Effects and issues related to the promotion and use of women and their skills into the American workforce
This paper explores the promotion of women within the American workforce. Specifically the aim of this study is to discover whether organizational systems within the U.S. are utilizing women to their fullest potential. The aim of the researcher is to examine whether or not women are still subjected to a 'glass ceiling' or barriers to advancing to the highest levels of organizations (senior and executive management roles in particular). For purposes of this study a survey was conducted of women and men in the workforce. The aim of the study is to examine what limits females desiring career advancement may face, and what common beliefs and perceptions are regarding female leadership and innovations within organizations.
In addition to the fieldwork portion of this research study, a literature review was examined to explore what leadership styles are evident in male and female leaders, and whether changes promotion opportunities are influenced by organizational systems with regard to female opportunities. The literature review draws from recent studies conducted of organizational culture, hiring and promotional practices. Leadership style and other factors related to gender are explored. Among the additional factors examined within the context of organizational culture include duties, communication patterns, institutional practices and hierarchical lines within the organization. From the data collected the researcher concludes that female leaders still face many barriers with regard to organizational opportunities and advancement within the highest levels of organizations.
The purpose of this study is to examine what barriers still exist if any to the advancement of women within the executive tiers of the American workforce. This paper will explore specifically the effects and issues related to the promotion and use of women and their skills into the American workforce. The research intends to discover whether organizational systems are using their female workforces to their fullest potential. The research paper will also examine what the common views and perceptions of female leaders vs. male leaders are within corporations encompassing several different industries.
This study is significant because a large body of research exists that suggests that women are in fact, still discriminated against in the upper most echelon's of American corporations. Though women have made great strides with respect to the American workforce, they still lag behind men when it comes to rank. Several studies (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001; Stelter, 2002; Ash & Stevens, 2001) suggest that women are still limited in the workforce and are not presented with adequate promotional opportunities to the ranks of high management. Though organizations have adopted practices that encourage more women to enter the workforce, the majority of information available suggests that women are still limited with regard to management and leadership roles/opportunities (Oakley, 2000; Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001). A number of studies conducted by the Department of Labor and other organizations over the years and throughout the course of the 1990s still show that women in general hold only between 1 and 3% of executive level positions in management, though that number may have risen in recent years to almost 5% (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001; U.S. Department Labor, 1995). This number however suggests that male leaders still dominate 95% of the senior management positions available in most corporations today. It is important that studies be conducted that examine the extent to which women are still denied advancement and/or promotional opportunities so corporations can begin building effective strategies to combat this trend.
To explore this subject in greater detail, this paper will review literature and studies conducted of female and male leadership patters, and conduct a study that examines the subject of how women can reach their potential within the American workforce. Among the subjects or questions that will be explored as part of this research include the following:
When a transformation takes place from a male-led to female-led leadership, does it also influence the institutional culture?
Whether or not any apparent changes in organizational culture such as financial solvency, level of stress, changes in duties, communication patterns and protocols, institutional practices and interaction between peers and across hierarchical lines are perceived as positive or negative by those most directly affected by such changes in gender leadership.
I have taken a personal interest in exploring this topic because my personal goals are to advance within my corporation with time; my aim is to discover ways to bolster my potential as a woman in the American workforce, and to advance and learn exactly what techniques will work in the business world. For women to succeed in the highest levels of management, they must first identify any barriers that exist to their potential for advancement and success within an organization.
Some studies show that women are more likely than men to manage in an interactive style of management, encouraging participation, sharing power and information, and enhancing the self-worth of others which could impact an organization's success (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001; Oakley, 2000). Part of the aim of this study will be to assess whether this type of management style is as effective, more effective or less effective than other traditional assertive or authoritarian approaches typically associated with male leaders in the highest ranks of organizations. This study will also examine whether gender stereotypes exist with respect to female advancement in the workforce..
There are two distinct topics that are being examined in this study:
The difference in male and female leadership
The opportunities for promotion for females
The literature review will examine both of these topics in greater detail. The results of the literature review will be combined with insight gathered from the survey results and analyzed by the researcher, so that the researcher may through descriptive and exploratory research draw adequate and grounded conclusions with regard to the status of women in the workforce and their potential for career advancement among the highest levels of a corporation.
Statement of the Problem
The lack of advancement of women in management within the corporate world is a continuing problem among companies large and small. Several studies examined support the notion that though women are successful in business, they still face traditional stereotypes and obstacles to advancement at the highest levels of organizations (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001). Though women are entering the business world in greater numbers but barriers still exist to their advancement in the structure of work organizations, the structure of the educational and economic systems, and in the social order. Many studies conducted of discrimination and related topics in the workplace are still very recent, indicating that a problem still exists for women in the workforce.
Background of the Problem
Companies must find ways to keep talented women from quitting. Cultural change, flexible schedules, and training for leadership all may play a role. This means making changes in organizations that diminishes the glass ceiling in terms of wages, the job ladder, and career development. Organizations need to develop a culture that sees women as a resource and not a problem.
By creating the right environment, companies may see a decrease in attrition or turn-over rate, an increase in productivity, and a workplace that encourages diversity which in turn will create a more energetic and innovative workforce.
The literature review will examine several recent studies that have been conducted of leadership practices, hiring and promotional practices, organizational culture and barriers women face with regard to the workforce. Specifically, the literature review will aim to uncover what obstacles women face when seeking career advancement. The literature review will focus on women in management from the following perspectives:
Male vs. Female Leadership Styles
Opportunities for Promotion of Females
Male vs. Female Leadership Styles
There is a large body of research dedicated toward examining male and female leadership styles. The intent of much of this research is to discover whether or not men and women behave differently in leadership roles. The impact female leadership vs. male leadership styles have on organizational success, culture and attitudes is also examined.
Generally there is agreement among researchers that women "face more barriers to becoming leaders than men do, especially in roles that are male-dominated" (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 781). There is not agreement however as to whether the behavior of women and men change once they achieve leadership roles (Eagly & Johannasen-Schmidt, 2001).
To understand the different styles of men and women one must first define leadership style. Leadership style is generally understood as "relatively stable patterns of behavior that are manifested by leaders" (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 781).
The researchers that suggest that the style of men and women are different claim that women are in general less hierarchical, more cooperative, collaborative and oriented toward enhancing employee's self-worth (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001; Book, 2000; Rosener, 1995). There are an equal number of studies however that suggest that female and male leaders typically minimize any natural differences that may exist (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).