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The balance between the experience of genders in the workplace is the most ideal situation that every corporations looks forward to (Bannon, 2004; Sheila, 2004). The global economy is moving towards the diversity and balance between genders, with many organizations challenged to reorganize themselves for global competition. However, this is far from it for many organizations, and theories have been developed to show the continuous imbalances in the same line (Tata, 2000). It is evident that there is a big gap between genders as far as their experience in the work place is concerned.
There are several theories that have been used to explain why there are gender differences in any given area of life. These theories are generalized into two main categories: nurture and nature theories (Heilman and Martell, 1986). The nature theories mainly argue that people behave in the way they do because of their biological make up and there is very little that can be done to change the situation (Foschi et al, 1994).
The nurture theories argue that people have been modeled differently as they grow up. This means that some genders will behave differently depending on how the society has nurtured them (Colwill, 1993). In the work force context, the genders could have been limited in career choices. Women may have been encouraged to take the less risky careers, for example, nursing and teaching among others (Bohra and Pandley, 1984). On the other hand, men may take the option of the high risky careers, for instance, engineering, doctoring, and mechanical related careers.
The education system has also brought about the differences in the work place between the genders (Offerman and Schrier, 1985). In many countries, women have been subjected to poor education due to the lack of chances in the same. This affects the advancement of careers for many women. Men, on the other hand, are able to get education, and they may not be affected as they pursue it. In the end, they succeed in their careers. More so, they have better chances of taking managerial positions in their respective organizations.
The law of the land also may bring in the gaps between the experiences of both genders in the work place (Bolino and Turnley, 2003). Research has shown that the rule of law has made it hard for any woman to advance in her career. The glass ceiling and the demarcations in the corporate world is a result of adopting wrong policies. The problem has further been made worse when the representation of genders in the law making organs of the state became imbalanced. This means that the concerns of both genders in the corporate world are not raised with balance.
The issue of gender stereotypes has continually dominated workforce for a long time (Ruble and Higgins, 1976). The perception that both genders are different in their capabilities, intelligence and qualities has influenced many employers while recruiting the employees. Most employers will shy away from employing women in certain positions, fearing that they cannot perform effectively. This, they argue, is due to the biological make up of both genders.
In the former years, women occupied a very small percentage of the workforce, while men dominated the rest of the workforce. In 1980, for example, only 19% of women were formerly employed in the American economy (Heilman and Martell, 1986). Though times have changed, the situation has remained the same in the global economy. Research has shown that men continue to dominate the top positions in the corporate world.
It is evident that nearly half of the workforce in the world is women (Ruble and Higgins, 1976). This means that women are accessible to workplaces. However, out of this group, only one third are able to take the management position. It is also likely that out of the few who manage to be appointed as managers, only a handful will take the senior management position. Most of them are likely to settle for the middle level management. In fact, only three percent of them will be appointed as senior managers.
The progression of careers between both genders also differs (Offerman and Schrier, 1985). Men are more likely to progress in their careers, compared to women. The difference is experienced regardless of their education, background and experience. Further, the surveys also indicate that salary increment is likely to favor men than women. In the U.S, for example, surveys indicated that women were more likely to earn 33% less than men in all fields (Heilman and Martell, 1986). Taking some variables constant, for example, experience and education, the result in surveys is that women have always earned less than men.
Corporate drop out is another fact that indicates differences between genders. A survey conducted in the U.S indicated that women were more likely to drop out three times more than men (Ruble and Higgins 1976; Colwill, 1993). This is due to a number of issues. For one, the roles played in life by both genders differ. For example, women have more obligations in the family than do men. They work more in the house chores after work, which may drive them to quit working. In Japan, for example, many women quit working after they got married (Rudman, 1998; Stratton et al, 1995).
On the other hand, men are likely to stay in the corporate world and advance in their career for a long time. The fact that they have financial obligations in the society may also drive them to stay in the corporate world for a long time. The perception that the corporate world is hostile towards women also makes them opt out from the corporate world.
Recent developments in the field
Generally, three key differences have been experienced in the corporate world as far as gender is concerned (Bolino and Turnley, 2003). These are increment of salary, advancement of careers and corporate drop outs. Women are seen to be discriminated more than men. This could be viewed from different angles to verify whether indeed these theories are true. In the modern times, recent research has shown differences in the previous findings.
In many countries in the world, the law has been changed to bridge in the gap in the differences in experience between genders in the organizations (Colwill, 1993). According to the recent surveys, the laws have been changed to accommodate women in all spheres of their career (Daniele, 2010). There are shifts seen in the career choices taken by women, with more of them opting for careers that were once perceived men’s.
The penalty for discrimination has also been made high (Sheila, 2004). This has made more employers move with caution and hire the genders alike. In particular, the numbers are balanced and an equal chance is given to both genders to rise in the corporate world. The civil rights groups have also stressed on the points of affirmative action and equal employment chances for genders. This has been of great help to bringing in balance between the genders as far as their work experience is concerned.
The currently done surveys also indicate that the corporate drop out for women has greatly changed (Bolino and Turnley, 2003). Women have had to postpone the marriage and related issues to concentrate on their career. In the U.S, for example, between 1950 and 2000, the number of women who remained in the same career field has significantly increased. Their priorities have actually changed, and the rise in the corporate ladder seems to take the first place in their life.
More so, girl child education has made it possible to compete for the managerial positions in the corporate world. Research has shown an increment in the number of women recruited for senior management positions (Daniele, 2010). In fact, it is evident that women have carried out these roles with the same efficiency as men have portrayed in the past.
The recent research has also shown that there is no relationship between the biological make up of women and the job performance (Friedman, 2008). Sampling a number of women and men, the efficiency in performance of given tasks has shown minimal differences. This has helped the employers minimize on their perceptions against the different genders (Bannon, 2004; Lee et al, 1999). Equal treatment and trust has, therefore, prevailed in workplace. The most important thing is the professionalism that women have indicated in carrying out their tasks in the corporate world. With this, the stereotypes and wrong perceptions are greatly minimized.
It is, however, important to note that there are still gaps in the work experience for different genders (Colwill, 1993). Women are taking the managerial positions, but not in the same numbers compared to men. The surveys have indicated that the number of women in most senior positions remains minimal (Friedman, 2008). Still, more women all over the world have also indicated that they have faced glass ceilings in the recruitment and retention of jobs. The law, as much as it has been changed, has not been implemented in many countries and specific organizations. This means that discrimination has continued, despite the differences in constitutional provision of many countries.
Critical assessment of the literature
The findings of the surveys have been in many ways representative of the situation on the ground in the corporate world. There is surely a big difference between the experiences of both genders in the workplace. However, the surveys fail to incorporate in details several key factors. For one, the surveys have not considered the contexts in which they are carried out. The experience of genders in the third world countries is totally different from that one of the countries of the developed world.
The theories may have been representative of the global economy as they ought. There are huge differences between the laws, levels of education and cultural influences in such countries. For example, the number of women attending schools and later advancing in their careers in the third world countries may be way too low compared to the developed countries (Gibson and Sachan, 2000).
Still, the perceptions are also different as far as advancing in the career for both genders. There are cultures where it is acceptable for women to take breaks in their career at certain points of their lives (Knomar and Carlson, 1999). The obligations that they are expected to carry out may be more fulfilling for them than advancing in their career field. Therefore, quitting work and fulfilling other family roles may be actually equal to career advancements.
It is possible that the methods of the research are biased. The preconceived perceptions that women are discriminated in all spheres of life may inform the researches and surveys. The hypothesis may be always that women’s experience is different from men`s, and that they take a lower hand in career progression (Zivnuska et al, 2001). This, however, may not be the situation, especially with the consideration of the current changes in the corporate world. Women may have been represented as they ought, only that the studies tend to lean on one side of the subject. Further, the surveys done may have been inadequate in representation of the views of both genders in the workplace. Some people, if interviewed, would actually give a different opinion on the subject. This would, therefore, show variations in the findings.
Areas of further research
It is important that further research is done on some specific areas of the topic. For instance, the gender differences and the biological make up exhibited by both genders could not just be wished away (Mills, 2002; Powell and Graves, 2003). It is important that research is done to reveal how each gender make up affects performance. For example, the means to the end may be different, but the ultimate end may be the same. This means that the genders may perform in the same way in their careers, but the means of performance may be different. It is, therefore, important to consider the means in which tasks get accomplished and the interpretation of those tasks by both genders.
In the same field, it is important to consider how the managerial tactics could be of effect on performance (Mast and Hall, 2004; Ruble and Higgins, 1976). The methods applied in the management may be the key reasons why there are gender differences in job performance and career progression. It is, therefore, important to ensure that further research is done in order the reasons for the imbalance are identified without omitting some of these issues.
The area of globalization has also not been taken into account in many surveys. The corporate world today is operating in one economy, which has its rules and methods of accomplishing tasks (Daniele, 2010). It calls for organizations to consider gender- balanced representation in all management roles. Further, empowering the least of the genders and the change of the traditional perceptions to a better dimension is called for.
The women, in this economy are viewed in the similar way as men (Daniele, 2010). In this way, a corporate is able to compete in the global economy, which has innumerable benefits for it. For many organizations, fitting in such a world is of primary concern compared to any other issue they face. Further research must be done to incorporate the role the global world has played in dealing with the balances between the genders in their careers.