough decision later on in lives.
At the same time there is an opinion that modern society requires businesses to change their recruitment and retention process suiting more diverse people whether it is single women, family men or other way round. Although many believe that women on average are not suitable or don’t want to fill certain jobs and position including pilots, fight fighters or high managerial posts, some ensures that women are simply suppressed from excelling in the men dominating business world.
First of all, while most females are not equipped with the right hormones selection to pursue special related professions, they have been proved to be better leaders and negotiators than men. At the same time, many women prioritise their desire to have children over work. Evolutionary history has known us that such arrangement when women look after off-springs and men work(hunt and protect) was a great set up for many centuries. However it has been rapidly changing over the last century, bringing a brand new concept of working women. As a result modern western society has not yet adapted to the novelty, continuing applying old views to the new reality. Although there are clear signs of discrimination against women in the business environment, we must consider the fact that it is a new concept which is going through trial period throughout 21st century.
In order to succeed, men and women should share their household duties, equally taking the required time off work. Women would almost not need a maternity leave if men contribute 50 percent of their time to looking after children. Businesses ought to to realise the need of their employees to have time available for their household duties equally divided between men and women. In order to change an older employment system human resource management together with business owners should agree on the need of the change so human resource staff can start working on a new employment design potentially including shift work, increased amount of day cares and other women assisting facilities.
Now, hopefully my submitted work won’t come out as duplicate to what I’ve written here – it is not entire but the copy of my work. I felt like sharing it because I was planning to write an opinion post on the matter; however ended up extending it.
What do you think of women’s role in business / workplace today? Feel free to leave your comment and join the conversation on Facebook 🙂
I am presenting the findings tomorrow (11th October) so I will let you know how I went. The conclusion and recommendations were conducted kinda in a hurry and purely because a research requires them. I agree though that racism is still a hot debate, I agree that many women are discriminated against (many are not) and I agree that human resource and businesses per se must look into changing their structures and employment retention in order to stop miss out on awesome talents.