It is apparent from numerous research articles that the development of the feminist movement and gender studies has a considerable impact on the current perspective on the questions of gender differences and discrimination. It is also worth mentioning that the issue of gender discrimination is far from any final solution since problems of this kind continue to emerge in different circumstances. However, since this course is focused on leadership in organizations, it is possible to observe that women in positions of organizational leaders are discriminated against to a significant extent. The purpose of this paper is to study the case, which describes the situation of gender discrimination in the context of managerial leadership.
It is appropriate to begin the discussion with the observation of the situation, which will serve as a background for further reasoning and analysis. The case under consideration is written by Yukl (2013), and it describes a generalized situation of a woman who meets significant obstacles in her workplace due to gender discrimination. Laura Kravitz, a business school graduate, accepted the job in Madison, Jones, and Conklin, a fictional medium-sized accounting firm (Yukl, 2013). Later, Laura was promoted to a team manager position, where her responsibilities were to conduct “accounting and consulting projects for corporate clients” (Yukl, 2013, p. 379).
She was confident about her skills and qualifications as a manager, she was respected by other team managers, subordinates, and top management of her company, and she aimed to become a partner in the firm eventually. However, she met several obstacles, mostly due to gender discrimination. The following sections will (1) observe the particular examples of bias from the case, (2) provide suggestions for improvement, and (3) retrieve a conclusion on the topic of gender discrimination.
Examples of Gender Discrimination
The case under discussion embodies several principal aspects of gender-biased attitude toward women in managerial positions, which are widespread in contemporary workplaces. Therefore, studying the particular examples from the item by Yukl (2013) would help to generalize the principle discriminative factors and build a basis for further reasoning and analysis. Each of the following paragraphs will dwell upon the particular example from the case.
First of all, it is possible to retrieve the example of one of the most widespread gender-biased stereotypes, which is the perception of women as less competent in organizational leadership and management. It is stated that Laura’s co-workers, especially the senior managers, were “very conservative and did not accept her as an equal” (Yukl, 2013, p. 380). Their attitude toward her manifested itself in their lack of attention to her ideas and suggestions during quarterly planning meetings (Yukl, 2013). For example, she could propose a suggestion, which was ignored by other managers, but then someone else would offer the same idea, and he was appraised and received credit for it (Yukl, 2013). This example embodies the typical stereotype of women being unable to efficiently conduct leadership in organizations due to the expected gender roles of women, which do not include masculine behaviors.
Secondly, another essential aspect of gender discrimination in the workplace should be mentioned. Yukl (2103) observes that Laura was not able to access the network of informal relationships, which “provided opportunities to interact with senior managers” (p. 380). It is evident that informal communication in organizations plays a significant role in establishing productive relationships with colleagues and receiving a promotion. However, Laura was deprived of such an opportunity. It is mentioned that, due to her lack of interest in playing golf, Laura had no membership in the exclusive golf club, to which numerous male managers belonged (Yukl, 2013). Moreover, the top management of the firm hosted various social activities, to the majority of which Laura was not invited (Yukl, 2013). Yukl (2013) mentions that the exclusion of women from the informal social life of the organization is one of the primary reasons for the common situation of the glass ceiling, the notion that refers to the inability of a female to get promoted.
Thirdly, it is essential to observe that the process of assignment distribution was biased toward Laura since she was given the lower profile tasks compared to the male managers (Yukl, 2013). When she asked the president of the company for more challenging projects, he answered that “the older clients usually preferred to deal with men” (Yukl, 2013, p. 380). Therefore, she did not receive highly profitable accounts, and thus her performance in numbers was considerably lower than other managers’ indexes. Accordingly, the gender-biased attitude toward Laura created a situation of self-fulfilling prophecy, where she was not given challenging projects due to her gender, and she did not show any progress because she was deprived of the opportunity to develop her skills. Additionally, it is possible to mention that Laura did not have a mentor who would advance her career (Yukl, 2013).
What Could Be Done to Improve the Situation?
Further, it is possible to propose several suggestions for improvement of the described situation and similar situation in general. It should be noted that, even though it is significantly hard, Laura had several opportunities to improve her position in the office and promote her career. Firstly, she could ask the president to assign a mentor to her. He or she would tell other managers about Laura’s skills, and thus the attitude toward her would be positively changed. Secondly, it could be proposed that Laura would enter the golf club. Even though she did not like golf, the membership in the golf club would help to engage in the informal social activities of the company and to impress the senior managers. However, it is evident that the president of the company has a significantly greater responsibility for Laura’s lack of promotion. For example, he could convince a couple of his clients to work with Laura so that they could find out that she has enough skills to perform high-quality complex tasks. Also, the president, having an influence on the male managers, could explain to them that the expectancy of standard female gender roles biases their professional attitude toward Laura (Verniers & Vala, 2018).
In conclusion, it is possible to assume that gender-biased discrimination toward women in various organizational positions appears to be a prevalent problem in the contemporary workplace. However, it is also evident that considerable progress toward creating a more tolerant working environment for women is made. Accordingly, the nature of discrimination has changed since it evolved to be a subtle, less apparent form of creating gender-biased obstacles for women (Jones, Arena, Nittrouer, Alonso, & Lindsey, 2017). Overall, one could argue that the implementation of gender equality can significantly improve the quality of leadership in organizations.
Jones, K. P., Arena, D. F., Nittrouer, C. L., Alonso, N. M., & Lindsey, A. P. (2017). Subtle discrimination in the workplace: A vicious cycle. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 10(1), 51-76.
Verniers, C., & Vala, J. (2018). Justifying gender discrimination in the workplace: The mediating role of motherhood myths. PLOS One, 13(1), 1-23. Web.
Yukl, G. A. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.