Sample Business Essay: Occupational Sexism




Sample Management Research Paper: Occupational Sexism



Occupational Sexism

Sexism is prevalent in civilized societies. The term manifests in myriad forms and exists in all spheres of the society. The most widely recognized sexism is occupational. Blau & Kahn (1994) explains occupational sexism is any form of statement, action and discriminatory practices anchored on a person’s sex that happen or occur at the place of work. Because it exists in a complex form, it becomes a challenge to detect as most people are desensitized to the discrimination making it a normal phenomenon in the workplace.


This paper addresses occupational sexism as a major issue at workplaces. While organizations strive to create a favorable working environment, sexism results in undesirable vices that mostly affect women at the workplace. Further, the paper observes that while women contribute significantly to the growth of the global economy in terms of labor force, sexism elicits discriminations manifested in pay gap, stereotyping and low promotion among other factors. However, solutions such as being familiar with antidiscrimination laws, self-organization strategy and effective unions among other strategies are important in minimizing the vice.

Occupational Sexism

Much has been said about occupational sexism. Historically, women place in the society was in the home, while men were regarded as the breadwinners. The social role theory demonstrates that this division coined prospects for both women and men in occupations and the society at large. Accordingly, these beliefs elucidated gender stereotyping that contributed to occupational sexism in the workplace. Blau & Kahn (1994) explains three facets connected with a social theory that explains the link between the theory and occupational sexism. These facets are men and women have different occupational roles and responsibilities, women tend to embrace domestic tasks more and women have lower status in occupations. Domagalski & Steelman (2007) posit that these aspects provide a foreground for the commonality of occupational stereotypes. Domagalski & Steelman (2007) points out a classic example using the expectancy-value model. The expectancy-value model portrays how expectancies may be connected to gender prejudice in occupations. For instance, in the society, men are expected to be successful in science related fields while females are supposed to replicate the same in health related field. Thus, men are discriminated against when they endeavor to enter health-related fields while females are discriminated against when attempting to enter science allied field.

The expectancy-value model is anchored on an individual’s aspiration towards a career. According to Brescoll & Uhlmann (2008), an individual’s aspirations contribute to expectancies of achieving a successful career. Conversely, socialization dwarfs the effects of individual expectations and aspirations. This is because socialization tends to sharp a person’s self-perception. Therefore, when a man engages in a stereotypic career related to women, his socialize self-perception influence him to be more aware of the likely occupational sexism. This also is the case with women.

In education, Connelly& Heesacker (2012) observes that sexism is connected in the workplace. When a woman is expected to stay at home, she is powerless to access the required knowledge and skills to favorably compete with men in the labor market. In instances where they are able to secure a job position, Brescoll & Uhlmann (2008) explains that women are less prepared educationally for the position, and thus, they are paid lower wages. A study conducted in 2008 found that men who expressed their anger in the workplace were given a higher status, while women who expressed anger in the workplace were given a lower status, regardless of their actual position in the company. A trainee and a CEO who were female were both a given a low status when displaying anger. Additionally, women who displayed anger in the workplace were assumed to have something internal influencing their anger, as opposed to having an external reason to be angry (Connelly& Heesacker, 2012).


In recent times, more women comprise a large percentage of the workforce than before. Domagalski & Steelman (2007) points out that before then, about thirty percent of women worked outside their homes. However, things have changed and in this twenty-first century, the percentage of women working outside their home is over fifty percent. While the percent provides a significant improvement, Brescoll & Uhlmann (2008) argues that majority of women are far from being treated equally on the job. They hold lower status jobs which are low paying compared to men. Further, women in similar jobs as their men counterparts primarily earn less even if they have better or same education, training, and skills. A sociological perspective offers clarity for the reasons behind disparity between women and men working in same job positions. Sociologists cogitate the fact that women take time off in their job duties to have and raise children to inhibit their career path.


Women bear the primary responsibility of child-bearing, and this explains the reasons why married women with children leave their jobs compared to a single and childless women (Connelly& Heesacker, 2012). The long-held tradition that men are chief breadwinners also explains the reasons why men are paid more than women.Sociological theory is the view that men should be rewarded handsomely than women to enable them to support their families.However, Blau & Kahn (1994) explains that whatever the motivation, paying men more than women for an equally demanding job is an act of discrimination.


Significance of Occupational Sexism

Occupational sexism is still rife in workplaces. The issue weakens the social fabric enjoyed by the society. Women bear the largest brunt of the problem because of their gender. Although the society has progressed, it is still shocking there is no country in the world where women have equal economic and political power as men. Keeping women from achieving their full potential has a negative effect on the global economy. The UN suggests, the reason for global wealth creation shifting from the West to fast-growing Eastern economies is partially due to women’s increased economic participation.


Occupational sexism has a significance effect on the organization. According to Good & Sanchez (2009), the issue has a potential of either accelerating organization growth or inhibiting innovation, production, and diversity of an organization. This assertion is supported by International Monetary Fund (IMF). IMF estimates 853 million women worldwide have the potential to contribute more to their economies, and 812m of these live in developing countries. In wealthier countries, more women in work can offset some of the negative effects caused by an aging and shrinking workforce (Good & Sanchez, 2009). While this is true, some organization/economies have used occupational sexism to alter pay structure depending on the gender of an employee. In this sense, a pay gap exists between women and men. Brescoll & Uhlmann (2008) observes that pay gap is a detrimental issue which has a long effect on employees in terms of input, motivation, and production. The pay gap is the most glaring sign of sexism present in the workplace. A pay gap exists when both genders equally qualify for the job position and put in the same time and efforts but in the end paid differently. Closely related to the pay gap is low pay raise to women employees. Domagalski & Steelman (2007) postulates that compared to male, women are granted low pay raise in case it is made. This is aspect is common in women’s experiences. Women have to devise strategies when asking for a pay rise, unlike men. Employers justify the pay raise for men using reasons such as men need more to support their family. This in itself is a sexist notion because women might also need the raise in order to support the family.


Gilbert, Langlois & Swann (1999) also states that occupational sexism causes low promotion in the workplace in women. Both men and women like their careers and they work hard in order to reach the pinnacle of their career aspirations through promotions. While this is true, Good & Sanchez (2009) cite that women are often a disappointed lot when it comes to promotion in the workplace. In spite being qualified as their men counterparts and asking for promotions, they do not easily succeed. Men are mostly favored. Allowing more women in the workforce only creates a positive cycle. Not only does it boost the global economy research has shown women make better managers than men. Impediments women face curtail them from ascending to higher positions at their workplaces, despite their immense contribution to global economy.

Sexual harassment, often described as the unwelcome directing of sexual looks, remarks or advances, particularly at a woman in the workplace also contributes to challenges facing women at the workplace. Fernández, Castro, Otero, Foltz & Lorenzo (2006) points out that though vast majority of sexual harassment is directed against women, men are also affected; often, in men, the vice is often overlooked. Sexual harassment traumatizes a victim and is among the worst sexism at the workplace.

Fernández et al (2006) mention that occupational sexisms stereotype women hence; this is a major issue of concern. Women always find themselves at the receiving end of sexism because they face a variety of stereotypes. These stereotypes are unconscious and are instrumental in blocking their advancement or success in their career paths. Stereotype instances maybe about how they can't handle a job which is thought as men’s work and how they are supposed to act feminine in the workplace. They can also be bashing on aspects such as why they are not steadfast and committed to their jobs since the community and the society at large views them as the primary caregivers to children.


Possible Solutions to deal with Occupational Sexism

Occupational sexism is more subtle, tenacious and complicated issue at the workplace. Though overt sexual harassment is a major and real problem; countless women struggle with more indirect forms of inequity on a day to day basis. For instance, they are expected to tolerate sexual comments and jokes for fear of being seen as uncooperative or humorless.There exists a number of ways or strategies that organizations/women can use to minimize the problem of occupational sexism at work.

Familiarity with applicable antidiscrimination laws is a way forward to reducing the occupational sexism at the workplace. Gilbert et al. (1999) explain that employees should have a firm understanding of discrimination laws that are applicable to them. Antidiscrimination laws offer greater protection when it comes to protecting an individual against unwarranted prejudice. The laws protect the different class status of women and men. In this case, the protected status of women may include family caregiver to children, breastfeeding women and gender among others.


Good & Sanchez (2009) point out that self-organization as a strategy critical in minimizing occupational sexism. Getting together as women allow women to discuss, think and reason together on alternatives they can use to tackle sexisms. Self-organization is an effective tool, it provides a forum where women openly share their experiences of what works and are not working and arm themselves with better tactics, arguments, and ideas. Because sexisms can feel very personal, getting together collectively is a constant reminder of women that they are not alone. Self-organization enables women to fight for their right as well as a change in their workplaces.


Dardenne, Dumont & Bollier (2007) points out that strong and effective union are important. Most unions have sound policies on violence and sexual harassment. While policies are important for curbing the problem, Good & Sanchez (2009) asserts that policies are not actions. The unions should be strong. The structures should be democratic, accountable and open with clear processes through which women can feel freer to raise issues they might be experiencing at the workplace. The Union should also play a leading role in championing women rights. They also have a central role in challenging sexism and representing the interest of the diverse working class.


Reorganizing the left is also a vital strategy in minimizing sexism. Dardenne, Dumont & Bollier (2007) illustrates that challenges faced by oppressed groups are inextricably connected with the fight for socialism.However, a working class revolution and a society not driven by profit provide a favorable environment for human liberation. Gilbert et al. (1999) indicate that without an uprising by all the oppressed in the society, a self-liberating workers revolution is impossible. The left’s have a role in arguing against reactionary ideals and offer an alternative to providing a lasting solution to women oppression at the workplace.

Dealing with the sexist as suggested by Domagalski & Steelman (2007) also is a strategy that can be used to deal with occupational sexism. When embracing this strategy, it is vital for an organization to have properly formulated codes of conducts and safer policies. Dardenne, Dumont & Bollier (2007) points out it is clear to highlights aspects such as discriminatory attitude; bullying as well as intimidation linked to sexism are not acceptable in our modern society.

My Solution to Occupational Sexism

Most issues brought about through occupational sexism can be mitigated and allow women a fair share in the workplace. One solution that can effectively provide a lasting solution to sexism vice is formulating policies at workplaces that enhance diversity while deterring discrimination and prejudice. Various countries have enacted legislations which discourage discrimination at workplaces.An example of such legislations is the Sex Discrimination Act. The Act is instrumental in helping a woman in a number of ways (Good & Sanchez, 2009).


Another possible solution is being diverse and accommodative to other people’s perspectives. Having a diverse mind and perspective enables an individual look beyond personal gain and embrace the society with a clear mind and perspective. In this context, men can help by having an awareness of how sexism operates in their workplace. Research shows that there are many reasons why gender and diversity awareness should be central to workplace culture. Men may feel frustrated by their workplace at times or they will feel as if some things are unfair. Whether they feel satisfied with work, unhappy, indifferent or hard done by their organization – these individual feelings and troubles are not the same as institutional barriers. Again, based on social science insights research it shows that "due to their position of social privilege, men are less likely than women to see the everyday and institutional processes that stop women from fully contributing to their workplace. Therefore, men can help by having an awareness of how sexism operates in their workplace and cultivate the culture of inclusion rather than exclusion with the other gender.


Gilbert et al.(1999) explain that being aware of organizational sexism offers a better platform for a lasting solution of the vice at the workplace. In the workplace, women often feel they are weak/inferior compared to their male counterparts. This lowers women self-esteem this acts reinforces the idea that women need looking after via chivalrous displays. Clarity in organizational sexism by all employees offers women a chance to access professional support and equal opportunities for career advancement at the workplace.


Similarly, an organization should be proactive on issues to do with exclusions at the workplace. According to Fernández et al (2006), an organization needs not to delay or wait for a huge employee turnover to happen so that they can begin swinging into action. Creating a free and open atmosphere where an employee can feel comfortable to address their grievances is vital. Further, the organization can organize activities that improve employee cohesion and team spirit. Such activities are important in building cohesive and dedicated teams in an organization.


References List

Blau, F.D., & Kahn, L.M. (1994). "Rising Wage Inequality and the U.S. Gender Gap".The American Economic Review. American Economic Association, 84(2), 23–28

Brescoll, V. L., & Uhlmann, E. (2008). Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead? Status Conferral, Gender, and Expression of Emotion in the Workplace. Psychological Science. 19(3), 268-275.

Connelly, K., & Heesacker, M. (2012). Why is benevolent sexism appealing?: Associations with system justification and life satisfaction. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36(4), 432- 443.

Dardenne, B., Dumont, M., & Bollier, T. (2007). Insidious dangers of benevolent sexism: Consequences for women’s performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(5), 764-779.

Domagalski, T. A., & Steelman, L. A. (2007). The impact of gender and organizational status on workplace anger expression. Management Communication Quarterly, 20(3), pp. 297-315

Fernández, M. L., Castro, Y. R., Otero, M. C., Foltz, M. L., & Lorenzo, M. G. (2006). Sexism, vocational goals, and motivation as predictors of men’s and women’s career choice. Sex Roles, 55(3-4), 267-272.

Gilbert, L.A., Langlois, J.H., & Swann, W.B.JR. (1999). Sexism and stereotypes in modern society: the gender science of janet taylor spence. (Ed.). American Psychological Association, 23(4), 123 – 135

Good, J. J., & Sanchez, D. T. (2009). Communal stereotypes prime men’s benevolent sexism: Implications for romance and family. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10(1), 88-94

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