How to Increase the Proportion of Women in Higher-Level Management Positions

How do we increase the proportion of women in higher-level management positions? One strategy organizations take involves implementing work-life practices. The theory is that giving women greater control over their work schedules and reducing the burden of family responsibilities will help women stay in the workforce and perform better, making them more likely to get promotions. In reality, do work-life practices actually help women reach higher levels of management? The researchers (Kalysh, Kulik & Perera, 2016) analyzed data over a twelve-year period from 675 organizations in Australia to find out.


Discrimination Can Block Pathways into Organizations

Discrimination in the workplace is unfortunately still a problem that needs a solution. There is inescapable evidence that many types of people experience discrimination at various decision points in a career. For example, selection, salary negotiation, and promotions, are all decision points that provide an opportunity for measurable discrimination to appear. New research (Milkman, Akinola, & Chugh, 2015) focuses instead on career “pathways,” or the process that leads up to obtaining a job. If someone has a clear pathway to a job, they may be more likely to be hired when the selection decision is made. However, a pathway can be blocked with obstacles (such as discrimination) that make it difficult for a person to succeed at a later decision point.


Getting Credit for Speaking Up: Sub-Conscious Bias and Employee Voice

Employee voice refers to the feedback provided by employees to improve organizational functioning. You might also think of it simply as “speaking up.” Not only is it critical for organizational improvement and success, but the extent to which employees speak up can affect the way they are evaluated by their managers. In a fair workplace, the employees who speak up the most would get the most credit. However, not all employees are recognized for their input equally.


Ethnic and Gender Discrimination When Reviewing Job Resumes

Job resumes are essential in making hiring decisions as they provide necessary information about applicants during the initial screening stages. However, resume screening is highly susceptible to psychological biases, and raters or screeners may rely on mental shortcuts that lead to inaccurate assessments, especially when relevant applicant information appears to be lacking. New research (Derous, Ryan & Serlie, 2015) explored how characteristics of the job and rater attitudes (ethnic prejudice, sexism) combine to influence the decisions of recruiters when limited information was provided in resumes.


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Work-Family Conflict Changes How You Do Your Job

Work-family conflict occurs when we cannot meet the demands of work and the demands of family at the same time, and instead must choose one over the other. In this study, researchers (Dahm, Glomb, Manchester, & Leroy, 2015) specifically considered work-to-family conflict, which occurs when people attempt to meet the demands of their job and sacrifice the demands of their family. While past research has shown that this may lead to harmful outcomes, this study gives us greater insight into why this happens. Interestingly, work-to-family conflict can make employees change the way they do their jobs.


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Obesity in the Workplace: Discrimination Against Employees and Customers in a Retail Setting

Obesity in the workplace continues to be a pressing issue because obesity rates continue to rise across the United States. This creates concerns for the two-thirds of the adult population that can be considered obese or overweight, as well as the organizations that employ them. In addition to the physical consequences of being overweight, heavy individuals may also be the victims of stigmatization and prejudice. Common stereotypes associated with heavy individuals purport that they are less hardworking, less conscientious, and less happy than non-heavy individuals are. Because weight is not a protected class under federal discrimination law, obese individuals may also feel that their weight affects their work experiences through both formal (i.e., overt) and informal (i.e., subtle) discrimination.


Pregnancy In the Workplace

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Pregnancy In the Workplace

Although women have been active participants in the workforce for decades, pregnancy in the workplace has remained a challenge. Stereotypes persist about the ability of women to be productive workers while pregnant, with possible negative ramifications for the careers of expecting mothers. In an effort to try to control her image as both employee and mother-to-be, a pregnant woman may engage in “identity management” strategies to help lessen the negative stereotypes associated with pregnancy.


Reducing Stereotyping

Reducing Stereotyping: What You’re Doing May Not be Working

Stereotypes are quite common, but they are not always bad. Sometimes, we can stereotype someone in a positive way, and sometimes stereotypes are helpful because they reduce the amount of critical thinking a person has to do. The danger is when stereotypes are inaccurate or negative. This can lead to discriminatory behavior in the workplace. Organizations spend large sums of money every year on reducing stereotyping with training that aims to raise awareness and minimize their negative effects. A recent study by Duguid and Thomas-Hunt (2014) investigated whether creating greater awareness of stereotyping and encouraging resistance to them was the best way of curbing their harmful effects.


Balancing Work and Family: Global Differences and Similarities

With a global surge in the number of women entering the work force, the need for studying the issues associated with balancing work and family has increased dramatically.

In a crisp article by authors W. J. Casper, T. D. Allen, and S. A. Y Poelmans, four papers were reviewed, which collectively provided a comprehensive understanding of the differences and similarities between work and family interactions, conflicts, and other related issues. The current paper sheds light on how culture, gender equality, and personal vs. supervisor perceptions influence the work–family balance globally.


Why Women and Minorities on the Board of Directors Need Mentors

These days almost everyone agrees on the importance of diversity. When people of different backgrounds and ways of thinking come together with a common goal, they can achieve the unthinkable and make possible the seemingly impossible. While many organizations are taking a bottom-up approach to increasing diversity at their firms, e.g. diversity campus recruiting and new hire mentoring programs, it’s at least as important that they work to promote a culture of diversity among their senior leadership as well.


Impact of Gender and Race on Charitable Giving in the Workplace

Let’s play a game. In a workplace setting, do you think women or men give more charitable contributions? Similarly, do you think whites or ethnic minorities give more charitable contributions? In providing the answers to these two questions, we look to Lisa M. Leslie, Mark Snyder, and Theresa M. Glomb of the University of Minnesota: women donate more than men, and whites donate more than ethnic minorities. How’d you do?


When women don’t reach the C-suite as often as men, benevolent sexism may be to blame

Topic: Gender, Discrimination, Development
Publication: Journal of Management (NOV 2012)
Article: Benevolent sexism at work: Gender differences in the distribution of challenging developmental experiences
Authors: King, E. B., Botsford, W., Hebl, M. R., Kazama, S., Dawson, J. F., & Perkins, A.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

woman_working_on_laptopWomen are breaking the glass ceiling and entering higher levels of organizations. To be successful, women need to get the same developmental experiences as men, and both men and women seem to be getting about the same number of developmental experiences. But if this is the case, why then are there fewer women than men reaching the very highest levels of the organization?


Mixed Messages: Gender Differences in Performance and Promotability Ratings (IO Psychology)

Topic: Gender, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Journal of Management (MAR 2012)
Article: A Meta-Analysis of Gender Group Differences for Measures of Job Performance in Field Studies
Authors: Roth, P. L., Purvis, K. L., & Bobko, P.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

In human resource management, we are often concerned with group-based differences in the measurement of performance, satisfaction, and other variables (for legal and ethical reasons). Previous meta-analytic studies (studies that look at data/findings across multiple studies) have examined the role of certain group characteristics, such as ethnicity, on performance, but gender differences have not been studied as frequently. In addition, as the authors of the current article note, previous meta-analyses that have assessed gender differences in performance have generally utilized various proxies for performance (e.g., absenteeism, satisfaction ) rather than actual performance measures (e.g., supervisor ratings). The goal, then, of this meta-analysis, was to examine gender differences on these realistic performance indices in field samples.


Co-ruminating with work friends by the water cooler?

Topic: Gender
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (MAR 2011)
Article: Co-Rumination in the Workplace: Adjustment Trade-offs for Men and Women
Who Engage in Excessive Discussion of Workplace Problems.
Authors: D.L. Haggard, C. Robert, A.J. Rose
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

Developmental psychology has long studied this phenomenon: when friends excessively discuss personal problems in an intense, repetitive and speculative manner(termed co-rumination), they experience a significant increase in the quality of theirfriendship, but also an increase in negative adjustment outcomes (e.g., depression). Recently, researchers have become interested in whether this trend also occurs in theworkplace. 


Are Women at a Loss in the Workplace due to Breadwinning at Home?

Topic: Gender
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (WINTER 2011)
Article:  A Woman’s Place and a Man’s Duty:  How Gender Role Incongruence in One’s Family Life Can Result in Home-Related Spillover Discrimination at Work
Author:  Marıa del Carmen Triana
Reviewed By:  Kerrin George

The lack of adherance to stereotypical gender is one source of gender discrimination in the workplace.  In light of the increasing yet still minority number of women who are becoming the primary earners in dual-earner, heterosexual couples, a question arises:  Does this change from the traditional expectation that males should be the breadwinners lead to discrimination at work against the men and women in these relationships ?


The Relationship Between Weight and Salary: Bad News For All Kinds of People

Topic: Fairness, Gender, Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2011)
Article: When It Comes to Pay, Do the Thin Win? The Effect of Weight on Pay for Men and Women
Authors: T.A. Judge, D.M. Cable
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

Does career success have anything to do with what you look like?  According to a recent study by Judge and Cable (2011), the answer is yes. 


“Think Manager-Think Male” versus “Think Crisis-Think Female”

Topic: Leadership, Gender
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology  (DEC 2010)
ArticleThink Crisis–Think Female: The Glass Cliff and Contextual Variation in the Think Manager–Think Male Stereotype
Authors: Michelle K. Ryan, S. Alexander Haslam, Mette D. Hersby, and Renata Bongiorno
Reviewed By:  Kerrin George

Traditionally, in what has been called the “Think Manager- Think Male” stereotype (TMTM), males tend to be viewed as more suitable for leadership positions.  However, this relationship may be context dependent, as preliminary examinations reveal that women appear to be appointed to leadership positions more often in crisis situations, the “Think Crisis-Think Female” phenomena (TCTF). 


Organizational Culture: Attracting Job Applicants by Advertising the “Softer Side”

Topic: Recruiting, Gender
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (WINTER 2010)
Article: The impact of organizational culture on attraction and recruitment of job applicants
Authors: D. Catanzaro, H. Moore, T.R. Marshall
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

Organizational culture is typically described as the collective set of values and norms shared by members of an organization. Recently, researchers have started to categorize organizational cultures as either being “supportive” or “competitive” in nature. Supportive cultures value collaboration, equality, supportiveness, and work-life balance, whereas organizations with a competitive culture typically value individualism, ambition, rewards, and a focus on one’s career.


Ethical Leadership and OCBs?

Topic: Organizational Citizenship Behavior, Ethics, Gender
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (DEC 2010)
Article: Fostering good citizenship through ethical leadership:  Exploring the moderating role of gender and organizational politics.
Authors:  Michele Kacmar, Daniel Bachrach, Kenneth Harris, and Suzanne Zivnuska
Reviewed By: Bobby Bullock

Kacmar, Bachrach, Harris, and Zivnuska (2010) sought to expand on ethical leadership research by examining its relationship with organizational citizenship behavior.  First, they examined the direct relationship between ethical leadership (honest, fair, and transparent leadership) and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB- prosocial behavior at work such as helping fellow employees with difficult tasks).  The results of their blanket study indicated that the presence of ethical leadership in an organization led to higher rates of OCB.  This showed that when employees feel indebted to ethical leaders, they may seek to “repay” them with OCB.  If it were that simple it would be great- make sure leaders act ethically and you could create a positive, prosocial work environment just like that!  Things aren’t always so simple, as we find out in the latter parts of their study.


Liberty, Justice, and…an Equal Chance at a Promotion for All?

Topic: Gender, Mentoring
Publication: Harvard Business Review (SEP 2010)
Article: Why men still get more promotions than women
Author: H. Ibarra, N. M. Carter, and C. Silva
Reviewed By: Liz Brashier

We’re constantly hearing about the advances that organizations are making in corporate gender diversity. Women are being promoted, paid well, and mentored in the workplace! Right? According to Ibarra, Carter, and Silva (2010), the answer might be closer to “yes and no.”


Are Femininity and Letters of Recommendation at Odds?

Topic: Gender, Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences
Authors: J. M. Madera, M. R. Hebl, & R. C. Martin
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

To answer the question posed in the title: yes, they are. In a set of two studies, researchers have shown that women tend to be described with communal terms in letters of recommendation, while men tend to be described in agentic terms. Communal in this sense means using words like “helpful,” “kind,” and “agreeable.” Agentic refers to words like “assertive,” “confident,” and “independent.” Both sets of terms can be highly positive—we need both kinds of people—but it all goes down hill for the communal types when it comes to hireability.


Are there cultural differences in the “Think Manager, Think Male” phenomenon?

Topic: Leadership, Gender, Culture
Publication: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Article: Causal Attributions About Feminine and Leadership Roles: A Cross-Cultural Comparison
Authors: R. Garcia-Retamero and E. López-Zafra
Reviewed By: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl

Even though gender stereotypes have been changing recently, men are still perceived to be more characteristic of managers than are women (Eagly, 2007). However, little research has examined how these perceptions may differ depending on the traditional or progressive nature of different societies. Garcia-Retamero and López -Zafra (2009) examine the question of whether there are cultural differences in people’s causal attributions about male and female leaders in the workplace.


Misperceptions of Family-Work Conflict Maintain the Glass Ceiling

Topic: Conflict, Gender
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (OCT 2009)
Article: Bosses’ perceptions of family-work conflict and women’s promotability: Glass ceiling effects.
Authors: J.M. Hoobler, S.J. Wayne, and G. Lemmon
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Although women have made headway in cracking through the glass ceiling, this barrier is still very much intact.  Women make up about half of the U.S. workforce, but they represent as little as 10% of  executive level managers.