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In many societies in the whole world women were patronized and viewed as the weaker sex. Women are commonly perceived of not being fit to go to work and because of societal pressure and expectations retreat to a life of raising children and cooking meals at home for their family. This has become a very important issue and the biggest workplace challenges facing women today revolve around gender. Females are earning less than their male counterparts doing the same kind of work or job, encountering with the glass ceiling in the workplace, balancing their families and career, and what will it take to establish a work environment where gender is a non issue, has always been a challenge for them.
Objective of this paper
In this paper we will try to study the main factors which cause inequality in the workplace between men and women. Most women have difficulty advancing in the corporate world because of the gender differences. There are several factors that lead to the failure of women to be successful. For example, if a man demands his proceeding employees to complete a certain task harshly, almost in a barking manner, each employee will listen to him and will do the work immediately. However, women have to find a different way to place these demands so that she will not seem as harsh or rude. The question is, do they really have to try so hard?
Throughout this paper, gender is classified as men or women for convenience. We will try comparing the work of each gender within the workplace and try to find out the differences. We will also try to reason out the challenges that women are facing and find the ways to which they can overcome them, and to examine how the gender roles for women in the workplace have changed or they haven’t.
Heilman and Welle (1998) conducted a study whereby the effects of gender diversity initiatives on the perceptions of competence were examined.
Carol Gillian wrote, In a Different Voice, where women were struggling to find their place in the corporate World.
“Two of their biggest challenges involve the glass ceiling that still blocks women at many companies from advancing to their full potential and the formidable task of balancing career, family and personal lives”, says Heather Shea in her article.
Lahle Wolfe wrote in her book of how Women Can Overcome Challenges in Business and theWorkplace.
Primary Data: The instrument being used here in this paper is the questionnaire.
Population: Because of the geographical, time and money constrain, methods of a simple random sampling of a number of people in Delhi which were selected and thus the element of the target population has an equal chance of being selected into the sample.
Sample size: A sample size of 30 respondents was taken into account.
Secondary Data: Relevant secondary data was gathered from authenticated websites and books.
Each business of corporation involves using gender at the workplace and each individual has their own responsibilities and goals. Even though most people think that the man has the dominant role in the workplace, it is women who do not get full credit and appreciation that she deserve for the work she has done. Even if the women have high recognition in the workplace and has achieved a high level of acceptance, it still seems as if the men won all the glory. The effects of this gender stratification and differences have taken its toll in the corporate world. Most women admit that there is something within themselves that prevents them from advancing to a higher position. However, if the working environment were to be equal then women would feel confident within themselves to take a step up and show the work force what they are all about. The gender diversity was not taken seriously into consideration and most companies have very little knowledge on how to take advantage of it, despite many efforts to increase diversity of workforce over recent decades, the number of female in the workplace has remained disproportionately low. Although it may not be true for every country, in the USA women now represent approximately half of the working population, while in the UK women constitute just over 50 percent of the total workforce and considerable evidence has been gathered that these women are mostly in the executive level positions. According to leading US research organisation Catalyst, there is a difference between companies that managed to take advantage of gender diversity and those companies that did not. It is therefore very important that organisations should take a closer look at the issue of gender diversity internally within their workforce which will impact the working condition in the workplace.
Gender diversity within the workplace was revealed in a study by Heilman and Welle, that gender diversity was a consideration in group member selection increases stereotyping. This gender-role stereotype reflects how people’s perceive the differences in the personality traits and behaviours related to the person’s gender. While social change over the past 50 years has been widespread, research has shown that it has not been followed. Although there was a dramatic increase in the number of women participating in the labour force has taken place in the past decade, women have played a secondary role in that work force since the ancient civilization of man. The value of women was and still is viewed as less than that of a man. Traditionally a women’s role in society was that of raising children and handling the duties of the household but now most women want and desire careers and their own place in this world. They want to stand on their own two feet, become self-sustaining individuals and become independent and free of other’s limits. In today’s world, it has become clear that women in all careers are striving to gain equality in the work force. There are many issues that still surround women in the workplace and for a long time women have been at a disadvantage when it came to competing with men. Women were not given the educational opportunities that the men were given and women were stereotyped into certain jobs. For years this discrimination has been fed by gender bias and proven by the fact that women entering the workforce have been paid less than a man for doing the same job. Even though women in the workplace have had the odds stacked against them, they manage to make great contributions towards the organisation that they are working with. Through determination, women have been the driving force in the enactment of laws to protect not only themselves but others in the workplace. These laws are designed not just for protection from gender discrimination but also protection from discrimination based on marital status, pregnancy, race, disabilities, sexual preference and age. This gives women the ability to break out of the gender roles that were created for them by society long ago.
Organisations actually learned from women.
In today’s workplace women have a unique role that has evolved over the last twenty years. In the past the “feminine” ability to nurture and to be empathetic were frowned upon or seen as weak. But today, businesses recognize the importance of these softer skills in managing teams, leading, mentoring and developing trust among clients. Today both men and women enter the workplace with a different set of rules. The natural skills that Gillian described in her landmark book, the ability to be empathetic, the ability to listen, the tendency to put people before results were considered negative. In fact, Gillian wrote, “Psychologists tended to regard male behaviour as the ‘norm’ and female behaviour as some kind of deviation from that norm.” What Gillian discovered was that men and women played differently as boys and girls. These games led to normative behaviours that transcended into the workplace. What she particularly found was that men were more concerned with rules and women about relationships. Today’s workplace values teams and team work. Teams are built on trust, strong communication, listening, and rapport building. What we have learned over the last 20 years is that bringing women and their unique abilities into the workplace, combined with the male tendency toward competition and results created a longer-lasting and more profitable work environment. Once women stopped trying to be “men” and instead maximized their strengths, everyone benefited.
Let’s look at some of the things that have changed in the workplace as a result of a feminine/masculine environment:
- Teams. There are more teams and teams are the norm. If one cannot work on a team, he/she cannot work in a corporate world.
- Mentoring and Coaching Programs. Women recognized the need to help other women become successful at work. At first they developed informal mentoring programs for themselves. Now, most companies have mentoring programs or coaching for all new employees.
- Self-Assessments. Many companies are doing more and more self- assessments to help people learn more about their strengths and weaknesses.
- Win/Win Leadership. In the past the goal was Win/Lose. In fact the kind of manager who got results regardless of the people he left behind was admired. Today, we search for consensus and opportunities to build relationships through win/win. Most marketing materials target benefits–. How can I help you–before a product is ever sold.
- Social Consciousness. Many organizations and companies look beyond their products to the impact of that product on the world. Organizations identify these companies. Being environmentally, internationally and socially conscious has become a symbol for the most successful companies.
Women have set the pace for a workplace that no longer eats people up, but welcomes them as individuals with a heart, a soul as well as two productive hands. The rules have definitely changed.
This is a great time for women in business. There are more opportunities available than ever before, and a high demand for people with leadership, management and marketing skills. At the same time, however, women continue to face challenges in getting ahead, achieving the recognition they deserve, and integrating the career and personal life they most desire.” Two of their biggest challenges involve the glass ceiling that still blocks women at many companies from advancing to their full potential and the formidable task of balancing career, family and personal lives” , says Heather Shea in the article
The Glass Ceiling
Those women who can follow a dream or find support within an organization stay long enough. Yet many women reach a point where they feel that nobody’s interested in backing or training them. As a result, every 11 seconds, a woman leaves corporate world to start her own business reported The National Foundation for Women Business Owners. The number one reason why, is to pursue their personal dreams. Before making this leap, many of these new entrepreneurs bump up against a glass ceiling in their organization that says, “You can advance just this far, but no farther.” In fact, too often, instead of cracking over the years, the glass ceiling turn to cement. When women discover they have a harder time than ever moving beyond that ceiling, they ask, “Why bother?” and move on to create work environments that are more supportive of their goals. Or, these days those who do break through sometimes look around and they don’t like what they see which forced them to leave and quit the job.
Women need to be realistic about what’s holding them back, however. The glass ceiling implies gender issues and these may or may not be the problem. There are other reasons some women don’t get promoted. Sometimes, there’s a skill they need to learn or a person they need to know, who can help them.
There are other reasons women leave companies, too. Maybe they’re not having fun anymore because opportunities are becoming more limited. Whatever the reason, when women feel stuck, it’s time dust off their skills, look around and reinvent themselves. They need to ask themselves:
- What is my goal?
- What excites me?
- What could I do?
- What other type of organization might I like to work for? Am I certain I won’t run into the same issues there?
- Do I want to start my own business? If so, they need some self assessment. Starting a company is not right for everyone.
- What’s the right strategic move?
The reality is that while companies are changing, it’s still going to take more time for the old male-oriented structures to become more woman-friendly. No matter now successful a woman is. Cultural differences remain, and women have to be realistic about how these differences play out in the corporate world. Look closely at how people are treated and promoted within an organisation and Know the gender issues in the environment.
Balancing Work and Family.
Another major issue for women at work is how to balance work and life. Fortunately, companies are recognizing that part of this balancing-taking care of family matters, including raising children, isn’t just a women’s issue, but a man’s issue, too. Fortune magazine recently ran an issue on fathers at work and the impact that balancing work/family is having on them. Employers also have to deal with the fact that many workers are single parents. This raises many new concerns for women at work. The question for some becomes not only, “How do I break through the glass ceiling?” But “Do I really want to work that hard and make the sacrifices to my family that I need to make in order to break through it? More and more people, including successful and well-known women-and men, are saying, “My family comes first”. The fact especially that if a single parent and supporter of two young children has definitely influenced the career choices the persons make. It is important for that person to have breakfast every morning and dinner at night with his or her children. For a single parent, cancelling major presentations to make sure to show up at the Christmas play or any important event is a common practise in the US. People no longer want to work as a senior executive for a major organization. The strategic move has been to work as a professional speaker with an organization that would give a person more opportunity to be home. From the start, they will have to explain that they will work really hard for an organisation, but what’s important also is to spend time with the children. That was a career choice they will have to make. Yes, sometimes making these choices can be career changing, but what’s most important is to be true to yourself and your personal priorities. The goal is not to choose work or family. It’s to balance and integrate both worlds successfully. Whatever choices one’s make, women have experienced that the whole notion of “You can have it all” in work and life doesn’t play out quite like they thought it would be. Working mothers, who are actively involved in their families and careers are exhausted. On that note, when balancing work and life, a women have to take care of herself first. Overall, the job market is changing, and more women and men are openly expressing how important balancing work and life is to them. But this is not discouraging because, organizations now adays are discovering that in order to maintain top talent, they have to be family-friendly.
Women Role In Society
How the society defines a gender is what is the woman’s role in society is. Men and women are by no means equal. There are always going to be certain attributes of each gender that the other gender cannot duplicate. This does mean that the one is better than the other. Even though we are seeing more and more women succeeding in life than men, our society still defines a woman as unequal. Society has set men and women apart by labeling them. It is common for men to be seen as strong and women to be seen as weak. The society thinks that women cannot do jobs like men do or doesn’t fit for them to be; such as firefighters, security force and especially the role of leading a society like a headman, etc and if they do these jobs, the society looks at these women in a negative side because these jobs are masculine and women are not supposed to do these jobs. Furthermore, society defines a woman as a sensitive person; however in order to obtain these jobs, you have to be aggressive and tough and a woman is not like that. The gender wage gap is a very objective representation of an accepted form of male dominance, whether it is fair or not. In business, men have always been in control. Now, women are fighting for equality in the workplace. However, our society wants a woman to be a house wife, to just stay home and take care of children. Why should they? They have the right to make their own decisions. If a woman is interested in a job and meets the qualifications that employer requires, she should be considered eligible for that job. The point is that men have treated women as subordinates throughout history because that is what they have been taught by the culture: that women are not equal to men. When it comes to sexuality, the culture still does not defines women as equal. Women should be allowed to do whatever they desire in their heart, just like any men do. I see no reason other than ignorance that woman should be aware of in order to change the society’s perception.
Challenges For Women At Home And To Overcome Them.
If women are going to achieve balance in their lives and be able to have a career and a meaningful life outside of work, they will only achieve it with the good support around them, especially that of their partners. Many men are changing quite considerably around these issues. They are reassessing whether work is the be-all and end-all of everything. They have often learnt it the hard way after a relationship break-up because in the greatest majority of break-ups it is the woman who leaves. She leaves because her needs weren’t given sufficient weight in the relationship. There are also many young men today who saw their baby boomer fathers make absolute commitments to their jobs only to be retrenched in the later part of their lives by the companies to whom they had given their all. They have learnt from that – work isn’t everything.These men are much more team players with their women. They understand they are in a partnership and want to work on the work/family balance challenge together, taking their individual and respective needs into consideration.
There are, however, still men around with 1950s masculinity, especially in a country like ours, they are “happy” for their women to work if they can manage it around all their other commitments at home. They expect their working wives to do everything that their stay-at-home mothers did. They expect to have, outside of work, the freedom that their fathers had to do whatever they wanted to do – “because they’ve worked hard all week”. Their work is real work. They are the breadwinners. The work their women do is not real. It provides grocery money or school shoe money. When their women get overwhelmed by the responsibility of looking after everyone and everything, these men offer no support except to tell their wives that they will have to leave their job if they can’t cope.Many women do because relationships are important to women. But there are other ways around this. Women have to learn how to have those important conversations with the men about teamwork, partnerships and helping one another achieve their respective dreams.
Challenges For Women In TheWorkplace And To Overcome Them.
Women business owners and working women face certain challenges and obstacles that men do not. Working women who have children experience even more demands on time, energy and resources, and women face gender discrimination in business and on the job. But women are not less successful than men, in fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of all other businesses. Women are resourceful, and able to succeed, despite many challenges. Here are ways that women are overcoming the challenges facing women in business.
- Finding the Right Work-Life Balance For Busy Working Women.
Many women struggle with finding better ways to balance work and life and often this guilt comes from outside sources like pressure from husbands, family, and friends. Some women opt to spend more time with their families, while others, like billionaire and super entrepreneur Marilyn Carlson Nelson believe that women should not feel guilty about having a passion for work.
- Overcoming Gender Discrimination against Women in Business.
Gender lines are drawn early, and exclusions for women continue throughout adulthood. Not only are women discriminated against in private businesses, but also by the Federal government. Gender bias begins in elementary school continuing on into college. Even though more women hold higher degrees than men, they are still passed over for jobs that go to less-educated and less-qualified males, and they also receive less compensation than men for the same job.
- Women’s Business Issues and Political Challenges.
There are laws that protect women, and laws that hurt women in the workplace and it is important for women to consider how far they have come in legislative changes – and how far they have to go.
- Job Fields and Industries Women in Business Are Dominating.
Women do face many challenges including discrimination and are often paid less than men for doing the same job. But there are some industries where women are competing and even dominate. Knowing where women are succeeding can help them decide areas to grow their business and identify obstacles in male-dominated industries.
- Government Challenges and Resources for Women
The Government offers many programs and resources to help business women. But the government is also one of the worse offenders when it comes to discriminating against women in regards to awarding federal contracts. Knowing the resources available to women, this can help them compete better in both the private sector and for Government contracts.
- Finding Inspiration and Support From Other Business Women on Fire
In addition to having a mentor, many women find reading the success stories, tips, and advice from other women who are already successful in business helpful and inspiring. Women in business feature profiles of famous business women, as well as small businesses owned by successful women entrepreneurs, and working moms to encourage you on your own path to success.
Analysis of Primary Data
From the Primary data collected it is found that 40% of the respondents says that the workplace are changing and there are no gender inequality or women discrimination now in the present workplace. But a different view of the majority of 60% of the respondents admits that Gender inequality still exist now a days. The followings are the different opinions by the respondents during the interview with them.
Rita’s friend, Jenny Briganza, left her office because Sam Gera, barely a month old in the organization bagged a promotion over her. She quit her job because nobody from her company often made her feel ‘uncomfortable’ around him.
Archita Nayar, an executive with a Delhi based MNC is on the verge of quitting her job. The reason: Her boss recently pulled her cheeks while congratulating her for meeting her monthly targets.
Ramakanth Misra, a legal advisor says, “In today’s world being clueless about your legal rights is not cool, it is like roaming around in a war zone without a shield”.
As per the Indian legal system women are not helpless at all. They can battle almost any problem under the sun as long as you are aware of their rights.
Kamal Mehta, an advocate says, “The problem with most women in our society is that they are not aware of their legal rights despite being educated and holding a number of degrees.”
Atul Gupta, social worker says, “Women in our country have ample rights but have been brought up in such a way that they feel scared to raise their voice against injustice. They feel timid to fight back in this male dominated society. Only a handful of them have the guts to file a report or complain.”
Shalini Jain, HR Manager says, “Women feel insecure only because they are ignorant of the power and protection that the Indian Legal System offers them.”
A number of women suffer at their workplace. Whether it is the corporate world or a small retail outlet, most women have complaints about their boss’s inappropriate behaviour. Workplace woes can be sorted out provided you know what to do.
Garima Khanna, call centre executive says, “I was going crazy at my new office when a group of rowdy boys would corner me whenever they could and bombard sleazy jokes. My boss would never take this seriously. I then made a complaint in writing to the HR (Human Resource) Manager in my organization and immediate action was taken against the lot.”
Razia Khan, Senior Associate in an MNC says, “It was my second job and as per my faith, I had always cover my head with a scarf. My team leader started calling me ‘Taliban’ just because I was a Muslim. Initially, I ignored his remarks but the teasing continued. I soon realized that his comments were targeted in a communal way. I reported the matter to the ombudsperson in my office and an investigation was carried out in which my Team Leader was found guilty of harassment.”
Mira Nandi, executive in an event management firm says, “I went through a very hard time when my boss hit on me big time. He’d merrily walk past and slap my back or pinch me publicly. I reported sexual harassment and he was fired.”
Seema Ahuja, a Lawyer says, “The Supreme Court says that any act that has a sexual overtone/nature and causes you o feel uncomfortable amounts to sexual harassment. All you need to do is file a written complaint against such behavior to the HR department of your organization and take a receipt for it. There should be a person designated (a woman) to look into these issues as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court as your employer is bound by the law to provide a safe and conductive work environment to all the employees.”
Another common type of harassment at the workplace is gender bias. “If the boss tends to have a soft corner for the male species and treats women like dirt and is even paying women a lesser salary as compared with the male colleagues for the same post and same amount of work done by a women, it’s high time you read the Equal Remuneration Act to the boss”,says Liviana, a Lawyer.
Kavita Bishnoi, corporate counselor says, “The Equal Remuneration Act is applicable to all employees including those in the private and informal sectors. It states that employees of both genders doing the same or similar work of the same value be paid equal remuneration in cash and kind.”
Angita Choudhary, trainer in an MNC says, “I was infuriated when my boss gave me a call one week after my delivery and said that she was going to fire me because I had not told her that I was planning a baby at the time of joining the organization.”
It is often difficult to deal with an unsympathetic boss. But even she can’t do much about the Maternity Benefits Act. According to the Act a woman is entitled to payment during her maternity leave at the rate at which she was working prior to the leave period. The maximum period of maternity leave you are entitled to is 12 weeks, which can be taken either before or after the delivery. In case of a miscarriage or abortion, you are entitled to six weeks of paid leave. You can only apply for maternity leave if you have worked with the organization for a period of at least 80 days. It is prohibited to employ female employees during the six weeks after a delivery, miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.
In today’s world, stereotypical views about women’s suffrage, educational expectations and athletic abilities have all advanced over the years. In many aspects of our society, women are now expected to compete with their male counterparts. Currently, it is not uncommon to hear of a women CEO or Vice President in businesses or even a women politician. Women have now emerged from laundry rooms and kitchens across the country and changed the demographics of the world’s workforce. The best way to safeguard their own interests is to know all about the rights. Sitting with a legal counselor and get to know about it in a few hours is a good way to know all about the rights. Knowledge is power and if Women can make that extra effort to be aware of their rights, this will surely make their future secure at the workplace. After all, it is a choice to work in a healthy atmosphere conducive to growth or take the filth in the name of ignorance and live with it forever.
This new age mantra is only to remind all the divas that accessing their rights on time shows their smartness and capability of handling themselves. They need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and get rid of the ‘I’m the victim’ sign and fight back.
Books: In A Different Voice by Carol Gillian
- How Women Can Overcome Challenges in Business and The Workplace
- Women in Business Organization: ByJoan Curtis
- Women in the Workplace (http://ezinearticles.com/?Women-in-the- Workplace&id=777543)
- Challenges for Women Leaders (http://womenleadingthefuture.com/blog/challenges-women-leaders-0)
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