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Societies and economies can benefit from offering equal access to work and education for women and men. Gender equality in the labour market is seen as a multidimensional issue involving profits and quality of employment in terms of benefits, rights, and opportunities for individuals’ skills development (Nhamo, 2013). According to Ogunrin, Iyayi and Eghafona (2011), gender equality at work is considered a vital issue for economic and social development. When societies discriminate the employees based on their gender, they record a negative impact on the country’s economic development, and consequently a loss of talent as well as an overally lower quality of life. Gender inequality refers to “unequal treatment” of individuals based on their gender resulting in biology (Kabeer, 2016). These variations refer to differences in gender roles at all levels of society (Parcheta Kaifi & Khanfar, 2013). Moreover, GDP per capital losses due to gender gaps in the labour market were estimated at 27% in some regions (Mihail, 2006). Research at the international level suggests that companies which employ women at higher levels provide stronger organizational and economic performance and better corporate governance.
Although laws and guidelines have been enacted to provide equal opportunities at work, equal treatment and access to employment, gender inequality at work are considered to be a permanent phenomenon. According to Parcheta, Kaifi and Khanfar (2013), despite the high level of women’s education and the high level of their participation in the labour market, there are still disparities between the two genders such as salary differences and different levels of participation in management and higher levels of decision-making (Cook & Glass, 2014). Due to the lower revenues from the 2008 financial crisis, governments have begun to decrease expenses of the public service, gains, and job positions in the public sector. As explained (Mihail, 2006), these measures had a significant impact on female employees, both in the private and public sectors. More and more women feel insecure in their jobs. Even though they work for many hours, they are rewarded less and work in harder conditions than male employees. As Kabeer, (2016) explained, the practices and policies that are used by business personnel are related to the management of human resources. These practices require determining each employee’s policies, attracting different job positions, identifying needs for proper operation, choosing, training and employee development, management salaries and incentives and completing communication (Al-Alawi, 2016).
The role of human resources defines the relationship between the operation of human resources management (HRM) and the business strategy. In particular, staff members in the short term can be assessed by HRM. Additionally, HR managers can develop employee-training programs to increase staff qualifications, can create evaluation centers and develop plans for the professional development of their employees. In the long run, it helps the business to evolve its business strategy which is influenced by internal factors such as the size of the unit, the technology, the business life cycle, as well as external factors such as competition, the culture of society and trends of the labour market (Madanat & Khasawneh, 2018).
1.1 Background to Gender Inequality Worldwide
Today, the glass ceiling is considered an important issue as, in the United States, it is estimated that men hold 97% of the top positions, while in South Africa they hold 87% of the top positions. At the international level, progress in gender equality at work is halting during a slowdown, exacerbating economic conditions and, more specifically, the position of women in work. For Balkan countries, the glass ceiling can be noted as significant as they have made progress in gender equality at work in recent years, which was postponed due to the recent global economic downturn (Anastasiou, Filippidis & Stergiou, 2015). In Greece, the size of the economy declined by 23% in 2007 Jonathan said 2007 is long time ago, while the unemployment rate increased (Anastasiou, Filippidis & Stergiou, 2015) autousio . At the same time, there have been reductions in the country’s social spending, highlighting the notion that in times of crisis, social benefits can act as “social stabilizers”.
The economic recession and austerity measures in the country have had a negative impact on both male and female participation on employment. Initially, the crisis had a greater impact on male employment, but the employment of women was also negatively affected. Depression was much deeper than expected, causing a visible rise in unemployment, especially for young people and women, which reached more than 27% of the workforce in mid-2013 (OECD, 2013).
Consequently, compared to the rest of the European Union, Greece has the highest female unemployment and the most important gap between female and male unemployment (Blanas, et al., 2014). The current crisis in Greece seems to have changed the composition of the population into poverty affecting only women and younger people who are placed at the bottom of the income distribution and are more likely to be unemployed or with a low salary. As a result, Mihail (2006) explained that gender inequalities in Greece are more noticeable than in any other EU countries.
Today’s Greek businesses employ more and more women, but in most cases, they work in lower administration. According to Anastasiou, Filippidis and Stergiou (2015), more and more women in Greece register in business management programs to acquire all the necessary skills and knowledge to advance to the business as managers. However, among graduates ten years ago, the percentage of women who have taken senior management positions is much lower than that of their male equals. On average, only 11% of the members of the board of directors among the 280 largest Greek firms were women, while the corresponding figure in all multinational subsidiaries was zero (Mihail, 2006).
Gender inequalities in promotion within the banking industry are an important subject of research. It seems that women tend to claim and rise to higher positions, indicating that they can face a glass ceiling (De Alwis & Bombuwela, 2013). Although women may have the same knowledge and skills as men, they can face many obstacles in their career development. This proposed dissertation examines employees in Greek private sector banks. Additionally, this research intends to address specific hypotheses.
1.3 Research Question
The main objective of this research is to understand the challenges that affect the career development of women in the Greek banking sector. Additionally, the research aims to examine human resources practices that affect the gender inequalities of women in the banking sector.
1.4 Research Objectives
1) To understand the debates about gender inequalitiesin the work place. The impact of these on women’s career development.
2) To identify the particular challenges facing women in the Greek banking sector.
3) To understand what impact HRM practices can have in the career of women in the Greek banking sector.
4) To make recommendations to HRM in the Greek banking sector about how organisations could improve women’s career development.
Human Resource Management (HRM) aims at effective staff management. This function is about managing people at work and includes five elements relating to the recruitment and selection of people in jobs, the management of reward systems, training and development of employees, the retention of workers through workplace safety management, health and welfare policies and industrial relations (Cook & Glass, 2014). The issue of gender discrimination is a key element of the functioning of HRM (Madanat & Khasawneh, 2018).
A key aspect of unfair discrimination in recruitment is the practice by which people are selected in jobs based on the stereotyped job description of men and women. In addition, jobs that tend to be for women involve the same tasks they carry out outside their workplace, thus copying the hierarchy of a situation that exists between the two genders in the wider society. The result is a long-term pattern where women are concentrated in a predictable low-range, low-wage and low-skilled job (Al-Alawi, 2016).
Gender inequalities demonstrate in different behaviors in a phase of the employment process. Nhamo (2013) explained that discrimination cannot be only considered as a direct type. Nevertheless, the most discrimination against women refers to an indirect type which is often unrecognized by most people. More specifically, De Alwis and Bombuwela (2013) claimed that direct discrimination is noticeable such as some external or internal job advertisements which specify the gender, in this case, men, which can be measured as candidates (Al-Alawi, 2016). Moreover, Nhamo (2013) explained that indirect gender discrimination refers to a condition or requirement which is applied in the same way to women and men. However, this condition has a negative impact in practice to a much larger amount of one gender than the other.
Gender inequalities and salary variation in the human capital estimate only a part of the vacuum of power in the workplace (Nhamo, 2013). Gender is a key aspect of work organizations in industrial societies. Employers assume that men are more responsible than women for family income and that participation in paid work is the main pursuit of their lives. Women receive lower wages than men even when their working age, level, education, and work experience are limited. Women were never more than a small part of Fortune 500 CEOs. In 2004, eight women were 1.6% of the executives of these companies (Parcheta, Kaifi & Khanfar, 2013). Among the reasons for the glass ceiling is the lack of standard roles, guidance, networking capabilities, and the complexity of the dual role as a working woman and a housekeeper (De Alwis & Bombuwela, 2013). Al-Alawi (2016) explained that it is considered a stereotype and a preference of a society that women do not take positions of authority.
The ‘glass ceiling’ is considered a barrier which prevents some employees, particularly women, from progressing to higher job positions (Al-Alawi, 2016). Additionally, this research has been encouraged to examine the gender inequalities in the bank sector and the impact on Human Resources Management. As Parcheta, Kaifi and Khanfar (2013) note, women face certain limitations during their career process despite their high skills, knowledge, and ambitions. Islam and Jantan (2017) concluded that maternity leave considers as the main aspects of women’s lower salaries compared to men, and consequently lower career advancements. Even though women have formed a significant presence in most occupations in recent years, there is an inadequate amount of women in senior-level job positions in the bank sector, as revealed the study which carried out by Al-Alawi, (2016). The researcher concluded that there are different barriers and factors such as personal life conflicts, cultures, family concerns, regulations as well as rules. One of the barriers refers to women mainly take care of the children. Furthermore, Mayson (2013) explained that in career progression there may not be obstacles between women as well as men. Nevertheless, women still have less position at higher levels of management than men. The survey examined 800 women and men bankers throughout the UK and showed that a combination of organizational and cultural barriers make it even more hard for female bankers to rise to the top levels (Mayson, 2013).
As stated in the introduction, the main purpose of this dissertation is to comprehend gender inequality in the workplace examining the banking sector in Greece. Equality in the workplace for both genders is directly related to satisfaction resulting productivity and increases the profitability of a business. Satisfaction and performance are concepts of human potential with different theories describing their relationships. This chapter will approach the research that will be followed by the researcher while seeking to confirm the hypotheses presented in the first chapter.
The philosophy of research is considered important for the development of knowledge. More specifically, as reported by Bryman and Bell (2015) a research philosophy collects, analyzes and exploits data about a phenomenon that needs discussion.
In order to create knowledge, researchers need to collect primary and secondary data which have to analyze them. In this way, researchers will be able to answer the research questions or hypotheses that indicate the creation of new knowledge. The determination of the research philosophy is placed on the outer layer of a research onion (Figure 1), therefore it is the first issue to be clarified in the chapter of its research methodology (Al-Zefeiti & Mohammad, 2015).
Figure 1 Research Onion
Source: Al-Zefeiti & Mohammad (2015)
It can be mentioned that the choice of this particular research philosophy is influenced by practical hypotheses which came from the research of previous significant studies. Researchers should choose between positive and interpretive research philosophers or between quantitative and qualitative research methods that will address a particular issue. However, the latest developments in the practice of studying have increased the popularity of pragmatism and realism philosophies (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2016). Hence, the next paragraph describes the approach followed by this study.
An important element of the research methodology that directly influences the choice of specific research methods refers to the research approach, which can be divided into inductive and deductive categories. According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2016), whether researchers seek answers to specific research questions formed at the beginning of the research process, the research approach is considered to be inductive. Otherwise, if researchers choose to respond to research objectives through hypotheses, the research approach may be defined as deductive. Hence, this research will have a deductive approach.
The data displayed in a survey may be either primary or secondary. Primary data relates to data that has not been previously published. Additionally, it is collected for a specific purpose, such as critically analyzed to find answers to research questions. Moreover, secondary data refers to previously published data in magazines, newspapers, books, online libraries, and other sources. In order to comprehend the subject under examination, this research will collect data through primary and secondary research. According to Scott and Garner (2013), primary surveys can be categorized into quantitative and qualitative data. The most popular quality methods for collecting and analyzing data include interviews, focus groups, observation, case studies, games and role play. Additionally, as Bryman and Bell (2015) claimed the most successful quantitative methods of data collection and analysis are reported in correlation analysis, regression analysis, and others. This study will be examined through a qualitative method. In particular, the survey will be conducted through interviews. The researcher will conduct ten interviews with women that are employed in the Greek banking sector.
Qualitative data refers to non-numeric information, such as interviews, notes, video, and audio recordings, pictures and text documents. In addition, qualitative data analysis can be categorized into a content analysis, narrative analysis, speech analysis, framework, and grounded theory. In this survey, the data will be examined by content analysis, which refers to a behavioral classification process for sorting, summarizing, and ranking the data. Moreover, Bryman and Bell (2015) explained that this type of analysis can be performed on specific steps. These include the development and implementation of codes, the identification of subjects and relationships as well as the summary of the data.
According to Bryman and Bell (2015), coding can be explained as data categorization. A code may be a word or a short phrase that represents a subject or an idea. As a result, the researcher can codify a wide range of non-quantifiable elements such as facts, behaviors as well as activities (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2016). Furthermore, as explained by Mayer (2015), in contrast to quantitative methods, a qualitative data analysis have no ledgers applicable techniques that can be applied for the creation of findings. Additionally, analytical and critical thinking skills of the researcher have a significant role in the analysis of data and consequently, there is no qualitative study that can repeat or produce the same results. Moreover, Scott and Garner (2013) stated that research findings should be linked to hypotheses or research purposes and objectives.
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