current experiences or recollections of a work site or school or university [including 3 current experiences at Keele] analysed with respect to one or more of the topics discussed during the course.
For the purpose of this assignment the central focus and application will be on interests, ideas and academic thesis surrounding gender and sexuality; as well as, the close linking of personal work experiences related to this research topic as a part time lifeguard at a local Swimming pool in Northwich, Cheshire. These days there appears to be much debate and many arguments surrounding issues and perceptions associated with gender and sexuality. According to DeLaat "Attention to gender issues in the workplace is heightening, as men and women confront new challenges and difficulties in achieving gender equity and fair treatment at work" (1999, p. ix). Further to DeLaat's suggestion there have been many situations in which issues focusing on gender and sexuality have also become apparent throughout my own personal working experiences as a lifeguard.
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Alvesson et al. insinuate that the labour market of today's globalised economy is frequently characterised as been segregated, horizontally and vertically. "Women and men work in different sectors and job areas and men occupy 85 to 90 per cent of the positions at the top levels of working life" (1997, p.54). It is assumed that the idea of segregation involves that the division of labour is not solely based on innate or 'natural' skills or on the autonomy or 'free will' of individuals, however inequality and disparity in the labour market. The main thoughts and ideas that stem from this concept of segregation are the fact that women are paid less than men, and are also less likely to be able to seek opportunities for promotion. Alvesson et al. goes on to suggest that; "There is massive empirical evidence on these [gender and sexuality] issues and those arguing that there exists a gendered order, which gives many more options and privileges to men, particularly in working life, but also in life in general, have little difficulty sustaining their case" (2009, p.1).
In addition to Alvesson et al. proposal Knights and Willmott (2007, p.240) discuss an empirical case study conducted by David Collinson (1992). This case study highlights the 'gendering structure of a work organization' and the changes in management style within a motor manufacturing company; in conjunction with the effects the change bought about to middle class males. Within Collinson's analysis it is observed that an 'Open and friendly management was the new style'. This adapted management approach was not taken lightly by the middle class male employees. The reason for this aggravated and patriarchal response was primarily due to the fact that the employees felt softened and preferred a more "'tough', physical, material and predictable" (2007, p.240) approach to management; this preferred approach would be seemingly on a self assured level in correspondence to their desired masculine self-images.
In critique of Collinson's empirical evidence and in terms of my personal work experiences when working as a lifeguard I feel that this 'soft' management style was successful. Employees thrived on the fact that everyone could work on a personal level and that through using this personal method there were no apparent job role or authoritarian differences. Equality was seemingly enforced. In order to implement this 'soft' management technique a similar method used by Collinson's in his study was utilised. All employees were spoken to on first name terms, and were not obliged to call each other by their full names or job role titles. In addition to the colloquial and personal name use employees also wore a name badge at all times. This badge was used to both promote gender equality and to encourage employees to communicate using the same first name approach. In spite of this conventional naming system management were keen to advise all employees that surnames or 'nicknames' were not to be used at anytime. However, this appeal and management request was often ignored. Many employees persisted to call people by their 'nicknames' and used the name badges as a way of exploiting the attempts by management to enforce equality. Employees succeeded in doing this by changing the pin letters or removing letters to create offensive or imprudent names on the name badges. After months of increased bantering and employees not conforming to management requests the name badge system was quickly eradicated.
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Dex asserts the fact that "Becker (1957) played a founding role in formulating the neoclassical economic theory of discrimination and saw that one of its applications was to sex discrimination." In association with Becker's findings during my time as a lifeguard I was managed along with approximately twenty other lifeguards by a team of one female and two male managers. This management set up often appeared to be particularly competitive and holistic. However, the styles of management and leadership appeared to vary dramatically. The patriarchy between the two male managers was often extreme, they always appeared to be fighting for top spot and trying to belittle one another; while at the same time treating employees as acute subordinates and never being willing to offer advice or support to lifeguards. On the other hand, the female manager was always more friendly, pleasant, 'flirty' and outgoing, she often appeared keen to succeed and help employees with any areas of work. Furthermore, due to the positive and amiable traits of the female manager towards other employees the male managers often seemed to assume that the female manager was attempting to use her feminine edge to gain an extra advantage. As a result, this image also created manipulative perceptions in the mind of the male managers which in turn led to even more hostility, competitiveness and discrimination amongst management.
Besides these varied management approaches and personal skills, "Rosener (1990) argues that their unique socialisation leads women to develop a non-traditional, 'feminine' leadership style which is well suited to some work organisations and can increase an organisations chance of surviving in an uncertain world" (Halford et al. 2001, p.122). In terms of the management tools and techniques assimilated within my work experiences through female management Rosener's suggestions are highly plausible. In essence it seems that this more interactive, friendly and responsive management style promotes involvement and participation through an effective means of making employees feel valued and more motivated by their work. Nevertheless, this is not to suggest that the male methods of management throughout my work experiences are incorrect, it just appears that they are a lot more competitive and somewhat aggressive, however this may just be due to the natural masculine characteristics of the managers at my workplace, and the competitive environment facilitated by just having the two male and one female mangers.
In consequence it could be argued that according to Rosener, Women are becoming more successful and moving up the management hierarchy not by following the methods and routes often accomplished by males, however by utilising dexterity and attitudes they have developed by other shared work experiences of women. Rosener continues to state; "As it turns out, the behaviors that were natural and/or socially acceptable for them have been highly successful in at least some managerial settings (Rosener 1990:124)" (Halford et al. 2001, p.122). Further to Collinson's research he also argues; "that the category 'men managers' is too crude, and that various masculinities are central to the exercise of gendered power in organisations." In conjunction with Collinson's argument he identifies four "discourses and practices of masculinity that appear to remain pervasive and dominant in organisations" (Halford et al. 2001, p.130). The discourses and practices stated by Collinson appear to mirror and strengthen a simultaneous sense of agreement and demarcation for men in organisations. The discourses and practices mentioned are namely; 'authoritarianism', 'paternalism', 'entrepreneurialism' and 'careerism' (Halford et al. 2001. p, 130-1). Throughout my work experience as a lifeguard such characteristics and traits that Collinson expresses should be of masculine management were rarely seen. The discourse and practices were somewhat limited or deceased.
Burda et al. advocate that; "It is well-known that men engage in more market work-have higher participation rates and longer workweeks conditional on participation-than women" (2007, p. 4). While this was the case from Burda et al. empirical study it was not the case within my work experience as a lifeguard. The female manager was often subjected to longer hours and more vigorous work tasks. Although this was the case the working hours and tasks were often seen to be discriminatory as the male managers appeared to pressure the female into conforming to extra hours of work and further work tasks. As well as the management side of things, similar instances of discrimination with regards to completing the 'dirty' and degrading tasks such as; cleaning communal footbaths, showers and toilets were often forced upon female employees. These acts of discrimination were often wavered by many of the other male employees who had the ethos and attitude of 'doing minimal to get paid!' Seemingly however, this culture and philosophy was often enforced by management who repeatedly ignored employees and third parties call for acts against discrimination and unfair working tasks.
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Throughout my work experience there was predominantly a male dominance in all areas of work, and female employees were often afraid to complain. Harriman concludes that; "We should not be surprised to lean that the study of leadership or of power rarely included sex or sex roles as organizationally significant variables. The male as normal assumption is unchallenged and all leaders are not only male but quite masculine" (1995, p. 152). Harriman's view and outlook on leadership is specific to my working experience and describes the leadership and management methods accurately. It also appears that the same sector of work in America also operates using a similar means and method described by Harriman. This can be illustrated and accurately supported by the 10 News article that states; "Lifeguard Services in San Diego has been described as a "good-ol' boy system that has made it impossible for women to become supervisors." (10News.com, 2004) In spite of these conditions and poor and deficient management such acts of discrimination within large corporate organisations are less likely to be so prominent as there are often stricter guidelines and tight regulations that must be adhered to at all times. Organisations may find it easier to facilitate such types of control through the implementation of a wider span of organisational control, as well as tighter regulations and a more efficient and authoritarian style of management. In effect it seems that management of my work experience did not completely cooperate and adhere to 'The Institute of Qualified Lifeguards principle of equal opportunities act'. Their official equal opportunities act sates; "The Institute of Qualified Lifeguards, as an awarding body, has a legal responsibility to take such steps as maybe considered reasonable practicable to prevent unlawful discrimination on account of race, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religious convictions, religious beliefs, or disability" (Lifesavers.org, 2005). In critique of The Institute of Qualified Lifeguards equal opportunities act it does not clearly state as what 'maybe considered reasonable practicable to prevent' the acts of discrimination. In essence the act implies that it is to management and personal discretion as to what 'reasonable practicable circumstances actually are. For this reason and the fact that there seems to be little to enforce acts of discrimination, may be why the management of my working experience could operate in such a seemingly discriminative and iniquitous manner. What's more discriminatory working cases are often subdued, due to the fear of job insecurity and extensive pressure from management and/or other employees. Also for employees to act legally it is often a long winded and expensive affair.
Holterman supports these ideas and goes on further to suggest that in spite of the laws surrounding discrimination, gender and sexuality in the work place many "employers are coming to see equal opportunities not just in moral terms, but as a way of maximising employees' potential to gain competitive edge.'" (1995, p.33) In essence Holterman is advocating that while equal opportunities within organisations are seen as justified, ethical and moral that some organisations use these equality tools and techniques in the sole interest of the employers in order to gain competitive advantage and positive benefits. Holterman goes on to explain that "It is well known that there are two main ways in which the positions of women in the labour market differs significantly from that of men: lower participation and lower pay" (1995, p.34). In terms of my work experience lower pay for female lifeguards was not an issue. All employees were paid according to their age; therefore discrimination can be eliminated here. However, Metcalf claims that "Recorded unemployment tends to be lower among women" (1992, p.34). In critique of Metcalf's claims recently the Office for National Statistics in the UK stated; that unemployment for females in 2008 increased at a much slower rate than that of males. "The unemployment rate for women was 5.5 per cent for the three months to December 2008,
up 0.3 percentage points on the previous quarter" (Labour Force Survey & returns from public sector organisations, Office for National Statistics, 2009). In contrast to this unemployment rates for males was marked at 6.9 per cent, which is an increase of 0.6 percentage points on the previous quarter (see appendix 1).
Holterman's notion of lower participation can also ultimately be contended with throughout my working experience. Female lifeguards were continually refused extra hours of work, as male management preferred to issue other males with overtime. This may seem strange in an environment that should unite equality and promote gender consensus. Many people would assume that being a lifeguard and the extra duties involved would require a mix sexed staff. Conversely throughout my work experience this was not the case, there are no set legalities or requirements as to males being only able to treat females in case of an emergency or vise versa. Unlike there are in Schools and other environments, the rules and regulations are very much similar to those of Paramedics. It could be presumed that the rejection of female overtime and participation could be due to the highly autocratic male management measures and procedures, and the fact that most operations and practices could be executed by male employees due to the use of communal changing and washing facilities. These communal facilities meant it was much easier for males to do complete all job tasks; therefore female requests for extra hours to earn more money were often rejected by male management. This rejection and treatment in the work place often led to female job dissatisfaction.
Furnham supports Landy (1985) and suggests that "an approach to job satisfaction that is based on a general theory of emotions developed by Schachter and Singer (1962), who noted that certain events or environmental conditions cause a state of general physiological arousal" (1992, p. 211). It could be argued that in terms of my work experience the majority of female employees were subjected to job dissatisfaction at many times as their environmental job tasks were often insanitary in comparison to male assigned tasks. As a result female employees were rarely excited or aroused by their work. This female job dissatisfaction does not conform to Furnham's survey results that "indicate that 80-90 per cent of people are relatively happy at work." (1992, p.199) Nevertheless Furnham does not dismiss the fact that there are some people that are not content with job satisfaction as he progresses to advise that, "It is clear that while job satisfaction is generally high, this is not true of all work settings and jobs" (1992, p.199). In critique of Furham's suggestions it could be argued that levels of job satisfaction are predominantly relative to a person's personality type; therefore it is not an accurate representation of whether a person is satisfied or dissatisfied in the workplace. Also there is little empirical evidence that conducts similar research taking into account personality factors. Additionally it seems that recently more and more people are less happy and content with their jobs and ways of working therefore it would not be surprising to argue that the percentage of people being happy in their jobs since 1992 may have dramatically depleted, especially during the recent economic recession.
According to Wirth in many organisations today there are often cases where "both women and men can be subjected to sexual harassment; more women suffer from it then. In a number of countries [including the UK], sexual harassment is regarded as a form of sex discrimination" (1997, p.130). Throughout my work experience there were often events and proceedings that incorporated accounts of sexual harassment. The level of sexual harassment was usually minimal however not invisible to employees. Often management and would make rude or discourteous comments about one and other, often it was male managers and employees making inappropriate remarks to female employees. As a result it was obvious that this sexual harassment was becoming discomforting and embarrassing to some of the female employees. Many advocates including Wirth suggest that sexual harassment is becoming a common problem, and can be considered a violation of human rights. Besides this violation of human rights and extreme discomfort Wirth also describes the consequences of sexual harassment as ranging from; "emotional stress resulting in feelings of humiliation, anxiety, fear, anger, anguish, powerlessness and depression" (1997, p.131). Furthermore these consequences could cause further physical and heath problems such as; nausea, headaches, elevated blood pressure and a greater risk of a heart attack. In turn these human problems and reactions may lead to a person resigning from their job, which as a result may lead to a decrease in productivity and a reduction in profits.
In conclusion my analysis is primarily drawn from my own personal work experience as a lifeguard in relation to debates, ideas, issues and concepts surrounding gender and sexuality. My work experience is only as a part time lifeguard, therefore it could be considered that part time employees are much less likely to consider themselves to be in a position for job promotion opportunities; in turn they may feel prohibited from access to employment advantages and benefits.
It seems that there are many indigenous and complex arguments surrounding ideologies and concepts about gender and sexuality in the workplace. These days many academics, public officials and advocates recognise that there are extreme issues within gender and sexuality in most areas of work. No matter where you are, or what sector of work you function in there is rarely the chance that you will be able to avoid coming into contact with subjects and matters that evolve around gender and sexuality. There have been many academics that have conducted copious amounts of strategic rseaearch and empirical studies into many different issues that surround gender and sexuality.
In today's modern society there is extensive jurisdiction and laws in place to help evoke negative consequences associated with gender and sexuality issues in the work place. For example, The Institute of Qualified Lifeguards has set up rules and regulations to help deal with acts of discrimination; however these rules are regulations appear to be somewhat incoherent and inarticulate. There is little authority that justifies a 'complete' action plan to tackle areas of discrimination; it seems easy to create loopholes and finds means of escape too many of the laws in place.
Many people also find that taking action against acts of discrimination and unjust areas surrounding gender and sexuality are extremely difficult, these methods often take large amounts of time before action is taken. Additionally employees may feel intimidated and demoralised by managers and therefore become frightened and anxious which in turns leads them to not taking the correct action or any action at all.
In the future it is hoped that there is stricter legislation enforced throughout the world and more studies conducted as to means and methods of reducing acts of discrimination in the work place, as well as extensive ideas as to how to solve issues and concerns surrounding inequality. As a result this legislation and regulations will help create uniformity and reduce job dissatisfaction. Furthermore these actions and procedures may further work to increase the UK's level of people that are happier in work. Therefore if people are more content and happy in their work place it is needless to say that levels of productivity are much more likely to increase, which will consequently increase organisations profitability and profit levels, making the economy more operative and efficient, as well as generating more and more jobs for British citizens.