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workplace

By arshiya22 Mar 30, 2014 1861 Words
Discrimination often reflects an abuse of power within an organisation, where members of one group of people yield greater power than others, generally women. It is linked with women's disadvantaged status at work and, more generally, in society.(Frazier, P. A. and Cohen, B. B. (1992) ‘Research on the Gender bias against women: implications for counsellor training’. The Counselling Psychologist. 20: 141-158.) The matters of blatant employment dicrimination or sexual harrasment at work seems to be a commonplace. There have been many high-profile allegations of discrimination leveled against organizations within the last several years (Morris, Bonamici& Neering, 2005). Many discriminations are overt and visible to all though gender discrimination is expressed in less visible ways as well. Women at higher positions feel that social exclusion is also a hindrance in women's path of success. These factors included lack of mentoring, inhospitable corporate conditions (Catalyst 1996,2001,2004) and men did not believe that these factors hinder a woman's development. (Howard, S. (1991) ‘Organizational resources for addressing sexual harassment’. Journal of Counselling and Development. 69: 507-511.) It has been argued that gender discrimination is difficult to perceive because it accounts for a small portion of variance in organizational decision making (e.g., Barret & Morris, 1993). A computer simulation showed that if men and women are equally qualified foradvancement, yet 5 percent of the variance in promotion decisions is due to a negative bias againstwomen candidates, then the proportion of women can decrease from over 50 percent of the workforce atlower levels to 29 percent seven hierarchical levels further up in the organization (Martell, Lane &Emrich, 1996). Thus, an imperceptible or unnoticable expression of bias at the unit level can have a notable effect on top level positions. These small imperceptible disparities when stacked together account for a large change.(Heilman, M.E. 1983. Sex bias in work settings: The Lack of fit model. Research in Organizational Behavior, 5, 269) The reason why gender bias at workplaces needs to be eliminated is that it affects the quality of workers too. The presence of gender bias causes women to experience work environments as exclusive and difficult to navigate (Catalyst, 2001;Mor Barak, Cherin & Berkman, 1998). Indeed, the pressure of operating within such a work environment exacts a toll from women employees beyond the discrimination that they may experience there,engendering less-positive attitudes toward their jobs and less engagement in their work (e.g., Ensher,Grant-Vallone & Donaldson, 2001). Therefore organizations should take effective actions to educate the business communities about the psychological aspects that drive behaviors, determination and attitudes of the workers and interventions be made by targetting on the root causes for yielding better productivity at work.(Glick, P., Zion, C. & Nelson, C. 1988. What mediates sex discrimination in hiring decisions? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 178-186.) Despite descriptive stereotypes of women as ill-suited for “men’s work,” sometimes they are undeniably competent and successful at male gender-typed jobs. These stereotypes act as norms for acccptable behaviors.There are also prescriptions for what women should not do—namely, to act in an agentic, or stereotypically manner. These stereotypes thereforev prohibit women from being tough or aggressive (for a man-like job).(Dobbins, G.H., Cardy, R.L. & Truxillo, D.M. 1988. The Effects of purpose of appraisal and individuals differences in stereotypes of women on sex differences in performance ratings: A Laboratory and field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 73, 551-558) Descriptive stereotyping shapes the perceptions and expectations people form about men and women in the workplace and provides the fuel for formal discrimination to occur. Applying an stereotype-consistent view for women job applicants leads evaluators to conclude that they are less likely to have the skills necessary to succeed at male gender type jobs. (Lyness, K.S. & Judiesch, M.K. 1999. Are women more likely to be hired or promoted into management positions? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 54, 158-173.)

In the census data of 1998, it was indicated that women made 73 cents to the dollar paid to men. Even today, there is still a pay gap that exists between women and men. The major reason for this being that evn till today women are considered more apt for their household obligations than the workplace.Women in an attempt to manage both family and work often chose lower paying jobs in exchange for flexible hours and do spend a lower number of hours per week long-term at their jobs than their male counterparts.(Hooks, B. (1984) ‘Feminist theory: from margin to center’. Sex Roles. 40, 7-8: 593-595.) Since 1942, gender inequality, at least in pay, can be traced. In 1942 the National War Labor Board issued a general order that authorized employers to make voluntary adjustments in salaries or pay in order to demonstrate gender equality (at least in jobs were women and men worked the exact same job and had comparable quality and quantity of work) (CNN). Rates of women in labor unions has been increasing since they have entered the workforce. Even with the increase of women union numbers this inequality of pay still exists. Women are encouraged by unions and other organizations to sue their employer if they are being treated unfairly in the workplace. Women are unlikely to pursue this option against their employers because of limited resources, i.e. money and time.(Jansma, L. L. (2000) ‘Pay Scale Manipulation: integration, reformulation, and implications for better efforts’.‘Sensemaking and organizational culture'. Journal of Applied Communication Research. 32 (4): 293-317. ) Department of Labor in 1991 reviewed nine Fortune 500 companies and the results confirmed that workers in these companies, minorities and women especially, came into contact with the invisible barrier, “the glass ceiling”, very early on in their careers. Gender discrimination in the workplace is not only evident in the pay gap but also in sexual harassment and the “glass ceiling” in organizations. The term glass ceiling began as a reference to discrimination against women in the work force. “Glass ceiling” encompasses many different kinds of discrimination against women workers including but bot limited to: differences in pay for comparable work, sexual harassment in the workplace, and companies that do not have family-friendly policies.(Icengole, M. L., Eagle, B. W., Ahmad, S. and Hanks, L. A. (2002) ‘Assessing perceptions of sexual harassment behaviours in a manufacturing environment’. Journal of Business and Psychology. 16(4): 601-616.) Women in 1996 earned 1,255,057 college degrees as compared to men who earned 992,638 degrees (Career Planning).Women are over represented in the lower paying jobs in the company- almost all assistants and secretarial positions are filled by women while men crowd the top and fill the most prestigious positions in the company. This concentration of men at the top and women at the bottom is called “occupational segregation”. (Dubois, C. L. Z., Knapp, D. E., Faley, R. H. and Kustis, G. A. (1998) ‘An empirical examination of pay sacle in the workplace’. Sex Roles. 9: 731-749. )

Sexual harassment in workplace is a serious irritating factor that renders women’s involvement in works unsafe and affects right to work with dignity. It is unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment. Generally sexual harassment is a sexually oriented conduct that may endanger the victim’s job, negatively affect the victim’s job performance or undermine the victim’s personal dignity. It may manifest itself physically or psychologically. Its milder and subtle forms may imply verbal innuendo, inappropriate affectionate gestures or propositions for dates and sexual favours. However it may also assume blatant and ugly forms like leering, physical grabbing and sexual assault or sexual molestation(Bhasin, A. (2007) Sexual Harassment at Work, EBC). The most commonly reported forms of harassment were:

o jokes or teasing (79 per cent)
o homophobic abuse (51 per cent)
o aggressive questions (41 per cent)
o and threats (14 per cent). (Done, R. S. (2005) ‘Just men out of control? Criminology and the likelihood to sexually harass’. In J. E. Gruber and P. Morgan (eds.) In the company of men: male dominance and sexual harassment. Northeastern University Press: Boston.) In an study of bullying by TMC(India) found that 60 per cent of those being bullied endorsed the statement ‘the bully was felt to be a competitor’, and 40 per cent ‘the bully was jealous of me’ (Meschkutat et al., 2002). Many private companies are not hiring women for core jobs. They want women employees only as show pieces, in front desk or telephone operators, where they work in public view. Though this hesitancy was expected in the short term, the long term effects seem to be the same if pressure is not mounted on them to comply with the rules. Its always easier for them to practice gender discrimination in recruitment than to get tarnished by cases of sexual harassment at workplace.(Aggarwal, Arjun P. Sexual harassment in the workplace. Boston, Butterworths, 1987 pp 230-233 )

Sexual harassment has been found to be more prevalent in certain work situations, for example, in jobs where there is an unequal sex ratio; where there are large power differentials between women and men; during periods of job insecurity; or when a new supervisor or manager is appointed. Two types of leadership style are particularly, although not exclusively, associated with harassment and bullying: an authoritarian style where there is limited consultation with staff; and a laissez faire style where management fails to lead or intervene in workplace behaviour. People who belong to a socially advantaged group, the 'in-group', tend to have a preference for members of their own group and are likely to be biased against members of any socially disadvantaged 'out-group'. What this means in terms of sexual harassment is that the greater the distinction between the in- and out-group in the workplace, for example in the power held by men and women, the more likely it is that sexual harassment will occur. (Barnett, E (1989) Sexual harassment: a continuing source of litigation in the workplace. Trial,34-38.)

Sexual harassment over the telephone is also a problem, especially for those who work in call centres, but to date, there has been little research into this. One study within the call centre of a German telephone company found that overwhelmingly, it was men harassing women and that 10 per cent of respondents described incidents which contained threats of sexual violence. It was a stressful experience for the women and those who experienced this harassment reported feeling “disgusted or disrespected” (Kushner, G. B. (2005) Harrasment through the phone. HR Magazine, Vol 50, No 13, pp. 60-61. ). A 1987 study of public centre employees found that managers were the most common harassers (45 per cent), followed by colleagues (18 per cent) while nearly a third reported harassment by members of the public e.g. patients, clients etc. A nationwide UK study commissioned by the Industrial Society in 1993 found that male colleagues were the most common harassers (65 per cent) followed by managers a least one level removed from the immediate supervisor of the person being harassed (30 per cent) (both surveys reported in EC, 1999). In a small study of complainants who contacted the EOC's advice service, 72 per cent claimed to have been harassed by their manager or the owner/managing director of the company they worked for (EOC, 2000). (Glomb, T. M., Richman, W. L., Hulin, C. L., Drasgow, F., Schneider, K. T. and Fitzgerald, L. F. (1997). ‘Ambient sexual harassment: an integrated model of antecedents and consequences’. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 71: 309–328)

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