Women's & gender studies

Women’s & gender studies

It has been said that, in order to attain fully productive and sustainable societies, women’s position in  the workplace and in the economy must be enhanced.

How can societies support women in the workplace and in the economy?  Think about the working women in your lives. What are key elements of support that they might have needed to succeed (or just to keep their jobs?)Please post your thoughts. Remember to integrate academic material here.
The challenge is to increase the OPPORTUNITIES that society offers women, and to enhance the ABILITY of women to take advantage of those opportunities.
Both come hand in hand.
Opportunity defined:
A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.
A favorable or suitable occasion or time.
A chance for progress or advancement.
Social structures and influences, including political, economic, cultural and social systems profoundly affect women’s opportunities. They also impact women’s contributions to, and women’s share in the benefits of economic activity.
Research conducted by Catalyst, an organization dedicating to advancing women in business, shows the following:
In 2001, women earned 57.3% of all Bachelor’s degrees in the US, 58.5 of all Master’s degrees, 44.9% of all doctorates and 47.3% of all law degrees.
In 2002, women made up 46% of the US labor force and 50.5% of management and professional specialty positions.
In 2002,  nearly one half (46% of all privately held businesses in the US were either 50% owned or majority owned by women, employing 18.1 million people and generating $2.3 trillion in sales.
Source: Catalyst 2011)   In 2010:
Women made up 46.7% of the labor force.3
58.6% of all women 16 years and over were in the labor force, compared to 71.2% of all men.4
Women comprised 51.5% of management, professional and related positions.5 For racially and ethnically diverse women specifically:
African-American women comprised 5.3% (2,751,000) of all people employed in management, professional, and related occupations6
Asian-American women comprised 2.8% (1,437,000) of all people employed in management, professional, and related occupations7
Latinas comprised 3.8% (1,952,000) of all people employed in management, professional, and related occupations8
In 2009:
56.6% of all mothers with children under the age of 1 were in the labor force9
The labor force participation rate of parents with children under the age of 18 was 71.4% for mothers and 93.8% for fathers.10
“Despite the growing numbers of educated women entering the workforce, as well as their increasing buying power and influence, Catalyst research shows that women continue to hold only a small proportion of leadership positions in business”
Women represent:
46% of US labor force
50% of managerial/specialty positions
15% of corporate officers
13% of board directors
7.9% of highest titles
5.2 % of top earners
8 Fortune 500 CEO’s are women.

(Source:www.Catalyst.org, Bottom Line  Report)
Catalyst asked women executives from Fortune 1000 companies what holds women back:
Women reported a lack of significant general management or line experience.
It can be said that women are facing barriers to the kind of positions where they can develop the experience and skills necessary to advancement in the business world.
In truth, in the last 40 years we have seen tremendous change  in terms of women’s presence in the workplace.

Women are excluded from informal networks that are critical to success.
The “old boys network” cliché lives on in different forms and impacts women’s access to opportunities. Informal networks are sources of strategic information and relationships building that help their members advance. When women are excluded they lose access to those benefits.
Question: how does this exclusion happen? Any thoughts, experiences?
Lack of support from the top: senior leadership not accountable for women’s advancement.
Bottom line, there is a notion that change in organizations must be supported from the top. When leaders ask tough questions about diversity and hold themselves and others accountable for more equitable environments, change happens.
Question: What does it take to change the behavior of leaders?

Stereotyping and preconceptions of their roles and abilities presents a challenge in the workplace.
Women in the workforce confront persistent, gender based  stereotypes about their lack of ambition. In addition, expectations of their performance are based on these stereotypes. In a study on

Women’s commitment to personal or family responsibilities were cited by the women as a factor in lack of advancement.
Women’s commitment to personal or family responsibilities were cited by the women as a factor in lack of advancement.
As  women have engaged the realities of balancing work and family responsibilities, the notion of the “superwoman” has emerged. This idealized female can fully combine the requirements of the formal work force and the continued requirements of the domestic realm.
Questions: What is possible? At what price?  What changes need to be made in order to secure women’s opportunities and advancement in the workplace?
In an article in the American Psychological Association’s Journal, its former president , Diane Halpern, discusses this issue:
The basic premise: Despite huge changes in the workforce over the last 40 years, the world of work is still largely organized around one single earner  and one stay at home caregiver model.
Halpern states: “the increase in the number of mothers in the workplace, especially mothers of young children is one of the largest social changes of the last half of the 20th century”
She calls this “a silent revolution”.
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