Are Women Being Given Advances In The Workplace Based On Merit Or Do Companies Feel Pressured To Do This By The Media’s Focus On Women In The Workforce?

Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL, April 3, 2015 

Asheville, NC Correspondent– Despite the recent publicity surrounding the hiring of a few female executives, the promotion of women to high ranks within companies is relatively rare. In 2014, women comprised less than 15% of executive officers, 8.1% of top earners, and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEO’s. Only 3% of creative marketing directors are women. Less than 9% of top management positions are held by women across the entire economy. In technology, where these promotions have been most public, women still lag far behind men in rates of promotion. Women hold only 9% of senior management or higher positions.

Even Silicon Valley startups, insulated as they are from the good ol’ boys network, hire women to fill senior management positions less than 15% of the time. It’s ludicrous to insinuate that even this small minority of women were promoted as a result of social pressure. Rather, they were promoted for their incredible skill and determination. To get to where they are, they not only had to demonstrate remarkable ability, they also had to overcome what is clearly a systemic bias against women in leadership positions. There is considerable value for companies in including diverse voices in boardroom decision-making. Women represent 80% of consumer spending in America, yet marketing to them is largely done by men. Products for their use are designed mostly by men.

This creates a disconnect between the actual needs of women and the products that are sold to them. Promoting more female executives would help to reverse this trend, and ensure that women’s voices are better heard in conversations about products for them. It would also help to level the playing field for young women looking to start a career path. More visible women to serve as role models and examples for the next generation of female leaders could help restart the long, slow march toward gender equality in America.  

 

Raleigh, NC Correspondent- The question of gender equality at the workplace has been at the center of public debate for a long time. Ideally, people should have the same rights, responsibilities, rewards, resources, and opportunities when it comes to their work—regardless of their sex. In fact, there are several federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws such as Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (to mention just few), which specify that any kind of discrimination at workplace based on person’s gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information is unlawful. Undoubtedly, these laws where created with best intentions in mind, but how does the reality measure up to them?

 

As statistics shows, gender inequality still exists in the Untied States, though fortunately the state of affairs is much improved compared to previous decades. According to the websitewww.humanresourcesmba.net, 19% percent of C-level executives, 24% percent of senior VPs, 27 % of VPs, 35% of directors, 40% of managers, and 53 % of entry-level positions today are occupied by women. At the same time—as these numbers testify—the number of women promoted to managerial and higher positions is obviously disproportionate compared to number of women entering the labor market. In politics, the picture is similar. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, women hold 104 seats out of 535 in the 14th U.S. Congress (19.4%), 20 seats of the 100 seats in the Senate (20%), and 84 out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives (19.3%). Considering that the number of women in the country is higher compared to men (according to 2010 census, there were 49.2 % of men and 50.8 % of women in the country at the time), it is obvious that the composition of labor market in the country does not reflect its population.

 

According to conventional argument, there are many factors which prevent women from being equally represented both in business and politics, especially in upper management positions. For example, women often leave jobs to take care of their families; many women leave because of workplace problems; due to difference in pay and upper mobility between men and women, men often are better breadwinners for families than women; women do not seek upper management positions, etc. These arguments are not supported by the facts in the least. According to Harvard Business Review, 60 % of women work after having a second child despite $11.000 difference in pay between mothers and childless women; although women in managerial positions are consistently rated higher than men, men still are promoted more often (in 2010, it was shown that men receive 15% more promotions than women); and those women who are considered for managerial positions are often overmentored and undersponsored compared to men in similar circumstances.

 

As such, the suggestion that women who do succeed and achieve upper management positions not on merit but due to politics and media is not only erroneous, but condescending and rather offensive to all well-deserving women in the labor market.

  Prescott Valley Correspondent- Though women are currently being given advances in the workplace through both meritorious service, media focus, and other influences, the advances in leadership role placements reveal themselves in a pattern that does not necessarily fit with what is thought to be the norm.  Many looking at the issue of workplace advancement analyze it through the progression of the women’s rights movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as through current legislation and women’s rights organizations.  There are complex issues at work that cause the up and down movement of women in the workplace, whether their career advancement is through merit or media attention.

 

The decades of the 60’s and 70’s brought a huge influx of women into the workforce, as women were now protected by the Civil Rights laws of the 1960’s that barred discrimination in employment based on sex and race.  Women were provided with one of the first legal means for advancement and equal pay in the workplace along with protection brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was established to investigate complaints and render penalties in cases of employment discrimination.  Future actions through Civil Rights laws and executive actions, which focused on gender discrimination, dictated that federal agencies and contractors had to adhere to measures that ensured women and minorities had the same job opportunities as white males.  Also, women’s rights groups, such as NOW (National Organization of Women), greatly enhanced the ability of women to publicly project their employment grievances through lobbying, litigation and demonstrations. Media attention early on was directed toward these new laws and women’s rights activities that brought pressure and attention to the promotion of women in the workplace.

 

Even with the over 50 years of Civil Rights laws in place, disparity, pay limitations and advancement restraints still exist. Surprisingly, though, some of the factors today that affect corporate advancement appear to be centered on the choices that women make concerning career and family.  In spite of the constraints that still exist on women in the workplace, it seems that at least part of the pressure is being brought about by women upon themselves concerning whether they want to advance beyond a certain point or opt out and assume more traditional roles as mothers and homemakers. 

 

The current outside pressure exerted by the media concerning workplace advancement has manifested itself more through the “War on Women” in which social and health related  issues such as reproductive rights, birth control, child care, crimes against women, labor movements, and voting block influences appear to be more forefront issues in comparison to direct career advancement.  In the meantime, women continue to make choices concerning their careers and personal lives that determine advancement in spite of lingering prejudices and advancement obstacles.

 

Choices that affect career or corporate advances with women are the actual job niches themselves.  Many career minded women actually find the more coveted leadership positions less appealing and are less likely to pursue such positions.  With many women working out of necessity and caring for a family at the same time the pursuit of higher level positions is extremely difficult. Women are more concerned with a balance of work and family life, which surpasses the need for further advancement.  Even career minded women are instilled with different priorities other than making it to the top floor of a high rise office building.

 

Other choices that concern the upward promotion of women include the reluctance of many women to take on corporate leadership roles due to their own limitations and inadequacies in perceiving their actual success in such positions.  They fear the obstacles that will conflict with their work and personal life aspirations. 

 

Women are also hesitant to compete for higher level positions due to corporate organizational structures that prevent them from accessing such positions.  If company hiring and promotion practices favor men and don’t offer equality, flexible hours and the right working conditions to accommodate women, women will be disinclined to contend for such positions.

 

Many of the workplace demands that women have made since the 1960’s and prior to that still have not been met, but women persist with the glass ceiling challenge, income equality, and political standing with a determined motivation that shows that their pursuit of higher level positioning is not outside the realm of possibility but is reinventing itself through different means.   Those women seeking corporate advancement will make the hard choices and sacrifices necessary to advance to higher level positions and will continue to do so through their hard fought for merit.  As has been advocated by Mary Brinton, a Harvard Sociology Professor, any media  attention needs to  focused on the right constructs that should demand that workplaces adapt to the “whole person,” both women and men to create a better balance between working, advancing women to the right positions  and caring for family and community needs.  With these ideas in mind, perhaps women will be more inclined to access top positions minus the guilt, remorse or divided allegiances.

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