Gender and Communication Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Gender and Communication: Breaking Gender Barriers in the Workplace

Gender barriers have existed within the workplace ever since women in America came out of the kitchen and went to work during World War II. Like with any new experience of empowerment, when the men came home, the country's women were wholly a changed group. Women had entered the workforce, and they were there to stay, despite the misgivings of much of the country's male population. While the working environment in today's day and age is certainly far different and equally far improved from those initial days undertaken by women in the workplace, the truth remains that gender inequality within the business world is a factor that is still vastly relevant, despite mandated government equality rules. Though men and women enter the same businesses every day, in order to do the same jobs, certain gender barriers continue to exist. Further, in understanding this facet of the business world, one can better understand how these barriers can be remedied or eliminated by viewing the scientific differences between men and women in terms of leadership styles, and working to utilize these different styles to strategize for complete gender equality in the workplace.

Male v. Female Leadership Styles

While men and women have been considered equal within the workplace in the eyes of the law for quite some time, the scientific truth remains that male and female leadership styles differ significantly from one another. It is in this way that conflicting leadership styles between the sexes can be viewed as a significant gender barrier within the workplace. As either of the sexes typically does not know the idiosyncrasies of the other sex's working style, an understanding of these differences presented within the workplace can prove to bring the sexes -- and the workplace in its entirety -- to a middle ground in order to build upon in terms of employee interaction and understanding.

Research has found that leader sex does not often have a significant influence on subordinate satisfaction or productivity either by itself or in interaction with leadership style or follower sex (Price, Schmidt and Stitt, 1983, p. 31). Why then, is such a barrier still a widely-noted issue within many modern workplaces? Reseach has found that there are several core reasons to suggest that male and female organizational leaders -- even those who occupy the same position -- may differ to some extent in their leadership style despite the structural forces for minimizing differences between the sexes (Eagly and Johnson, 1990, p. 234). These reasons include biological factors such as: differences such as the greater prenatal androgynization of males; childhood events such as sex-segregation within schools and groups; or "gender-role spillover," which is a "carryover into the workplace of gender-based expectations for behavior" (Eagly and Johnson, 1990, p. 236).

Such research suggests that despite the sexes' intention to break free of past stereotypes and promote equality in our own minds and in our own lives, science itself may hinder this progression. For the majority of individuals -- of either sex -- defined gender roles by society and within ourselves often cause us to act in a specific way, no matter how hard we may fight against it. In a sense, conformity to the norm is far easier than consistently trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Additionally, the aforementioned scientific differences between the sexes add to the belief that female leaders are generally more nurturing, empathetic, and responsive than male leaders, while male leaders are perceived to be more action-oriented and more focused on task completion (Riggio, 2010, p.1). Such an idea is hard to concretely argue against, as more and more research begins to conclude that "women take care and men take charge" (Catalyst, 2005, p.1). These gender differences and tangible differences in leadership styles affect many individuals in the workplace, fostering gender barriers and causing problems that need not exist. However, with certain understanding and strategy, these gender barriers can be minimized in order to look forward to a more productive and equal future.…

Sources Used in Document:


Catalyst. 2005. Women take care, men take charge: stereotypic of U.S. business leaders exposed. Web. Retrieved from: %20take%20care,%20men%20take%20charge%20stereotyping%20of%20u.s.%20business%20leaders%20exposed.pdf [Accessed on 2 March 2012].

Eagly, A. And Johnson, B. 1990. Gender and leadership style: a meta-analysis. Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (CHIP). Web. Retrieved from: [Accessed on 2 March 2012].

Price, K., Schmidt, S., and Stitt, C. 1983. Sec of leader, leader behavior and subordinate satisfaction. Sex Roles, 9.1: pp. 31-42. Web. Retrieved from: [Accessed on 2 March 2012].

Riggio, R. 2010. Do men and women lead differently? Who's better? Cutting Edge

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