Social Status of Women in Corporate America

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Sociology Pages: 6 (2028 words) Published: May 16, 2007
Social Status of Women in Corporate America

There is an inevitable intersection between corporate America and gender, and this relationship is the reason behind many issues of question regarding the low status of women. The common view maintains that women are of lower status than men and are kept in that position because of social construct. Thus, the established argument is based on the fact that the women are situated into an inescapable hole because their existing low social status keeps them from advancing. There are many theories that explain why and how the low status of women keeps them from upward mobility.

The basic foundation of the concept that the low status of women portray their inability to hold high positions is outlined by the ¡°structural model¡± presented by Herman Aguinis in his article, ¡°Social Role Versus Structural Models of Gender and Influence Use in Organization: a Strong Inference Approach.¡± This model portrays the way in which ¡°influence use is dictated by organizational status, role, and degree of perceived power¡± (Aguinis, 1998). In other words, the position in which one is placed gives reason for that person to act a certain way. Women with a low status are put into a position of lower value and power, which basically causes them to behave in a way that is related to their position. Therefore, the model sets up the way in which women ¡°use indirect and weak forms of influence because they typically occupy low-status and less powerful organizational positions than men¡± and these ¡°lower positions provide them with fewer opportunities to use direct and strong forms of influence¡± (Aguinis, 1998). Women are then greatly affected by their status when trying to advance to higher positions because of this ¡°structure¡± that exists. In a study done by Kollock (1985), it was shown that in homosexual relationships, the member a couple ¡°rated as more powerful in shared decisions generally talked more and interrupted the partner more than the less powerful member did, regardless of sex or sex of partner¡± (Ridgeway, 1999). Therefore the idea that the structure and position in which one is placed determines the way a person behaves; in this case the lower status of a woman determines their submissive behavior.

Another theory describes the status-based assumptions that exist on the concepts is that men are more competent resulting in situations that enable men to be more influential than women. This is the ¡°expectation states theory¡± which states that ¡°performance expectations, shaped by gender status beliefs, create a power and prestige order among men and women in the setting¡± (Ridgeway, 1999). The theory claims that because women have a lower status, people expect less from them, which result in women having less power and influence over people. In a group of mixed sex, men are more likely to ¡°speak up¡¦make suggestions¡¦that others will respond positively¡± and men are more likely to ¡°be selected leader¡± than a women (Ridgeway, 1999), while women are more likely to be ¡°less influential¡° and thus cast into the ¡°reactive rather than the proactive role¡± (Ridgeway, 2001). Women are disadvantaged amongst men because women are not expected to act in a way that would be considered influential, which creates an obstacle even before any real conclusion about intelligence or competence can be made. Instead, the attentions of people are more focused on men because they are of higher status, and are expected to be more competent and intellectual.

Because of their lower status in comparison to men, women are viewed as incompetent and face legitimacy problems which give them no authority or power. In an article written by Henry A. Walker, he outlines the basis of ¡°legitimation theories,¡± which explains how problems with legitimacy can ¡°make it more difficult for women in positions of power to exercise directive power or dominance compared to men in equivalent positions¡± (Walker,...
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