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EXERCISE 3 each question need to be ½ a page


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3.1:  Discuss the various definitions (Powell, pp. 153-156) and experiences

        (Powell pp. 159-161) of sexual harassment.


3.2:  Evaluate the evolutionary, sociocultural, organizational,

        gender role spillover, and individual differences models of sexual

        harassment (Powell, pp. 156-159).  Which model seem most

        accurate to you and why? 


3.3:  Outline the parameters of sexual harassment described by the

        EEOC (Florence, pp. 60-63).  Describe how and when an employer

        is liable for damages (Florence, pp. 64-68).


3.4:  Discuss the various elements of the key precedent decision for

        Sexual harassment (Florence, pp. 68-73).


3.5:  Explain how the Supreme Court broadened the scope of Title VII

        (Florence, pp. 73-76), and the significance of these rulings.


3.6:  Discuss the issue of sexual harassment by women (Florence,

        (pp. 78-81).  Do the motives of men vs. women who harass

        differ?  Justify your answer.


3.7:  Describe the steps to stopping sexual harassment (Florence,

        pp. 85-89).  Are these steps effective?  Why or why not?


3.8:  Describe common beliefs and explanations regarding workplace   

        romances (Powell, pp. 161-168).  Present your own views concerning

        organizational romances and cite justification for your views.


3.9:  Discuss the role of organizational culture in dealing with issues of

        sexual harassment and organizational romances (Powell, pp. 168-175). 


3.10:  If you were the leader of an organization, what would be your policies  

          regarding organizational romances?  Explain your reasoning.

To Laura Graves for her love and support and to the memory of my
grandmother Edna Powell for all the quarters and much more


University of Connecticut

Foreword ix

Belle Rose Ragins

Acknowledgments xii

1. Sex, Gender, and Work 1

On the Psychology of Sex 1

Sex Versus Gender 4

Dimensions of Diversity 5

Watching Out for Biases 7

Organization of the Book 9

2. Yesterday and Today 14

Girl Power at School, but Not at the Office 14

The 20th Century: A Century of Change 15

The First Half 15

The Second Half 17

A Snapshot of the Present 24

The Sex Segregation of Occupations 26

The Sex Gap in Earnings 30

Looking Forward 33

3. Becoming Women and Men 38

Boys Mow Lawns, Girls Do Dishes 38

Sex Differences 40

Children’s Interests and Activities 40

Adults’ Social Behavior 44

Gender Stereotypes 45

Gender Identity 47

Sexism 50

Nature and Nurture 52

Gender Socialization 54

Parents 54

Schools 57

The Mass Media 59

Beyond Gender Stereotypes and Roles 62

Limitations of Gender Stereotypes 62

Limitations of Gender Roles 63

What’s Next? 64

4. Making Employment Decisions 74

Laura M. Graves & Gary N. Powell

Out of Sight Keeps Women in Mind 74

Self-Selection Decisions 75

Reactions to Jobs 76

Reactions to Organizations 79

Job Search Behavior 81

Selection Decisions 84

How and When Does Sex Discrimination Occur? 84

Who Discriminates Against Whom? 88

Improving Employment Decisions 91

Improving Self-Selection Decisions 91

Improving Selection Decisions 93

5. Working in Diverse Teams 103

Laura M. Graves & Gary N. Powell

Lehman Brothers and Sisters 103

Sex Effects 104

Sex Similarity Effects 106

Sex Diversity Effects 109

The Importance of Situational Factors 110

Making Mixed-Sex Teams Work 114

Proactive Organizations and Team Leaders 116

Responsible Team Members 118

6. Leading People 126

The Gender and Leadership Wars 126

Leader Preferences 129

Leader Stereotypes 130

Attitudes Toward Women as Leaders 134

Leader Behavior and Effectiveness 136

Theories of Leadership 136

Gender Stereotypes and Leadership Theories 139

Sex Differences 140

Promoting Effective Leadership 143

7. Dealing With Sexuality in the Workplace 151

Touching Me, Touching You-at Work 151

Sexual Harassment 153

Definitions 153

Explanations 156

Experiences 159

Workplace Romance 161

Causes 161

Dynamics 163

Consequences 165

Addressing the Intersection of Sexuality and Work 168

Sexual Harassment 168

Workplace Romance 172

8. Managing the Work-Family Interface 180

Jennifer’s Story 180

We Are Family 183

A Juggling Act 186

Work and Family as Enemies 187

Work and Family as Allies 189

Work and Family as Segmented or Integrated 191

The Meaning of Success 192

Work-Family Decisions 195

Decision About Whether to Work Part-Time or Full-Time 195

Decision About Whether to Start a Business 196

Decision About Number of Hours to Devote to Job or Business 197

Decision About Whether to Have a Voluntary Employment Gap 197

Decision About Whether to Quit a Job 198

Being Family-Friendly 199

Family-Friendly Initiatives 199

Family-Friendly Culture 202

Balancing Work and Family 203

The Rest of Jennifer’s Story 206

9. Promoting Nondiscrimination, Diversity, and Inclusion 213

We Love Diversity 213

Legal Requirements 215

Refraining From Discrimination 215

Taking Affirmative Action 220

Business Imperatives 221

Why Promote Diversity? 222

Why Promote Inclusion? 224

Organizational Actions 226

Setting and Communicating Goals 227

Identifying and Rewarding the Right Behavior 229

Stimulating Employee Involvement 231

Educating Employees 233

Implementing Cultural Change 235

Conclusions for the Book 236

Index 241

About the Author 249

About the Contributor 251

“We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political
rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us
and our daughters forever.”

-Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

“Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an
assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly
promoted as a male schlemiel.”

-Bella Abzug (1920-1998)

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”

-Gloria Steinem (1934)

hen the first edition of Women & Men in Management was
published in 1988, the field was just emerging as an established area of
scientific inquiry. Groundswells of new studies were being published, and
excitement was in the air. We felt like we were discovering vast new
frontiers of knowledge-the Wild West of Research. But our excitement was
quickly tempered when we looked at the data. The picture was bleak: gender
discrimination was rampant, the glass ceiling was glacier-thick, and women
earned 70% of the pay of their male counterparts 2 But we were optimistic.
Surely things would change once the inequities were uncovered? We
remained confident that gender equity was just around the corner and that by
the turn of the century women would receive equal status in the workplace.

Time passed, and over 20 years later, we have made precious little
progress toward that goal. In the United States, women are more likely than
men to pursue undergraduate and most graduate degrees, but earn only 80%
of the pay of their male counterparts.3 It appears that the glass ceiling is
made of kryptonite; only 13.5% of women have made it to the Fortune 500
executive suite, and women are actually losing ground in some states.4 Even
as women are poised to become the majority of the workforce, they
increasingly encounter workplaces replete with harassment and
discrimination, experiences that are amplified for women who face a double
or triple “whammy” based on their race, ethnicity, disability, weight,
religion, socioeconomic class, or sexual orientations

But the critical challenge before us is not our lack of progress, it is the
myth of equity: the unfounded belief that stereotyping and discrimination are
things of the past. Whether it is based on wishful thinking, myopia, or just
plain propaganda, the myth of equity is perhaps most damaging when held
by the younger generation of women. These young women can be seen
thanking the early “trailblazers” for forging the path to workplace equity, as
if somehow the trailblazers banished sexism with a swift wave of their laser
sword or magic wand. The trailblazers shake their heads; they recognize that

gender equity remains more of a wish than a reality, that misogyny is alive
and well within and outside the workplace, and that the bright young women
marching into the workforce will be greeted with virulent new strains of
modern sexism that are more pernicious and damaging than ever. These
resistant new strains are entrenched deep in our psyche and, like the strains
of old, distort our perceptions and frame our expectations. The classic 1950s
film clip of the female secretary being chased around the desk by her
lecherous male boss has been replaced with a new DVD featuring either
Sigourney Weaver perched on her throne of a desk, ready to be toppled, or
Sandra Bullock, realizing-thank God not too late-that work can never take
the place of a real man. These young women are now told that they can have
it all-and they believe it. And if they don’t get it all-well, they have only
themselves to blame. We rarely witness their male counterparts grappling
with these issues. The myth of equity persists and permeates our
expectations of ourselves and of others.

So it is now, more than ever before, that we need this new edition of
Women and Men in Management. This gem of a book shines the brightest in
these dark times. Gary Powell has once again produced a volume that
documents the current state of research on gender in the workplace. The
author does a spectacular job of synthesizing an array of over 700 studies
and articles that document not only the current state of gender in the
workforce, but also the full range of developmental, social, and societal
variables that have led to this current state of affairs. This book not only
challenges the myth of equity-it roundly refutes it-and not a moment too

We are grateful for such a fine volume. Now, if only it came out in


1. Belle Rose Ragins is Professor of Human Resource Management
at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

2. Powell, G. (1988). Women and men in management. Newbury
Park, CA: Sage; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics. (1987). Employment and Earnings 34 (6), computed from p.
46, table A-22.

3. U.S. Census Bureau. (2006). Majority of undergrads and grad
students are women, Census Bureau reports. Retrieved January 5,
2010, from http://www.census .gov/Press-
Release/www/releases/archives/education/007909.html; Marklein, M.
(October, 19, 2005). College gender gap widens: 57% are women.
USA Today. Retrieved January 5, 2010, from 2005-10-19-male-college-
cover_x.htm; U.S. Census Bureau. (2009). Census Bureau releases
data showing relationship between education and earnings. Retrieved
January 5, 2010, from
Release/www/releases/archives/education/ 013618.html; U.S.
Department of Labor. (2008). Quick stats on women workers, 2008.
Retrieved January 5, 2010, from; Institute for Women’s Policy
Research (2009). The gender wage gap: 2008. Retrieved January 5,
2010 from

4. Catalyst. (2009). 2009 Catalyst Census of the Fortune 500 reveals
women missing from critical business leadership. Retrieved December
28, 2009, from 161 /2009-
critical-business-leadership; Milwaukee Women Inc. (2007). Missed
opportunities in corporate leadership: 2007 Executive summary report.
Retrieved July 10, 2009, from

5. Rampell, C. (February 5, 2009). As layoffs surge, women may
pass men in job force. New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2010,
from 2009/02/06/business/06women.html;
Ragins, B. R., Cornwell, J. M., & Miller, J. S. (2003). Heterosexism in
the workplace: Do race and gender matter? Group and Organization

Management, 28,1,45-74; Dipboye, R. L., & Colella, A. (Eds.) (2005).
Discrimination at work: The psychological and organizational bases.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

any people contributed to the preparation of this fourth
edition of Women and Men in Management. I wish to express my deepest
gratitude to:

1. Laura Graves for being a terrific collaborator on Chapters 4 and 5 of this
edition as well as coauthor of the previous edition.

2. Tony Butterfield for being my great mentor, collaborator, colleague, and

3. The School of Business of the University of Connecticut, for giving me
the opportunity to teach the course on Women and Men in Management
that won the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
(AACSB) Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women Innovation
Award and inspired the writing of this book.

4. My colleagues in the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division
(formerly Women in Management Division) of the Academy of
Management, for providing both a forum for the sharing of research
findings and a stimulus for creative thinking on this topic.

5. My parents, Norm and Zina Powell, for being as encouraging and
supportive as parents could ever be.

6. Tiger the Cat for unlimited love, affection, and play.

7. Again, and most of all, Laura Graves, my wife and favorite colleague, for
standing by me all the way.

There is perhaps no field aspiring to be scientific where flagrant
personal bias, logic martyred in the cause of supporting a prejudice,
unfounded assertions, and even sentimental rot and drivel, have run riot
to such an extent as here.’

Psychologists love dichotomies. There are always two kinds of people.

ur story begins from a pithy word from the first psychologist to
undertake an extensive and systematic examination of the psychological
characteristics of the sexes 3 In 1910, Helen Thompson Woolley issued a
stinging indictment of research about the topic of sex differences that is
quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Since then, thousands of studies on
the topic of have been published by scholars around the world. Has anything

One century later, Susan Fiske, a prominent modern-day psychologist,
offered the humorous take on psychologists who conduct research about sex
differences that appears in the second quote above. When psychologists
consider the characteristics of two groups such as men and women, they tend
to view members of the two groups as opposite in traits. This tendency in
turn influences the psychologists’ research, including the topics studied, the
labels assigned to traits, and the interpretation of results and conclusions
reached. It is also exhibited in popular conceptions of how the sexes differ.
For example, John Gray’s best-selling book, Men Are from Mars, Women

Are from Venus, asserted that women and men are so different in personal
traits that they might as well be from different planets. Not all people agree;
on a Web site titled The Rebuttal from Uranus, Susan Hamson slammed
Gray’s book as “a sexist, patronizing, male-centered invective which does
little more than perpetuate long-held negative gender stereotypes.” However,
even if psychologists and other observers are predisposed to believe that sex
differences in personal traits are prevalent, this does not necessarily mean
that sex differences are absent. Moreover, even if sex differences in personal
traits that men and women bring to the workplace are minimal, their
experiences in the workplace may differ dramatically.’

Women and Men in Management, Fourth Edition, examines the evolving
roles and experiences of women and men in the global workplace.
Significant changes have occurred over the last half-century in the status of
women and men and in their interactions at work. However, sharply different
views have been offered about the implications of these changes for the
workplace of the future. Some believe that all of the needed changes have
taken place and remaining sex-based inequalities in the workplace will
continue to erode. According to an optimistic view of trends toward gender
equality, the inevitable consequence of egalitarian values among parents to
provide their daughters and sons with similar opportunities, among citizens
to support legal interventions such as antidiscrimination laws and
requirements for family leaves, and among organizations to offer women-
friendly programs such as on-site child care will be equal opportunities and
pay for women and men. In short, the day will come when a person’s sex no
longer matters at work.5

However, others believe that needed changes have stalled and remaining
sex-based inequalities are now entrenched. According to a pessimistic view,
although men are doing more housework, they are not exactly embracing the
opportunity to take on equal responsibility with their female partners for
child care and other household demands. Also, although women have sought
access to male-intensive occupations (those in which two thirds or more of
the workforce is male) in greater numbers, fewer men have sought access to
female-intensive occupations (those in which two thirds or more of the

workforce is female). Further, the legal requirement of equal opportunities
for women and men in the workplace is not equivalent to a societal
commitment to ensure that they will be similarly oriented to take advantage
of such opportunities. Although we do not know whether the future will
offer greater support for the optimistic or pessimistic view, the evidence
about the present state of affairs in the workplace offers a more mixed

The role of women in the workplace has been expanding steadily
worldwide. In the United States, the proportion of women in the labor force
(i.e., the proportion of all adults employed or seeking employment who are
women), which was 42% in 1980, has risen to 47%. This proportion varies
widely across countries, for example, 14% in Saudi Arabia, 27% in
Morocco, 37% in Chile, and 48% in Finland. However, the trend in almost
all countries has been in the same direction, toward the increased
employment of women. Similarly, although the proportion of women in
management in different countries varies widely due to differences in
national culture and definitions of the term manager, the trend in almost all
countries has been toward the increased representation of women in the
managerial ranks.’

Despite these trends, female managers are concentrated in the lower
management levels and hold positions with less authority than men. The
higher the level of the organization, the fewer women are found. Although
definitions of what constitutes “top management” vary among companies,
the proportion of female executive officers, typically considered as top
management, is only 14% in Fortune 500 corporations and less than 5% in
many nations. Women are also underrepresented in corporate boards,
consisting of 15% of board directors in Fortune 500 corporations (the 500
highestgrossing closely held and public U.S. corporations), 12% of board
directors in FTSE 100 companies (the 100 most highly capitalized United
Kingdom companies listed on the London Stock Exchange), and about 10%
of board directors in the largest companies listed on the national stock
exchange of European Union member states. Around the world, a glass
ceiling appears to restrict women’s access to top management positions

solely because they are women. Women are not allowed to advance in
managerial hierarchies as far as men with equivalent credentials.’

The economic status of women in the workplace remains lower than that
of men. The average female full-time worker continues to be paid less than
the average male full-time worker. This gap is partly due to the lower
average wages of workers in female-intensive occupations than that of
workers in male-intensive occupations. Also, women are paid less than men
in the same occupation and often in the same job. The ratio of female-to-
male wages for similar work is below 100% in all nations for which the
World Economic Forum reports data, with the highest value for Uzbekistan
(83%) and the lowest value for Bolivia (45%); the ratio for the United States
is 67%, ranking 64th out of 125 nations.’

The global labor force also remains sharply segregated on the basis of sex.
In recent years, women have shown more interest in entering maleintensive
occupations than men have shown in entering female-intensive occupations,
which is not surprising because workers in male-intensive occupations are
the higher paid. However, women continue to be crowded into a lower-
paying set of occupations than are men.9

Thus, differences in workplace status according to biological sex remain
strong, even though there have been considerable changes. Is it only a matter
of time until the proportions of women and men in all managerial levels and
all occupations become essentially equal, until women and men are paid
equal wages for equal work, and until individuals’ work experiences are
unaffected by their biological sex? As we shall see, it will depend on actions
that organizations and individuals take.

In this book, we make a distinction between two frequently used terms: sex
and gender. The term sex (or biological sex) refers to the binary categories of
male and female, which are determined by biological characteristics of

individuals such as their physiological properties and reproductive
apparatus. The term gender refers to the psychosocial implications of being
male or female, such as beliefs and expectations about what kinds of
attitudes, behaviors, skills, values and interests are more appropriate for or
typical of one sex than the other. Thus, gender is a term used in a social
context to refer to the role associated with being male or female.”

The study of sex differences examines how males and females actually
differ. In contrast, the study of gender differences focuses on how people
believe that males and females differ. For example, a sex difference in
leadership style would exist if female leaders were more considerate of their
subordinates than were male leaders. There would be a gender difference in
leadership style if people believed that female leaders were more considerate
of their subordinates than were male leaders. However, there could be a
gender difference in leadership style without a corresponding sex difference,
and vice versa. Furthermore, gender differences can cause sex differences.
For example, if parents believe that the developmental needs of their sons
differ from those of their daughters, they may raise their children in ways
that reinforce that belief. In the same vein, if supervisors believe that the
skills and interests of their female and male subordinates differ, they may
assign tasks to their subordinates in ways that reinforce that belief. In each
case, the result is a self-fulfilling prophecy-when expectations cause
behavior that makes the expectations come true. We identify many
workplace situations in which self-fulfilling prophecies are likely to occur.”

As we consider the effects of sex differences on work-related behavior, we
also need to consider the effects of gender differences. Sex differences
influence how people are disposed to behave in work settings. Gender
differences influence how people react to others’ behavior in such settings.
Gender differences are manifested in stereotypes, prejudice, and
discrimination. A stereotype is a set of beliefs about the personal attributes
of a group of people. Stereotyping is a cognitive activity, related to thinking,
learning, and remembering distinctions between various groups of people. In
contrast, people who display prejudice, or a negative attitude toward
members of other groups, are engaging in an emotional activity. Finally,

discrimination, a behavioral activity, is exhibited in how people treat
members of other groups and in the decisions they make about others. We
have reason to be concerned about all three of these phenomena. All of us
maybe targets of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In addition, we
may engage in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.12

Sex represents only one of many personal characteristics that may influence
individuals’ experiences in the workplace. People differ in many ways, some
of which are changeable, others less amenable to change. Primary
dimensions of diversity are essentially unchangeable personal characteristics
that exert significant lifelong impacts. Sex is a primary dimension of
diversity, along with race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and physical
abilities/disabilities. Together, primary dimensions of diversity shape our
basic self-image and sense of identity. They affect our early learning
experiences, and there is typically no escaping their impact throughout the
course of our lives.”

Secondary dimensions of diversity, on the other hand, are changeable
personal characteristics. These characteristics are acquired and may be
modified or abandoned throughout life. Education, income, marital and
parental status, religion, political affiliation, and work experience are some
secondary dimensions of diversity of importance to many people. People
also distinguish themselves in many other ways, such as in their choices of
collegiate fraternities or sororities, hobbies, activities, voluntary
associations, clothing and grooming style, and music preferences. Of course,
a person does not completely determine his or her secondary characteristics.
For instance, educational background, work experience, income, or marital
status will be affected by other people’s decisions. However, people
generally have more control over the secondary dimensions of diversity in
their lives than over the primary dimensions of diversity.

The primary dimensions of diversity may fall into different categories,
including whether group membership is visible and whether it is regarded as
changeable. For example, sexual orientation is not necessarily observable
and opinions differ as to whether it is changeable. As a result, gays and
lesbians face decisions about “coming out.” They may decide to disclose

their sexual orientation to family members and friends on a person-to-person
basis based on the level of trust in the relationship and the anticipated
reaction to the disclosure. However, they are unlikely to disclose their sexual
orientation to coworkers if they perceive or fear workplace discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation.”

In contrast, sex is highly visible and not easily changed. People have little
choice about “coming out” as female or male. The psychologist Sandra Bern
once asked audience members if they had ever known anyone personally
without noticing that person’s sex. Few could answer yes. Sex is an
important characteristic to most people when forming their impression of
someone. Even if sex is not important to a particular person’s own sense of
identity, other people may be influenced by their beliefs and expectations
associated with that person’s sex.

Thus, people categorize themselves and may be categorized by others
along many different dimensions of diversity, both primary and secondary.
The focus of this book is the influence of categorizations of people
according to sex on what transpires in the workplace. However, sex is not
isolated from other dimensions of diversity. The effect of sex on how people
develop their senses of identity and on how they are treated in the workplace
cannot be separated from the effects of race, ethnicity, age, sexual
orientation, physical abilities/disabilities, and various secondary dimensions
of diversity.

Researchers often ignore the interdependence of sex and other dimensions
of diversity. For example, many studies of sex or gender differences have not
reported the racial or ethnic group of the individuals who were the focus of
the study. By ignoring issues of race and ethnicity, such studies reflect an
underlying assumption that sex and gender differences are similar across all
racial and ethnic groups. That is, White women, Black women, Hispanic
women, Asian women, and women of other racial and ethnic groups are
assumed to have similar personal characteristics and experiences, as are
White men, Black men, Hispanic men, Asian men, and so on. We need to
guard against making such assumptions ourselves.”

In addition, people often compare the effects of stereotyping, prejudice,
and discrimination on the basis of different dimensions of diversity and offer
conclusions about which “ism” (e.g., sexism, racism, ageism, heterosexism)
has worse consequences. For example, Hillary Clinton, a White woman, and
Barack Obama, a man often characterized as Black although he is of mixed
race, were leading contenders for the nomination of the Democratic Party for
the U.S. presidency in the 2008 election; Obama won the nomination and
subsequent election. During the campaign, considerable debate took place in
the media over which candidate was subject to greater discrimination,
Clinton on the basis of sex or Obama on the basis of race. Clinton was the
target of sexism in comments about her display of emotions, whereas Obama
was the target of racism in comments about his Muslim-sounding middle
name, Hussein. Gloria Steinem, a prominent feminist, argued that sexism
trumped racism in the campaign to the disadvantage of Clinton, asserting
that “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether
the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White
House.” However, Obama faced a challenge in handling issues of both
gender and race; a political observer noted, “As a Black man, he must be
careful not to appear too hostile toward a White woman.”6

Although the comparison of sexism and racism in media accounts of the
Clinton-Obama contest may have educated some people about the kinds of
stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination that may occur, it oversimplified
the complex issues involved. It seems more reasonable to acknowledge that
sex, race, and a host of other dimensions of diversity maybe used as the basis
for stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. We need to guard against all
“isms” in the workplace and not be distracted by comparisons of their

People have strong beliefs about whether there are fundamental differences
between the capabilities of females and males. In fact, speculation about
such differences is a universal phenomenon. People seldom wonder whether
children who differ in eye color or height also differ in personality
behavioral tendencies, or intellectual abilities. However, they do care if there
are such differences between girls and boys.”

Researchers may bring either of two types of bias to the study of sex
differences, alpha bias and beta bias. Alpha bias consists of the tendency to
exaggerate sex differences. Beta bias consists of the tendency to minimize or
ignore sex differences. Either type of bias can lead to a distortion of how the
researcher sees reality.”

Such biases may be the result of the personal prejudices of researchers. If
the researcher’s goal is to prove that traditional stereotypes of the sexes are
inaccurate and that females and males are essentially equivalent in their
personalities, behavioral tendencies, and intellectual abilities, he or she is
likely to demonstrate beta bias by concluding that any sex differences that
are found are trivial. On the other hand, if the researcher’s goal is to prove
that one sex is superior to the other in some way or to justify a status quo in
which women and men are seen as naturally suited to different roles and
thereby deserving of different treatment, he or she is likely to demonstrate
alpha bias by concluding that sex differences in personal characteristics are
large and fundamental to human functioning.”

Also, as Susan Fiske suggested in the opening quote, the mere presence of
a two-category system leads psychologists as well as other people to view
the two categories as opposites. For example, parents with two children tend
to describe each in contrast to the other (e.g., “Tom is more of a leader and
Joe is more of a follower”). However, parents with three or more children

tend to focus on the unique aspects of each child (e.g., “Kristin enjoys
rooting for her favorite baseball team, Melissa likes to produce school plays,
Rob likes camping, Will enjoys music and photography, and Nate likes to
bang the drums”). Similarly, anthropologists who have done fieldwork in
only two cultures tend to emphasize the differences between these cultures,
whereas anthropologists with wider field experience are more aware of the
diversity of human experience. The same phenomenon may occur for sex.
Because there are only two categories, no one has the opportunity to gain
“wider field experience” with a third or fourth sex. As a result, people tend
to focus on the differences between males and females, thereby reinforcing
alpha bias. Also, every researcher of sex differences belongs to one of the
two groups being examined. Researchers may be more likely to report sex
differences that reflect favorably on members of their own sex. Moreover,
the popular media exhibit alpha bias in their choice of which research results
to publicize. Findings of sex differences are glamorized and magnified,
whereas findings of sex similarities receive much less media attention 20

Overall, it seems realistic to expect that some sex differences will be small
to nonexistent, others will be moderate, and still others will be large.
However, we need to be aware of the possibility of biases, both in
researchers and in media accounts of research on sex differences, that affect
what research findings are reported and how they are interpreted. We also
need to guard against two dangerous assumptions that may be made about
the results of research. First, if a sex difference is found in some aspect of
human behavior, this does not mean that all males do something and all
females do something quite different. Second, sex differences that are found
are not necessarily biologically based and therefore automatically present
and not subject to change. Indeed, the behavior of the sexes is highly subject
to social influences, as we shall see throughout the book.’

The book begins its analysis of the transition in female/male work
relationships by looking back in time. Chapter 2 considers the evolution of
women’s and men’s work roles during the 20th century. It examines the
effects of historical influences such as the occurrence of two major world
wars, the passage of equal employment opportunity laws, and the
development of a women’s liberation movement. The current status of
women and men in today’s workforce is described in terms of sex differences
in labor force participation, occupation, and pay.

Chapter 3 examines sex and gender differences that affect the behavior of
women and men in the workplace. This chapter reviews some of the major
findings of psychological research on sex differences. Key concepts such as
gender stereotypes, gender roles, sexism, and gender identity that are critical
to understanding male/female interactions are introduced. The ways in which
parents, schools, and the mass media convey gender role expectations to
children, as well as the limitations of strict adherence to gender roles in
adults, are explored.

Chapter 4, coauthored with Laura Graves, considers how individuals and
organizations make decisions about establishing employment relationships.
For individuals, these decisions entail choosing which job opportunities to
pursue and which job offers to accept; for organizations, they entail choosing
which applicants to hire. The chapter describes how differences in men’s and
women’s job search strategies and reactions to specific jobs and
organizations lead them to seek and obtain very different employment
opportunities. It also examines sex discrimination in organizations’ hiring
decisions, including how and when sex discrimination occurs and who
discriminates against whom. Recommendations are offered for reducing sex
and gender effects on the employment decisions of individuals and

Chapter 5, also coauthored with Laura Graves, considers the effects of sex
and gender on behavior in diverse teams. The chapter analyzes differences in
how men and women behave and are evaluated in mixed-sex teams. It also
examines how the sex composition of the team influences the experiences of
male and female team members and the team’s effectiveness. It suggests that
mixed-sex teams are susceptible to a host of problems, the severity of which
depends on a number of situational factors. The chapter concludes with
recommendations for actions that team members and leaders may take to
facilitate the functioning of mixed-sex teams.

Chapter 6 examines the effects of leader preferences, leader and gender
stereotypes, and attitudes toward female leaders on how leadership is
exhibited in organizations. Despite the increased proportion of women in
management, people who express a choice still prefer to have a male boss,
and stereotypes continue to reflect the beliefs of “think managerthink male”
and “think manager-think masculine.” Sex differences in actual leader
behavior and effectiveness are examined to determine whether there is any
basis to these stereotypes. The chapter concludes that, contrary to leader
stereotypes, women may actually be better prepared to handle managerial
roles in today’s work environment. Organizations are urged to take actions to
ensure that capable leaders of both sexes have equal chances to succeed.

Chapter 7 explores issues pertaining to the expression of sexuality in the
workplace, which includes sexual harassment (unwelcome sexual attention
directed toward others) and workplace romances (mutually desired
relationships between two people at work). It examines the causes and
consequences of both types of sexually oriented behavior. Actions are
recommended for both organizations and individuals to deal with sexual
harassment and to minimize the disruption caused by workplace romances.

Chapter 8 considers what it takes for individuals to achieve a sense of
work-family balance, whatever their family structure may be; even single
employees are likely to have a family life that is important to them. It
examines the increasing diversity of family structures. It describes how
individuals’ experiences of the work-family interface may be both positive

and negative at different times and in different ways, depending on the
extent to which they segment or integrate these two roles. It examines sex
differences in how people define and measure “success,” including the
paradox that women and men are similarly satisfied with their careers
despite the fact that men’s careers appear to be the more successful in
objective terms. It reviews sex differences in how family factors influence
important work decisions. The chapter concludes with actions that
organizations may take to enhance employees’ work-family balance as well
as actions that individuals may take on their own behalf.

Chapters 1 through 8 identify numerous issues related to sex and
gender that arise in today’s workplace. Chapter 9 offers solutions to
these problems. It details the relevant laws and regulations with which
organizations must comply to avoid discrimination. The chapter
presents the business case for going beyond legal compliance to
promote diversity (i.e., representation of members of different groups
in all jobs and levels) and inclusion (i.e., acceptance of members of all
groups in the organizational culture). Actions are outlined for
organizations to achieve nondiscriminatory, diverse, and inclusive

In summary, Women and Men in Management, Fourth Edition,
covers a wide range of topics. It describes female and male work roles
in the past and the present. The effects of sex and gender on childhood
development and adult behavior are considered. It examines how sex
and gender influence individuals’ experiences as job candidates, team
members, and managers. Issues associated with the expression of
sexuality in the workplace are explored. Finally, this book offers
concrete recommendations for individuals and organizations to ensure
that all people feel successful according to their own definition of
success, regardless of their biological sex.


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I was born in 1982-about20 years after the women’s rights movement
began…. “Girl power” was celebrated, and I felt that all doors were open
to me…. Then I left the egalitarianism of the classroom for the cubicle,
and everything changed. The realization that the knowledge and skills
acquired at school don’t always translate at the office is something that
all college graduates, men and women, must face. But for women, I
have found, the adjustment tends to be much harder.’

omen and men are entering a very different work world,
with new expectations of what they will encounter as well as new
expectations of others that they will have to meet. But how different are the
current roles that women and men play in the workplace compared with
those of the past? If traditional gender roles have been tossed aside, what has
replaced them?

Traditional gender roles emphasize the differences rather than the
similarities between women and men. They suggest that women should
behave in a “feminine” manner, consistent with presumed feminine
attributes, and that men should behave in a “masculine” manner, consistent
with presumed masculine attributes. Traditionally, to deviate from these
roles is to engage in abnormal behavior. Gender roles have had a profound
impact on relations between women and men in all spheres of our society-
the family, the educational system, the legal system, and the workplace.

In this chapter, we first consider the evolution of the work roles of women
and men over the twentieth century. We trace the impact of diverse historical
events, such as the advent of industrialization, two world wars, and the
development of the women’s liberation movement. Second, we look at the
roles of men and women in the workforce today, considering differences
between sexes and among various racial and ethnic groups. Finally, we
consider the impact of the changes in traditional workplace gender roles on
current economic realities and on the work relationships between men and

As the 20th century began, men were firmly established as the dominant
sex in the workplace, both in numbers and in positions of authority. The
stay-at-home wife who devoted herself exclusively to household and family
responsibilities was a status symbol in U.S. society. This practice was the
product of the existing patriarchal social system and the Industrial
Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which removed paid
employment from the home. Although the role of stay-athome wife was
largely based on the experiences of White middle-class families that could
afford to forgo the wife’s wages, society embraced the notion that a
woman’s proper place was in the home 2

Thus, the U.S. labor force was clearly differentiated by sex at the
beginning of the 20th century. Census statistics regarding labor force
participation rates showed that 19% of women and 80% of men were in the
labor force (Table 2.1). In other words, four of every five women were not
engaged in paid employment, whereas four out of every five men were.

In the decades between 1900 and 1940, labor force participation rates for
men and women remained essentially unchanged, despite the occurrence of
several major events. World War I (1914 to 1918) created new jobs for
women at higher wages than previous levels as large numbers of men went
off to war. However, no sustained change in the employment of women
resulted. In fact, the labor force participation rate of women in 1920 (21%)
was slightly lower than it had been in 1910 (23%). Labor unions,
government, and society in general were not ready for more than a
temporary change in the economic role of women. Men received first
priority in hiring when they returned from the war, and many women were
driven from the labor force.

Table 2.1 Labor Force Participation Rates

SOURCES: 1900-1960: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the
Census. (1975). Historical statistics of the United States: Colonial times to
1970 (pp. 127-128, series D11-25). Washington, DC: Government Printing
Office; 1970-2000: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(2002). Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey, table 2.
Retrieved April 22, 2002, from; 2009: U.S.
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). Labor force
statistics from the Current Population Survey, table A-3. Retrieved
December 23, 2009, from

NOTE: 1900-1930: data for persons 10 years old and over; 1940-1960: data
for persons 14 years old and over; 1970-2009: data for persons 16 years old

and over.

The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in
1920, which gave women the right to vote, failed to influence economic
roles. Backers of the amendment had hoped that ending sex discrimination
in the right to vote would lead to the dismantling of sex discrimination in
other areas and usher in a new era of equality between the sexes. However,
women’s suffrage brought about little change in women’s economic status.3

The Great Depression, extending from the U.S. stock market crash in
1929 to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, threw millions of
Americans out of work. The unemployment rate rose considerably, peaking
at 25% during 1933. These conditions contributed to an identity crisis for
unemployed men of all races. In the book Puzzled America, published in
1935, Sherwood Anderson concluded, “The breaking down of the moral
fiber of the American man through being out of a job, losing that sense of
being some part of the moving world of activity, so essential to an
American man’s sense of his manhood-the loss of this essential something
in the jobless can never be measured in dollars.”4 The Depression caused
great strains in family relations, as unemployed men suffered loss of status
in their families. Those who relied upon holding an authoritative role in the
family and society felt humbled and disgraced. In addition, the Depression
triggered resentment toward working women, especially working wives.
The attention being expended on the problems of men intensified the
attitude that working women were depriving male breadwinners of
employment. However, these dynamics were not reflected in the labor force
participation rates of women and men shown in Table 2.1 because
unemployed workers were still counted in the labor force.5

World War II, which closely followed the Depression, marked a turning
point in the distribution of economic roles between women and men,
although it did not necessarily cause the massive changes that were to
follow. Similar to World War I, World War II created what was expected to
be a temporary high demand for female labor. Women were attracted to
war-related industries by an advertising campaign appealing to their

patriotism, and they were given access to the more skilled, higher-paying
jobs usually held by men. However, after the war was won in 1945, the
labor force did not quickly “return to normal” as it did after World War I.
Instead, a new sense of what was normal emerged.

Changes in the economic roles played by the sexes in the second half of
the 20th century took several forms. The labor force participation rate of
women rose steadily from 31% in 1950 to 60% by 2000, with the largest
increase in labor force participation seen among non-Hispanic White
women. In contrast, the labor force participation rate of men declined from
80% in 1950 to 75% in 2000. Although the gap between men and women
remained at 15% in 2000, it had narrowed considerably over the 20th

This was the result of significant change in the composition of the female
labor force. In 1900, 6% of married women and 44% of single (never
married) women worked. In 1950, 24% of married women and 51% of
single women worked. However, in 2000,62% of married women and 65%
of single women worked. Thus, the gap between the labor force participation
rates of married and single women virtually disappeared over the century. In
2000, 53% of the female labor force was married, close to the 59% of male
labor force that was married.’

Postwar changes in the female labor force demonstrated increasing
disregard for the idea that the woman’s proper place was in the home. In
1900, the women most accepted into the workplace were single, making up
two thirds of the female labor force. Employment of single women required
the least adjustment to public opinion; the notion that the mother’s proper
place was in the home could still be held as a standard when single women
worked. The next group to enter the labor force in large numbers was older
married women. Between 1940 and 1960, the proportion of 45- to 64-year-
old women who worked went from 20% to 42%. These women were past
their peak child-raising years. Their increasing presence in the workplace
could be accepted begrudgingly by defenders of the status quo as long as
young mothers stayed at home. The final group of women to increase its
labor force participation consisted of younger married women with
preschool or school-age children. By 2000, 81% of mothers with children

between 14 and 17 years old, 78% of those with children between 6 and 13
years old, 74% of those with children between 3 and 5 years old, and 63% of
those with children 2 years old or under were in the labor force. The
increased employment of mothers of young children ended adherence to the
belief that women belong at home.’

The educational attainment of women also changed considerably in the
postwar years. In the United States, the proportion of college degrees earned
by women increased between 1950 and 2000 from 24% to 57% at the
bachelor’s level and from 29% to 58% at the master’s level. As Table 2.2
indicates, these increases were exhibited among members of the major racial
and ethnic groups. Moreover, the proportion of college degrees in business
earned by women increased between 1960 and 2000 from only 7% to 50% at
the bachelor’s level, and from only 4% to 40% at the master’s level. These
trends reflect a major societal shift toward the enhancement of women’s
academic credentials as well as an increased commitment of women to
managerial and professional careers.

These changes may in part be attributed to the power of “the pill,” female
oral contraceptives, regarded by The Economist as the most important
advance in science and technology in the 20th century. The pill was
approved for use by U.S. women in 1960 and was dispensed rapidly first to
married women and, after several federal and state court actions, to single
women. The pill greatly increased the reliability of contraception and
reduced uncertainty about the consequences of sexual activity. Women could
invest in a lengthy education without fearing that it would be interrupted by
an unplanned pregnancy. Because the pill led to the postponing of marriage
by most young women regardless of their educational aspirations, career
women could delay marriage until completing their initial career preparation
without being forced to choose from a reduced pool of eligible bachelors.
Thus, the pill facilitated women’s preparation for managerial and
professional careers!

Table 2.2 College Degrees Earned in the United States

SOURCES: 1950-2000: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for
Education Statistics (2002). Digest of education statistics 2001 (computed
from tables 247, 268, 271, and 284). Retrieved April 23, 2002, from; 2007: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for
Education Statistics (2009). Digest of education statistics 2008 (computed
from tables 268, 284, 287, and 300). Retrieved May 28, 2009, from

NOTE: – indicates data not available.

The increased employment and educational attainment of women
coincided with a rise in the proportion of white-collar jobs in the economy.
“White-collar” jobs are those that do not require manual labor, including
managerial jobs, professional jobs (e.g., engineers, teachers, lawyers)
computer scientists, health care practitioners), sales jobs (e.g.) sales

representatives and proprietors), and administrative support jobs (e.g.)
administrative assistants and clerical workers). In 1950, 36% of all jobs were
white-collar, and women held 40% of these jobs. By 2000, over half of all
jobs were white-collar, and women held over half of these jobs.’

The women who entered the U.S. labor force after World War II came
increasingly from the non-Hispanic White middle class. The growth in
white-collar occupations created jobs that were compatible with middleclass
status. Aspirations for a higher standard of living, consumerism, the desire to
send children to college, and inflation made it necessary for some middle-
class women to work to maintain a middle-class standard of living.

However, traditional attitudes concerning women’s proper place in society
persisted. During the 1950s, the mass media promoted an image of family
togetherness that defined the mother’s role as central to all domestic activity.
According to Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, women supposedly
found true fulfillment as follows:

Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest
ambition to have five children and a beautiful house, their only fight to
get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine
problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make
the major decisions. They gloried in their role as women, and wrote
proudly on the census blank: “Occupation: housewife.””

Women were supposed to revel in this role and happily surrender control
of and participation in economic and public life to men. According to
opinion polls, both women and men accepted such gender roles. Yet the
statistics that have been presented show that something else was actually
happening in the workplace. As one observer put it, “A visitor from another
planet who read the magazines and newspapers of the 1950s would never
have guessed that the women portrayed as being engaged exclusively in
homemaking activities were also joining the job market in unprecedented

During this period, women workers were not perceived as crusading to
achieve economic equality with men. Instead, their increased economic
activity could be interpreted as consistent with their primary role as
helpmates to their spouses. Most women who worked were citing economic
need as the reason for their employment, even when the family income was
solidly in the middle-class range. If women had not been portrayed, or
portrayed themselves, as working temporarily to help meet immediate needs,
male resistance to their entry into the labor force might have been greater.

Nonetheless, the contradiction between traditional attitudes and actual
behavior could not last, especially when that contradiction became greater
each year. What eventually changed was the public perception of traditional
gender roles. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a women’s liberation
movement emerged that had a major impact on the attitudes of women and,
indirectly, men about their roles. This change was spurred both by the
experiences of women in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and by the
increasing resentment of middle-class business and professional women
toward the barriers that held back their progress. This discontent found an
early voice in Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, but mere recognition of the
limits on women’s achievements placed by society’s attitudes was not
enough. A full-fledged push for legislative and economic action ensued that
would bring closer the goal of equality, or at least of equal opportunity, for
men and women.’

The National Organization of Women (NOW), the first avowedly feminist
organization since women gained the right to vote, held its inaugural
meeting in 1966 with Betty Friedan the chief organizer. Its statement of
purpose expressed concerns about discrimination in employment, education,
and the legal system. It also called for a true partnership between the sexes
to be brought about by equitable sharing of the responsibilities of home and
children and their economic support. Women’s groups such as NOW were
successful in promoting change in many areas. Through lawsuits or the
threat of legal action, large corporations were pressured into initiating
“affirmative action” programs to increase their hiring and promotion of
women. The federal government was pressured into investigating sex

discrimination in federally funded contracts and federally sponsored
programs and then devising programs to end it. Women’s studies courses
were added to the curriculum at many colleges and universities. Pressure
from the women’s liberation movement reduced the emphasis on gender
stereotypes in children’s books, stimulated the opening of day care centers,
and contributed to the elimination of sexist language in professional journals
and of separate advertising for “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs” in the
classified sections of newspapers. The women’s movement had impact in
many ways, large and small, and a whole generation of women became
aware of the possibilities that could be open to them if they did not follow
traditional norms.13

Starting in the 1960s, equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws were
passed in many countries to restrict sex discrimination, as well as other types
of discrimination. In the United States, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, or
national origin in any employment condition, including hiring, firing,
promotion, transfer, compensation, and access to training programs. Title
VII was later extended to ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or
childbirth and to ban sexual harassment. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it
illegal to pay members of one sex less than the other if they are in equivalent
jobs. All organizations with 50 or more employees and federal contracts
exceeding $50,000 per year were required to file affirmative action programs
with the federal government detailing the steps they were taking to eliminate
discrimination. In addition, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
banned sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds.
Among other benefits, Title IX led to an enormous increase in opportunities
for women to participate in college athletics.”

Ironically, the Title VII ban on sex discrimination in the United States was
proposed as a last-minute amendment by a civil rights opponent as a strategy
to prevent passage of the bill. Opponents felt the male-dominated Congress
would be more reluctant to pass the legislation if sex was included. Indeed,
one representative justified his opposition with the phrase, “Vive la
difference!” However, women’s rights advocates joined civil rights

opponents to pass the amendment, and then joined civil rights advocates to
pass the entire bill, amendment and all. Thus, Title VII opened the door for
significant gains for women in the workplace despite the intent of the
representative who offered the amendment.”

The women’s movement and EEO laws elicited mixed reactions from men.
The men most threatened by these social and legal developments were those
most committed to traditional roles in the family, the workplace, and public
affairs. They were alarmed because their power in a patriarchal social system
was being challenged. Other men were concerned about the impact on their
job security and future advancement as more women entered the workplace.
These men were inclined to dismiss newly mandated affirmative action
programs as promoting “reverse discrimination.” Most men, however,
viewed the women’s movement and EEO laws with ambivalence and
anxiety. They took these developments seriously, but they did not know what
to make of them or how to respond to them.16

Many women, on the other hand, complained of a backlash against the
women’s liberation movement and were frustrated at the incomplete
achievement of its goals. One woman characterized feminism as the Great
Experiment That Failed, with its perpetuators as the casualties. Younger
women, however, tended to see such complaints as tales from “the old days
when, once upon a time, women had trouble getting into the schools or jobs
they now hold.”‘

In the last decade of the 20th century, tensions between women and men
over public issues and events repeatedly emerged. Sexual harassment, or the
directing of unwelcome sexual attention by one workforce member toward
another, became a matter of considerable public discussion due to several
highly publicized incidents. For example, the National Football League fined
players on the New England Patriots professional football team for locker-
room sexual harassment of a female journalist, Lisa Olson. The response of
the team’s owner, Victor Kiam, to the charge of harassment was to call Olson
a “classic bitch.” Hounded by fans of the team when she returned to the
Patriots’ stadium to cover later games, Olson eventually left the country to

pursue her profession in Australia. This was one of many incidents in which
female sportswriters experienced intimidation and blatant sexism as they
entered terrain where previously there had been no female presence.’$

The U.S. Secretary of the Navy resigned and other naval officers were
disciplined or dismissed after rampant sexual harassment and assault at the
annual convention of the Tailhook Association, a group of retired and active
naval aviators, came to public light. Female naval aviators were sexually
assaulted by reportedly several hundred men as they were forced to walk a
gauntlet of drunken officers lining the corridor outside hospitality suites at
the convention hotel. The navy helicopter pilot who was the first to complain
to navy officials about her treatment, Lt. Paula Coughlin, subsequently was
the subject of a smear campaign by some of her fellow officers.19

In a “she said, he said” incident that raised issues of sexism and racism,
Clarence Thomas, a Black nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who was
eventually confirmed as a justice, was accused by Anita Hill, a Black law
professor and former subordinate of Thomas, of sexual harassment. In
televised hearings, Hill’s graphic charges were dramatically aired and
vehemently denied by Thomas, who claimed he was a victim of racism.
Battle lines were drawn over the merits of Hill’s charges; polls suggested that
White women, who were less sensitive to Thomas’s charge of racism, were
most favorable to Hill, whereas Black women, who were more sensitive to
racism, were most favorable to Thomas. Publicity from the Thomas-Hill
hearings increased public sensitivity to the issue of sexual harassment. In the
first half of the next year, sexual harassment charges filed with the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were up by more than 50%
over the same period the year before.21

Workplace romance, or the sharing of welcome sexual attention by two
workforce members, became a hotly contested public issue after it became
known that U.S. President Bill Clinton had engaged in sexual activity with a
White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was impeached by the U.S.
House of Representatives but was not convicted of the impeachment charges
by the U.S. Senate, which would have forced him to leave office. Clinton

claimed that the investigation of the affair infringed on his private life.
However, the fact that the incidents occurred on White House premises and
placed a burden on his office staff made it a very public affair.’

Although of less consequence than sexual activity in the workplace
involving a president and intern, the merits of flirting by professional women
were hotly debated. After the Wall Street Journal reported that younger
women were more inclined to “let their femininity show” and use it to get
ahead professionally than their mothers had been, readers took sides. A
female reader complained that giving the impression that young women
were using their sexual appeal to compete in the workplace perpetuated the
stereotype of women as sex objects and harmed women perceived as less
attractive who were working hard to get ahead based on merit. A male reader
complained that if he risked a sexual harassment complaint by flaunting his
sexuality in the office, professional women should not be allowed to flaunt
their feminine lures either. The only people who seemed to be happy about
the situation were the women who enjoyed and benefited from flirting and
the men who welcomed their attention 22

Let us now consider the current status of men and women in the workplace.
Review of key events and trends in the 20th century suggests that the
economic roles played by the sexes became more similar over time. Sex
differences in U.S. labor force participation, educational attainment, and
employment in white-collar occupations and the marital status of labor force
participants decreased dramatically over the course of the century.

In the early years of the 21st century, as Table 2.1 suggests, the proportion
of men in the labor force decreased slightly (from 75% in 2000 to 72%);
however, the proportion of women in the labor force, 59%, remained
essentially the same as it had been in 1990 (58%) and 2000 (60%). As Table
2.2 indicates, the proportion of master’s degrees earned by women continued
to rise, both overall (from 58% to 61%) and in business (from 40% to 44%);
however, the proportion of women earning undergraduate degrees held
steady at 57%. Also, the proportion of women in the labor force held steady
since 2000 at 47% 23 Overall, the rate of change in the economic roles
played by women and men and their educational attainment in preparation
for these roles appears to have slowed considerably in the 21st century.

These changes, or lack of changes, have left significant differences in the
employment status and workplace experiences of men and women firmly in
place. In the opening passage of this chapter, Hannah Seligson, a journalist,
describes her dismay upon personally discovering these differences. She
expected to find that the workplace is a meritocracy in which distinctions
based on seemingly irrelevant factors such as an individual’s sex are minimal
or nonexistent. Instead, she found something quite different. In a sense, the
rest of this book documents what Hannah found 24

Moreover, the employment status and workplace experiences differ for
men and women of various racial and ethnic groups. First, a note on the

terminology used to represent race and ethnicity in this book: The terms
“White,” “Black,” and “Asian” are used to designate racial groups and
“Hispanic” to designate an ethnic group because these are the terms most
frequently used in U.S. government reports and employment statistics.
However, the terms “Caucasian,” “African American,” “Pacific Islander,”
and “Latino/Latina” or “Chicano/Chicana” may just as well be used. Further,
each of these groups may be divided into multiple subgroups. Employment
statistics about other racial and ethnic groups are often incomplete if
compiled at all and are not reported in this chapter. Also, employment
statistics do not recognize the fact that many members of the labor force are
multiracial and multiethnic; this is a limitation in the way in which the
statistics are compiled. For example, if the U.S president had been included
in employment statistics compiled after the winner of the 2008 presidential
election began his term, the president (Barack Obama) could have been
classified as either Black or White.

The three largest racial groups in the U.S. labor force according to
government data are Whites (81%), Blacks (11%), and Asians (5%); other
racial groups (e.g., Native Americans) represent a combined total of about
3% of the labor force. Hispanics represent the largest ethnic group in the
labor force tracked in government data (14%). Hispanics as an ethnic group
may be classified according to race; about 95% of Hispanics in the labor
force are classified as White and the remaining 5% are scattered across other
racial groups. For purposes of comparison, we will examine the employment
status of White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic men and women.21

Table 2.3 reports the percentage of women and men in the labor force for
each of the four racial and ethnic groups examined. The sex difference in
labor force participation rates varies across racial and ethnic groups, ranging
from 6% for Blacks to 24% for Hispanics. As we shall see, there are other
significant differences in the employment status of members of different
racial and ethnic groups.

Table 2.3 Labor Force Participation Rates by Racial/Ethnic Group

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009).
Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey, tables 3 and 4.
Retrieved December 23, 2009, from

If the workplace were completely integrated with regard to sex, the
percentages of the male and female labor force in each occupation would be
equal. For example, if 5% of all males were engineers, 5% of all females
would be engineers, and the same would hold true for all occupations. As
one sex increased in proportion in the labor force relative to the other, the
percentages of members of that sex in different occupations would remain
equal to the equivalent percentages for the other sex.

Occupations may be characterized as segregated with regard to sex when
females and males are not similarly distributed across occupations. The level
of sex segregation of occupations has dropped in most countries since the
1970s, primarily due to the increased employment of women in male-
dominated occupations. However, the level of sex segregation remains very
high. About half of the female or male labor force in the United States, and
over half of the female or male labor force in many other countries, would
have to change occupations for sex segregation to be eliminated completely.
Although there have been increases in the labor force participation of

women worldwide, the sex segregation of occupations is one of the most
enduring features of the global economy.26

The nature of sex segregation in the U.S. workplace may be understood
best by examining the employment of women and men in specific
occupational categories. As Table 2.4 indicates, women hold 46.7% of all
jobs in the labor force. Occupations are classified as male-intensive, female-
intensive, or sex-neutral based on the proportion of women in the
occupation. Male-intensive occupations are defined as those in which one
third (33.3%) or less of the work force is female. Femaleintensive
occupations are defined as those in which two thirds (66.7%) or more of the
work force is female. Sex-neutral occupations consist of occupations in
which women hold more than one third and less than two thirds of the jobs
(33.4% to 66.6%).

Taking into account the size of the labor force in various occupations, only
9.6% of women work in male-intensive occupations, and only 13.5% of men
work in female-intensive occupations. In contrast, 46.0% of all men work in
male-intensive occupations, and 48.6% all women work in female-intensive
occupations. Overall, about half of the labor force works in occupations
numerically dominated by members of their own sex, whereas about 10% of
the labor force works in occupations numerically dominated by members of
the other sex. The experiences of workers may differ substantially depending
on whether they are employed in occupations that are sex-neutral, dominated
by members of their own sex, or dominated by members of the other sex. In
Chapter 5, we discuss the unique experiences of women in male-intensive
groups and men in female-intensive groups in greater depth.27

Details about the level of sex segregation in specific occupations are
masked by the fact that employment statistics for over 820 different
occupations are combined into 22 broad occupational groups in the U.S.
government data reported in Table 2.4. For example, although protective
service occupations are classified as male-intensive overall (22.8% female),
they include female-intensive occupations such as school crossing guards
(73.5% female) as well as male-intensive occupations such as fire fighters

(4.8% female). Also, although health care practitioner and technical
occupations are classified as female-intensive overall (74.6% female), they
include male-intensive occupations such as dentists (27.2% female) as well
as female-intensive occupations such as dental hygienists (97.7% female);
note the large difference in the proportion of women according to
occupational status for two types of jobs in the same industry. Finally,
although food preparing and serving occupations are classified as sex-neutral
overall (56.0% female), they include male-intensive occupations involved in
food preparation such as chefs and head cooks (17.0% female) and female-
intensive occupations involved in food serving such as waiters and
waitresses (73.2% female); note the same type of difference in the
proportion of women according to occupational status as for dentists and
dental hygienists. We shall examine sex differences in the status of food
servers in Chapter 4 28

Management occupations, classified as sex-neutral in Table 2.4, deserve
special attention because they include workers with power and authority
over others. These occupations include managers (also called “supervisors”)
who work in different types of functions (e.g., marketing, public relations,
human resources, operations, purchasing) as well as different types of
industries (e.g., lodging, funeral services, medical, construction). Two rules
of thumb are used to classify individuals into management occupations or
not: (1) Managers of professional and technical workers are usually
classified with the workers they manage because they have a shared
background with these workers. (2) First-line managers of production,
service, and sales workers who spend at least 80% of their time performing
management activities are usually classified in management occupations
because their work activities are distinct from those of the workers they
manage. 29

As for other occupational groups, the combining of management
occupations into one occupational group masks sex segregation within
specific types of managerial jobs. For example, some managerial jobs such
as computer and information systems managers (27.2% female) are male-
intensive, whereas other managerial jobs such as medical and health services

managers are female-intensive (69.4% female). However, management
occupations as a whole have shifted from once being male-intensive to now
being sex-neutral in composition. In contrast, as the proportion of female
executive officers (14%) in Fortune 500 corporations suggests, the top ranks
of management occupations remain male-intensive. 30

Table 2.4 Employment of Women and Men in Occupations

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009).
Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey, table 11.
Retrieved December 23, 2009, from

NOTE: Occupation type equals M for a male-intensive occupation (less than
33.3% female employees) and F for a female-intensive occupation (greater

than 66.7% female employees). No symbol indicates a sex-neutral
occupation. The table includes both full-time and part-time employees.

The racial and ethnic segregation of occupations also warrants attention. If
the U.S. workplace were completely integrated with regard to race and
ethnicity, the percentage of the Black labor force in each occupation would
about 11%, the percentage of the Asian labor force in each occupation would
about 5%, and the percentage of the Hispanic labor force in each occupation
would about 14%,. Table 2.5 displays the percentage of Black, Asian, and
Hispanic employees in each of the major occupational groups; it does not
include percentages for White employees because these percentages are
overwhelmingly larger (about 70% or higher) than those for the other
groups. The proportion of Black employees is highest in health care support
(e.g., nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides), protective services, and
community and social services (e.g., counselors, social workers)
occupations. The proportion of Asian employees is highest in computer and
mathematics; life, physical, and social sciences; and architecture and
engineering occupations. The proportion of Hispanic employees is highest in
farming, fishing, and forestry; building and grounds cleaning and
maintenance; construction and extraction; production; and food preparing
and serving occupations. Overall, these statistics suggest that occupations
are segregated with regard to race and ethnicity as well as sex.31

Not only do women and men tend to work in different occupations; they
also differ in earnings. The ratio of female-to-male earnings (F/M ratio) for
full-time U.S. employees across all occupations is 80%. Although this ratio
has risen since the 1970s, when it was about 60%, the sex gap in earnings
remains considerable.32

The sex gap in earnings exists across occupations. The wages earned in
female-intensive occupations are typically lower than those earned in male-
intensive occupations. In fact, the reduction in the earnings gap since the
1970s has been primarily due to the increased employment of women in

occupations that were previously male-intensive (e.g., management and law)
or are still male-intensive (e.g., architecture and engineering).”

The sex gap in earnings also exists within almost all occupations. To cite a
few examples, the F/M ratio for full-time workers is 64% for physicians and
surgeons, 87% for registered nurses, 85% for college and university
teachers, 88% for elementary and middle school teachers, 84% for food
servers in restaurants (i.e.) waiters and waitresses), 82% for bakers, 81% for
janitors and building cleaners, 76% for recreation and fitness workers, 87%
for cashiers, 94% for customer service representatives, 86% for mail
carriers, 83% for laundry and dry-cleaning workers, and 84% for bus drivers.
In the managerial occupations, female managers earn 71% as much as male
managers. Male and female workers earn exactly the same wages in only
one occupation, counselors in community and social services occupations. In
rare examples of occupations in which women earn more than men, the F/M
ratio is 104% for special education teachers, 109% in construction and
extraction occupations, and 101% in installation, maintenance, and repair
occupations 34

Table 2.5 Employment of Members of Racial and Ethnic Groups in

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009).
Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey, table 11.
Retrieved December 23, 2009, from

NOTE: The table includes both full-time and part-time employees.

The gap between the earnings of males and females does not diminish
with educational attainment. Although education has a strong positive effect
on earnings for both women and men, it yields greater economic benefits for
men. The earnings gap exists at every educational level-for workers with less
than a high school education, a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree, and
even an advanced graduate degree. Earnings data suggest that the higher the
educational level, the lower the F/M ratio, a depressing thought for

The earnings gap exists across racial and ethnic groups. The F/M ratio is
79% for White workers, 89% for Black workers, 78% for Asian workers,
and 90% for Hispanic workers. There is an earnings gap between racial and
ethnic groups; White workers earn 86%, Black workers earn 68%, and
Hispanic workers earn 61% of what Asian workers earn. Overall, Asian men
are the most highly paid in the U.S. labor force, followed by White men,
Asian women, White women, Black men, Hispanic men, Black women, and
Hispanic women in that order.36

Finally, the earnings gap exists across national cultures. Although men
earn more than women overall, the size of the F/M ratio for employees who
perform similar work varies considerably across nations, ranging from 45%
for Bolivia to 83% for Uzbekistan. Although U.S. women have higher work
qualifications with respect to educational and professional attainment than
do women in most other nations, the United States falls at about the average
in F/M ratio for employees who perform similar work (67%), ranking 64th
out of 125 nations.37

Thus, there is a “cost of being female” that prevails within occupations as
well as across occupations, educational levels, racial and ethnic groups, and
cultures. The gap between male and female earnings is a long-standing
attribute of the global economy, and it is not likely that this gap will
disappear anytime soon.

In conclusion, women and men tend to play different economic roles in
the workplace today. Current employment and compensation patterns send a

powerful message to young people entering the labor force such as Hannah
Seligson. The message is that although all occupations are theoretically open
to all individuals, (1) some occupations are more appropriate for members of
one sex than the other sex, (2) the lower-paying occupations are more
appropriate for women, (3) the higher-paying occupations are more
appropriate for men, (4) work in male-intensive occupations is worth more
than work in female-intensive occupations, and (5) work performed by men
is worth more than equivalent work performed by women.

Traditional gender roles have less to do with present-day economic realities
than at any previous time. The changes experienced by women in the labor
force over the last century have been striking. Women entering male-
intensive organizations have gone from being the only woman holding a
particular job, to being a member of a small group of women a midst a larger
group of men in the job, sometimes to being a member of the majority
group, and increasingly more often to being in charge. The changes
experienced by men have been less dramatic. However, men have been
required to adapt to the presence of more women as their peers, superiors,
and subordinates. Both sexes have had to adjust.

Some important differences between the economic roles played by women
and men remain. Men continue to hold most top management positions in
organizations. Even when organizations consist predominantly of female
employees, the leaders are typically male. The gap between male and female
wages also persists. Among full-time workers, women consistently earn
lower wages than do men. Even with the same job in the same occupation,
women’s average earnings are typically lower than those of men. The
highest-paid occupations are those with predominantly male workers.

Thus, we find ourselves in a period of flux. Even though work and its
rewards are not distributed equally between the sexes, enough change has
occurred to make traditional gender roles no longer an appropriate guideline
for workplace behavior. However, new standards of behavior have not
replaced the old standards. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people
often are influenced by their own sex and others’ sex in their work behavior.

What does it mean to be a woman or a man in today’s workplace? How
should women and men take into account their own sex and others’ sex in
their workplace interactions, if at all? Widely accepted answers to these

questions, promoting either a unisex standard of behavior or separate
standards of behavior for men and women, have not emerged.

Due to the increase in the proportion of working women, more workplace
interactions between people of the opposite sex are occurring than ever
before. One of the few advantages of adhering to traditional gender roles
was that men and women knew how they were expected to treat each other.
That advantage is gone. Instead, women and men need to understand each
other better in their work roles. The remainder of the book explores men’s
and women’s work roles, including their experiences as job seekers,
recruiters, employees, team members, and leaders.


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Brinton, & D. B. Grusky (Eds.), The declining significance of gender? (pp.
37-66). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

33. England, P., Allison, P., & Wu, Y. (2007). Does bad pay cause
occupations to feminize, does feminization reduce pay, and how can we tell
with longitudinal data? Social Science Research, 36, 1237-1256.

34. U.S. Department of Labor. (2009), table 39.

35. Roos, P. A., & Gatta, M. L. (1999). The gender gap in earnings:
Trends, explanations, and prospects. In G. N. Powell (Ed.), Handbook of
gender and work (pp. 95-123). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

36. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009). Labor
force statistics from the Current Population Survey, table 37. Retrieved June
4, 2009, from

37. Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. D., & Zahidi, S. (2009). The global gender
gap report 2009. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum. Retrieved
October 27, 2009, from

I’ve always considered myself tuned-in to the gender politics of the Chore
Wars-the household battles between husbands and wives over who does
what at home. Imagine my surprise when I realized I’m guilty of
perpetuating this conflict into the next generation. While reporting on the
topic, I saw thatl myself expect different things of my son, 16, and my
daughter, 18: 1 want him to handle more fix-it jobs, while my daughter does
more cleaning.

The latest research suggests I’m not alone. The way parents are divvying up
and paying kids for chores suggests that this is one family battle that will
extend well into the next generation and beyond. A nationwide study by the
University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research shows boys ages 10
through 18 are more likely than girls to be getting paid for doing housework-
even though boys spend an average 30% less time doing chores. Boys are as
much as 10 to 15 percentage points more likely than girls at various ages to
be receiving an allowance for doing housework …

Boys may be handling more of the kinds of chores that are regarded as a job
that should be paid, such as lawn mowing, speculates Frank Stafford, the
University of Michigan economics professor heading the research. Chores
such as dishwashing or cooking, often regarded as routine and done free,
may fall more often to girls.

re there sex differences beyond the obvious ones? What do
people believe sex differences to be? How are beliefs about sex differences
conveyed? What causes sex differences, and what effects do they have on
individuals’ well-being?

Sex differences influence how people are disposed to behave in work
settings. Females and males are similar in some ways and different in others.
Despite thousands of studies, however, researchers do not agree about the
scope, magnitude, or cause of sex differences. As noted in Chapter 1, this
may be due to researchers’ inclinations to engage in either alpha bias,
magnifying existing differences, or beta bias, downplaying existing
differences. It is also due to the imperfect nature of the research evidence.

Gender differences influence how people react to others’ behavior in work
settings. In this book, we are particularly interested in gender stereotypes
and roles. Gender stereotypes represent beliefs about the psychological traits
that are characteristic of members of each sex. According to gender
stereotypes, males are high in “masculine” traits such as independence,
aggressiveness, and dominance, and females are high in “feminine” traits
such as gentleness, sensitivity to the feelings of others, and tactfulness.
Gender stereotypes have been generally stable over time. Gender roles
represent beliefs about the behaviors that are appropriate for members of
each sex. According to gender roles, men’s proper place is at work and
women’s proper place is at home. However, both men and women have been
less likely to endorse gender roles in recent years. The drop-off has been
especially pronounced among men, such that the sex difference in attitudes
toward gender roles has essentially disappeared. Also, younger people are
the least likely to endorse gender roles, suggesting that further societal
changes in norms regarding the proper roles of men vis-a-vis women are
likely to come z

This chapter examines sex and gender differences in society that influence
male-female interactions in the workplace. First, selected research evidence
about sex differences is presented. Next, gender stereotypes are examined
and concepts such as gender identity and psychological androgyny are
introduced. Different types of sexist attitudes, representing prejudice on the
basis of sex, are examined. The influence of nature and nurture on
individuals’ behavior is considered, and the ways in which gender role
expectations are conveyed to children by parents, schools, and the mass
media are examined. Finally, the chapter considers how gender stereotypes
and roles influence adult health and well-being and unduly restrict adult

The study of sex differences is an international preoccupation. Thousands of
research studies on the topic have been published by scholars. This topic is
not simply “hot” in the sense of being fashionable; it is also inflammatory.
Many people have strong beliefs about male and female similarities and
differences in basic interests, abilities, attitudes, and behaviors?

Research methods used in reviews of studies of sex differences have
evolved over time. Early reviews used what may be called a vote counting
technique. That is, they simply tallied the number of studies on a given topic
that found significant differences favoring females, significant differences
favoring males, or no significant sex differences and then reached
conclusions based on the “vote.” A statistical method called meta-analysis is
commonly used now. Meta-analysis uses sophisticated quantitative methods
to synthesize statistical evidence from numerous studies. It yields results that
are typically more complex and often different from those yielded by vote
counting. Sex differences have been examined in many types of
psychological traits and behavior using the meta-analysis technique.’

In this section of the chapter, we consider sex differences in children’s
interests and activities and in adults’ social behavior.

Starting at an early age, the interests and activities of boys and girls differ
greatly. A sex difference in toy preferences emerges at about 2 years of age.
Boys are more likely than girls to prefer action figures, blocks, mock
aggression toys such as guns and swords, transportation toys such as toy
trucks and trains, construction toys, and sports collectibles. For example, the
G.I. Joe product line, introduced by Hasbro in 1964, is marketed particularly
to boys. They may choose from action figures representing soldiers,
intergalactic warriors, generals, astronauts, football players, and wrestlers;

vehicles such as tanks, land assault vehicles, and motorcycles; accessories
such as rifles, bomber jackets, and emergency ration kits; books; and
movies. Until 1997) when a female helicopter pilot was introduced, the only
female action figure in the G.I. Joe line was (of course) a nurse. Over time,
G.I. Joe’s physical appearance has conveyed what may be called emphatic
masculinity in the form of extreme muscularity backed up by huge guns.’

In contrast, girls are more likely than boys to prefer dolls, dollhouses,
jewelry, play kitchens, and domestic toys such as tea sets and playhouses
sold in product lines such as Mattel’s Barbie. In the book Barbie Culture,
Mary Rogers observed, “Barbie’s style might be called emphatic femininity.
It takes feminine appearances and demeanor to unattainable extremes.
Nothing about Barbie ever looks masculine, even when she is on the police
force. Police Officer Barbie comes with a night stick and walkie-talkie but
no gun and no handcuffs. She also comes with a ‘glittery evening dress’ to
wear to the awards dance when she will get the `Best Police Officer Award
for her courageous acts in the community; yet Police Officer Barbie is
pictured on the box `lov(ing) to teach safety tips to children.’ Barbie thus
feminizes, even maternalizes, law enforcement.” Introduced in 1959, more
than 1 billion Barbie dolls have been sold in 150 countries. Ninety percent of
3- to 10 year-old U.S. girls own at least one Barbie doll. Although other
product lines of dolls have emerged, Barbie remains the best-selling doll in
the world.’

Of course, the difference between action figures, preferred by boys, and
dolls, preferred by girls, may be semantic. The following exchange that
actually occurred between two children is instructive: Elise, a 5-yearold girl,
was speaking with a 5-year-old boy who said that he didn’t play with dolls,
Elise replied, “Yes, you do. They just call them action figures so you don’t
know you’re playing with dolls!” Her tone of voice came across as, “You
moron, can’t you see what they are putting over you?”‘

Boys prefer a more physically aggressive rough-and-tumble style of play
than do girls, including both fighting and mock fighting. They welcome a
physically active style of play with both parents. However, due to a sex

difference in parental preferences for this style of play, boys engage in it
more with their fathers than with their mothers. Boys spend more time
watching television and participating in sports, whereas girls spend more
time reading. The sex difference in play interests is seen on doorsteps on
Halloween. Boys are more likely to dress as villainous characters, monsters,
or symbols of death, whereas girls are more likely to dress as princesses,
beauty queens, and other examples of traditional femininity.’

Sex differences are also manifested in what may be called a “digital
divide.” Overall, girls are less comfortable using computers and suffer
greater computer anxiety than boys, resulting in their spending less time
working and playing with computers, taking fewer computer courses in
school, and being less likely to major in computer science in college. Girls
are more likely to view computers as a way to accomplish tasks (e.g., writing
papers and communicating with friends), whereas boys are more likely to
view computers as a way to achieve mastery (e.g., scoring highly in video
games). Compared with girls, boys are much more involved with the many
possible uses of computers. 9

The source of girls’ greater anxiety in using computers may be due to the
emphatic masculinity of most computer games and educational software
packages. A study compared reactions of sixth-grade to eighth-grade girls
and boys to two software programs used to teach arithmetic skills. In
Demolition Division, tanks with division problems moved toward the
student’s blaster, with possible answers to the problems appearing below the
blaster. If the student fired the blaster at the tank with the correct problem
before the tank hit the wall, the tank exploded; otherwise, the blaster was
destroyed. In contrast, in American Classroom Fractions, problems were
presented less aggressively in words and verbal feedback on performance
was provided. After the student completed the problems, he or she received
an assessment of mastery and areas for further practice. Girls experienced
more anxiety than boys when playing Demolition Division, whereas boys
experienced more anxiety than girls when playing American Classroom
Fractions. Most computer games and educational software are more like

Demolition Division than American Classroom Fractions, which may help to
explain why girls are more anxious than boys when using computers.10

Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and related products, sensed an
opportunity to take advantage of this sex difference in reactions to and usage
of computers in the 1990s. It marketed a pink-flowered Barbie computer and
several interactive video games for girls, including Barbie Fashion Designer,
Barbie Magic Hair Styler, Barbie Nail Designer, Barbie Digital Makeover,
Barbie Pet Rescue, Detective Barbie, Barbie Magic Genie, Barbie as
Sleeping Beauty, and Barbie as Princess Bride. (Note the emphatic
femininity of most of the activities in which the software Barbie was
engaged.) Mattel quickly captured the lioness’s share of the girls’ computer
game market, thereby promoting computer usage by girls. Video game
makers are still trying to expand the largely untapped female market with
games focusing on television stars who appeal particularly to girls, pets,
dancing, fashion, and personal training. 11

Video games are marketed primarily to boys, with images of the sexes that
largely reinforce gender stereotypes. Male characters tend to be high in
emphatic masculinity (e.g., extremely muscular, aggressive, and violent),
whereas female characters are high in emphatic femininity (e.g., voluptuous,
thin, and wearing much less clothing than male characters). Although girls
find these images more troublesome than boys do, their negative reactions
have little influence on video game sales since they are not the intended

Although there is variation across cultures, boys and girls exhibit
considerable differences in how they spend their time. In Western cultures, it
is believed that play is the work of children; play is culturally sanctioned.
However, boys have more time to play than do girls because they do not
have to devote as much time to household chores. Boys and girls also differ
in the types of household chores they perform. As the opening passage for
this chapter suggests, boys perform more tasks outside the home for which
they get paid, including yard work and outdoor errands. Girls perform more

tasks inside the home for which they do not get paid, including taking care
of younger children, cleaning, and preparing food.13

As they move into adolescence, girls and boys in Western cultures devote
similar amounts of time to paid labor. Adolescent employment is particularly
encouraged in the United States as a way to learn selfsufficiency and
responsibility. However, girls and boys are employed in different kinds of
activities. Girls are likely to be babysitters, waitresses, and food counter
workers, whereas boys are likely to be gardeners, busboys, and manual

Overall, girls show more interest in activities associated with boys than
vice versa. Toy retailers assume that they can sell a “boy” product to a girl
but not the reverse. Although boys as well as girls might enjoy playing at
rescuing pets, no boy would want to be caught by his peers using Barbie-
oriented computer games to do so. Girls who are interested in activities that
are considered more typical of boys than of girls are labeled “tomboys,”
whereas boys who are interested in activities associated with girls are
labeled “sissies.” Sissies are more negatively evaluated than tomboys,
especially by males. Tomboys are seldom rejected by their peers because of
their interest in activities associated with boys; they can always return to
playing with other girls. However, boys have less freedom of choice and run
a greater risk of being taunted by other boys for showing any interest in girls’
activities. Most tomboy activity stops at puberty, when pressures on girls to
adhere to the female gender role become particularly intense. However,
former or would-be tomboys now have more outlets for their interests, such
as female athletic teams at all levels of education. In fact, female
undergraduates who participate in varsity athletics are more likely than
nonathletes to describe themselves as having been tomboys.”

As children grow up and progress through adolescence, they exhibit
considerable sex differences in activities and interests. Girls, however,
engage more in activities typically associated with boys than the opposite.
As discussed later in the chapter, the ways parents socialize girls and boys
contribute greatly to sex differences in children’s activities.

Sex differences have been examined in many types of social behavior
exhibited by adults, including aggression, altruism, and nonverbal
communications. Aggression, or behavior that is intended to hurt someone
else, may be physical, verbal, or indirect. Males are more likely to engage in
physical aggression that produces pain or physical injury than are females,
especially when their emotions are aroused. However, this does not
necessarily mean that males are the more aggressive sex. Because females
are on average physically weaker than males, they may learn to avoid
physical aggression and to adopt other ways to bring about harm. For
instance, they may use their superior verbal skills for aggressive purposes;
the sex difference in aggression favoring males is less pronounced for verbal
than for physical aggression.”

Females may also engage in indirect aggression by trying to hurt others
without being identified by their victims. For example, on Bellona, an island
in the Pacific Ocean, the society was characterized until recent times by
extreme male violence and physical dominance. Women were to respond
quickly and unquestioningly to the demands of men, especially their
husbands, or expect to be beaten. However, women found creative ways to
get back at men. One approach was to compose a “mocking song” to
humiliate the offending man. As the song was circulated around the island,
the subject was stigmatized in the eyes of his fellow men. The mocking song
is a form of indirect aggression.”

Women and men exhibit similarities and differences in altruism, or
behavior that is intended to help someone else. Although both females and
males behave altruistically, they do so differently. Males are more likely to
offer heroic or chivalrous help in areas where they feel most competent, such
as helping a motorist with a flat tire at the side of a dangerous highway. In
contrast, females are more likely to offer nurturant or caring help in areas
where they feel most competent, such as volunteering to spend time with a
sick child. These differences are also seen in occupational roles: Women are
particularly well represented in occupations that involve some type of

personal service, such as nurse and teacher, whereas men are especially well
represented in occupations that call for placing one’s life in jeopardy to help
others, such as firefighter and law enforcement officer.’$

Status differences between women and men play an important role in
nonverbal communications. Nonverbal communication skills include the
ability to express oneself accurately using the face, body, and voice; to
assess the meaning of nonverbal cues from others; and to recall having met
or seen people. Females have higher skills than do males in all three areas,
perhaps because they tend to have lower status in organizations and society.
They also tend to smile more than males, especially when they are aware
that they are being observed. Overall, compared to males, females may be
better able to interpret others’ nonverbal cues and more inclined to offer
positive nonverbal cues themselves because they are in weaker status
positions and constantly have to monitor others’ reactions to themselves.”

In summary, this is a selective review of some of the major findings about
sex similarities and differences obtained from psychological research. It
suggests that there are both sex differences and sex similarities. Sex
similarities prevail, for example, in altruism, but sex differences exist in how
it is expressed. Some sex differences, such as those in nonverbal
communications, may be attributable to factors other than sex such as status.
Other sex differences, such as those in children’s interests and activities,
remain strong. However, as for adults’ interests as indicated by the
occupations they pursue, girls are more interested in activities associated
with boys than boys are interested in activities associated with girls.

Before we discuss gender stereotypes, try the following exercise. Create a
mental image of the “typical woman”; then create a mental image of what
most people would consider the typical woman. Next, complete these two
sentences with five different adjectives or phrases: (1) I think the typical
woman is .(2) Most other people think the typical woman is . Now repeat the
exercise, this time thinking about the “typical man. 1121

Now consider your responses. You probably feel that most people would
answer in a more biased manner than you, invoking gender stereotypes of
the two sexes. But, have you noticed the bias of the exercise itself? It is
likely to have led you to focus on the differences between the sexes, when,
in fact, there is considerable overlap and similarity between their

One of the earliest studies of gender stereotypes, defined as shared beliefs
about the psychological traits that are characteristic of each sex, was
conducted in this manner. Inge Broverman and her colleagues asked a group
of college students to list characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors in which
they believed women and men differ; these students compiled a list of 122
items. A second group of college students rated the extent to which they
agreed that these 122 items were typical of an adult man or an adult woman.
Analysis of these results yielded 41 items that were believed to differentiate
men and women. The men and women who responded to the survey were in
almost complete agreement on the items, which fell into two clusters. Men
were seen as more competent (i.e., instrumental or “agentic”) than women,
rating higher on items such as “very skilled in business,” “can make
decisions easily,” and “almost always acts as a leader.” In contrast, women
were seen as more warm (i.e., expressive or “communal”) than men, rating
higher on items such as “very aware of feelings of others,” “very talkative,”
and “easily expresses tender feelings.” Competence was labeled as

masculine because it was associated with males, whereas warmth was
labeled as feminine because it was associated with females. Subsequent
research has found little change in these stereotypes over time. Moreover,
there is consensus in gender stereotypes across national cultures 2′

In general, stereotypes of people are represented by two dimensions,
competence and warmth. Individuals and groups maybe seen as high or low
in each dimension. As individuals’ life situations change, stereotypes of them
change as well. For example, childless working women and men are
stereotyped as significantly more competent than warm. When working
women become mothers, they are perceived as losing competence but
gaining warmth. In contrast, when working men become fathers, they are
perceived as maintaining their competence and gaining warmth. Given that
decision makers are more likely to hire, promote, and develop individuals
whom they see as more competent, these stereotypes suggest that becoming
a parent leads to discrimination on the basis of sex that hurts women
professionally but not men zz

Why have gender stereotypes appeared to remain stable over time?
Stereotypes of all kinds tend to be durable. People like to categorize
themselves and others into groups along primary and secondary dimensions
of diversity and then identify ways in which their own group is better than
and different from other groups. When these beliefs act as self-fulfilling
prophecies, there is little reason for them to change. Also, girls and boys
tend to learn stereotypes of different groups in their formative years from
parents, teachers, other adults, and the media. By the time they become
adults themselves, their stereotypes of various groups are mostly fixed.
People are reluctant to give up a long-held stereotype unless it is thoroughly
discredited, and even then they may still hold onto it. After all, using
stereotypes saves us mental work in identifying and categorizing others 23

However, stereotypes of groups can evolve in respond to overwhelming
evidence of change in their social roles. A provocative study asked
participants to describe the average man or woman either 50 years in the
past, in the present, or 50 years in the future. Women of the future were

described as more masculine than women of the present, who in turn were
described as more masculine than women of the past. Relatively little change
was seen in descriptions of women’s femininity or men’s masculinity or
femininity over time. Stereotypes of women, especially regarding their
possession of masculine traits traditionally associated with men, may be
particularly dynamic as a result of considerable change in their societal roles
over time (e.g., increased educational attainment, increased labor force
participation, and increased pursuit of careers in male-intensive
occupations). In comparison, stereotypes of men, who have exhibited less
change in their societal roles over time, may be more static 24

At one time, psychologists regarded masculinity and femininity as opposites.
If a person was high in masculinity, he or she was regarded as low in
femininity, and vice versa. It was considered appropriate for an individual to
conform to his or her gender stereotype. Males were supposed to be
masculine, females were supposed to be feminine, and anyone who fell in
the middle or at the “wrong” end of the scale was considered to be
maladjusted and in need of intensive therapy.”

Sandra Bem challenged these assumptions and beliefs in a series of studies
beginning in the 1970s. As others had done, she labeled traits as masculine
or feminine based on whether they were typically seen as desirable for men
or for women. However, unlike earlier researchers, Bem defined masculinity
and femininity as independent dimensions rather than opposite ends of a
single dimension. Instead of classifying each trait on a single scale ranging
from masculine at one end to feminine at the other end, she classified
masculine and feminine traits on two separate scales. Masculine items were
evaluated on a scale ranging from “high in masculinity” at one end to “low in
masculinity” at the other end, and feminine items were evaluated on a scale
ranging from “high in femininity” at one end to “low in femininity” at the
other. Bem used data from this procedure to choose items for a new survey
instrument to be used in research studies, the Bem Sex-Role Inventory
(BSRI) 26

The BSRI contained 20 masculine items, 20 feminine items, and 20 filler
items to disguise the purpose of the instrument. Individuals were asked to
rate the extent to which they thought each item was characteristic of
themselves. Masculinity and femininity scores were calculated by averaging
individuals’ self-ratings for the respective items. Thus, rather than measuring
beliefs about others, the BSRI measured beliefs about oneself in relation to
traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity. Although Bern called

these beliefs an individual’s “sex role identity,” we use the term gender
identity to refer to beliefs about the extent to which one possesses masculine
traits and the extent to which one possesses feminine traits. She adopted the
four-quadrant classification scheme for gender identity as shown in Figure
3.1. According to this scheme, individuals’ gender identity may be classified
as androgynous (high in masculinity and femininity), masculine (high in
masculinity and low in femininity), feminine (low in masculinity and high in
femininity), or undifferentiated (low in masculinity and femininity) 2′

Gender identity also refers to beliefs about oneself in social
relationships. Individuals’ self-construals capture their sense of self in
relation to others. People who are classified as feminine according to the
BSRI are more likely to display an interdependent self-construal, in which
people who are important in their lives are included in their representations
of themselves (e.g., “I am a loving parent”; “I am a valuable team member”).
In contrast, people who are classified as masculine are more likely to display
an independent self-construal, in which others are seen as separate and
distinct from themselves (e.g., “I am a strong-willed individual”; “I value my
autonomy”). The nature of self-construals for androgynous and
undifferentiated individuals is less clear. 28

Figure 3.1 Classification of Gender Identity

SOURCE: Bern, S. L. (1977). On the utility of alternative procedures for
assessing psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 45, 196-205.

In advocating her own notions of gender identity, Bern introduced the
concept of psychological androgyny, representing high amounts of both
masculinity and femininity, and a means of measuring it. The term
androgyny comes from the Greek words “andr” (man) and “gyne” (woman),
meaning both masculine and feminine. An androgynous gender identity was
found by Bern and others to be associated with higher self-esteem, a more
flexible response to situations that seemed to call for either feminine or
masculine behaviors, and a host of other positive factors. The individual who
adheres to gender stereotypes no longer seemed the ideal of psychological
health. Instead, the androgynous individual, whose self-image and behavior
are less narrowly restricted, was seen as more ready to meet the complex
demands of society. In short, androgyny was proposed as an ideal
combination of the “best of both worlds.”29

The revolutionary nature of the concept of androgyny in the field of
psychology matched the feminist spirit of the women’s movement that
prevailed at the time the concept was developed. However, not surprisingly
given the emotions stirred by the same spirit, the concept of androgyny came
under severe attack almost as quickly as it was idealized. Some criticized
Bem for poor science because her beliefs in what is “right” for individuals
were made so obvious. This is not a valid argument. Although all scientific
research is value-laden, most researchers are not as explicit as Bem in stating
their values. More meaningful criticism was made of the items that
composed the BSRI. Here, Bem appears to have been victimized by her
original methodology. The average desirability of the masculine items in the
BSRI for a man was similar to the average desirability of the feminine items
for a woman, but the desirability of the various items had not been assessed
for an adult in general. Other researchers found that masculine
characteristics were more desirable overall than feminine characteristics
when rated for an adult of unspecified sex. Bem accepted this criticism, and
developed an alternative instrument, the Short BSRI, with 10 masculine
items, 10 feminine items, and 10 filler items that eliminated most of the
items regarded as undesirable for adults.”

The BSRI and other inventories of masculine and feminine characteristics
do not acknowledge possible differences on the basis of race or ethnicity in
definitions of desirable male and female behavior. The BSRI does a good job
of capturing definitions of masculinity and femininity held by Whites and
Hispanics, even though emphatic masculinity and femininity have
historically been associated with Hispanic cultures. However, it does not do
as good a job of capturing Blacks’ definitions of masculinity and femininity.”

The debate over the merits of androgyny has died down somewhat but has
never been fully settled. Several conceptions of what females and males
should be like have been proposed. One view argues for conformity with
gender stereotypes. A second view argues that people should break free from
gender stereotypes and pursue an androgynous ideal. However, both of these
views are limited. A more reasonable view is that there should be no
conception of ideal behavior for females and males. Instead, the goal should
be development of an environment in which everyone is free to be
themselves rather than expected to live up to any standard of psychological
health. As Sandra Bern later put it, “if there is a moral to the concept of
psychological androgyny, it is that behavior should have no gender.””

The term sexism refers to prejudice displayed toward members of one sex.33
Sexism, like prejudice in general, is usually assumed to represent a negative
attitude. However, some researchers have distinguished between hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism (also known as “subtle sexism”). Hostile
sexism toward women as a group entails antagonism toward women who are
viewed as challenging or usurping men’s power (e.g., feminists, career
women, seductresses). In contrast, benevolent sexism puts women on
pedestals; it characterizes women as “pure creatures who ought to be
protected, supported, and adored and whose love is necessary to make a man
complete.” Benevolent sexism implies that women are weak and best suited
to conventional feminine roles, and offers protection, affection, and rewards
to women who endorse these roles (e.g., wives, mothers, romantic objects).
Benevolent sexism is not benign; it assumes women’s inferiority and is used
to justify women’s subordination to men 34

A research study examined sex differences in hostile sexism and
benevolent sexism toward women in 19 countries. Men scored significantly
higher in hostile sexism than did women in all countries. The sex difference
in benevolent sexism was much less than the sex difference in hostile
sexism. Overall, women rejected hostile sexism outright but often accepted
benevolent sexism, believing that they needed to be protected by men.35

Similarly, people may display hostile and benevolent sexism toward men
as a group. For example, women may exhibit hostile attitudes by criticizing
men’s greater power and status in society, sexist attitudes, and manner of
asserting control. Women also may display the benevolent attitudes of
protective maternalism, admiration for men’s competence, and appreciation
of men’s roles in making women’s lives complete. Women score higher than
men on hostile sexism toward men and lower on benevolent sexism toward

A distinction may also be made between old-fashioned sexism and
modern sexism. Old-fashioned sexism, like hostile sexism, is blatant; it is
associated with endorsement of traditional gender roles in the workplace,
differential treatment of women and men, and endorsement of laws and
societal norms that promote adherence to gender roles. In contrast, modern
sexism is associated with denial of the existence of sex discrimination,
antagonism toward women’s demands that alleged sex discrimination be
discontinued, and lack of support for programs designed to help women in
the workplace. The old-fashioned sexist says, “Women cause problems in the
workplace when they don’t stick to their proper roles.” The modern sexist
says, “Women cause problems in the workplace when they complain too
much about alleged problems they face.” Both statements reflect sexist
attitudes, but in different ways. The old-fashioned sexist is prejudiced
against women who seek to play nontraditional roles in the workplace,
whereas the modern sexist is prejudiced against women who claim that there
are barriers to their performing such roles.37

Sexism leads to negative outcomes for women in organizations,
particularly those who pursue occupations that are associated with men. For
instance, modern sexists exaggerate women’s representation in maleintensive
occupations, reject sex discrimination as a cause of the sex segregation of
occupations, and have negative attitudes toward programs designed to assist
women. Ironically, modern sexists seem to personally benefit from their
sexist attitudes; they rely more on men for workrelated advice, and, in turn,
may gain more access to resources and receive more promotions. Both
hostile and benevolent sexism among men pose barriers to women’s status in
the workplace, particularly in nontraditional roles. Hostile sexists of both
sexes prefer male authority figures over female authority figures, evaluate
male candidates for managerial positions more highly than female
candidates, and are more tolerant of sexual harassment toward women.38

The distinction between old-fashioned and modern sexism is similar to
one that has been made between old-fashioned and modern racism. Old-
fashioned racism entails overt expressions of hostility and antagonism.
Modern racism, which is also called “aversive” or “symbolic” racism, is a

more subtle form of prejudice. Modern racists endorse racial equality and
avoid obvious acts of discrimination to maintain their self-images as fair and
just individuals. However, they still harbor unconscious negative feelings
and beliefs about low-status racial groups. These feelings and beliefs result
in subtle bias, particularly when such bias is not obvious or can be
rationalized based on factors other than race. Like modern sexists, some
modern racists deny the existence of racial discrimination, express
antagonism toward the demands of people of color and resent programs that
support people of color. Despite its subtle nature, modern racism is
extremely detrimental to people of color. It may lead Whites to display acts
of “microaggression” toward people of color, including avoidance, closed
and unfriendly verbal and nonverbal communication, and failure to help, all
of which lead people of color to feel devalued and discriminated against 39

In Chapter 1, we discussed comparisons of which type of “ism” was more
severe during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, sexism directed toward
Hillary Clinton or racism directed toward Barack Obama. This type of
comparison is not particularly useful, because both sexism and racism hurt
the intended targets. However, sexism and racism differ in basic ways in
how they are learned and experienced. Women are not statistically in the
minority in most cultures, whereas members of many racial and ethnic
groups are in the minority depending on the culture. The socialization of
males and females takes place in the presence of the other, whereas races are
far more separate in society. Thus, White males may view racism as a
problem affecting a small group of “outsiders” (i.e.) non-Whites), whereas
they may be more concerned with sexism, especially the hostile or old-
fashioned kind, because they can directly observe its effects on their
mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.4o

Open displays of negative sexist as well as racist attitudes, at least in
public settings, have diminished over the years. It is now less fashionable to
be a hostile or old-fashioned sexist than it is to be a benevolent or modern
sexist. However, old-fashioned sexism has not completely disappeared.

Numerous theories have been offered for why sex differences occur in the
first place. These theories focus on two competing explanations: biological
forces (nature) and social-environmental forces (nurture). What ultimately
determines individual behavior, nature or nurture or both? To understand the
effects of nature and nurture, we need to consider the basic arguments
concerning how biological and social-environmental factors lead to sex

Those who focus on the effects of biological forces argue that sex
differences in adults and children are mostly innate, such that individuals are
born masculine or feminine. According to this argument, boys behave the
way they do simply because they are male and girls behave as they do
because they are female, although the underlying reasons proposed for
biological effects differ. Sex differences in cognitive abilities, social
behavior, gender identity, and other psychological variables have been
attributed to sex differences in physiological properties such as genes,
prenatal and current hormone levels, nerve cell activity, and brain structure.
The creationist perspective attributes male-female differences to distinct acts
of creation by God.42

A prominent biological view focuses on the effects of evolutionary
processes on men’s and women’s genes and subsequent behavior.
Evolutionary psychologists, following the famed 19th-century scientist
Charles Darwin, suggest that sex differences in behavior reflect adaptations
to the differential demands of the environment on males and females during
prehistoric times. According to evolutionary theory, men and women
coexisted in hunting-and-gathering groups at the beginning of civilization,
with men doing most of the hunting of food, being the physically stronger
sex, and women doing most of the food gathering. This ancestral division of
labor between the sexes favored men and women who were the most

psychologically prepared for their assigned roles. Effective adaptations to
these environmental demands were then incorporated into the genetic
makeup of humans and inherited by future generations. Thus, different
psychological mechanisms evolved in males and females over time, leading
to the sex differences in behavior that we observe today.43

Others argue that social-environmental forces such as family, peers,
media, schools, employers, and pressures to conform in social settings cause
sex differences in interests, abilities, gender identity, and behavior to be
learned in childhood and reinforced in adulthood. According to this view, the
present-day environment influences the behavior of girls and boys by
rewarding them for engaging in the “right” behaviors (i.e., behaviors
consistent with gender stereotypes and roles) and by punishing them for
engaging in the “wrong” behaviors. The modern division of labor between
the sexes, as reflected in differences in women’s and men’s domestic and
occupational roles (see Chapter 2), leads to the formation of gender roles
that dictate the behaviors appropriate for each sex. Children are expected to
behave in accordance with these gender roles, with boys socialized to behave
in a masculine manner and girls in a feminine manner. Parents play a large
role in shaping their sons’ and daughters’ behavior, but other people and
institutions have a considerable effect as well. Children’s contacts with their
peers, especially samesex peers, are important in the development of gender
roles. Children actively exchange knowledge about gender roles and
reinforce each other’s adherence to these roles. as

In summary, arguments may be made for the influence of both biological
forces (nature) and social-environmental forces (nurture) on the development
of children and subsequent behavior of adults. No agreement has been
reached as to whether nature or nurture is more important, but both have
some effect. In fact, their effects are so intertwined that it is difficult to
separate them. The combined effects of nature and nurture may be
summarized as follows:

People are hard-wired-due to physiological properties that are the result of
biological forces, evolutionary processes, or acts of creation-to think and act

in certain ways, some of which differ for males and females and others of
which do not differ. Whether sex similarities or differences are learned or
exhibited in a particular setting is influenced by the nature of the social-
environmental forces operating in the setting.

Because biological forces are less amenable to change, we focus in the
next section of the chapter on the influence of social-environmental forces.

Although the concept of androgyny offers a vision of a society free of the
influence of gender roles and stereotypes, that society has not materialized.
Boys grow up under the heavy influence of the male gender role and girls
under the influence of the female gender role. To explain the effects of these
influences, we need to examine how young males and females are socialized
to live up to the expectations of the appropriate gender role. Although many
social-environmental forces contribute to children’s socialization into gender
roles, we will focus on the influence of parents, schools, and the mass media.

Parents are in a position to have a special effect on child development.
They provide the opportunity for imitation of their own behavior and
reinforcements for their children’s behavior. Children imitate same-sex
models more than opposite-sex models, although they could imitate any
adult to whom they were exposed. Because parents are highly available and
powerful, they are the role models children are most likely to copy,
particularly during the preschool years. Boys spend more time with their
fathers than girls do, and girls spend more time with their mothers than boys
do. Parents who are absent, however, are unavailable to serve as role models.
Overall, 70% of U.S. children live with both parents, a proportion that has
been decreasing over time; 23% live with their mother only; 3% with their
father only; and 4% with neither parent.4′

A meta-analysis of studies on childhood socialization found few
differences in parents’ actual treatment of boys and girls. There are minimal
differences in amounts of interaction, encouragement of achievement,
warmth and nurturance, encouragement of dependency or independence, and
disciplinary strictness displayed toward sons and daughters of all ages.
However, parents display a strong tendency to emphasize gender stereotypes
in their children’s household chores and play activities. The opening passage

of this chapter describes differences in children’s household responsibilities
according to the sex of the child; in short, boys are assigned different
activities and are paid more to perform these activities than girls. Parents
also offer their sons and daughters different types of toys. Boys are provided
with more sports equipment, tools, and vehicles (including, of course, G.I.
Joe tanks and other assault vehicles). Girls are provided with more dolls
(including, of course, Barbie), jewelry, and children’s furniture. Moreover,
this tendency spills over into how children are dressed and how their rooms
are decorated. Girls wear more pink and less blue clothing than boys, and
more pink and less blue is seen in girls’ rooms than in boys’rooms.46

Parents’ beliefs about gender stereotypes and roles affect how they raise
their children. Parents who endorse gender stereotypes are more likely to
treat girls and boys differently. However, parents who believe that
opportunities for both sexes should be equal are more likely to encourage
their children to deviate from gender stereotypes than parents who advocate
distinct roles for women and men 47

Parents’ employment also affects how they raise their children. The effects
of maternal employment on children’s development have been hotly debated.
(In comparison, because paternal employment is expected according to
gender roles, its effects on children’s development receive far less attention.)
Defenders of gender roles perceive a backlash against stayat-home mothers
in favor of working mothers. Myths perpetuated about maternal employment
include that working mothers work only for the money, care only about their
own needs, and neglect their children, thereby contributing to antisocial

Research suggests that all children benefit from the income that their
mothers as well as fathers earn, as increased family income has a positive
effect on children’s academic performance and reduces behavioral problems.
In addition, daughters of mothers who work outside of the home have more
egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles, and score higher on measures of
achievement such as grades and formal test scores, than daughters of
mothers who are not employed outside of the home. This may be because

employed mothers play a less stereotypical role than do stay-at-home
mothers. Husbands of employed mothers devote more time to household
labor and child care than do husbands of stay-at-home mothers, giving their
daughters another example of deviation from traditional gender roles.
Further, mothers who work provide positive role models for their daughters’
aspirations and achievement.49

Maternal employment has less influence on sons’ attitudes toward gender
roles or achievement, primarily because sons are less likely than daughters to
use their mothers as role models. However, sons of employed mothers, when
their father was present during their growing-up years, devote more time to
housework when married than sons whose mothers were not employed. This
suggests a long-term effect of mothers’ employment, combined with fathers’
greater time spent on housework, on their sons’ future domestic roles.”

In addition, parents’ workplace experiences influence their moods and
parenting behaviors, which in turn influence how their children behave.
Mothers and fathers whose jobs put them in a bad mood are more likely to
punish their children, which negatively influences their children’s motivation
and academic performance and increases their behavioral problems at
school. However, stay-at-home mothers whose family roles put them in a
bad mood also are more likely to engage in punishing behavior, thereby
contributing to their children’s behavioral problems. Happier parents, no
matter what roles they play in the household and workplace, tend to raise
happier, better-adjusted sons and daughters.”

In conclusion, in parents’ encouragement or discouragement of activities,
creation of household environments, and general parenting behavior, they
contribute to the arousal of different interests and development of different
behaviors in their children that last into adulthood. In so doing, they both
convey and reinforce the message that girls and boys are different. The same
theme emerges as we consider children’s experiences in schools.

Once they enter school systems, children are subject to the influence of
additional authority figures other than their parents. They have more adult
role models from which to choose, and they have more occasion to be
rewarded or punished for their behavior. One of the first messages that
children receive at school is the sex segregation of positions in the school
system itself: Men typically run the schools in which women teach. Women
are not represented in educational administration in equal proportion to their
representation in teaching. The older the child and the higher the grade, the
fewer women administrators and teachers. When women become school
administrators, it is more likely to be in primary schools than at higher

Both women and men are more likely to graduate from high school and
college than ever before. Also, average test scores at all levels, from
standardized tests administered in elementary and secondary school to
college entrance exams, have risen or remained stable for both girls and
boys. These results testify to the success of school systems in educating
children of both sexes.53

However, when children’s academic performance is graded, there is a
consistent sex difference: Girls get better grades than do boys across all
ethnic groups, subject areas, ages, and levels of education beginning with the
earliest school years and extending through college. This does not
necessarily mean that girls are smarter than boys. Nor does it mean that girls’
successes come at boys’ expense. Instead, better grades are earned by
students with better study habits and skills. Female students tend to be more
disciplined in their approach to schoolwork, organized, orderly, and
respectful of rules and regulations than male students, all of which contribute
to their getting good grades. These study habits and skills are more
associated with the feminine than with the masculine gender role. In
addition, boys are more likely than girls to exhibit seriously dysfunctional
school behaviors, including cutting classes, disobeying rules, and being
suspended or transferred to other schools for disciplinary reasons, all of
which interfere with their getting good grades.54

Even though girls get better grades, boys get more classroom attention.
Teachers seldom see themselves as feeling differently toward girls and boys
or treating them differently. However, classroom observations at all grade
levels reveal considerable differences in both male and female teachers’
interactions with students. Boys receive more positive and negative attention
than do girls. Boys are questioned more, criticized more, and have more
ideas accepted and rejected. Girls volunteer more often but are not called
upon as often and are given less time to answer. When teachers give more
attention and “air time” to boys than to girls, whether consciously or
unconsciously, they convey a message that boys as a group deserve more
attention. This message may suppress self-esteem in girls.”

Self-esteem may come from two sources, others’ beliefs and perceptions
and one’s own accomplishments. According to the reflected appraisals model
of self-esteem, sex differences occur in areas where societal expectations
differ for men and women; people base their selfesteem on what others think
of them. According to the competencies model of self-esteem, sex
differences occur in areas where actual performance differs for men and
women; people base their self-esteem on competency tests or other objective
measures. A meta-analysis found no sex differences in self-esteem regarding
academics across all educational levels. Given that females demonstrate
higher academic performance in the form of better grades across all levels,
the results of this meta-analysis support the reflected appraisals model over
the competencies model. Females may discount their own academic abilities,
even in areas where they excel, resulting in their academic self-esteem being
lower than their performance warrants. In contrast, males may inflate their
own academic abilities, even in areas where they trail, resulting in their
academic self-esteem being higher than their performance warrants.56

Girls’ self-esteem influences their choice of courses, fields of study, and
eventual employment. In high school, girls tend to avoid advanced
mathematics and science courses, even though girls earn higher grades in
such courses than do boys. Even when girls are personally identified as
being highly gifted in math and science, they have lower academic
selfesteem and show less interest in pursuing math and science careers than

do their male peers. As a result, although women have more access to
college education than ever before, female undergraduates are less likely
than male undergraduates to major in math and science fields. After their
undergraduate schooling, women are less likely to pursue graduate degrees
and seek employment in these areas.”

In summary, despite getting better grades, girls emerge from their school
years with no greater academic self-esteem than boys, in this case a sex
similarity with lasting consequences. Girls may be both rewarded with good
grades in the short run and punished in the long run by their experiences in

The mass media, particularly television, influence children’s development
by providing a view, whether real or distorted, of the outside world.
Television is the most popular source of information and entertainment
worldwide, partly because it is so accessible and easy to use. Unlike print
media such as magazines and newspapers, TV watching does not require
literacy. Unlike the movies, theater, and concerts, TV is always running and
available; it comes directly into the home. Television is the first centralized
cultural influence in the earliest years of life. Children begin to watch TV
before they can walk or talk. By the time they begin school, they will have
spent more time watching TV than they will ever spend in a college

TV can have beneficial effects for children. For example, educational
programming, although not a major part of most children’s TV viewing, has
a positive effect on their academic performance. However, TV watching in
general is characterized by mental and physical passivity. Children who
watch more than 3 hours per day of TV are more likely to experience
negative side effects such as obesity and poor academic performance.
Furthermore, children who watch more hours of TV violence, especially
boys, are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. Thus, TV watching has
a strong influence on children’s development.”

TV has been described as the great socializer. It teaches children what is
important and how to behave. It also teaches gender stereotypes and roles.
Stereotypical portrayals of females and males have been the norm in most
television programming. In prime-time TV programs, despite the fact that
women comprise more than half the population, male characters outnumber
female characters. Also, despite the fact that the average woman is older
than the average man, female characters are younger than male characters,
conveying the message that a woman’s value is in her youthfulness. More
women are depicted working outside the home than in the past, and the jobs
they hold are more likely to be in male-intensive occupations such as law
and medicine. However, prime-time TV programs focus on male-intensive
occupations more than sex-neutral or female-intensive occupations. As a
result, television is still primarily a man’s world, and secondarily a young
woman’s world.60

Depictions of female and male characters differ in TV commercials.
Although women make the bulk of household purchases, there are relatively
few female characters in TV commercials, and they are more likely to be
shown in families, less likely to hold jobs, and less likely to exercise
authority. On the rare occasions when men are shown in family situations,
they are less likely than women to cook, clean, wash dishes, shop, change a
diaper, or care for a sick child. Instead, men are more often shown reading,
talking, eating, and playing with children.”

Male and female characters in TV commercials differ in the kinds of
products they sell. Females are more likely to promote products used on
themselves, such as health and beauty products, or in the home, such as
foods and cleaning products. In contrast, males are more likely to promote
products used outside the home, such as cars, trucks, and cameras.
Commercials often make different types of appeals to women and men. For
example, in commercials for jeans, the emphasis for men is on being an
individual and doing your own thing, whereas the emphasis for women is on
enhancing one’s appearance to get a man. In beer commercials, the goal is to
appeal to men’s masculinity. Men are promised sex and fun if they drink the
right brand of beer. In these ads, male characters are physically active and

spend their time either outdoors or in bars. If women are pictured, they are
admiring onlookers. Some beer commercials portray mixed-sex bar scenes
where the focus is on women’s bodies (for male viewers to admire) and
men’s faces (as they admire the women’s bodies).62

TV commercials also differ in their portrayals of different racial and ethnic
groups. Black characters appear most often in commercials for financial
services and food, Asian characters in commercials for technology, Hispanic
characters in commercials for soap and deodorants, and White characters in
commercials for technology and food. White men are depicted as powerful,
White women as sex objects, Black men as aggressive, and Black women as
having no distinctive presence. White infants and small children are depicted
as go-getters, whereas Black children are more likely to be passive
observers. White children may be pictured with Black children playing in
public settings, such as schools, but family scenes are totally segregated by
race. Overall, Whites are overrepresented in TV commercials compared with
their proportion in the U.S. population, Blacks appear at a rate
commensurate with their proportion, and Hispanics and Asians are

What is the ultimate impact on children of TV portrayals of gender roles?
Many studies suggest that television viewing affects perceptions of social
reality. The more time people spend watching TV, the more likely they are to
perceive the real world in ways that reflect what they have seen on TV.
Children and adolescents who watch more TV are more aware of gender
stereotypes and hold more traditional attitudes toward gender roles. For
example, children who watch more TV are more likely to say that only girls
should do household chores traditionally associated with women and only
boys should do chores traditionally associated with men.64

However, television viewing does not always reinforce gender stereotypes.
One study found that public perceptions of the proportion of women in nine
different occupations, including physician, nurse, lawyer, college teacher,
and grade school teacher, differed from U.S. census data and also from the
proportion of women seen in these occupations in prime-time television

programming. Respondents erred consistently in the direction of sex
neutrality in the chosen professions. That is, their estimates were closer to a
50-50 split of women and men in occupations than was really the case. They
may have learned from TV news shows about trends toward a more equal
distribution of men and women in different types of jobs, and then confused
those trends with the status quo.65

Moreover, television and other forms of media occasionally celebrate
diversity. For a good example, we need only turn to the world of Star Trek,
depicted in the original television series and its successors (The Next
Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise) as well as several
movies. Star Trek is set in a universe full of races of different kinds of
beings. It assumes not only the existence of other life in this universe, but
also the existence of compatible life. Thus, other kinds of beings are never
viewed as completely alien. The challenge then becomes to understand,
communicate, and get along with other races. The original crew of the
U.S.S. Enterprise was all-inclusive. Although the crew had a White male
captain, it had Black, Asian, Russian, Scottish, Anglo-Saxon, and Vulcan
members. Star Trek’s portrayal of members of different races as well as
members of both sexes in key positions of responsibility was rare in
television at the time (the 1960s). According to George Takei, the Japanese
American actor who played Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek series, “True
Trekkies embrace diversity.”66

In conclusion, television and other mass media now portray women and
men in roles that are somewhat less stereotypical than they have in the past.
However, their overall depiction of men and women in and outside the
workplace largely conveys and reinforces gender stereotypes and roles.
Given how much time children spend watching TV, it has enormous
potential to influence their perceptions of reality.

With the assistance of their peers, parents, schools, and the mass media,
children learn about gender stereotypes and roles. However, children
eventually face hazards as adults if they learn these lessons too well. In this
section, we consider the limitations associated with strict belief in gender
stereotypes and strict adherence to gender roles.

Stereotyping, or the cognitive activity of sorting people into different
groups based on some personal characteristic or characteristics and then
assigning traits to members of each group, is a pervasive human
phenomenon that may seem harmless at first glance. Several types of
problems may result from an overreliance on stereotypes, in this case,
gender stereotypes. First, without stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination
would be less likely to take place. If people did not stereotype one another,
perhaps they would exhibit less prejudice and discrimination toward each

Second, although a given stereotype may accurately describe the average
member of a group, it rarely applies to all group members. For example,
when the BSRI is administered to undergraduate college students, males as a
group are more likely than females as a group to be classified as masculine
and less likely to be classified as feminine.68 Thus, gender stereotypes of
men as masculine and women as feminine hold for the average male and
female undergraduate respectively. This does not mean that every male
undergraduate is masculine and every female undergraduate is feminine.
Male undergraduates may be androgynous, undifferentiated, or feminine as
well as masculine in gender identity. Similarly, female undergraduates may
be androgynous, undifferentiated, or masculine as well as feminine in gender
identity. When people are stereotyped on the basis of sex (or any other
dimension of diversity), who they are as individuals may be overlooked.

Third, stereotypes imply that differences between members of different
groups are a result of their group membership. This is virtually impossible to
prove. When we examine whether a sex difference is present in some type of
ability, attitude, or behavior, we need to distinguish between two questions:
“Is there a difference between the sexes?” and “Is there a difference on
account of sex?”69 Answering the first question is relatively simple; it
involves only testing and comparing male and female populations.
Answering the second question is much more difficult. It requires
demonstrating that a difference is innate and due to biological sex alone,
which involves testing and comparing male and female populations who
have been living under identical environmental conditions. Due to
differences in the gender socialization of girls and boys, these conditions are
not present in any culture. Thus, people need to be cautious in what they
conclude about the causes of sex differences in individuals’ interests,
abilities, attitudes, and behavior.

Different types of problems result from strict adherence to gender roles.
Neither the female nor the male gender role offers an ideal prescription for
an emotionally satisfying and rewarding life. A rigid adherence to either role
maybe hazardous to one’s mental and physical health.

The female gender role encourages dependence and surrender of control
over many aspects of one’s life to others. Reactions to this lack of control
may be manifested in depression and other forms of illness. However, the
female gender role places an emphasis on self-awareness, which could lead
women to be more aware than men of symptoms of ill health, even if they
were no less healthy. This role also encourages expression of feelings,
including admission of difficulties, which can lead people to seek help from

In contrast, the male gender role encourages aggressiveness and
competitiveness, which can lead men to put themselves in risky situations.
This role is also associated with emotional inexpressiveness, which may

cause psychosomatic and other health problems. Lack of self-awareness
keeps men from being sensitive to signals that all is not well with them.
Adherence to the male gender role means suppressing one’s feelings and
always striving (or pretending) to be in control of one’s own life. The effects
of this unbridled push for dominance may take a toll on men, even though it
may seem better to dominate than to be dominated.”

One way to shed light on the effects of the toll of gender roles is to
examine sex differences in indicators of mental and physical health. We need
to proceed with caution in using this approach because pressure to conform
to gender roles is only one of many factors that could influence behavior and

Mortality statistics are striking. In 1900, the expectation of longevity at
birth for the U.S. population was 48 years for women and 46 years for men.
Since then, these expectations have risen to 80 years for women and 75 years
for men. The sex difference in mortality favoring women is present in every
country for which data are reported and for individuals of all races and
ethnic groups. Males die at a higher rate than females at all ages, ranging
from 1 year or less to 85 years and older. Life expectancy has increased
substantially for women and men, but the difference favoring women has
also increased.’

Health statistics vary considerably for women and men. Overall, women
experience more frequent illnesses and short-term disability than men. For
example, women report higher rates of mood disorders such as depression
and anxiety, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and minor
physical ailments such as headaches and stomach upsets. However, women’s
health problems typically do not endanger their lives, and they take more
actions to address their problems. They report more visits to physicians, use
more prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs, and restrict their
activities due to health problems more.73

In contrast, men suffer from more life-threatening diseases that cause
permanent disability and earlier death than women. They suffer more from

substance abuse involving alcohol or drugs and from antisocial disorders
such as aggression. They are more likely to be murdered or to die in an
accident while driving or participating in a dangerous sport. Men are also
less likely to take health promotion messages seriously or to consult a doctor
when health problems arise.

In summary, mortality and health statistics suggest that women are
“sicker” in the short run and men are “sicker” in the long run. At least part of
the reason for these sex differences may be the adherence of women and
men to gender roles.

This chapter began by posing several questions about the existence of sex
differences, gender differences, and their causes and effects. Although there
are both similarities and differences between the sexes, most people believe
that there are substantial differences. These beliefs are reflected in gender
stereotypes (although stereotypes of women may be more dynamic than
those of men) and sometimes in sexist attitudes. Women and men are
expected to adopt roles that are consistent with gender stereotypes. However,
individuals develop their own gender identities, or beliefs about themselves
in relation to traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity. Individual
behavior is influenced by a combination of biological and
socialenvironmental forces. Parents, schools, and the mass media shape
children’s behavior in a manner consistent with traditional notions of
masculinity and femininity. Strict adherence to traditional gender roles
escalates stereotyping and prejudice and can be hazardous to the mental and
physical health of adults.

Given the persistence of gender stereotypes and roles, is it possible
to create settings in which behavior is not linked to gender? I believe
that change is possible and existing influences do not have to be taken
for granted. Parents, teachers, the mass media, and society at large
may change the way they view gender-related issues. Parents and
teachers may be made aware of the powerful effect of their
expectations on children’s learning. Institutions that train teachers can

ensure that teachers are made aware of how their own expectations
and interactions with students affect student performance. The media
can do a better job of informing the public accurately about gender-
related issues and may offer a more realistic depiction of the roles that
males and females actually play in society.

What societal changes would it take to reduce adherence to gender
roles that is only for the sake of conforming to others’ expectations?
Parents requiring their daughters to mow the lawn and their sons to
wash the dishes? Teachers paying similar attention to boys and girls in
classrooms? More boys as well as girls pursuing careers in
occupations numerically dominated by the other sex? Video games in
which males are less emphatically masculine and females less
emphatically feminine, or in which women are warriors who rescue
men in peril? Television programs and movies that embrace diversity
more and gender roles less? I hope to get the chance to find out.


1. Shellenbarger, S. (2006, December 7). Boys mow lawns, girls do
dishes: Are parents perpetuating the chore wars? Wall Street Journal.
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Women have better luck auditioning for the major U.S. orchestras if they can
be heard and not seen. That is the conclusion of a study by Claudia Goldin of
Harvard University and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton University. They found
that when musicians auditioned behind a heavy cloth suspended from the
ceiling so judges can’t see their gender-or race or age-it boosts by 50% the
odds that a woman will make it past preliminary rounds and by severalfold
the odds that she will get the job… .

Blind screens are “the only way to assure a fair audition,” says Catherine
Pickar, a spokeswoman for the International Alliance for Women in Music in
Washington. Sylvia Alimena is certain that performing incognito played at
least some role in her hiring 12 years ago to play the French horn-still
overwhelmingly a male-dominated instrument for the National Symphony
Orchestra in Washington. She recalls taking off her high heels to walk to her
place behind the screen so she wouldn’t make the tell-tale clip-clop noises,
then slipping them back on her short legs so her five-foot stature would
touch the floor.

“The screen assures you that you’re going to be taken seriously,” says Ms.
Allimena, one of two female French horn players at the NSO.’

ike symphony orchestras, many of today’s organizations utilize
hiring practices designed to prevent sex discrimination, as well as other
types of discrimination. Although some organizations have embraced
nondiscriminatory practices in order to hire the best talent available, others
have been motivated by legal requirements. Because most employers have
substantial motivation to avoid sex discrimination in their employment
practices, one might assume that sex and gender have little effect on
employment decisions. Unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect.

Both job seekers and organizations make employment decisions. Job
seekers identify and apply for relevant opportunities, complete job
interviews and tests, accept or reject job offers, and negotiate starting
salaries. At the same time, organizations promote job openings, evaluate
applicants, make job offers, and determine job assignments and starting
salaries. As we will see, sex and gender influence the decisions of both job
seekers and organizations.

The decisions of individual job seekers during the job search process are
called self-selection decisions. In self-selection decisions, individuals
actively choose which opportunities to pursue and which job offers to
accept. Of course, job seekers’ self-selection decisions affect the nature of
the jobs that they obtain. Self-selection decisions, however, also affect
organizations. If highly qualified potential applicants do not apply for jobs or
accept job offers, organizations may experience shortages of qualified

During the self-selection process, job seekers assess the fit or match
between themselves and employment opportunities. Individuals’ evaluations
of the fit between themselves and specific opportunities are based on the
nature of the job and the organization. Women and men may react differently
to jobs and organizations, leading to sex differences in fit evaluations and,
ultimately, self-selection decisions.’

Sex differences in self-selection decisions also result from differences in
the techniques that men and women use to find employment. Men and
women may obtain different types of employment because their job search
methods are dissimilar. We now examine how sex differences in self-
selection decisions arise from differences in men’s and women’s reactions to
jobs and organizations and in their job search behavior.

As women and men seek job opportunities that fit their own
characteristics, they may seek different kinds of jobs. Differences in
women’s and men’s desired jobs could occur if the gender socialization
processes described in Chapter 3 lead women or men to prefer jobs that are
consistent with the appropriate gender stereotype and role. Given the
increased labor force participation of women worldwide, do gender

stereotypes and roles continue to dictate individuals’ job preferences? In this
section, we consider this question, exploring sex similarities and differences
in preferences for job attributes, work activities, and occupations.

Job attribute preferences refer to the extent to which an individual views
different qualities and outcomes of paid work as desirable. Job attributes
represent general characteristics of jobs such as working hours, geographical
location, advancement opportunities, salary, benefits, relationships with
coworkers, and opportunities for using skills and abilities. Preferences for
job attributes are most important to job seekers at the beginning of their job
search and play less of a role in actual job choice decisions, when
organizational factors such as reputation and recruiting practices are more

Sex differences in job attribute preferences are prevalent. Most of these
differences align with gender roles and stereotypes, but others do not.
Women are more concerned with job attributes that allow them to meet
demands of the homemaker role (e.g., good hours, easy commute) and the
feminine stereotype than are men. The opportunity for positive interpersonal
relations (e.g., working with people, opportunity to help others, opportunity
to make friends) is especially important to women. However, job attributes
normally associated with the male breadwinner role and the masculine
stereotype are not uniformly endorsed to a greater extent by men than by
women. Although men consider income, autonomy, the opportunity to
exercise leadership and power, challenging work, and promotion
opportunities to be more important than do women, women consider job
benefits, the availability of job openings, and feelings of accomplishment as
more important. There are no sex differences in the extent to which women
and men seek jobs that provide high status, recognition, meaningful work,
and responsibility.’

Job attribute preferences may be influenced by the nature of one’s family
structure. For example, women who are mothers value flexibility more than
childless women. Men who are married and fathers value income and
advancement more than single, childless men. The influence of family

structure on individuals’ careers and workplace experiences is discussed at
greater length in Chapter 8.6

Sex differences in job attribute preferences also may be influenced by
cultural factors. For example, in Japan, where women typically serve as
clerks and leave the workforce after marriage, female employees attach more
importance to factors such as working hours, commute, location, salary,
benefits, and job security than do male employees. In contrast, male
employees are more concerned about their future prospects for advancement
with the organization. Lengthy commutes and long working hours are
common in Japan. Because Japanese women, unlike Japanese men, do not
expect to remain with their employers, they may be more concerned with
factors that reduce the everyday stresses of their work schedules than with
their long-term prospects with the organization.’

Men and women differ in their preferences for work activities. Generally,
these differences are consistent with gender stereotypes and roles. Young
women are more interested in activities that involve people (e.g., taking care
of people, performing community service), while young men are more
interested in activities that involve things (computers, machines, tools).
Individuals may be further classified based on their interests in six activities:
realistic (e.g., manipulation of objects, tools, machines, and animals),
investigative (e.g., examination of physical, biological, and cultural
phenomena), artistic (e.g., creation of art forms and products), social (e.g.,
informing, training, and developing others), enterprising (e.g., influencing
others to attain goals), and conventional (e.g., administrative) activities. Sex
differences in preferences for enterprising and conventional activities appear
to be small, with young men preferring enterprising and conventional
activities somewhat more than do young women. However, sex differences
for the other four types of activities are more substantial. Young women are
more interested in artistic and social activities than are men, while men are
more interested in realistic and investigative activities.’

Sex differences in occupational preferences are also of interest. As the
labor force participation of women has increased, young women have

become somewhat less interested in pursuing female-intensive occupations
and somewhat more interested in pursuing male-intensive occupations.
However, during the same time, the occupational interests of young men
have changed very little. As a result, sex differences in occupational
preferences have diminished but still remain. Stereotypically masculine
occupations such as building contractor, race car driver, stockbroker, and
professional athlete are more likely to be preferred by men than by women.
In contrast, the occupations of social worker, bank teller, dietician,
elementary schoolteacher, and registered nurse are more likely to be
preferred by women.’

Why do individuals continue to prefer jobs that are regarded as
appropriate for members of their sex? Gender socialization processes
certainly contribute to sex differences in occupational preferences. The sex
segregation of occupations, described in Chapter 2, may also lead job
seekers to restrict their occupational choices. People assume generally that
individuals possess the characteristics needed for their current work roles.
Thus, women are assumed to possess the attributes needed in female-
intensive jobs while men are assumed to possess those attributes appropriate
for male-intensive jobs. People also believe that success in female-intensive
jobs requires feminine personality traits and physical characteristics while
success in male-intensive jobs requires masculine personality traits and
physical characteristics.”

The notion that success in the occupations dominated by one sex requires
the personal characteristics associated with that sex is likely to have a
chilling effect on job seekers of the other sex. Job seekers may believe that
they cannot succeed in occupations that are numerically dominated by the
other sex and look elsewhere for employment. Both women and men suffer
when they restrict their occupational choices to those that seem suitable for
members of their sex. However, women are more likely to suffer financially
because female-intensive occupations pay less than male-intensive
occupations. In fact, sex differences in occupational choice contribute to the
lower pay of women even when we account for differences in the job-related
skills and credentials that men and women bring to their jobs.”

Job seekers’ preferences for work activities and occupations are not a
function of their sex only. Gender identity also plays an important role in
individuals’ interests and occupational preferences. Individuals differ in the
extent to which they internalize the lessons of gender socialization and
embrace the gender roles prescribed for members of their sex. Masculine
individuals are more likely to prefer working with things and to choose
male-intensive occupations, whereas feminine individuals are more likely to
prefer working with people and to choose female-intensive occupations.
College men who endorse antifemininity and toughness norms are more
likely to pursue male-intensive occupations such as computer science,
engineering, and construction technology, while those who reject these
norms are more likely to pursue female-intensive occupations such as
nursing, counseling, and elementary education.12

In sum, sex differences in preferences for specific job attributes, work
activities, and occupations are substantial. As individuals make choices
about the kind of work they would like to do, they are influenced by their
own socialization experiences and by the distribution of male and female
workers across occupations. Individuals tend to seek jobs that are viewed as
appropriate for members of their sex, thereby reinforcing the sex segregation
of the workforce.

Sex differences in self-selection decisions may also be due to differences
in women’s and men’s reactions to organizations. Human resource
management programs and practices serve as signals for underlying
organizational values. Job seekers use these signals to assess the fit between
their own values and those of the organization. For women and people of
color, initiatives such as diversity and work-family programs may be
important signals concerning the value that the organization places on
maintaining a diverse workforce and the likelihood of their own fit within
the organization. Selection processes, especially the demographic
characteristics and behavior of the recruiter and the nature of the procedures
used, serve as further signals about working conditions in the organization.”

Inclusive diversity policies make it easier for organizations to attract
applicants. Organizations that declare their commitment to diversity in
recruitment advertisements increase their attractiveness to all job seekers,
regardless of the job seeker’s sex or race. Nonetheless, women and people of
color pay closer attention to a prospective employer’s diversity management
practices than do men and Whites. Policies concerning affirmative action
and the promotion of women and people of color into the managerial and
executive ranks are more important to women and people of color, who are
more likely to benefit from them.14

The presence of work-family initiatives such as flextime, reduced hours,
and on-site day care also seems to increase organizational attractiveness for
all employees. Even individuals who pursue traditional career paths prefer
flexible organizations that allow all workers to balance work and family.
Flexible organizations may be favored because they are seen as more
humane and modern. Also, as individuals devote more time to child rearing
and household activities, they seek jobs with organizations that provide more
flexibility. Because gender socialization may lead women to emphasize
family roles to a greater extent than men, work-family initiatives may be
especially attractive to women.’5

The sex of the recruiter could differentially affect men’s and women’s
evaluations of the organization’s attractiveness. For instance, applicants
could see job opportunities as less attractive when they are interviewed by
female rather than male recruiters because women typically have less power
and than men in organizations. In addition, sex similarity between the job
seeker and the recruiter could affect the job seeker’s attraction to the
organization. Sex similarity may lead to perceived similarity in attitudes and
values, which in turn leads to interpersonal attraction or liking and more
positive evaluations of the other party. Sex similarity may also enhance
communication between the applicant and the recruiter. Because individuals
are more open to influence from similar others, applicants may be more
easily sold on a job by same-sex than by opposite-sex recruiters. The
presence of a same-sex recruiter may also serve as a signal that individuals
similar to the job seeker are valued at the organization. However, neither

recruiter sex nor sex similarity between the recruiter and the applicant have
consistent effects on men’s or women’s evaluations of the attractiveness of
job opportunities.”

Although recruiter sex and sex similarity do not lead to predictable sex
differences in reactions to job opportunities, recruiting practices lead to such
differences. One study obtained rich evidence on this issue from intensive
interviews with undergraduate and graduate students throughout their job
searches. In the interviews, the researchers tried to understand why students
pursued or rejected various job opportunities. Despite the fact that the
researchers asked no questions about sex discrimination, half of the women
in their sample mentioned a negative experience that might be a sign of such
discrimination. For instance, corporate representatives commented on
women’s personal appearances or told women that they would not advance
as fast as men. In addition, when students described why they became more
negative or positive about particular organizations during their job searches,
women were much more likely than men to cite their interactions with
recruiters and other organizational representatives. Given the negative
experiences of women, it is not surprising that their evaluations of job
opportunities are more affected by their interactions with organizational
representatives. Women may base their assessments of the environment for
women and the likelihood of their own success in the organization on their
interactions with organizational representatives.”

Men and women also differ in their evaluations of the fairness of selection
procedures. The use of structured selection procedures designed to avoid sex
discrimination is more important to women than to men, at least among
applicants for entry-level positions. Advertising every open position, using
panels of interviewers of both sexes, ensuring equal opportunity regardless
of sex, age, or race, and avoiding the use of appearance as a selection
criterion are more important in determining the fairness of selection
procedures for women than men. In contrast, men are more likely than
women to endorse the evaluation of job-related competence as important for
fair selection decisions. These sex differences in reactions to selection
procedures may arise from differences in men’s and women’s interview

experiences. If women commonly experience sex discrimination, they may
feel that formal procedures are needed to address it.’$

In sum, human resource management programs and practices differentially
affect men’s and women’s attraction to job opportunities. Although both
women and men view organizations with diversity and work-family
programs in a positive light, these characteristics are especially important to
women. In addition, women are more likely to experience offensive behavior
in their interactions with organizational representatives. As a result, these
interactions are more important in women’s than in men’s job choice
decisions. Women also endorse the use of nondiscriminatory selection
procedures to a greater extent than do men. Overall, these findings suggest
that organizations that want to attract women need to consider the signals
conveyed by their diversity and work-family initiatives and their selection

Sex differences in job search behavior also influence the kinds of jobs that
men and women obtain. Men devote more time and effort to their searches.
According to traditional gender roles, men, who are envisioned as the
primary wage earners, should work harder at finding employment than
women. Because men have fewer household responsibilities, they have more
time available to devote to their job searches and act more independently,
whereas women have less time available and are more influenced by the
opinions of others in their job searches. If men devote more time and effort
to job seeking, they are likely to have better alternatives from which to
choose. According to a study of the job search efforts of a broad group of job
seekers, women spend less time searching for jobs than do men. However,
women in male-intensive occupations spend much more time searching for
jobs than women in other occupations. Not surprisingly, individuals who
search longer find higher-paying jobs.19

Men and women also differ in the methods they use to find jobs. Job
search methods maybe formal or informal. Formal job search methods

include obtaining referrals from employment agencies, labor unions, and
school placement officers and responding to newspaper ads and help-wanted
signs. Informal job search methods consist of referrals from networks of
friends, family members, and business associates. Although both methods
are useful in the job search process, informal methods are a frequent
mechanism for finding employment. In fact, many individuals who find new
jobs are not even actively engaged in job searches. Instead, they “fall into”
jobs that they hear about through their social networks2°

Men’s and women’s networks differ substantially. Women’s networks are
more kin-centered, and men’s networks are more workcentered. Women tend
to have networks that are more concentrated in the local community and
composed of friends and relatives than are men’s, perhaps because of
women’s greater domestic responsibilities and lower-status positions. In
contrast, men have more geographically dispersed, diverse networks
containing a greater number of business contacts and high-status individuals.
When men and women use their networks to identify desirable jobs, they
tend to rely on same-sex contacts. Same-sex contacts restrict the job choices
of women compared to those of men, funneling them to female-intensive
jobs in their local communities with less status and lower pay than male-
intensive jobs. As a result, women benefit less from their social networks
during the job search process .21

Once they hold jobs, men and women differ in the strategies they use to
obtain new jobs and the benefits derived from their chosen strategy. Women
often adopt an internal labor market strategy, seeking promotions and
earnings growth within a single organization. In contrast, men tend to use an
external labor market strategy, seeking advancement by searching for jobs
with new employers while continuing to work for their present employers.
Because using an external labor market strategy increases individuals’
compensation more than using an internal labor market strategy, sex
differences in the strategy used contribute to the pay differential between
men and women. Moreover, even when women seek external employment, it
yields them little benefit. The primary beneficiaries of an external labor
market strategy are White males. Women and people of color who change

companies do not increase their pay compared to those who stay with their
companies, perhaps because of discrimination in employment systems zz

When negotiating with potential employers about job opportunities, sex
differences in job seekers’ pay expectations may lead to sex differences in
actual wages. Because women expect and accept less pay than men, they
request and receive less pay than men in equivalent positions. For almost all
occupations, young women have lower expectations regarding both their
entry pay and their pay at the peaks of their careers than do young men. The
sex difference in pay expectations is especially striking for male-intensive
occupations such as engineering. It occurs even when individuals estimate a
fair salary for a particular job. Compared to men, women actually see lower
pay as “fair pay.””

Several factors account for sex differences in pay expectations. First,
women’s lower pay expectations may be realistic. As victims of past
discrimination in salary decisions, women simply may have lower pay
standards. Second, as noted in our discussion of sex differences in job
attribute preferences, pay is more important to men than to women. Women
appear to be less concerned about pay and more concerned about other
aspects of work such as interpersonal relations and convenience. Third, men
and women use different reference groups in determining pay expectations.
Women typically base their pay expectations on the pay of other women,
whereas men base their pay expectations on the pay of other men. Because
men are likely to be more highly paid, this tendency to develop pay
expectations based on same-sex comparisons may lead to sex differences in
pay expectations. Finally, because of their limited business contacts,
women’s knowledge of pay levels may be less accurate.’

Differences in women’s and men’s job search methods contribute to
differences in the jobs available to them and the salaries they receive. Men
devote more time to their searches and have more access to beneficial
contacts than do women. As a result, men identify more and better job
opportunities. Further, even when men and women find equivalent jobs,
women’s salaries may be lower. Compared to men, women are less likely to

obtain wage increases by changing employers. Women appear to have lower
pay expectations than men in the same occupation, putting them at a
disadvantage when negotiating salaries.

In summary, male and female job seekers make different selfselection
decisions regarding employment. They differ in their preferences for job
attributes, work activities, and occupations in ways that contribute to the
continued sex segregation of the workplace. Women are more influenced
than men by the organization’s human resource management programs and
practices; organizations with policies that emphasize managing diversity and
balancing work and family are especially attractive to women. Also, women
are more attracted to organizations when they view selection procedures as
fair and have positive, nondiscriminatory interactions with recruiters.
Finally, sex differences in job search behaviors contribute to the employment
of women in jobs that are lower paid than those of men.

The decisions of organizations and their representatives during the hiring
process are called selection decisions. In selection decisions, organizations
choose which applicants will receive further consideration (e.g., by being
invited to a formal interview or site visit) and which applicants of those who
receive further consideration will actually receive job offers. Although the
selection decisions of organizations are based primarily on applicants’
qualifications, sex discrimination may occur. We need to consider how and
when sex discrimination occurs and who discriminates against whom 25

To understand how and when sex discrimination occurs, it is helpful to
examine how organizational representatives make selection decisions.
Organizational decision makers use a matching process to assess applicants.
Decision makers form mental prototypes or images of the ideal applicant.
These prototypes define the traits and behaviors that are required for success
in a particular job. As decision makers evaluate applicants, they favor
applicants whose attributes come closest to matching this prototype 26

Sex discrimination may arise from decision makers’ prototypes of the ideal
applicant. These prototypes may include traits that are specifically linked to
one sex. When the tasks required for job performance are mostly masculine,
the prototype will be masculine and men will be seen as more likely to
succeed. For example, the requirements of managerial positions may include
stereotypically masculine behaviors such as making tough decisions or
competing for scarce organizational resources. As a result, decision makers’
prototypes for such positions may emphasize masculine traits and male
applicants maybe seen as better suited for the job. On the other hand, if the
prototype for a job (e.g., day care worker) includes feminine traits, females
will be seen as more suitable 27

In some cases, decision makers’ prototypes explicitly specify the sex of the
jobholder. When job incumbents or job applicants are predominantly from
one sex, organizational decision makers’ prototypes specify the sex of the
ideal applicant; applicants whose sex matches the prototype will be seen as
more qualified and will be favored in the selection process. Among
applicants for female-intensive jobs, female applicants are likely to be rated
as more qualified, offered higher starting salaries and more challenging job
assignments, and hired more often than males. In contrast, male applicants
are likely to be preferred over females for male-intensive jobs. Decision
makers do not hire blatantly unqualified applicants of the “correct” sex over
qualified applicants of the “wrong” sex. However, they may hire moderately
qualified applicants of the correct sex over slightly more qualified applicants
of the other sex.28

An example from the restaurant industry demonstrates the use of sex as an
explicit element of decision makers’ ideal applicant prototypes. Imagine
going to the most elegant restaurant in a large city to celebrate your birthday.
This particular birthday is a significant milestone and you are sparing no
expense to enjoy an incredible dining experience. Look around your
restaurant. What sex are the servers? They are probably mostly or entirely
male. Now, imagine going to a less expensive restaurant such as the nearest
sandwich shop that would provide a less elegant dining experience. What
sex are the servers? They are probably mostly female. A possible
explanation for this phenomenon is that women prefer the limited tips earned
in inexpensive restaurants and men prefer the more generous tips in
expensive restaurants. Another is that men are more qualified to serve
expensive food and women more qualified to serve inexpensive food. A
more likely explanation is that managers of expensive restaurants possess
ideal applicant prototypes that specify that servers should be male, while
managers of inexpensive restaurants have prototypes that specify that servers
should be female.

One study suggests that this is indeed the case. In the study, two male and
two female students in an undergraduate economics course applied for jobs
as servers at selected restaurants in Philadelphia. One male and one female

student dropped off equivalent resumes at each restaurant. The students
visited 23 high-priced restaurants and received a total of 13 job offers from
these restaurants. Eleven of these 13 job offers were made to men. The
students visited 21 low-priced restaurants and received a total of 10 offers
for jobs from these restaurants. Women received 8 of the 10 offers. Thus,
male applicants were preferred at expensive restaurants and female
applicants were preferred at inexpensive restaurants. The preference for male
servers at high-priced restaurants seems to be due to the managers’ beliefs
about the preferences of patrons in these restaurants, who are more likely to
be male than patrons in low-priced restaurants. Restaurant managers,
regardless of their own sex, prefer servers whose sex matches patrons’
expectations. Thus, their ideal appli- 29 cant prototypes specify the sex of
the jobholder.

Sex discrimination based on mental prototypes may smolder inside the
restaurant kitchen as well. Noted female chefs report that their industry is
not comfortable with a woman in charge of overall food preparation. Female
chefs are often insulted or ignored by male chefs in the main kitchen. As a
result, they often gravitate toward being in charge of pastries, a more
traditionally female area of expertise. Sex discrimination even affects who
gets to have their own restaurant. Female restaurant owners have a harder
time attracting investors and securing funding for their businesses than their
male counterparts 30

Sex discrimination also arises in the selection process because decision
makers have a general tendency to devalue the qualifications of female
applicants. In society, individuals are assigned status or esteem based on the
demographic groups to which they belong; Whites and men are typically
ascribed higher status than women and people of color. Judgments of
individuals’ task competence are based, in part, on the status assigned to
members of their demographic group. Individuals who belong to high-status
groups are viewed as more competent than those of low-status groups.
Because females are typically ascribed less status or esteem in society,
decision makers may believe that women are less qualified than men. As a
result, male applicants are valued more than identically qualified female

applicants. Moreover, to be seen as qualified, female applicants must provide
more evidence of their ability than similarly qualified male applicants 31

Thus, sex discrimination in the selection process may lead women to be
preferred for jobs that are female-intensive or require feminine traits and
men to be preferred for jobs that are male-intensive or require masculine
traits. However, if men are generally seen as more qualified than women,
men who apply for female-intensive jobs (e.g., male applicant for nursing
position) may suffer less discrimination than women who apply for male-
intensive jobs (e.g., woman applicant for firefighter position).

Sex discrimination is most likely to occur when jobs are associated with
one sex, either because the traits required for the job are stereotypically
masculine or feminine or because the job is dominated by members of one
sex. However, the presence of sex discrimination is also influenced by other
situational factors, especially the amount of information available about
applicants and the conspicuousness of the applicant’s sex. Recruiters and
managers often have insufficient information on which to base their
selection decisions. For instance, the initial screening of applicants is
typically based on resumes or application forms, which present little
information about applicants’ personal qualities. When recruiting is
conducted on college campuses, decisions about which applicants to
consider further are based on interviews of no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
These interviews lead to quickly formed impressions that present only a
glimpse of the applicant. Follow-up interviews provide more information
about applicants, but not so much that employers can be sure that they are
making the right choice or offering an appropriate salary.32

Insufficient information increases the likelihood that discrimination will
occur. In the absence of information, decision makers have no reliable way
to evaluate an applicant’s potential productivity. They are likely to rely on
gender stereotypes and status judgments to form impressions of applicants.
Decision makers assume that applicants possess attributes associated with
their sex and use these attributes to assess the fit of the applicants with the
prototype of the ideal applicant. As a result, when decision makers with

limited information evaluate applicants, women are less likely than men to
advance into the final applicant pool and to receive job offers. Women also
are likely to receive lower starting salaries. On the other hand, when decision
makers have extensive information about applicants’ abilities, sex
discrimination is less likely.”

Sex discrimination also occurs when the situation calls attention to the sex
of the applicant. When applicant sex is highly conspicuous, decision makers
are likely to access their gender stereotypes and status judgments, thereby
increasing the chance of sex discrimination. Numerous factors increase the
conspicuousness of applicant sex. Applicant sex is likely to be conspicuous
when decision makers encounter applicants whose sex is atypical among
applicants or job incumbents. Aspects of the applicant’s appearance (e.g., a
very femininely dressed woman) may also increase attention to the
applicant’s sex 34

A striking demonstration of the importance of the conspicuousness of
applicant sex comes from research on the effect of screens on sex
discrimination in the selection decisions made by major symphony
orchestras. Elite symphonies historically have discriminated against female
musicians. In fact, some conductors of major orchestras have been known to
make public comments such as “I just don’t think women should be in an
orchestra,” or “The more women in an orchestra, the smaller the sound.”
Because women musicians are underrepresented in major symphonies, sex is
likely to be an explicit aspect of decision makers’ prototypes of the ideal
applicant and applicant sex is likely to be conspicuous. The use of screens in
orchestra auditions reduces the conspicuousness of applicant sex; in fact it
makes applicant sex invisible. Thus, by comparing the amount of sex
discrimination with and without screens, we can get an idea of how
conspicuousness affects the occurrence of discrimination. As we saw in the
introductory passage to the chapter, using screens substantially reduces
discrimination against women. This finding reinforces the notion that the
conspicuousness of applicant sex is an important factor in determining
whether sex discrimination occurs 35

Sex discrimination, in both symphony orchestras and other employment
settings, may also arise when applicant sex is conspicuous in the initial
screening phase of the selection process. A study of selection decisions by
professional orchestras in Germany illustrates this point. Applicants for
orchestra positions first submit a written application, and then selected
applicants are invited to audition behind screens. Women composed less than
30% of all musicians in German orchestras; they are more likely to be in the
string section and less likely to play woodwinds or brass instruments.
Women were discriminated against in decisions about which applicants to
invite for auditions, but had an equal chance for men to get a job once they
were granted the opportunity to perform in a blind audition. As a result, even
though the use of screens accomplished its intended purpose of reducing
discrimination at the final hiring stage of the selection process, sex
discrimination was still present in decisions at the invitation stage because
women’s low proportions in German orchestras made applicant sex

In most cases, the processes described above operate at an unconscious
level. Most decision makers do not say to themselves, “Women simply aren’t
qualified for this job” or “I will act on my belief in gender stereotypes in
evaluating applicants” or “I must hire a man for this position because this job
is usually filled by men.” However, some decision makers may consciously
use what they believe are other peoples’ biases as the basis for their decisions
about applicants. If they think, for example, that employees or customers
will feel uncomfortable with a female engineer or a male secretary, they may
defer to that attitude in their hiring decisions even if they do not share it.
Thus, elegant restaurants may hire only male servers because they believe
that their patrons prefer to be waited on by male servers. Discrimination on
the basis of customer preferences is illegal, as we discuss further in Chapter
9, but it does occur.

Our attention has been on the “how and when” of sex discrimination in
selection decisions. Mental prototypes play a large role in selection
decisions. These prototypes are most likely to lead to sex discrimination in
selection decisions when job applicants or current jobholders are

predominantly from one sex, the traits seen as required for the job are either
stereotypically masculine or feminine, minimal information is available
about applicants, and applicant sex is highly conspicuous. Also, there is a
general tendency to devalue the qualifications of female applicants.

Whether sex discrimination occurs in selection decisions may be
influenced by personal characteristics of decision makers as well as personal
characteristics of applicants other than their sex. It is important to examine
who discriminates against whom.

As noted earlier, sex similarity between the interviewer and the applicant
may enhance their mutual liking and facilitate communication in the
interview. As a result, applicants in same-sex interviews may share more
information about themselves, thereby providing interviewers a better
understanding of what they have to offer. In addition, increased liking may
lead interviewers to conduct more positive interviews and focus on positive
information when forming their judgments of applicants. These effects of
sex similarity may even apply to situations in which organizational
representatives are simply evaluating resumes or application forms.
However, research findings provide inconsistent support for the idea that sex
similarity between the interviewer and the applicant leads to more favorable
evaluations of applicants.37

Decision-makers’ personalities are more useful than their sex in predicting
whether they will engage in sex discrimination. The extent to which decision
makers endorse traditional gender roles and stereotypes is especially
important. Decision makers who adhere to traditional, rather than
nontraditional, gender roles and stereotypes are likely to discriminate against
women who apply for male-intensive positions. However, even those
individuals who reject traditional gender stereotypes may engage in
discrimination by favoring women over men.38

Applicants’ physical attractiveness affects the occurrence of sex
discrimination in selection decisions. Even though assessments of
attractiveness are highly subjective, people agree on who is attractive and
who is not attractive both within and across cultures. They also agree that
“what is beautiful is good.” Attractive children and adults are judged and
treated more positively than unattractive children and adults, even by people
who know them. Further, attractive adults, especially men, are judged as
being more competent, even when they are not actually more competent,
than unattractive adults. In job interviews, physically attractive applicants
are seen as more likeable and ultimately as more suitable for hiring. When
evaluating job applicants of the opposite sex, people demonstrate a
preference for attractive applicants over unattractive applicants. However,
although attractive women are more likely than unattractive women to get a
job in which job incumbents are predominantly male, attractive men still
have an advantage in getting the job. Overall, physical attractiveness is more
important in the evaluation of female than of male applicants 39

Applicants’ weight, a highly visible characteristic that affects judgments of
attractiveness, influences whether sex discrimination occurs in selection
decisions. Although people have little control over their general level of
attractiveness, they are expected to exert control over their body weight.
Overweight individuals are stereotyped as being lazier, less conscientious,
less attentive to their personal hygiene, and less emotionally stable than their
“normal-weight” counterparts, even though there is little supporting
evidence. Weight-based discrimination is exhibited in most stages of
employment, including decisions about hiring, initial placement, salary, and
promotion as well as assessments of career potential. However, biases
against hiring overweight applicants have been found to be particularly
strong for women. Reflecting differences in physique between the Barbie
and G.I. Joe dolls/action figures that are marketed particularly to girls versus
boys (see Chapter 3), a “thinness is good” standard is applied more to female
applicants than male applicants.40

Pregnant applicants also experience discrimination in selection decisions.
Intriguing experimental studies have been conducted in which women have

played the role of either an applicant who is visibly pregnant, simulated by
wearing a prosthesis to make her appear to be 7 or 8 months pregnant, or an
applicant who is not visibly pregnant (called “nonpregnant”). Such studies
have found that visibly pregnant applicants receive lower hiring
recommendations than nonpregnant applicants who are equally qualified.
Interestingly, discriminatory treatment appears to be reserved for pregnant
job applicants but not pregnant customers. In a study of retail stores, visibly
pregnant applicants received more hostile treatment from store employees
than nonpregnant applicants, whereas visibly pregnant customers received
more benevolent, friendly treatment than nonpregnant customers.
Benevolence toward pregnant women in a traditional gender role (customer)
and hostility toward pregnant women in a nontraditional gender role
(applicant) is, of course, sexist. Biases in selection decisions on the basis of
pregnancy violate the U.S. Pregnancy Discrimination Act as well as laws in
many other countries. They provide evidence of sex discrimination when
women’s appearance suggests that they are about to become mothers. Given
that men cannot experience anti-pregnancy biases, such biases contribute to
the overall level of sex discrimination against women 41

In summary, sex discrimination in selection decisions is highly complex
and varies as a function of characteristics of the situation (e.g., sex
composition, information, desirable traits, conspicuousness of applicant sex),
the decision makers (e.g., personality), and the applicants (e.g., physical
appearance, weight) pregnancy). We do not fully understand how and when
it occurs and who discriminates against whom. However, we certainly know
enough to conclude that organizations need to guard against it.

We have painted a picture of how job seekers and organizations make
employment decisions that heavily emphasizes the influence of sex and
gender. In this section, we consider (1) what individual job seekers can do to
improve their prospects for attaining a satisfying and rewarding job and (2)
what organizations can do to improve their recruitment activities and
selection decisions. Tables 4.1 and 4.2 summarize recommended actions for
individuals and organizations respectively.

Although organizational selection processes have a great impact on the
jobs that individuals obtain, individuals can increase the likelihood of
obtaining a satisfying and rewarding job by devoting substantial attention to
identifying their own interests and to conducting job searches. First, job
seekers should engage in self-exploration exercises to identify preferred
occupations and job attributes. Career counselors, often available at
universities and high schools, may be helpful in this process. Individuals
should identify preferred activities and then determine the occupations that
will allow them to pursue these activities. Given the influence of the sex
segregation of work on occupational preferences, job seekers need to ensure
that they do not limit their choices to those that are dominated by their own
sex. For instance, females with an interest in medicine might consider
becoming surgeons and males with an interest in medicine might explore
careers in nursing. Job seekers also should rank their own preferences for
specific job attributes. Making such a list clarifies the specific kinds of
positions within an occupation that may be suitable for the individual .12

Second, job seekers need to devote considerable time and effort to their
job searches and to use a broad range of job search methods, both formal and
informal. This will allow them to identify more and better alternatives from
which to choose. Informal referrals are especially important in the job search

process. Women may have fewer business contacts than do men, and may
need to make special efforts to establish a broader range of social contacts.
For instance, women might want to consider joining local professional or
business-related organizations to increase the diversity of their contacts.

Third, applicants should be prepared to make good impressions in their
interviews. Applicants who make greater use of impression management
tactics such as expressed fit with the organization (e.g., stating interest in the
position and enthusiasm for working for this organization) and self-
promotion (e.g., making positive statements about oneself, one’s past
accomplishments, or one’s future plans) are more likely to receive positive
recruiter evaluations in job interviews and invitations for follow-up site
visits. To reduce the chances of stereotyping, job seekers should provide as
much information as possible to potential employers about their
qualifications. Applicants need to make known their positive qualities, both
in their paper credentials and in their interactions with employers. Also, job
seekers benefit from attending job interview training workshops or holding
practice interviews with friends 43

Table 4.1 Recommended Actions for Individuals

Table 4.2 Recommended Actions for Organizations

Fourth, applicants should carefully assess the merits of each potential
employer. During the initial employment interview, applicants should not
expect to get much information other than whether there might be a potential
match. If job seekers proceed to further discussions with an employer, they
need additional information to make a good decision. Such information can
be difficult to obtain, but it is available if the right questions are asked at the
right time of the right people in a sensitive manner. It may be worthwhile for
female applicants to consider the signals provided by recruiter behavior, as
well as organizational policies with respect to work and family and
managing diversity, in evaluating the extent to which women are valued by
the organization.

Finally, applicants should select the job that best matches their preferred
job attributes and be ready to negotiate their starting salary. All job seekers
should become informed about actual pay levels for the jobs that they are
seeking so that they can negotiate fair starting salaries. This is particularly
important for women, some of whom may have lower pay expectations than
men. Applicants who follow all of these steps will increase their chances of
obtaining a satisfying and rewarding job.

One key source of sex segregation in today’s organizations is the sex
difference in occupational preferences. Individuals’ occupational preferences
are formed at a very young age and typically reflect societal notions about
“women’s work” and “men’s work.” If organizations want to lower the level
of sex segregation in the workplace, they need to influence the formation of
children’s occupational expectations.

How can organizations influence the development of occupational
preferences? Many organizations distribute materials about careers to high
school guidance counselors. These materials portray women and men in a
greater variety of occupations than ever before. However, high school is not
the place to start. If organizations expect to have an appreciable effect on the
development of occupational preferences, they need to provide information
about opportunities in their industries to younger children, such as by
sending speakers to elementary schools, youth groups, and other places
where young children congregate. The best speakers may be members of the
sex least represented in the occupations being discussed, or mixed-sex teams
that demonstrate that both sexes belong in the occupations. For example, a
female engineer or a male nurse who succeeded despite the admonishments
of others would be ideal speakers on opportunities in the engineering and
nursing professions respectively. Digital media that are distributed to schools
and youth groups and posted online can convey similar themes.

Organizations also need to reduce the sex segregation of jobs in their
midst and devote more attention to their procedures for attracting and

selecting applicants. First, they need to reduce the perception that particular
jobs are appropriate for members of one sex. Many jobs require tasks
associated with both women’s and men’s traditional roles. The full range of
activities associated with particular jobs should be included in job
descriptions. Organizations may also publicize employees who have been
successful in positions that are atypical for their sex. The leaders of
organizations may be a very powerful force in changing perceptions of jobs.
When key leaders select individuals whose sex is “incorrect” for a particular
job, employees’ perceptions of who belongs in the job may be affected 44

Second, organizations need to examine how they solicit applications. Most
job seekers obtain jobs through informal contacts of the same sex, and most
organizations rely heavily on referrals from employees to make new hires.
Organizations must ensure that reliance on referrals does not promote the
sex segregation of work. They need to consider alternative sources of
applicants (e.g., Internet postings, newspaper advertisements, employment
agencies, campus placement centers) if reliance on referrals is limiting the
diversity of new hires.

Third, organizations need to screen and train recruiters and other decision
makers. Screening of recruiters should include assessments of their beliefs in
rigid gender stereotypes and roles and exclude those who are likely to be
biased. Training of all those involved in the selection process is critical. A
survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that less than half offered a
standardized training program for recruiters. Given the negative experiences
of female applicants in the selection process, employers need to do a better
job of training the people who attract and select applicants. Organizations
should train individuals to avoid discriminatory behaviors and to be aware of
the potential influences of gender stereotypes and the sex segregation of

Fourth, organizations can reduce the likelihood of sex discrimination by
formalizing and standardizing selection practices. Many organizations rely
primarily on employment interviews to make hiring decisions. In the typical
interview, interviewers ask vague questions about applicants’ opinions and

attitudes, goals and aspirations, and self-evaluations. Interview judgments
based on such questions are highly subjective, and, as a result, are
susceptible to bias from gender and racial stereotypes. Unlike symphony
orchestras, most organizations cannot solve the problem by putting screens
between applicants and decision makers. Organizations, however, can
implement structured interviews that are less susceptible to bias than
traditional interviews. In structured interviews, the content of the interview
and the evaluation process are standardized. Specific, job-related interview
questions are asked of all applicants. Further, interviewers evaluate each
applicant on multiple scales with well-defined descriptions anchoring each
level of each scale. These structured procedures force interviewers to obtain
and to process information about the applicants’ qualifications in a
systematic and detailed manner, thereby reducing their reliance on
stereotypes. In addition, the use of multiple interviewers with different
viewpoints may reduce sex discrimination by offsetting the idiosyncratic
biases of a single interviewer. A review of court cases involving employment
discrimination should motivate organizations to devote time and money to
structuring interviews. The review found that organizations are more likely
to win discrimination suits when they use structured interviews.46

Fifth, organizations need to monitor selection practices to enhance their
effectiveness and ensure that sex discrimination does not occur. Many
organizations do poor jobs of assessing the effectiveness of their selection
decisions. Recruiter performance is most often evaluated on procedural
grounds, such as whether the recruiter kept appointments and filed necessary
reports, rather than on actual results. Recruiter performance is seldom tied to
rewards, especially for recruiters who are line managers. To assess the
effectiveness of selection processes, organizations should track the
performance, satisfaction, turnover rate, and subsequent success of new
hires. Assessment should also include measurement of the demographic
composition of the applicant pool, the demographic composition of new
hires, and differences in starting salaries and initial assignments as a function
of sex and race. Attention to these measures helps organizations identify
potentially discriminatory selection processes. Moreover, organizations

should make performance appraisals and rewards contingent on the extent to
which selection processes are effective and bias-free.47

Finally, organizations that are serious about attracting a diverse workforce
should ensure that their policies and procedures are consistent with this goal.
They should examine diversity and work-family policies to ensure that these
policies enhance organizational attractiveness and do not lead some
individuals to self-select out of the selection process. Policies that signal the
organization’s commitment to diversity will help attract women and people
of color.48

In summary, organizations need to take actions to reduce the perception
that certain jobs are appropriate for members of only one sex, both among
young people and in their own midst. They need to ensure that their hiring
process allows them to attract and select the most qualified applicants
regardless of sex, race, or any other irrelevant personal characteristics.

The sex segregation of work is a powerful phenomenon and has a great
influence on both job seekers and organizations. Their methods of finding
and evaluating one another may exacerbate the differential status of men and
women in organizations. However, some organizations and job seekers have
made substantial changes in how they explore an employment relationship
with each other. Otherwise, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington
might never have had a female French horn player.


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At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, some of
the most interesting discussions revolved around whether we would be
in the same mess today if Lehman Brothers [a global financial-services
firm that had recently declared bankruptcy] had been Lehman Sisters.
The consensus (and this is among the dead White men who parade
annually at Davos) is that the optimal bank would have been Lehman
Brothers and Sisters.’

oday’s organizations are increasingly using work teams to achieve
their strategic objectives. Teams produce goods and provide services, design
new products, solve organizational problems, and even lead entire
organizations. Teams are common across industries as diverse as health care,
automobile manufacturing, financial services (which once included Lehman
Brothers), and electronics. Although the extent to which teams are used is
difficult to assess, estimates suggest that about half of the U.S. workforce
will soon be working in teams. Moreover, the proliferation of teams is not
just a U.S. phenomenon. Multinational corporations such as Heineken,
GlaxoSmithKline, and BP use teams to achieve global efficiencies, respond
to regional markets, and transfer knowledge throughout the organization?

As a result of women’s increased participation in the global labor force,
teams are more likely to include both women and men than ever before.
Diversity in teams on the basis of member sex may affect the experiences of
individual team members and overall team effectiveness in different ways.
Sex effects arise when men’s and women’s behavior in teams or experiences
as team members differ. Sex similarity effects occur when team members’
behavior or experiences differ as a function of the extent to which they are
similar to their teammates on the basis of sex. Sex diversity effects arise
when team cohesion and performance vary as a function of the extent to
which the team is heterogeneous with respect to sex.3

In this chapter, we review the effects of sex, sex similarity, and sex
diversity in mixed-sex teams. We then consider how key aspects of the
situations in which mixed-sex teams function may determine whether these
effects appear. Finally, we consider what actions team members and
organizations may take to ensure that mixed-sex teams are effective.

Although behavior in all-male teams may differ from that in all-female
teams, we focus in this section on behavior in mixed-sex teams. When
women and men serve on the same team, sex serves as a basis for
distinguishing between team members and influences members’ interactions.
Women’s and men’s behaviors may differ. Moreover, team members are
likely to evaluate the behaviors of males and females differently.

Two dimensions of communication style are important in teams,
selfassertion and dominance and deference and warmth. In general, men
display more self-assertion and dominance and women display more
deference and warmth. Men talk more, are more powerful and authoritarian
in tone, and display more visual dominance by making more eye contact
while talking and less eye contact while listening. In contrast, women talk
less, smile and lean toward others more, and display less visual dominance.
These sex differences are most likely to occur when the team’s task is male-
intensive (i.e., associated with males) or sex-neutral.’

Two types of behavior are important in teams, task behaviors and social
behaviors. Task behaviors contribute directly to the group’s task, whereas
social behaviors help to maintain morale and interpersonal relations among
team members. In groups with assigned tasks, both women and men devote
most of their interactions to task-related communications. About two thirds
of women’s and three quarters of men’s communications are task-related;
men devote a somewhat higher percentage of their communications to task
behavior, and women display a higher percentage of positive social
behaviors. These differences may occur because women engage in more in
socially oriented behavior than men in general. Women’s emphasis on social
behaviors in teams is consistent with their desire for positive interpersonal
relationships in their jobs (see Chapter 4). Women, more than men, view

their teams as like families or communities in which members nurture and
support one another.’

Consistent with sex differences in societal status and roles, team members
tend to evaluate men’s task contributions more positively than women’s
contributions. Women may even devalue their own performances. Moreover,
team members use a higher standard to judge women. Women thus must
provide more evidence of their abilities to be seen as competent 6

However, even when women are recognized as better performers, they
may receive less social support from other team members than men.
According to a study of ongoing teams of students in management courses,
female members were recognized by their peers as making greater
contributions to the completion of group assignments than male members.
However, they also participated in fewer social interactions with other team
members than their male counterparts. Even when women do more or better
work in their teams than men, they still may be excluded from social

Men tend to have more influence in mixed-sex teams than women. This is
not surprising given men’s displays of dominance, greater relative proportion
of task behavior, and perceived greater competence. In fact, women’s
influence attempts are ignored. One study of simulated jury decision making
found that unique information (i.e.) that possessed by a single group
member) influenced the group 72% of the time when it was introduced by a
man but only 13% of the time when introduced by a woman! Further,
women in mixed-sex teams tend to be more easily influenced than men,
perhaps because their lower status and less favorable self-evaluations lessen
their confidence in their own views.’

Men are also more likely than women to emerge as informal leaders in
mixed-sex groups that have no assigned leaders. Researchers have measured
task leadership, social leadership, and general leadership, in which the exact
nature of the leadership behavior is unspecified. Consistent with sex
differences in status and social roles, men are more likely to emerge as

general leaders and task leaders than are women, and less likely to emerge as
social leaders. However, the tendency for men to emerge as general leaders
is reduced for tasks that are female-intensive or for tasks that demand longer
or more social interaction.’

Women cannot increase evaluations of their competence, influence, and
leadership in mixed-sex teams simply by behaving like men. Confident,
assertive women tend to be less influential than confident, assertive men. In
fact, confident, assertive women maybe even less influential than
nonassertive women, especially among male team members. Men are more
likely to be influenced by women who use tentative language (e.g., hedges,
disclaimers, tag questions) or who express support for the feminine gender
role. In contrast, women are more likely to be influenced by women who use
assertive language or reject the feminine gender role. Confident, assertive
women are also often viewed by their teammates as less likeable than
confident, assertive men. Nonetheless, assertive women can attain influence
and acceptance if they combine assertive behaviors with expressions of
interpersonal warmth and a desire to cooperate with the group. Women must
be “friendly and nice” in their influence attempts and demonstrate that they
care for the good of the group. Such behavior is not required of men.10

In summary, sex effects in mixed-sex teams are consistent with differences
in the status and social roles assigned to women and men. Women tend to be
less assertive, engage less in task behavior and more in social behavior, are
evaluated more negatively, and exercise less influence and leadership than
men in mixed-sex groups. Women who attempt to increase their influence by
behaving like men encounter roadblocks.

However, much of the evidence for sex effects comes from laboratory
studies in which team members interact briefly and have little information
about each other-the very conditions that are most likely to invoke gender-
based expectations. There is some evidence that these effects disappear when
team members have information about each other’s competence or interact
extensively over time. When team members know each other better and have

worked together for a longer period, status judgments and gender roles play
less of a role in dictating behavior.”

An individual’s experience in a team is not simply a function of his or her
sex, but is also determined by the sex composition of the team. This section
explores how team composition affects women’s and men’s experiences as
team members. Do individuals in teams have more negative experiences
when members of their sex are in the minority? Are women who are in the
minority (e.g., the only female in a team of engineers) more likely to have
negative experiences than men who are in the minority (e.g., the only male
in a team of nurses)?”

In one of the first major studies of male-female work relationships,
Rosabeth Kanter examined the effects of the team’s sex composition on
individual team members. Based on her observations in a large industrial
corporation, she identified four types of work groups. Uniform groups of all
males or all females represent one extreme. By definition, there are no male-
female issues in uniform groups. Balanced groups of approximately equal
numbers of women and men represent the other extreme. Kanter suggested
that attributes other than sex influence how individuals interact in groups
that are balanced on the basis of sex.13

Between these two extremes are skewed and tilted groups. Skewed groups
have a ratio of one sex to another ranging from about 85:15 to almost 100:0.
Members of the sex in abundance in skewed groups are called “dominants”
because they control the group and its culture. Members of the other sex are
called “tokens” because they are viewed as representatives of their sex rather
than as individuals. Tilted groups have less abundance of one sex with the
ratio ranging from about 65:35 to about 85:15. In tilted groups, dominants
become a majority and tokens become a minority. Minority members may
become allies and have more effect on group culture in tilted than in skewed
groups. They are distinguishable from each other, as well as from the
majority type.

Kanter’s primary interest was in the experiences of tokens in skewed
groups. Because tokens are present only in small numbers, the rest of the
group sees them as representing their sex, whether or not they want to
represent their sex. A token rarely becomes “just another member of the
group.” Tokens receive special treatment that is detrimental to their
performance in, and attachment to, the group in several ways. First, tokens
face performance pressures. Because they are highly visible, they get
attention that dominants do not. This does not necessarily lead to recognition
of their competence; tokens may have to work harder to get their
accomplishments recognized. Second, differences between tokens and
dominants tend to be exaggerated. Dominants emphasize what they have in
common and exclude tokens from social activities. Third, the characteristics
of tokens are often distorted or misperceived because of the dominants’
tendency to stereotype them. Tokens are expected to behave in a manner
consistent with the stereotype of their sex or risk rejection by the team.

Although Kanter based her conclusions on analysis of an environment in
which men vastly outnumbered women in positions of authority, she
assumed that her notions would apply equally to women in male-intensive
groups and to men in female-intensive groups. Subsequent research has
generally failed to support her assumption. Token women experience
increased visibility, social isolation, and stereotyping, especially in male-
intensive settings such as the military, law enforcement, and medicine.
However, token men in female-intensive settings such as nursing, teaching,
and social work do not experience the same negative consequences of
numerical imbalance as token women. Instead, the visibility that token men
receive may work to their advantage. For example, a study of police patrol
teams and hospital nursing units found that token female police officers were
annoyed at or resigned to their heightened visibility, whereas token male
nurses enjoyed the extra attention. Most token male nurses felt that patients
attributed a higher status to them than to female nurses, even when they
identified themselves as nurses and not physicians. Most also thought that
physicians took them more seriously and gave more responsibility to them
than to female nurses.14

Despite the relatively positive experiences of male tokens in
femaledominated groups, men tend to be displeased when the sex
composition of a male-dominated group changes in the direction of
becoming more balanced. For example, a study of symphony orchestras
found that men were highly sensitive to the effects of the sex composition of
the orchestra. Men’s attitudes toward the orchestra (e.g., integrity of
orchestra as an ensemble, player involvement) declined sharply as the
proportion of women increased and the orchestra became more balanced in
its sex composition. In contrast, women’s views changed very little as the
sex composition of the orchestra changed.’s

The effects of sex similarity cannot be predicted solely by looking at the
proportions of women and men on a team. To fully understand the effects of
team composition on individuals, we need to consider the situation in which
the team operates. For example, sex similarity effects are less likely to occur
when organizations stress the value of teamwork. In contrast, when
organizations stress the importance of acting independently in how they
assign tasks, sex similarity effects are more likely to occur.16

Early research on sex diversity effects focused extensively on the question of
whether all-male or all-female teams perform better. All-male teams tend to
be better at activities that require a high amount of task behavior, such as
brainstorming and generating solutions to a problem (although the mostly
all-male teams at the now-defunct Lehman Brothers did not perform well at
the task of making financial bets). In contrast, all-female teams are better at
activities that call for a high amount of social behavior, such as reaching a
consensus on the best solution.”

However, these findings are of limited value today. Creating all-female or
all-male teams is not feasible given the diversity of today’s workforce, and
managers who attempt to do so will be vulnerable to charges of sex
discrimination. Moreover, assigning all-female and all-male teams to
different types of activities is not likely to be effective. The work
requirements of teams (e.g., developing global business strategy or a new
product) cannot be easily divided into those demanding task-related activity
and those demanding interpersonal savvy. In addition, teams are likely to
interact over extended periods of time, increasing the importance of
interpersonal relationships among members. Poor relationships decrease
members’ attraction to the team and increase the likelihood that they will
choose to leave the team.

Understanding the effects of sex diversity on the effectiveness of mixed-
sex teams is of practical importance in today’s increasingly diverse
organizations. There are two opposing views of the general effect of
diversity on team effectiveness.” According to the pessimistic view of sex
diversity effects, the effects of perceived similarity and identification with
similar others cause team members to reject those who are different from
themselves. This leads to the creation of factions (e.g., men vs. women,
Asians vs. Whites vs. Blacks, older members vs. younger members),

conflict, and communication problems. Ultimately, poor social relations
between subgroups of team members impair the performance of the group as
a whole, and members’ satisfaction with and commitment to the group are

According to the optimistic view of sex diversity effects, members of
diverse teams have different experiences, values, attitudes, and cognitive
approaches. They bring varied knowledge and perspectives to the team’s
task, which enhance its creativity and problem-solving ability. These
positive effects of diversity are especially likely to occur on complex tasks
such as new-product design and innovation, which require multiple
perspectives and varied knowledge. Greater diversity increases the amount
of interaction between the two sexes over time and decreases prejudice and
discrimination based on sex. This process improves relations among team
members and increases member attachment to the team.

Which of these two views better represents the effects of sex diversity in
mixed-sex teams? The research evidence regarding the direction and
magnitude of sex diversity effects is mixed. Some studies have found that
sex diversity has a positive effect on team performance; other studies have
found a negative effect; and still other studies have found no effect.19 These
results provide little guidance. Instead, a better answer, which takes into
account evidence supporting each view, is that sex diversity in teams has
both potential advantages, in the form of increased creativity and enhanced
social relations over time that contribute to team performance, and potential
disadvantages, in the form of troubled relationships between subgroups and
disaffection of team members that detract from team performance.

Thus, the appropriate goal for mixed-sex teams is to maximize the
advantages of sex diversity while minimizing the disadvantages. Sex
diversity in teams represents a “double-edged sword,” offering both an
opportunity and a challenge for organizations. The trick is in knowing
exactly how to handle the sword 2°

As we have seen, mixed-sex teams have potential advantages but are
susceptible to serious problems. Women’s task contributions may be ignored
or devalued, and women and men in the numerical minority may suffer.
Also, the effectiveness of the team may decline as its diversity increases if
subgroups clash and team members drop out. However, these negative
consequences are not inevitable. If the conditions under which mixed-sex
teams operate de-emphasize the importance of sex as a component of
members’ identities or promote integration of the sexes, negative outcomes
will be averted. Several situational factors appear to be important, including
characteristics of the team, the nature of the task, the technologies used in
team communications, the demographic composition of the organization and
its senior officials, the organizational culture, and the societal culture.

The team’s overall demographic composition affects interactions among
members. The number of subgroups (e.g., young Black males, young White
males, young Asian females, middle-aged White females) middle-aged
White males, and so on) in a mixed-sex team may vary. When there are
many subgroups, effects of sex, sex similarity, and sex diversity on team
members’ experiences and team effectiveness are minimized. For example, a
team comprised of a 40-year-old White male engineer, a 65-year-old Black
female engineer, a 45-year-old Asian male sales representative, and a 20-
year-old White female sales representative theoretically could form
subgroups based on age, race, occupation, or sex. Because forming
subgroups based on any one category (e.g.) sex) would lead to differences
within the subgroup on other categories (e.g., race, occupation, age),
subgroup formation is not likely. However, in a team composed of 2 middle-
aged White male engineers and 2 young Black female sales representatives,
sex is highly related to age, race, and occupation. There are only two
possible subgroups in this team, increasing the likelihood of negative effects

The team’s longevity is another critical factor. As team members interact
over extended periods, they gain additional information about one another
and stereotyping is reduced. Relationships between members are formed
based on similarity of underlying attitudes, values, and beliefs rather than
sex similarity. The greater the team’s longevity, the less important its sex
composition. However, a great deal of time is needed to eliminate the effects
of sex composition. According to a study of teams in hospitals and grocery
stores, the negative effects of sex diversity disappear only when the average
longevity of team members is 3 or more years zz

Tasks that are sex-neutral and require cooperation among team members
reduce the negative consequences of diversity in mixed-sex teams. Tasks
that are not associated exclusively with women or men and do not create
political divisions based on sex minimize attention to sex differences. In
contrast, tasks that are typically performed by members of one sex or the
other (e.g., nursing, policing) or are likely to create coalitions based on sex
(e.g., developing affirmative action plans) increase the likelihood of sex-
based categorization. In addition, tasks that require cooperation among team
members are beneficial. When team members must work jointly to achieve
collective goals and rewards, they are motivated to form accurate, rather
than stereotypical, impressions of one another. Moreover, when cooperation
leads the team to form a “team identity” (i.e., view themselves as a team),
members categorize themselves as a single group rather than as males and
females 23

The use of electronic communication technologies such as e-mail, group
decision-making software, and telephone conferences rather than face-to-
face meetings reduces the extent to which sex-based categorization occurs.
Sex differences in evaluations and influence tend to disappear when group
members interact electronically. The benefits of electronic exchanges occur
even when individuals are aware of the sex of each group member. The key
feature of these types of electronic technologies is they provide visual
anonymity, thereby preventing any effects of perceived attractiveness on
team members’ reactions to each other. Electronic exchanges allow group
members to focus more on the content of the arguments than the individuals

who make them. Like the screens used in blind auditions for orchestra
positions (see Chapter 4), they reduce the attention paid to the sex of the
participant. They also benefit women more than men. Women tend to
experience stronger feelings of inclusion and support in mixed-sex electronic
teams than do men. In addition, women in all-female electronic teams are
more satisfied than are men in all-male electronic teams. Women’s electronic
teams engage in higher levels of self-disclosure and agreement, and men’s
electronic teams display more conflict and less willingness to change their
minds. Perhaps women’s relatively greater focus on interpersonal relations
enhances their experiences in virtual teams 24

The demographic composition of the larger organization also affects
relationships between men and women in teams. Sex differences are less
important in organizations where there is a great deal of sex diversity than in
organizations where there is little. In organizations that are balanced on the
basis of sex, team members should be accustomed to differences in sex and
should not use sex as the basis for categorization. Negative outcomes also
may be less likely to occur in female-intensive than male-intensive
organizations. In female -intensive organizations, increasing sex diversity
means that males are added to female teams. In male-intensive
organizations, the reverse is true. Because females are more likely to
welcome the addition of males to their teams than males are to welcome the
addition of females to their teams, increasing diversity may be less
problematic in female-intensive organizations zs

Further, the sex composition of the organization’s top management team
affects team members’ interactions by influencing the relative status of
women and men. When women work in organizations with few women in
key roles, they are more likely to invoke gender stereotypes, devalue their
own abilities, demonstrate less interest in participating in organizational
activities, and compete with their female peers. In contrast, when women
and men share power at the top of the organization, status differences
between women and men in the team are eliminated or reduced. Although
being in the minority still might have a negative effect on women or men,
such effects are lessened by the relative equality of the two sexes 26

The organization’s culture, especially its values regarding cooperation and
diversity, has an important influence on what happens in mixed-sex teams.
Organizations that foster a cooperative culture by encouraging individuals to
focus on their common goals rather than on their own self-interests reduce
the negative effects of sex diversity. One study assigned diverse teams of
MBA students to organizations that had either individualistic (e.g.,
individual performance valued, individual rewards) or cooperative (e.g.,
teamwork valued) team-oriented rewards) values. The students who were the
most different from their teammates with respect to sex, race, and nationality
combined had fewer interactions with others, regardless of the culture of the
organization. They did, however, experience more positive conflict (i.e.)
conflict over ideas) and more creativity in the cooperative organization than
the individualistic organization. Thus, an organizational culture that
emphasizes cooperation may lessen some of the negative effects of diversity
and increase the likelihood that diversity will enhance performance 27

Organizations with diversity cultures that foster inclusion also reduce the
likelihood of negative consequences in mixed-sex teams. In an inclusive
diversity culture, organizational members value efforts to increase the
representation of women, people of color, and individuals with disabilities,
and view members of these groups as qualified. Equality is stressed, and
differences in status based on sex and other visible demographic
characteristics are reduced. Further, in an inclusive diversity culture,
employees acknowledge differences among women and among men, as well
as between women and men. Recognition that individual differences are
present within each sex allows team members to view each other as distinct
persons, not just as representatives of the two sexes. Moreover, organizations
that regard the insights, skills, and experiences of individuals from different
backgrounds as valuable business resources create a particularly productive
environment for diverse teams. In such settings, the input of each individual
is valued and respected because of, rather than in spite of, his or her
background. We discuss how organizations can create an inclusive diversity
culture in Chapter 9.28

Finally, the societal culture may affect a mixed-sex team. Although there
have been few comparisons of mixed-sex teams across cultures, data
collected from members of symphony orchestras in Germany are instructive.
As discussed in Chapter 4, women constitute a small proportion of
symphony musicians in Germany overall. However, in the former East
Germany, musicians believe that male and female orchestra members
support one another and work together to achieve common goals. In
contrast, in the former West Germany, there is substantial tension over the
integration of women into orchestras, and the musicians believe that male
and female musicians are treated differently. What might account for this
difference? Prior to the unification of Germany, East German women had
high rates of labor force participation, and West German women had very
low rates. Differences in societal norms concerning women’s participation in
the labor force may have led to the disparity in the acceptance of female
musicians. As a result, a female symphony musician in the minority in the
former West Germany may have more negative experiences than her
counterpart in the former East Germany.29

In conclusion, mixed-sex teams experience fewer disadvantages and
greater advantages when the characteristics of the team, task,
communication technologies, organization, and society de-emphasize sex
differences and promote equality between the sexes. The negative effects of
sex diversity are minimized when extremely diverse teams with significant
longevity work together. Tasks that require the cooperation of team members
or allow electronic interactions reduce the extent to which sex is an
important social category in teams. Finally, mixed-sex teams are likely to
encounter fewer problems in organizations, and even in societies, with
cooperative, egalitarian values and high levels of sex integration in the

Mixed-sex teams have both potential advantages and potential disadvantages
and are affected by the characteristics of the situation in which they operate.
How can organizations ensure that mixed-sex teams are effective, other than
by requiring that teams remain intact over a long period (which is not always
controllable) or banning face-to-face meetings (which is impractical unless
the team is geographically dispersed)? Organizations must create a working
environment in which all individuals thrive, regardless of sex, race, and
other demographic characteristics. However, team leaders and members also
need to take action to ensure that mixed-sex teams are effective, whatever
the working environment outside of the team. Tables 5.1 and 5.2 summarize
recommended actions for organizations, team leaders, and team members.

Teamwork is never easy. Some estimates suggest that 7 out of 10 teams
fail to achieve the desired results. To ensure team effectiveness,
organizations must pay attention to the design and development of teams.
Throwing a team together and then ignoring it will sabotage any team, even
a homogeneous team. Given the difficulties associated with mixedsex teams,
the need to be proactive in designing and developing such teams is
intensified. Team leaders must carefully design mixed-sex teams, train team
members, help them get to know one another, and provide ongoing

With respect to the design of the team, team leaders should address three
questions: (1) Who will be on the team? (2) How will the task be structured?
(3) How will performance be measured and rewarded? In choosing team
members, they should strive for teams that are diverse on a number of
demographic characteristics. It is best if demographic characteristics result in
numerous subgroups (e.g., women and men, Latinos and Asians, accountants

and engineers) with overlapping memberships. Individuals will belong to
and identify with many different subgroups, thereby reducing the likelihood
of divisions along sex or any other single dimension. Moreover, differences
in the organizational status of team members should be minimized,
especially if organizational rank is related to sex or some other demographic
characteristic. Women’s task contributions are likely to be impaired if they
have lower organizational status than men. However, team leaders must
achieve a delicate balance between choosing team members for their
demographic characteristics and choosing them for their skills. Selecting
team members based solely on sex or another visible characteristic may
cause more harm than good. When a woman is chosen because of her sex,
both the woman and her teammates will question her skills and expertise.
Thus, skills and expertise must not be subordinate to demographic
characteristics in team formation.”

What expertise should leaders look for in choosing team members? They
must consider whether potential team members have the necessary technical
knowledge, skills, and abilities to accomplish the task. They should also
select individuals with values and skills that are conducive to teamwork.
Individuals who value collaboration over competition and gain pleasure
from others’ achievements will be better team players than those who only
value competition and personal achievement. Interpersonal skills, such as the
ability to communicate and resolve differences, are also critical.”

Table 5.1 Recommended Actions for Organizations and Team Leaders

Table 5.2 Recommended Actions for Team Members

Once the leader has decided who will be on the team, he or she must
consider the task structure, task assignments, and the performance
measurement and reward system. When possible, tasks should be structured
to require high levels of cooperation among team members. When group
members are dependent on each other and have to make mutual adjustments,
they gain valuable experience working together and are less likely to engage
in stereotyping. Giving the team access to a full array of electronic
communication technologies may facilitate the participation of all members.
Leaders should also ensure that task assignments are not based on the sex of
team members. If women and men are assigned tasks consistent with gender
stereotypes and roles, sex differences in members’ experiences will be
accentuated. Rotation of tasks among team members will ensure that tasks
are not linked exclusively to one sex and will develop team members for
future roles. Finally, performance measurements and rewards should be
determined for the entire team. When only individual accomplishment is
rewarded, team members have little incentive to cooperate with one

Team members should receive training on how to deal with behavioral
issues that arise in teams. Because teamwork does not come naturally to
many individuals, especially those from individualistic cultures, team
members must learn to cooperate with one another. Training in the areas of
communication, conflict management, and decision making is valuable.
Teams might learn structured decision rules that bring order to team
discussions and give all team members a chance to participate. In addition,
team members should be trained to observe and evaluate their own
processes. This is particularly important in diverse groups because the lack
of interpersonal attraction makes interaction more difficult. Being skilled in
process observation will help teams correct problems before there are major
breakdowns in team functioning.34

In addition, diversity training should make team members aware of gender
stereotypes and the potential negative effects of these stereotypes and sexist
behavior on members’ interactions. All team members should receive
diversity training, not just women or just men. Women can be coached to
increase their task contributions and men to elicit and consider women’s
contributions. Moreover, all team members should be made aware of the
possible negative effects of sex dissimilarity on interpersonal liking and
performance. Team members can be taught techniques to reduce the lack of
interpersonal attraction created by sex dissimilarity. For example, self-
disclosure tends to create openness, trust, and ease of communication.
Diversity training will be discussed further in Chapter 9.35

Once the team has been designed and members have been trained, the
leader should help team members get acquainted so that interactions are
based on what individuals bring to the team, not their sex. When the team is
formed, the qualifications and achievements of all group members should be
publicized. Identifying the expertise of team members in a formal written
communication will prevent team members from making erroneous
assumptions about each others’ qualifications based on sex. Leaders also
may provide informal opportunities for team members to interact, such as
lunches and other social events.

As the team tackles its task, the leader must provide ongoing support to
the team to ensure that it is functioning effectively. The leader should
regularly assess the team’s performance, including its short-term and long-
term accomplishments. The leader should encourage expression of diverse
perspectives on problems. The leader should also monitor how well the team
is managing its interpersonal processes, including the extent to which it is
excluding members on the basis of personal characteristics, failing to take
advantage of differences in perspectives, and experiencing
miscommunications. Finally, the leader should be ready to identify problems
in mixed-sex teams when they occur and then to work with team members to
develop and implement solutions to these problems.36

Building effective mixed-sex teams is not only an organizational
responsibility. Each team member, male and female, must take responsibility
for making the team work. Other than by seeking appropriate training, what
can team members do? As a first step, each individual must develop an
understanding of his or her own social identity. Each team member might
ask himself or herself the following questions: (1) What social categories do
I use to describe myself and others? (2) How important is each of these
categories to my identity? (3) How do I behave toward individuals who are
of the opposite sex (or a different race, profession, etc.)? (4) How do I feel
about myself when I am in the presence of members of the opposite sex (or a
different race, profession, etc.)? (5) How are others’ behaviors toward me
influenced by my sex (race, profession, etc.)? Answering such questions will
give individuals some idea of which social categories are most important to
them and how these social categories affect their interactions with other
team members.37

Second, team members must hone their ability to evaluate the behaviors of
their teammates. Most people are not good at understanding the causes of
others’ behaviors and are even worse when they evaluate those who are
different from them. To address this problem, team members’ evaluations of
other members’ behaviors should be based on careful, repeated observations.

Quick judgments, which are likely to be based on gender stereotypes, are to
be avoided. Team members also may check the accuracy of their evaluations
by comparing them with those of others.38

Third, team members should establish and maintain good working
relationships with other team members. People sometimes feel awkward and
uncomfortable working with people whom they view as unlike themselves.
To overcome this discomfort, team members should identify common
interests that provide a basis for relating. Such interests can be identified
through informal conversation about nonwork topics. Observing a
teammate’s office area (e.g., pictures, plaques, coffee mug) can offer useful
clues about his or her interests (e.g., alma mater, travel destinations, family,
hobbies) and provide a good starting point for conversation. Identifying
common interests eases interactions, contributes to the development of
relationships, and, ultimately, reduces stereotyping. Team members also may
benefit by sharing appropriate personal information with other team
members. As noted earlier, self-disclosure by one team member is likely to
lead to self-disclosure by other team members and create an environment of
openness and trust.

Fourth, members of skewed or tilted teams need to ensure that both male
and female members are fully integrated into the team. Members of the
numerical majority should be especially careful to avoid the exclusion of
those in the minority. A team member can be assigned to monitor member
participation and ensure that all team members have an equal opportunity to
contribute. Moreover, members of the majority should include those in the
minority in social activities and make them feel welcome.

Those who are in the minority need to take responsibility for their own
roles in the team. There are several strategies that tokens or others in the
numerical minority can adopt to build their power and influence in a team.
Tokens can make themselves indispensable to the team by developing
special areas of expertise. Other team members then will pay attention to
them because of their expertise, not their sex. Tokens should also learn to
diagnose power dynamics in teams so that they can maximize their own

influence. In a particular situation, they might determine whether they
should attempt to influence the assumptions on which decisions are based,
the alternatives to be considered, or the information available about
alternatives. Tokens also need to ensure that their own gender stereotypes do
not dictate the nature of their participation in the team. Individuals
sometimes limit their own behaviors to reflect gender stereotypes, even if
these stereotypes do not reflect their true selves. Tokens may be especially
likely to engage in stereotypical behavior because their numerical status
makes gender stereotypes so prominent. Thus, tokens may find it valuable to
consider whether their behaviors reflect their true selves or gender

In conclusion, mixed-sex teams face challenges in reaching their full
potential. Women’s task contributions are often ignored or devalued by other
team members. Individuals who are members of teams composed primarily
of the opposite sex have more negative experiences than do individuals who
are members of teams comprised primarily of the same sex. Although the
effects of being in the minority are not identical for women and men, both
men and women are vulnerable to negative experiences when their sex is
underrepresented. Moreover, as the level of sex diversity in a team increases,
the effectiveness of the team may decline. These effects are not inevitable,
but depend on a host of factors, such as the team’s characteristics and task,
the organization’s demographic composition and values, and even the values
of the society in which the organization operates. Mixed-sex teams are likely
to experience problems in poorly integrated organizations that do not value
collaboration and diversity.

Although organizations, team leaders, and team members cannot address
all of these problems, there is much that they can do to improve the
functioning of a mixed-sex team. Team leaders must carefully design the
team, provide proper training, help team members to get acquainted, and
provide continual support to the team. Team members need to understand
their own social identities, improve the accuracy of their perceptions,
develop relationships with one another, and avoid the dynamics created by a
disproportionate representation of one sex.

Above all, team leaders and their members must be patient. Mixedsex
teams require more time to come together than same-sex teams, and there
may be frustrating moments for everyone. However, with appropriate
nurturing, mixed-sex teams can be more effective than either all-male or all-
female teams.40

As for Lehman Brothers, how would the financial services
organization have fared if it had looked more like Lehman Brothers
and Sisters, with an abundance of mixed-sex teams rather than all-
male teams? We will never know, but it might have survived to the
present day so we could have found out.41


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41. Kristof.

The New York Times recently published an interview with Carol Smith, a
top executive at the Elle Group, a media company, about her views on
leadership. In the interview, Ms. Smith said, “In my experience, female
bosses tend to be better managers, better advisors, mentors, rational thinkers.
Men love to hear themselves talk.” She added that she intentionally arrives
late for meetings with men to miss their inevitable, boring conversations
about golf and football before the meeting actually starts.’

After the interview triggered an outpouring of comments posted to its web
site, the Times invited six people to participate in an online debate one week
later on what research says about the question, “Do women make better
bosses?” I was one of the participants in this debate; the other five
participants, all women, included researchers, consultants, and executives.
As before, readers were invited to respond to the debate. Over 500 responses
were received, some of which are excerpted below. Some of the responses
were more fascinating than the debate itself.’

Several themes emerged in the responses. One theme was criticism of the
composition of the debate panel. The panel was alternatively disparaged as
“five females and one guy who wants to make his wife happy” (NC,
response #85, not knowing that my wife, Laura Graves, is also my coauthor
on two chapters in this book as well as other publications), “five women and
one man who was formerly the Chair of the Women in Management
Division of the Academy of Management” (Disillusioned) #289, implying
that this credential provided a good basis to dismiss anything I had to say),
and “five women and one boomer man” (Becky, #66, presumably after
seeing my Web page photo).

Many respondents took strong positions on the question that was posed,
writing passionately about their own experiences pro and con with female
bosses, male bosses, or both. They tended to draw conclusions about what
all male and female bosses are like. Some argued that female bosses are
inferior to male bosses:

I can’t understand them, (so) how can I work for them? -katman, #4

No! As a female, I’ll take the male egos any day. At least you know what
to expect from a guy. Men are more level tempered. They lay it on the
line. Women are egotistical BIT… es. -smitel, #344

From my humble experience and that of virtually all of my business
associates, women managers are more ruthless, more arbitrary, less
compassionate, more sociopathic, and tend to be less knowledgeable and
less involved in whatever they are doing. It seems to be all about
climbing the ladder. -BJ, #426

Other respondents argued that female bosses are superior to male bosses:

In my experience, women make better bosses. Generally, they do not
have that asinine alpha male schoolyard crap baggage. -Paulie, #84

Women make better leaders when given the chance, and not only lately.
John, #439

As far as I can tell, women are better than men at just about anything. –
daldoc, #444

A few respondents argued that neither male nor female bosses are

Women are no better or worse than men, in general. There are only good
managers and bad managers. -Nancy, #3

I have had good and bad experiences with both sexes. It completely
depends upon the individual and not the sex. -Joel, #223

Still other respondents argued that both male and female bosses leave a lot
to be desired:

I have had two female bosses. Both were dishonest and manipulative….
The male bosses I had were merely incompetent. -hb, #125

All bosses suck. This is a trick question. Jonathan, #346

As the online debate continued, it turned on itself as some women
criticized what they perceived as a sexist or clueless tone exhibited in many
of the previous comments from men:

Response to katman, #4: This is one of the challenges women have
faced in working for/with men. We deal with it. I suggest you do the
same. -Brenda, #179

The vitriol with which so many male commentators have greeted this
(debate) demonstrates well the obstacles that women still face in the
workplace. -Rachel, #244

The outpouring of “women make the most inferior, back-stabbing,
emotional, menopausal, passive -aggressive, ineffectual, lazy bosses” or
“have a family” sentiment in these comments is a pretty stark picture of
how overt sexism is still alive and acceptable today. -Caroline, #302

Questions about sex differences and leadership have always been a topic
of keen public interest and often a source of debate. This topic is not simply
“hot” in the sense of being fashionable; it is also inflammatory. Some people
tend to exaggerate sex differences (alpha bias), whereas other people tend to
minimize or ignore sex differences (beta bias). Many people have strong
beliefs about male and female similarities and differences in basic interests,
abilities, attitudes, and behaviors.

As the number and vehemence of the responses to the New York Times
debate suggest, questions about sex differences among managers or leaders
(terms I will use interchangeably) stimulate especially heated debate. This is
because corporate leaders are given an enormous amount of attention,
especially in societies that place a high value on individualism rather than
collectivism such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia,
Canada, and the Netherlands? In such societies, the success of organizations
is attributed to the wisdom, values, and practices of their founders or current
leaders. When organizations fail to achieve expected results, their leaders are
the first to be blamed. Consider the issues of sex differences and leadership
together, and it is clear why so many people from all walks of life have
strong opinions about what constitutes effective leadership as well as which
sex, if either, is more likely to exhibit it.

The purpose of this chapter is to offer a live update from what may be
called the “gender and leadership wars.” It examines preferences,
stereotypes, attitudes, and behaviors associated with the leader role in
relation to traditional gender stereotypes and roles. First, it considers
preferences for male versus female leaders in general. Second, it compares
stereotypes of leaders with gender stereotypes and examines whether leader
stereotypes have changed over time. Third, it reviews attitudes toward
female leaders. Fourth, it investigates whether (and, if so) how) female and
male managers differ in their behavior and overall effectiveness as leaders.
Finally, it considers what can be done to promote effective leadership by
managers of both sexes.’

Due to the increased representation of women in management, more
employees than ever before have had a female boss. In fact, many employees
have become accustomed to working for a woman, having had two or more
female bosses in their careers. Nonetheless, when people state a preference,
they still tend to prefer a male manager over a female manager. Over time,
the Gallup Organization has asked people in 22 countries, “If you were
taking a new job and had your choice of a boss, would you prefer to work
for a man or a woman?” Respondents could also state that the sex of their
new boss would make no difference to them. All over the globe, respondents
have consistently expressed a preference for a male boss.’

According to the most recent poll results, obtained in 2006, twice as many
Americans said that, if they were taking a new job, they would prefer a male
boss (37%) than those who said they would prefer a female boss (19%);
however, “It makes no difference to me” was the slight favorite (44%).
Among men who stated a preference, 34% favored a male boss and 10% a
female boss. Among women who stated a preference, 40% favored a male
boss and 26% a female boss. Note that a greater proportion of women than
men said they would prefer a male boss. In contrast, according to 1975 poll
results, 63% of men and 60% of women preferred a male boss, whereas 4%
of men and 10% of women preferred a female boss. Overall, while
preferences for a male boss have declined over time, a male boss is still
preferred over a female boss by a 2-1 margin.6

Why do people who state a preference tend to prefer a male boss? There
are several possible explanations. First, stereotypes suggesting that leaders
are more effective if they display personal characteristics associated with
men rather than those associated with women may account for the
preference for men as leaders. Second, prejudice directed toward female
leaders may make it difficult for women to be as effective in the leader role

as men and reduce their desirability as leaders. Third, women and men may
differ in their actual behaviors in the leader role, with the behaviors
exhibited by male leaders yielding better financial results for the
organization and more satisfied subordinates, contributing to a preference for
male leaders. We will consider the merits of these possible explanations for
leader preferences as we proceed.

However, it is important to note that leader preferences differ according to
the age of the person being asked. In the 2006 poll results, 18- to 34-year-
olds were equally likely to say they preferred a male (31%) or female (29%)
boss if they were taking a new job. Twice as many 35- to 54-year-olds
preferred a male boss (38%) than a female boss (19%). Four times as many
Americans who were 55 years old or older preferred a male boss (40%) than
a female boss (11%). Thus, Generation Yers, who have had greater
experience in working with women as peers in educational programs and
professional jobs, are less likely to prefer a male boss and more likely to
prefer a female boss than Generation Xers or baby boomers. These results
suggest that, assuming that individuals’ leader preferences do not change
over their life spans, the overall sex bias in leader preferences favoring male
leaders may diminish over time as new entrants to the labor force progress in
their careers.

Studies of the relationships among sex, gender stereotypes, and leader
stereotypes were first conducted in the 1970s. Virginia Schein compiled a
list of 92 characteristics that people commonly believe distinguish between
men and women, the basis for gender stereotypes. She then asked a sample
of U.S. middle managers to describe how well each of the characteristics fit
women in general, men in general, or successful middle managers in general.
Schein hypothesized that because the vast majority of managers were men,
the managerial job would be regarded as requiring personal attributes
thought to be more characteristic of men than women. In support of her
hypothesis, she found that both male and female middle managers believed
that a successful middle manager possessed personal characteristics that
more closely matched beliefs about the characteristics of men in general than
those of women in general.’

In more recent studies, U.S. women have less inclination to view
management as the domain of men. They now associate the characteristics of
successful managers more equally with those of women in general and men
in general. A similar pattern of results is exhibited in countries with very
different national cultures such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan,
China, Turkey, and Sweden: Both men and women believe that men are
more similar to successful managers than women are, but men endorse such
beliefs to a greater extent than women do. These results suggest that
international beliefs about managers may be best expressed as think
manager-think male, especially among men.’

Tony Butterfield (my mentor) and I have taken a different approach to the
analysis of leader stereotypes in a research program that also began in the
1970s. For three decades, we have periodically asked part-time MBA
students in the United States, nearly all of whom work full-time, and
undergraduate business students to describe both themselves and a “good

manager” on the Bern Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI).9 We assess individuals’
self-descriptions and good-manager descriptions on both masculinity and

When we first collected data, the proportion of women in management
positions in the United States was just beginning to rise. Based on this trend,
we hypothesized that a good manager would be seen as possessing similarly
high levels of masculine and feminine traits, what may be called an
“androgynous” personal profile. However, contrary to our hypothesis, a good
manager was seen as possessing predominantly masculine characteristics by
a majority of respondents in all groups, including undergraduate and part-
time graduate males and females. I obtained similar results in a separate
study of actual managers’ stereotypes of a good manager. Thus, the idea of
think manager-think masculine prevailed in these studies.”

Since then, as we have continued to assess individuals’ good-manager
descriptions, the new results have been essentially the same as the earlier
results. Although the proportion of respondents from different groups that
describe a manager as possessing predominantly masculine characteristics
has declined somewhat over time, men and women still describe a good
manager in predominantly masculine terms.”

Overall, in studies conducted over three decades, men and women at
different career stages, including undergraduate business students preparing
to enter the workplace, part-time MBA students preparing for managerial
careers, and practicing managers, have described a good manager as higher
in stereotypically masculine traits than stereotypically feminine traits.
Further, additional evidence suggests that support for these stereotypes is
strong within specific occupations such as the military (“think military
leader, think male”) and athletic administration (“think athletic director,
think masculine”).” Thus, managerial stereotypes continue to reflect the dual
notions of think manager-think masculine and think manager-think male.

Are these leader stereotypes important? The answer to this question is a
resounding yes. Leader and gender stereotypes put aspiring female leaders at

a distinct disadvantage by forcing them to deal with the perceived
incongruity between the leader role and their gender role. If women conform
to the female gender role by displaying predominantly feminine
characteristics, they fail to meet the requirements of the leader stereotype.
However, if women compete with men for leadership positions and conform
to the leader role by displaying predominantly masculine characteristics,
they fail to meet the requirements of the female gender role, which calls for
feminine niceness and deference to the authority of men.13

This incongruity between the leader role and the female gender role may
affect women’s aspirations to seek management positions. For example,
undergraduate business students’ self-descriptions on the BSRI exhibited
stereotypical sex differences, with male students seeing themselves as more
masculine and less feminine than female students. However, female and
male undergraduates agreed on a description of the good manager as highly
masculine. As a result, undergraduate women tended to describe a good
manager as less like themselves than undergraduate men did. Undergraduate
women who do not see themselves as fitting the stereotype of a good
manager may not develop management competencies and may be diverted
from pursuing managerial careers. Those who see themselves as fitting the
stereotype may be the ones who go on to graduate business programs and
eventually attain managerial positions.”

When women decide to pursue management positions, they may
encounter barriers in the selection process. Given leader stereotypes that
focus on masculine characteristics and males, women may be less likely than
men to be hired for management positions. Moreover, once women assume
leader roles, leader stereotypes act as constraints on their behavior. Many
organizations exert strong pressures on their members to conform to
standards of behavior dictated by those in power. As long as men remain in
the majority in the top management ranks, the masculine leader stereotype is
likely to prevail, and women throughout the organization will be expected to
behave as men. Thus, a masculine stereotype of the good manager is self-
reinforcing and inhibits the expression of femininity by women in
management positions.

In addition, the mismatch between the leader role and the female gender
role constrains the advancement of female managers. When performance
evaluations are conducted, women may receive lower ratings than men for
similar levels of performance. Women may also be subjected to
discrimination when decisions are made about promotions into higher
leadership positions, resulting in a “glass ceiling” that makes it difficult for
them to rise in managerial hierarchies. Thus, being competent does not
ensure that a female manager will have the same amount of organizational
success as her male equivalent.’5

Do leader stereotypes depend on sex ratios in management ranks? If the
proportion of female managers rises more, will there be some point at which
stereotypes of managers no longer agree with the masculine gender
stereotype? Probably not. As reported in Chapter 3, support for gender
stereotypes has not diminished over the past three decades, despite
considerable changes in women’s and men’s roles in the workplace and in
society. Similarly, stereotypes of leaders have remained essentially the same
despite the substantial increase in female managers during the same time
period. There is little reason to believe that these stereotypes will change if
even more women become managers. The upper levels of management
remain a male bastion, despite the overall increase in the proportion of
female managers. If stereotypes of leaders are influenced at all by sex ratios,
they may be influenced most by the sex ratio of top executives.”

Are stereotypes of leaders dependent on the racial and ethnic composition
of the management ranks? The vast majority of both female and male
managers are non-Hispanic Whites. Stereotypes of male and female leaders
in general may largely reflect beliefs about the characteristics of leaders
from the dominant racial and ethnic group in the managerial ranks and
ignore the characteristics of leaders from other groups.”

How well do leader stereotypes apply to the practice of management?
Stereotypes are resistant to change and do not necessarily reflect current
realities. Widely held stereotypes that men are better managers and that
better managers are masculine may not reflect what makes good managers.

Instead, these stereotypes could reflect only that most managers have been
men and that most men have been expected to live up to the masculine

In 1965, Harvard Business Review (which then used the subtitle The
Magazine of Thoughtful Businessmen, a choice that reflected the times)
published results from a survey of executives’ attitudes toward women in
managerial roles. Most female executives (82%) had a favorable attitude
toward women in management; they believed that women should be treated
as individuals rather than as a uniform group. In contrast, a large proportion
of male executives (41%) had an unfavorable attitude toward women in
management. They believed not only that women were special but also that
they had a special place, which was outside the ranks of management; this is
what benevolent sexists would think. Older men tended to be more accepting
of women in managerial roles than were younger men. Also, men who had
been superiors or peers of women managers thought more favorably of them
than did men who had worked only for men. Overall, few men (27%)
thought that they would feel comfortable working for a woman boss.’$

Respondents to the 1965 survey gave several reasons for their negative
attitudes toward female executives. According to a large proportion of both
male and female executives, women themselves were part responsible for
the negative attitudes because they had accepted their exclusion from
managerial ranks without major protest. Societal prejudices against women
working outside the home were also cited. Many men did not want to
contend with women as well as with other men for the keenly competitive
managerial jobs; younger men particularly may have felt in competition with
women for managerial jobs.

Over the next four decades, the composition of the managerial ranks
changed considerably. According to replications of the original Harvard
Business Review survey conducted 20 and 40 years later, male executives’
attitudes about whether women belong in leader roles also changed
considerably. The proportion of male executives who expressed a favorable

attitude toward women in management increased from 35% in 1965 to 88%
in 2005. Similarly, the proportion who would feel comfortable working for a
woman boss increased from 27% in 1965 to 71% in 2005. These are huge
shifts in male executives’ attitudes. In comparison, the proportion of female
executives who expressed a favorable attitude toward women in
management remained generally high, ranging from 82% in 1965 to 88% in

Moreover, male executives in 2005 were more positive about how female
executives were being accepted in business than the women themselves. The
proportion of men who thought that a woman must be exceptional to succeed
in business dropped from 90% in 1965 to 32% in 2005, whereas this
proportion dropped by a lesser amount, from 88% to 69%, for women.
Similarly, the proportion of men who thought that the business community
would never fully accept women executives fell from 61% in 1965 to 16% in
2005, whereas this proportion fell from 47% to 34% for women, a smaller
drop-off. Thus, female executives viewed the business community’s general
attitude toward women as executives in a less favorable light than male
executives did.

Another way of examining attitudes toward male versus female leaders is
to conduct laboratory or field studies in which participants evaluate the
behaviors of leaders. In laboratory studies, leader behavior is held constant;
only the sex of the leader is varied. In field studies, real subordinates
evaluate the behaviors of real managers. A meta-analysis of laboratory
studies of sex differences in evaluations of leaders found a tendency for
female leaders to be evaluated less favorably than male leaders. This
tendency, however, was more pronounced under certain specific
circumstances. Female leaders were particularly devalued relative to male
leaders when they (a) used a stereotypically masculine leadership style, (b)
occupied a traditionally male-intensive leader role, and (c) were evaluated
by males. These findings suggest that attitudes toward women as leaders are
most negative when the leadership style or situation invokes traditional male
norms. Women who exhibit the same leader behavior as men may be
evaluated less favorably because of their sex.20

In studies of actual managers and their subordinates, subordinates
typically express similar satisfaction with male and female managers.
Subordinates do not appear to respond differently to male and female leaders
for whom they have actually worked. The experience of having been
supervised by a woman contributes to more positive attitudes toward women
as leaders. Being in direct contact with or proximity to women as leaders
may serve to dispel stereotypes about whether women belong in leader roles.
However, individuals’ attitudes toward women as leaders do not become
more positive with experience unless that experience itself is positive. When
individuals are more satisfied with their interactions with women leaders,
they are more positive about women in leader roles.”

As noted earlier, many people still see an incongruity between the female
gender role and the leader role, which often puts female leaders in a glaring
spotlight solely because they are women. For example, after PepsiCo
announced that Indra Nooyi would become its new CEO in 2006, the
headline of the New York Times story was “A Woman to Be Chief at
PepsiCo.” Nooyi’s ascent to the position increased the number of female
CEOs of Fortune 500 companies at the time from 10 to 11, a 10% increase,
which may seem noteworthy. However, it decreased the number of male
CEOs of such companies from 490 to 489, hardly a significant decline
(.2%). No headline has ever announced “A Man to Be Chief at Acme Corp.

The focus of this section has been on attitudes toward women, not men, as
leaders. Male leaders essentially are taken for granted. Having a woman as a
manager has only recently become a common experience for workers. As
more people have more experience with women in leader roles, female
leaders may elicit less negative reactions. However, prejudices against
women as leaders resulting from sexist attitudes are unlikely to disappear
completely. Hostility toward women as leaders may be less openly expressed
than in the past, but this does not mean that it does not exist. Women
continue to face prejudices in the leader role that men do not face. These
prejudices make it more difficult for women to be effective as leaders.”

To what extent do perceptions of leadership match current realities? Are men
and masculine behaviors really best in leadership positions as leader
stereotypes suggest? To consider these questions, let’s review how the major
theories of leadership regard the merits of stereotypically feminine or
masculine behaviors. Finally, we will examine research evidence on sex
differences in leader behavior and effectiveness.

Early theories of what leaders do and what does and does not work well
were based almost entirely on studies of male managers. A classic 1974
compendium of research results, Ralph Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership,
discovered few studies that examined female leaders exclusively or even
included female leaders in their samples 24 When female managers were
present in organizations being studied, they were usually excluded from the
analysis because their few numbers might distort the results! It was as if
female managers were less legitimate or less worthy of observation than
were male managers. Although management researchers no longer exclude
female managers from their samples, many of the existing theories of
leadership were developed with male managers in mind. However, most
theories refer to feminine and sex-neutral as well as masculine

There are two distinct types of behavior that managers may use to
influence the actions of their subordinates. The first type, task style or task
accomplishment, refers to the extent to which the manager initiates and
organizes work activity and defines the way work is to be done. For
example, a manager who reorganizes a department, develops a description of
the function of each department member, formulates department and
individual goals, assigns projects, and gives details on how projects should

be conducted may be considered high in task style. The second type,
interpersonal style or maintenance of interpersonal relationships, refers to
the extent to which the manager engages in activities that tend to the morale
and welfare of people. For example, a manager who expresses appreciation
to subordinates for work performed well, demonstrates concern about their
job and work satisfaction, and tries to build their self-esteem may be
considered high in interpersonal style. A manager may be high in both task
and interpersonal style, low in both, or high in one but not the other.”

Managers may also exhibit different decision-making styles. A leader who
exhibits a democratic style of decision making allows subordinates to
participate in decision making, whereas a leader who exhibits an autocratic
style of decision making discourages such participation. These are generally
considered to be opposite decision-making styles 26

Some leadership theories regard different types of leader behavior as
appropriate for different situations. For example, situational leadership
theory, originated by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, recommends that
managers adopt high task-low interpersonal, high task-high interpersonal,
low task-high interpersonal, and low task-low interpersonal styles in that
order as their subordinates’ maturity increases. More mature subordinates are
more willing and able to take responsibility and have greater education and
experience relevant to the task at hand. Also, Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s
leadership theory recommends that managers become more democratic and
less autocratic in decision making as subordinates display a greater need for
independence, readiness to assume responsibility, and ability to solve
problems as a team .”

In recent years, transformational and transactional leadership have become
the primary focus of leadership theories Ze Transformational leaders
motivate subordinates to transcend their own self-interests for the good of
the group or organization by setting exceptionally high standards for
performance and then developing subordinates to achieve these standards. In
this way, they turn followers into leaders. Transformational leaders exhibit
four types of behavior: (1) charisma, by displaying attributes that induce

followers to view them as role models and behaviors that communicate a
sense of values, purpose, and the importance of the mission; (2) inspirational
motivation, by exuding optimism and excitement about the mission and its
attainability; (3) intellectual stimulation, by encouraging followers to
question basic assumptions and consider problems and tasks from new
perspectives; and (4) individualized consideration, by focusing on the
development and mentoring of followers as individuals and attending to their
specific needs 29

In contrast, transactional leaders focus on clarifying the responsibilities of
subordinates and then responding to how well subordinates execute their
responsibilities. They exhibit two kinds of behavior: (1) contingent reward,
by promising and providing suitable rewards if followers achieve their
assigned objectives, and (2) management by exception, by intervening to
correct follower performance either in anticipation of a problem or after a
problem has occurred. Transactional leaders who engage in active
management by exception systematically monitor subordinate performance
for mistakes, whereas those who engage in passive management by
exception wait for subordinate difficulties to be brought to their attention
before intervening. Transformational leaders may be transactional when it is
necessary to achieve their goals. However, transactional leaders are seldom

Distinct from both transformational and transactional leadership is laissez-
faire leadership. Laissez-faire leaders avoid taking responsibility for
leadership altogether. Such leaders refrain from giving direction or making
decisions and do not involve themselves in the development of their

The call for transformational leadership has occurred partly in recognition
of the changing economic environment in which organizations operate. As
global environments become more turbulent, highly competitive, and reliant
on new technologies, they call for “high-involvement” organizations with
decentralized authority, flexible structures, and fewer managerial levels.
Individuals who are able to articulate and rally followers behind a unified

vision, stimulate creativity in achieving the vision, and develop rewards,
recognition, and career opportunities for highperforming specialists are best
suited for leader roles in such organizations. Management approaches that
emphasize open communications and delegation are most conducive to the
rapid innovation and response to customers that organizations need to
survive in such environments. As a result, successful organizations are
shifting away from an authoritarian model of leadership and toward a more
transformational and democratic model 30

Several linkages maybe made between gender stereotypes and leadership
theories. A high propensity to exhibit task-oriented behaviors such as setting
goals and initiating work activity is associated with the masculine
stereotype. The feminine stereotype is associated with a high propensity to
exhibit interpersonally oriented behaviors such as showing consideration
toward subordinates and demonstrating concern for their satisfaction. When
individuals are high in the propensity to exhibit both task-oriented and
interpersonally oriented behavior, they adopt the profile of an androgynous
leader. However, when individuals are low in the propensity to exhibit either
type of behavior, they may be regarded as undifferentiated. In contrast,
situational leadership theory suggests that leaders should be masculine,
androgynous, feminine, and finally undifferentiated (low in both masculine
and feminine traits) in turn as followers increase in maturity and the leader’s
need to demonstrate task behavior abates.31

Further, the autocratic style of decision making is more associated with the
masculine stereotype, reflecting a greater emphasis on dominance and
control over others. In contrast, the democratic style of decision making is
more associated with the feminine stereotype, reflecting a greater emphasis
on the involvement of others. Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s leadership theory
recommends that leaders behave in an increasingly feminine manner as their
followers gain independence, responsibility, and the ability to work well as a
team 32

Overall, the transformational leadership style appears to be more
congruent with the feminine than the masculine gender role, whereas the
transactional leadership style appears to be more congruent with the
masculine than the feminine gender role. Transformational leadership is
positively associated with nurturance and agreeableness, feminine traits, and
negatively associated with aggression, a masculine trait. Individualized
consideration is congruent with the feminine gender role because its
developmental focus reflects a high concern with relationships and the needs
of others. However, both active and passive management by exception seem
congruent with the masculine gender role in their focus on correcting
followers’ mistakes because they stress immediate task accomplishment over
long-term building of relationships and favor use of the leadership position
to control others. In addition, contingent reward appears to be congruent
with the masculine gender role because it is primarily taskoriented.”

Recall that leader stereotypes place a high value on masculine
characteristics. Even though early leadership theories were developed at a
time when there were far fewer women in leader roles, review of major
theories does not support these stereotypes. Leadership theories also do not
endorse feminine characteristics exclusively. The recent calls for
transformational leadership over transactional leadership and for democratic
decision making over autocratic decision making place somewhat more
emphasis on feminine characteristics than masculine characteristics. Other
theories, such as situational leadership theory and Tannenbaum and
Schmidt’s leadership theory, recommend that leaders vary the amount of
masculine and feminine characteristics they display according to the
situation. Thus, leadership theories do not suggest that either feminine or
masculine behaviors are the key to leader effectiveness.

Although leadership theories do not exclusively promote either
masculinity or femininity, researchers have devoted a great deal of attention
to sex differences in leader behavior and effectiveness. Over time, three
distinct perspectives have emerged regarding these differences:

1. Stereotypical differences favoring men. Female and male managers
differ in ways predicted by gender stereotypes, with men’s
preponderance of masculine traits making them better suited as

2. Stereotypical differences favoring women. Female and male managers
differ in accordance with gender stereotypes, but femininity is
particularly needed by managers to be effective in today’s workplace.

3. No differences. Women who pursue the nontraditional career of
manager do not adhere to the feminine stereotype and behave similarly
to men who pursue managerial careers.

Sex differences have been examined in several types of leader behaviors.
A meta-analysis of sex differences in task style, interpersonal style, and
democratic versus autocratic decision-making style divided studies into three
types: (1) laboratory experiments, which compare the behavior of male and
female leaders in group simulations; (2) assessment studies, which compare
the behavioral inclinations of men and women who do not currently hold
leadership roles, such as business students; and (3) organizational studies,
which compare the actual behavior of men and women in equivalent
leadership roles. As gender stereotypes would predict, women tended to be
higher in interpersonal style than men, but only in laboratory experiments
and assessment studies. That is, this sex difference was present only for
individuals who participated in laboratory experiments and for nonleaders
who were assessed on how they would behave if they actually were leaders;
there was no sex difference in the interpersonal style of actual managers.
Contrary to gender stereotypes, men and women did not differ in task style
in any type of study. However, a consistent sex difference emerges in
individuals’ tendencies to adopt a democratic versus autocratic style of
decision making. In support of gender stereotypes, women tended to be more
democratic, less autocratic leaders than men in all settings and
circumstances-for actual leaders, nonleaders, and participants in laboratory
experiments 34

A meta-analysis of sex differences in transformational and transactional
leadership found that female leaders are more transformational than their
male counterparts. Women rated higher than men on all dimensions of
transformational leadership: charisma (especially attributes that motivate
pride and respect), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and
individualized consideration. Women also rated higher than did men on the
contingent reward dimension of transactional leadership. In contrast, men
rated higher than women did on two dimensions of transactional leadership:
active management by exception and passive management by exception.
Men also rated higher than did women in laissez-faire leadership.35

Evidence from meta-analysis also suggests that all of the dimensions of
transformational leadership and the contingent reward dimension of
transactional leadership are positively associated with leader effectiveness as
reflected in individual, group, and organizational performance. In contrast,
passive management by exception and laissez-faire leadership are negatively
associated with leader effectiveness 36 Thus, the above results suggest that
women rate higher than men do in behavior that contributes to their
effectiveness as leaders and lower than do men in behavior that would
detract from their effectiveness.

A separate meta-analysis on sex differences in leader effectiveness found
that women and men overall did not differ in their effectiveness as leaders.
Most of the studies included in this meta-analysis were conducted in
organizational settings. Men were more effective than women in military
settings, which are extremely male-intensive, whereas women were more
effective than men in education, government, and social service settings,
which are less male-intensive. Neither men nor women were more effective
in business settings. Men were more effective than women when the
particular leader role examined was more congruent with the male gender
role and when there was a larger proportion of men as both leaders and
subordinates. Further, men were more effective than women in lower-level
management positions, whereas women were more effective than men in
middle-level management positions. The position of middle manager is often
regarded as requiring heavy use of interpersonal skills to wield influence,

which would favor women according to gender stereotypes. There have not
been sufficient studies of men and women in top management positions to
allow a comparison of the sexes using meta-analysis.37

In summary, the bulk of evidence regarding sex differences in leader
behavior suggests the existence of stereotypical differences. As gender
stereotypes would predict, women are higher in interpersonal style than men
in laboratory experiments and assessment studies (but not organizational
studies), and they are higher in democratic decision making than men in all
types of studies. Women are also higher than men in dimensions of
transformational leadership, which are associated with the feminine
stereotype, and lower than men in active and passive management by
exception, which are associated with the masculine stereotype. Contrary to
gender stereotypes, women are higher than men in the contingent reward
dimension of transactional leadership. Offering some support for the “no
differences” perspective, women and men do not differ in task style in any
type of study.

However, the stereotypical differences that were found favor women, not
men. Women are higher than men in dimensions of behavior that contribute
to leader effectiveness (charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual
stimulation, individualized consideration, contingent reward) and lower than
men in dimensions of behavior that detract from leader effectiveness
(passive management by exception, laissez-faire leadership). Women also
make greater use of a democratic decision-making style than men.
Moreover, trends in the economic environment seem to call for a
transformational and democratic leadership style that is associated more with
women than men.

Studies that directly measure leader effectiveness, however, rate women as
no more or less effective than men. Additional evidence suggests that
situational factors influence whether men or women are more effective as
leaders. These factors include the nature of the organizational setting and
leader role, the proportions of male leaders and followers, and the
managerial level of the position. As a result, some leader roles are more

congenial to male leaders, whereas other leader roles are more congenial to
female leaders.

Thus, the evidence clearly refutes the stereotypes that men are better
leaders and that better leaders are masculine. Effective leadership today
requires a combination of behaviors that are masculine (e.g., contingent
reward) and feminine (e.g., individualized consideration) and the absence of
other behaviors that are sex-neutral (e.g., laissez-faire leadership). Women
exhibit more of behaviors that contribute to leader effectiveness than do
men. However, situations differ in whether they favor women or men as

In Chapter 3, Sandra Bern was quoted as saying that “behavior should have
no gender.”38 Ideally, to amend Bern’s statement, leader behavior should
have no gender. As Nancy and Joel said in their comments on the New York
Times online debate quoted earlier, the sex of individuals who hold leader
roles should be of little concern. What should matter is how well individuals,
male and female, respond to the demands of the particular leader role that
they occupy. However, the sex of leaders often makes a difference to others
in different cultures. Many individuals, especially men, describe leaders in
stereotypical terms that favor males over females. Individuals who state a
preference tend to prefer male over female leaders. They also tend to hold
attitudes that make it difficult for female leaders to be effective in their roles.

What is required to create a working environment in which members of
both sexes with equal leadership abilities have an equal chance to be
effective in the leader role? Table 6.1 summarizes recommended actions. To
achieve this objective, prejudices against women as leaders must be
confronted. Such prejudices are most likely to be exhibited in masculinized
work settings in which the majority of leaders and followers are men and the
leader role is associated with the male gender role. In such settings, the
playing field is tipped in favor of men.39

To give women a greater chance of being effective in highly masculinized
settings, organizations need to consider the ways in which leaders are
evaluated. When leaders in masculinized settings are evaluated on the basis
of whether they promote group cohesiveness and develop subordinates for
future roles as well as accomplish tasks, female leaders, who rank higher in
individualized consideration than male leaders, have more of an opportunity
to be seen as effective. To take advantage of this opportunity, they need to
have resources to promote subordinate development.

Organizations also need to take steps to increase the legitimacy of female
leaders. As for the selection of team members (see Chapter 5), the
appointment of individuals to leadership roles should be accompanied by
publicity about their special skills, expertise, and accomplishments. This
information should be provided for all individuals who assume leader roles,
not just women, to avoid drawing attention to female leaders as a group.
Such an action will reduce the potential for stereotyping of leaders according
to their sex because of insufficient or inaccurate information 40

Table 6.1 Recommended Actions

Male leaders in settings that are more congenial to women face somewhat
different issues. Because men have more societal status than women, they
are likely to be granted higher status in a feminized work setting than female
leaders are granted in a masculinized work setting. However, male leaders
may still be subjected to sexist attitudes. As discussed in Chapter 3, attitudes
toward men range from hostility to benevolence, with women scoring higher
in hostility toward men and lower in benevolence toward men.41 Male
leaders do not deserve to be the target of sexist attitudes any more than

female leaders do. When sexist attitudes are directed toward male as well as
female leaders, they have to be addressed.

No matter what the setting, organizations need to be ready to act when
their members embrace stereotypical views or display prejudices toward
members of one sex as leaders. Although beliefs (e.g., leader stereotypes)
and attitudes (e.g., prejudice against women as leaders) are difficult to
change, organizations must take steps to counteract problematic beliefs and
attitudes. Diversity training programs should make individuals aware of the
ways in which biases related to sex (as well as race, ethnicity, age, sexual
orientation, and so on) can affect their decisions, and to teach them how to
move beyond their own biases. Organizations should also encourage
employees to engage in the most effective kinds of behavior, whatever their
beliefs or attitudes may be.

When stereotyping of leaders does occur in an organizational setting, the
risk is that potential or actual leaders will fall for the stereotypes and see
themselves as others see them, whether or not their personal traits actually fit
the stereotypes. No matter how they may be stereotyped, leaders of both
sexes need to be ready to demonstrate their capabilities as leaders and to
disprove anyone who thinks otherwise. Asking their superiors to back them
up when others second-guess them may also be helpful in establishing their
leadership credentials.42

Women who beat the odds and enter leadership levels previously
controlled by men are often seen as powerful symbols of changing
organizational realities. The appointment of women to top management
positions may mean that the organization now values the attributes
associated with women and may give newly appointed female executives a
surprising degree of influence. They should be ready to take advantage of
their status as symbols of change.43

In conclusion, evidence increasingly suggests that women tend to be better
suited than men to serve as leaders in the ways required in the global
economy. However, this is not to say that organizations should choose

women for leader roles on the basis of their sex. The challenge for
organizations is to take advantage of and develop the capabilities of all
individuals in leader roles and then to create conditions that give leaders of
both sexes an equal chance to succeed. The proper goal for leadership
training programs is not to teach men how to behave more like women, nor
is it to teach women how to behave more like men. No matter what the
linkage between gender and leadership maybe, the goal should be to enhance
the likelihood that all people, women and men, will be effective in leader

The last word in this live update from the gender and leadership wars
appropriately comes from a response to the New York Times online debate:

Rather than looking backward, I hope that we will look toward the
potential of men and women to be great managers and remove
obstacles in their way. -Julie, #387


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44. Room for debate.

Every workplace seems to have at least one “toucher”-someone
constantly doling out hugs, shoulder rubs or high fives. Some people
hate this attention and quickly put an end to it. For better or worse, that
leaves a lot more love for the rest of us.

But is it ever really OK to put your hand on someone else in the office,
even in friendship and support? It depends on whom you ask. Corporate
lawyers and human-resource types say we should always keep our hands
to ourselves in the workplace. After all, touch is subjective. One person’s
friendly pat can quickly turn into another’s threatened lawsuit.

“There aren’t standards about what touching is nonsexual other than
handshakes,” says Larry Stybel, a Boston management consultant. “If we
are sitting alongside each other and I put my hand on your knee, is that a
friendly sign of affection or a sexual come-on? I don’t know, and I don’t
know how you will perceive it. So let’s not even go there.”‘

ssues pertaining to the expression of sexuality in the workplace arise in
all cultures. In this chapter, we discuss sexual harassment, the directing of
unwelcome sexual attention by one member of an organization toward
another, and workplace romance, the sharing of welcome sexual attention by
two members of an organization. Sexual harassment is a matter of public
concern with potential legal ramifications. Workplace romances are a
frequent subject of public debate: How should participants and their
organizations handle them? Even when men and women in organizations do
not participate in romances, they frequently have to deal with the
intermingling of work roles and sexual roles by other employees.

Sexual harassment is a pervasive phenomenon. Although the proportion of
women who report having experienced sexually harassing behavior at work
has depended somewhat on the research method used to assess the
prevalence of sexual harassment, it is 54% across all types of studies. The
proportion of men who have been sexually harassed at work is not as high
but still worthy of note; in a survey of U.S. government employees, 19% of
men (as well as 44% of women) reported having experienced sexually
harassing behavior during the previous 2 years. In 2008, over 13,000 sexual
harassment complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 16% of which were filed by men.
Companies such as Dial, Mitsubishi, and Astra USA have paid millions of
dollars to settle sexual harassment charges filed by the EEOC on behalf of
employees. The CEO of W. R. Grace was asked to resign by the board of
directors because its members believed that he sexually harassed female
employees 2

Further, sexual harassment is a cross-cultural phenomenon. Studies have
confirmed the prevalence of sexual harassment in many nations, and public
consciousness of the issue has spread worldwide. For example, in Japan,
public consciousness of sexual harassment, or sekuhara, emerged after the
nation’s first hostile environment court case received considerable media

attention in 1989. However, norms regarding the acceptability of sexually
oriented behavior at work vary across national cultures, with American laws
and customs stricter in many cases than those elsewhere. When employees
from a country with more relaxed norms are assigned to work in a country
with stricter norms, they often need training on how to work within the
norms of the unfamiliar culture?

Workplace romance is also pervasive, with about 40% of workers having
dated a coworker at some point in their careers. When a public figure is
involved, workplace romances receive extensive media coverage, as was
most prominently the case with U.S. President Bill Clinton. Although
Clinton kept his job, CEOs at Boeing and the Red Cross were forced to
resign their jobs after affairs they had with female employees became public
knowledge. Suzy Wetlaufer, the editor of Harvard Business Review (HBR),
was forced to resign from her post after admitting to an affair with then-
married Jack Welch, the former General Electric CEO, while she was
interviewing him for the magazine. Two lower-ranking HBR editors
conducted a second interview of Welch that was published instead of that
written by Wetlaufer (who eventually married Welch after his divorce).’

Sexual harassment is illegal, but there are no laws against workplace
romance. Also, sexual harassment typically victimizes and offends the target
person. There is not necessarily a “victim” of a workplace romance, although
one or both parties may pay a price in their emotional health, task
assignments, or career advancement if others are offended by the romance.
In such cases, the participants are seen as having brought on their own
troubles rather than having been victimized by others.

In this chapter, we examine explanations for and experiences with both
sexual harassment and workplace romance. In addition, we discuss what
organizations and individuals can do in response to sexual harassment and
workplace romance. As we will see, sexual behavior in the workplace poses
a challenge for managers. Managers cannot ban sexuality at work, but they
also cannot ignore it.

In this section, we address the following questions: (1) How may sexual
harassment be defined? (2) How may sexual harassment be explained? (3)
What are peoples’ experiences with sexual harassment?’

The U.S. EEOC defines sexual harassment as an unlawful employment
practice under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Its guidelines on
sexual harassment state, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute
sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either
explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
(2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the
basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such
conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an
individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or
offensive working environment.” An employer is held responsible for acts of
sexual harassment by its employees when it knew or should have known of
the conduct, unless it can show that it took immediate and appropriate
corrective action. According to the EEOC guidelines, an employer should
take all steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring,
including raising the subject, expressing strong disapproval, developing
appropriate sanctions, informing employees of their right to raise the issue of
sexual harassment and how to raise it, and developing methods to sensitize
all concerned.’

Definitions of sexual harassment have been incorporated into laws around
the world. For example, the European Union (EU) has established standards
for what constitutes illegal sexual harassment. An EU resolution stated that
“conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex affecting the
dignity of women and men at work, constitutes an intolerable violation of

the dignity of workers or trainees and is unacceptable.” The resolution called
for member states to inform employers that they have a responsibility to
ensure that employees’ work environment is free from sexual harassment and
to develop campaigns to promote public awareness of the issue. The EU
later issued a legally enforceable Code of Practice on sexual harassment.
Most EU countries as well as many other countries have passed their own
sexual harassment laws.’

The U.S. Supreme Court generally upheld the EEOC guidelines in Mentor
Savings Bank vs. Vinson, the first case of sexual harassment it considered. It
concluded that two types of harassment are actionable under Title VII, quid
pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment. In quid pro quo
sexual harassment, the harasser asks the victim to participate in sexual
activity in return for gaining a job, promotion, raise, or other reward. In
hostile environment sexual harassment, one employee makes sexual
requests, comments, looks, and so on toward another employee and thereby
creates a hostile work environment. The Supreme Court later affirmed in
Oncale vs. Sundowner Offshore Services that the EEOC guidelines apply to
same-sex as well as opposite-sex harassment. In federal court cases
involving sexual harassment below the Supreme Court level, plaintiffs have
been more likely to win their cases when (1) the harassment was more
severe, (2) supporting witnesses were present, (3) supporting documents
were available, (4) they had complained to superiors or management prior to
filing charges, and (5) management took no action upon being notified of the
alleged harassment. If plaintiffs have none of these factors in their favor,
their odds of winning the case are less than 1%. If all five factors are in their
favor, their odds of winning are almost 100%. In addition, plaintiffs are less
likely to win their case if they were involved in a prior workplace romance
with the alleged harasser.’

Court decisions may be influenced by the instructions that judges give to
juries. Judges have historically instructed juries, when making judgments
about the guilt or innocence of a party accused of illegal behavior, to
consider what a “reasonable person” would do in the same or similar
circumstances. However, given that men have higher status in most societies

than do women, a juror, when asked to adopt the point of view of a
“reasonable person,” may adopt that of a “reasonable man.” Such a tendency
could affect the outcome of court decisions regarding sexual harassment
because men are less likely than women to perceive behavior as sexual
harassment. In some court cases, juries have been instructed to decide the
case based on a “reasonable woman” rather than a “reasonable person”
standard: Would a reasonable women consider the alleged conduct to be
sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter conditions of employment and thus
constitute sexual harassment? When a reasonable woman standard is used,
jurors may be more likely to find alleged conduct as harassing than if a
reasonable person standard is used.’

Although the legal definition of sexual harassment is complex and subject
to interpretation by the courts, most people agree that some line needs to be
drawn between acceptable and unacceptable sexually oriented behavior in
the workplace. However, the question remains as to exactly what constitutes
sexual harassment: Where should the line be drawn?

As the opening passage suggests, even behavior that some consider
harmless and nonsexual maybe seen by others as a violation of their personal
space and sexual harassment. In addition, some types of sexually oriented
behavior at work are welcome to some people and unwelcome to others. To
answer this question, we need to consider which types of sexually oriented
behavior individuals find most offensive. Some types of sexually oriented
behavior are universally regarded as more offensive than other types.
However, judgments of which behaviors constitute sexual harassment may
vary from person to person.10

Behaviors that may be considered sexual harassment include verbal
requests, verbal comments, and nonverbal displays. Specific behaviors of
each type may be classified from more severe (presented first) to less severe.
Verbal requests include sexual bribery (pressure for sexual favors with threat
or promise of reward), sexual advances (pressure for sexual favors with no
threat or promise), relationship advances (repeated requests for date or
relationship), and more subtle advances (questions about one’s sex life).

Verbal comments include personally directed remarks (insulting jokes or
remarks made directly to you), other-directed remarks (insulting jokes or
remarks about you to others), and general sexual remarks (insulting sexual
references about men or women in general). Nonverbal displays include
sexual assault, sexual touching (however “sexual” is defined), sexual
posturing (looks or gestures), and sexual materials (display of pornography
or other materials). In addition, sexually oriented behavior is considered
more severe when (1) the harasser is at a higher hierarchical level than the
victim, (2) the harasser has behaved similarly toward the victim and others
over time, and (3) there are job consequences for the victim.”

Individuals’ definitions of sexual harassment differ according to their
personal and job characteristics. The sex difference in definitions is
strongest: Men perceive a narrower range of behaviors as constituting sexual
harassment than women do. In addition, men are more likely than women to
perceive victims as contributing to their own harassment, either by
provoking it or by not properly handling “normal” sexual attention. There is
also an age difference: Younger individuals have a broader, more lenient
view of whether sexually oriented behavior constitutes sexual harassment
than older individuals. Individuals who rate higher in hostile sexism are less
likely to perceive sexual harassment. Finally, perceptions of sexual
harassment differ across managerial levels, with lowerlevel managers more
likely to see sexual harassment as a problem than higher-level managers.
Top executives are least likely to acknowledge the existence of sexual

In conclusion, laws and court decisions define sexual harassment and
dictate legally acceptable standards of behavior in the workplace.
Individuals’ own definitions of sexual harassment, however, influence the
kinds of sexually oriented behaviors they feel entitled to initiate and their
responses to behaviors initiated by others, whether they are jurors, victims,
or simply bystanders. Individuals’ definitions are in turn influenced by their
personal and job characteristics, especially their sex. Thus, drawing a line
between acceptable and unacceptable sexually oriented behavior in the
workplace is not simple. Opinions differs over where the line should be

drawn, making it difficult for organizations to fulfill their obligation to take
corrective action against sexual harassment and to prevent it.

Several models have been offered as explanations for why sexual
harassment occurs.13 According to the evolutionary model of sexual
harassment, it represents a type of behavior to be accepted rather than a
problem to be solved. Individuals with strong sex drives are sexually
aggressive toward others due to their biological needs. Therefore, it is not
surprising or of particular concern that individuals exhibit sexual
aggressiveness in work settings. Men and women are naturally attracted to
each other and enjoy interacting sexually in the workplace.”

According to the sociocultural model, sexual harassment has little to do
with sexuality. Instead, it is an expression of power and dominance. In this
view, individuals with the least amount of power in society are the most
likely to be harassed. In patriarchal societies that expect men to be dominant
and women to be compliant, sexual harassment may be regarded almost as a
male prerogative. Its purpose is to keep women economically dependent and

The organizational model suggests that certain organizational
characteristics set the stage for sexual harassment. For example, the
hierarchical structure of organizations grants higher-level employees
legitimate power over lower-level employees. Also, employees who have
critical expertise or information valued by other employees may have
personal power over others independent of their position in the
organizational hierarchy. Power differentials allow some employees to use
the promise of rewards or the threat of punishments to obtain sexual
gratification from others. Therefore, the higher the power differential in
organizations, the greater the level of sexual harassment. In addition, some
workplace cultures are more tolerant of sexual harassment than others.16

In the gender role spillover model, the effects of gender role expectations
are emphasized. The term gender role spillover refers to the carryover into
the workplace of gender role expectations that are irrelevant to the conduct
of work (e.g., expectations regarding sexual behaviors). Gender role
spillover is most likely to occur when the sex ratio of a group is skewed,
making members of the minority sex more noticeable and subject to special
attention (see Chapter 5). Women in male-intensive groups and men in
female-intensive groups experience gender role spillover because they are
assumed to be basically different from members of the dominant sex and
therefore are treated differently. They will experience more harassment than
individuals who stand out less in their work environments.”

According to this model, incidents of sexual harassment vary according to
the sex ratio of the pertinent group, which may consist of employees in the
occupation, job, or immediate work group. The sex ratio of an occupation is
determined by the proportions of men and women who hold jobs in it. The
sex ratio of a job within a particular organization does not necessarily mirror
the sex ratio of the occupation. Even if the sex ratio of an occupation is
skewed in one direction, the sex ratio of the job maybe skewed in the other
direction. For example, more expensive restaurants tend to employ waiters
rather than waitresses (see Chapter 4), even though waitresses comprise over
two thirds of all food servers overall. Finally, the sex ratio of the individual’s
work group, consisting of the people with whom he or she interacts on a
daily basis, may differ from the other two sex ratios.”

The three types of sex ratios vary in the immediacy of their impact on
work experiences. The sex ratio of the occupation has the least impact on
daily behavior at work, but it is part of the context in which this behavior
occurs. The sex ratio of the job has some impact, but the sex ratio of the
work group, those people with whom one most interacts, has the most
immediate effect. In a work group with a skewed sex ratio, the greater
visibility of members of the minority sex, especially if they are newcomers,
may lead to their being scapegoats for the frustration of members of the
majority sex. If they have peers who resent their presence, token members of

work groups may be subjected to sexual harassment to make them feel so
isolated and uncomfortable that they resign.

The individual differences model of sexual harassment recognizes that
some people engage in sexual harassment and others do not, even when they
live and work under the same conditions. Although most harassers are men,
most men are not harassers. Most women are not harassers either.
Individuals’ tendencies to embrace benevolent or hostile sexism predict
whether they will engage in sexual harassment. For example, male
employees who are higher in benevolent sexism direct milder forms of
sexual attention toward female employees in the belief that they are
flattering the targets. However, male employees who are higher in hostile
sexism direct more hostile types of sexual attention toward female
employees, thereby creating a hostile work environment for all employees.”

In summary, although the evolutionary model views sexual harassment as
arising from individuals’ basically sexual nature, other models suggest that
power differences in society and organizations and the sex ratio of the
occupation, job, and work group contribute to the occurrence of sexual
harassment. However, individuals vary widely in their likelihood to harass
others and their reactions to harassment by others. Each of these explanatory
models may provide a partial explanation of why sexual harassment occurs.
In addition, many of the factors described may operate simultaneously. To
understand the relative merits of these models, we need to examine
experiences with sexual harassment in a variety of work situations.

An extensive survey of U.S. federal employees sheds light on the
underlying causes and effects of sexual harassment2° In the survey, 44% of
female and 19% of male federal employees said that they had been harassed
at some time during the previous 2 years. Most male and female victims had
experienced milder forms of unwanted behaviors rather the more serious

The vast majority of female victims (93%) had been harassed by men,
whereas most male victims (65%) had been harassed by women. About 1%
of female victims had been harassed by women, and 21% of male victims
had been harassed by men. Other sources of harassment were mixed groups
of men and women or unknown sources, as in the case of anonymous letters.

Female victims were harassed more by their immediate or higher-level
supervisors (28%) than by their subordinates (3%). This difference supports
the organizational model of sexual harassment. The power differential
resulting from the relative positions in the organizational hierarchy of the
harasser and victim appeared to contribute to the experiences of female
victims. In contrast, male victims were harassed by their superiors (14%)
and subordinates (11%) in similar proportions. However, coworkers and
other employees without supervisory authority over victims were the most
common harassers for both sexes (77% for female victims, 79% for male
victims). (Percentages add to more than 100% because some victims had
been harassed by more than one type of individual.)

In the federal survey, male and female victims of sexual harassment were
more likely than nonvictims to work exclusively or mostly with members of
the opposite sex, supporting the gender role spillover model. Victims of both
sexes were more likely than nonvictims to be under the age of 35 and
unmarried, which supports the evolutionary model if younger and unmarried
employees are assumed to be the more sexually attractive and available.
Victims also were more likely than nonvictims to have gone to college.

In response to unwanted sexual attention, approximately equal proportions
of female (45%) and male (44%) federal employees ignored the behavior or
did nothing. Very few of the female (6%) and male (7%) victims went along
with the sexual attention directed toward them, refuting the evolutionary
model from the victim’s perspective. Contrary to the sociocultural and
organizational models, both of which assume a power differential favoring
men, female victims (41%) were more likely to ask harassers to stop than
male victims (23%). However, female victims (33%) were also more likely

to avoid the harassers than male victims (20%). Few female (13%) or male
(8%) victims reported the behavior to a supervisor or other official.

The costs of sexual harassment to individual federal employees and the
federal government overall were high. Twenty-one percent of victims
reported that they suffered a decline in productivity as a result having been
harassed, which would also affect the productivity of their work groups.
About 8% used sick leave and 1% used leave without pay. Three percent
received medical assistance and/or emotional counseling as a result of the
unwanted attention, and 7% would have found such assistance or counseling
helpful. Another 4% were transferred or fired, or quit without a new job. The
cost of sexual harassment to the federal government over the 2-year period
of the study was estimated to be $327 million.

Meta-analyses of studies across a variety of work settings confirm that the
costs of sexual harassment are substantial. Sexual harassment has negative
effects on both physical health (e.g., headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue)
and mental health (e.g., loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, anxiety)
depression). In addition, even at low frequencies, it exerts a significant
negative impact on employees’ job-related attitudes such as their sense of job
satisfaction, organizational commitment, and feeling of involvement in their
work. Further, it interferes with the functioning and performance of work
teams and the organization as a whole?’

We have focused on the effects of sexual harassment on the immediate
victim. However, sexual harassment may create a hostile work environment
for employees not personally targeted by offensive behavior. The perspective
of witnesses of sexual harassment is important. Witnesses’ responses to
unwanted sexual attention directed toward others range from ignoring the
behavior, to intervening personally in an incident, to reporting it to
authorities. Witnesses generally are more likely to take action when the
behavior has more serious consequences for the victim, when they believe
that most people would consider the behavior sexual harassment, and when
they believe that the behavior poses a moral issue 22

We have also focused on sexual harassment within organizations directed
by some employees toward other employees. However, individual
employees may be sexually harassed by customers and clients as well; the
customer should not always be “king.” Such harassment is increasing as
service industries that bring employees into close contact with customers and
clients represent an increasingly large component of the global economy.23

In conclusion, women’s and men’s experiences with sexual harassment are
considerably different. Although both sexes may be the targets of unwanted
sexual attention, women are more likely to be harassed. It is not surprising
that women see more sexual harassment in the workplace than men do: They
are more conscious of sexual harassment than are men because they
experience it more. The personal costs of being harassed for both male and
female victims are high. Their employers also face the prospect of
diminished individual productivity, increased employee health care
expenses, and costly litigation. The evolutionary model suggests that sexual
harassment will never be completely eliminated in the workplace. However,
all parties benefit when its occurrence is minimized. In the last section of
this chapter, we discuss steps that organizations and individuals can take to
prevent sexual harassment and to deal with it when it occurs.

Sexual interest in a coworker is not always unwelcome 24 In some cases, it
is reciprocated and serves as the basis for a relationship between two
employees that goes beyond their work roles. Workplace romances, or
mutually desired relationships between two people at work in which some
element of sexuality or physical intimacy exists, have become more
prevalent in recent years due to fundamental changes in the workplace.
Individuals have greater opportunity to become romantically involved with
an organizational member of the opposite sex due to the increased
proportion of women in the labor force, especially in managerial and
professional jobs. Also, employees are expected to work longer hours,
leading to their spending more time with coworkers and less time with
family members. As a result, the work environment has become increasingly
conducive to the formation of romantic relationships. In this section, we
examine the causes, dynamics, and consequences of workplace romances.

Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love provides a perspective on
loving relationships in general that may be applied to the formation of
romantic relationships in the workplace. Love maybe explained in terms of
three components: intimacy, feelings of closeness and connectedness in a
relationship; passion, feelings of romance and sexual attraction and the
desire for sexual consummation; and decision/commitment, the decision that
one loves someone else and the commitment to maintain that love. Intimacy
is at the core of many kinds of loving relationships, such as love of parent,
sibling, child, or close friend. Passion is linked to certain kinds of loving
relationships, especially romantic ones involving sexual activity.
Decision/commitment is highly variable over different kinds of loving
relationships. The importance of these components depends in part on
whether the relationship is short term or long term, with passion being
prominent in a short-term romance zs

Sternberg’s theory may be used to distinguish between factors that
contribute to interpersonal attraction (i.e., feelings of intimacy) and factors
that contribute to romantic attraction (i.e., feelings of passion and, in some
cases) decision/commitment as well as feelings of intimacy). Workplace
romance takes place in three stages. First, feelings of interpersonal attraction
arise toward another organizational member. Second, feelings of romantic
attraction toward the same person follow. Third, the decision is made to
engage in a workplace romance 26

Interpersonal attraction is influenced by physical and functional proximity.
Physical proximity refers to closeness that results from the location of
employees’ areas of work. Functional proximity refers to closeness that
results from the actual conduct of work. Employees who are closer in rank
and status are likely to be higher in functional proximity. Employees who
interact with each other more frequently or more intensely because of
ongoing work relationships are higher in both physical and functional
proximity. Generally, employees with higher physical and functional
proximity are more likely to be attracted to each other. Interpersonal
attraction is also influenced by attitude similarity; individuals who are more
similar in attitudes like each other more 2′

Whether interpersonal attraction leads to romantic attraction is determined
by the perceived physical attractiveness of the other person. Whether
romantic attraction in turn leads to a workplace romance is influenced by
several factors. Individuals’ general attitudes toward workplace romance
influence whether they act on feelings of romantic attraction. In addition,
individuals may engage in a workplace romance if they believe that doing so
will fulfill job motives (e.g., desire for advancement) job security financial
rewards), ego motives (e.g., desire for excitement, adventure) ego
satisfaction), or love motives (e.g.) desire for intimacy, passion, and
decision/commitment) zs

As for sexual harassment, there is a sex difference in attitudes toward
workplace romance: Women have more negative reactions than men do.
Women are more likely to worry that a workplace romance would hurt them

on the job, more reluctant to get involved in one, and more discreet about it
when they do. In general, women are more likely than men to believe that
their private life and work life should not mix 29

The nature of individuals’ jobs influences whether they get involved in a
workplace romance. Individuals whose jobs are more autonomous, allowing
them to make more decisions about their own work and to move more freely
inside and outside the organization, are less subject to the constraining
presence of others and more likely to participate in workplace romances.
Business trips, which entail high levels of both physical and functional
proximity away from coworkers and supervisors, are particularly conducive
to romance.”

The prevailing culture of the organization, work group, or profession
regarding the acceptability of workplace romance influences whether
coworkers act on their feelings of mutual attraction. Younger and growing
organizations that emphasize creativity and innovation are more likely to
have an open culture regarding workplace romance. In contrast, older and
more staid organizations that emphasize traditional values and ways of doing
things are less conducive to workplace romance. Also, as for sexual
harassment, the culture regarding workplace romance may be influenced by
the sex ratio in an organization, department, or group. Recall that gender role
spillover, or the carryover into the workplace of individuals’ expectations
based on gender roles, is more likely to occur when the sex ratio is skewed
in favor of either sex. Employees may be more inclined to become
romantically involved when the work setting is numerically dominated by
one sex. In this kind of environment, employees may be more likely to see
each other as sex objects and thereby search for romantic partners.31

In summary, interpersonal attraction created by high functional or physical
proximity at work sets the stage for workplace romance. As employees
interact, interpersonal attraction may evolve into romantic attraction, and,
ultimately, a workplace romance. Romantic attraction is most likely to lead
to an actual romance when employees have positive attitudes toward

workplace romance and work autonomously in work environments that are
more accepting of it.

Once two people enter into a workplace romance, what kinds of dynamics
occur, and how do they evolve over time? Workplace romances differ
according to the match between the motives (job, ego, love) of the two
participants. Nine different combinations of these three motives are possible.
However, four combinations of partners’ motives tend to be more prevalent
than other combinations: (1) ego for both partners, a fling; (2) love for both
partners, true love; (3) job for both partners, a mutual user relationship; and
(4) ego for one partner and job for the other partner, a utilitarian relationship.
Flings are characterized by high excitement for both participants and tend to
be short-lived. True love relationships are characterized by the sincerity of
both participants and tend to result in marriage. Mutual user relationships are
primarily job motivated. Utilitarian relationships involve a trade-off between
different motives of the two participants, with the less powerful partner
seeking to further job-related goals through involvement with a more
powerful partner in pursuit of ego gratification 32

Power and dependency are key variables in understanding the dynamics of
workplace romances. Three types of dependency may be present in a work
relationship. Task dependency occurs when a worker depends on another in
order to perform his or her function effectively. Career dependency occurs
when individuals desire advancement that is dependent on the consent of
others. In normal manager-subordinate relationships, managers depend on
subordinates to perform tasks while subordinates rely on managers for career
advancement. In a workplace romance, a personal/ sexual dependency is
introduced. The addition of this third dependency threatens the normal
exchange of task and career dependencies.”

Whenever there is an imbalance of power in a romantic relationship, there
is a high potential for exploitation of the participant with the higher level of
dependency. The potential for exploitation is especially high in a hierarchical

romance in which participants are at different organizational levels with high
task and career dependency. For example, the higher-level participant in a
hierarchical relationship can use the lower-level participant’s personal/sexual
dependency to force an increase in task performance. In addition, the lower-
level participant can use the higher-level participant’s personal/sexual
dependency to argue for favorable task assignments or work conditions.
When either of these instances occur, the relationship becomes utilitarian.
Exploitation, however, is not only limited to hierarchical romance, but also
may appear in a lateral romance in which participants are at the same
organizational level with less task and career dependency. A power
imbalance may occur in a lateral romance simply because one participant is
more dependent on the personal/sexual exchange than the other.

Most couples try to keep their workplace romance hidden from coworkers
but fail in the attempt. In less open cultures, workplace romances are likely
to go underground with participants making a greater effort to keep the
relationship secret because the consequences of exposure are more severe.
Because coworkers disapprove of hierarchical romances more than lateral
romances, participants in hierarchical romances are more likely to try to hide
the relationship. Workplace romances in which one or both partners are
married also create greater incentives for secrecy.34

The components of love, dependencies, and motives in workplace
romances are seldom static and evolve over time. The levels of intimacy,
passion, and decision/commitment felt by participants in a loving
relationship seldom remain constant. Changes in task and career
dependencies may alter the dynamics of their work relationship and
romance. In addition, participants’ motives for engaging in the romance may
change. Growing satisfaction with the relationship may lead to increasing
mutual commitment, or declining satisfaction may lead to terminating the
relationship. Each participant has to deal with the other’s changing feelings
about the relationship, even if his or her own feelings remain the same.35

There are great difficulties associated with the end of a romance and the
return to being only coworkers, including the rejected lover’s lower self-

image and self-esteem. In addition, what was once workplace romance may
become sexual harassment if one participant desires to continue the
relationship. Dissolved hierarchical romances between a supervisor and an
immediate subordinate are the relationships most likely to become sexual

We purposely have not distinguished between the dynamics of oppositesex
and same-sex workplace romance. We would expect the dynamics of both
types of relationships to be similar. However, same-sex romance is
particularly hazardous for participants due to homophobia in some pockets
of the workplace. Because of this, individuals interested in a same-sex
romance face greater risks when they look for a partner at work than do
straight individuals. Participants in a same-sex workplace romance, whether
or not their sexual orientation is known to coworkers, have more reasons for
secrecy: They face more serious repercussions.”

There may be both positive and negative consequences of workplace
romances for participants, their partners outside of work, coworkers, and the
organization as a whole. Participants in workplace romances face a variety
of outcomes. For example, their productivity, motivation, and involvement
may decrease during the early stages of the romance (when they are more
distracted) and increase in later stages of the romance (when it has become a
normal part of their lives). As for Jack Welch, the former General Electric
CEO, and Suzy Wetlaufer, the former Harvard Business Review editor (now
Suzy Welch) who interviewed him for the magazine, the romance may lead
to their marrying each other, but it may also lead to their divorcing or
breaking up with their current partner.38

Participants who are more satisfied with the romance tend to be more
satisfied with other aspects of their jobs. In particular, workplace romance
has a positive impact on the performance, motivation, and involvement of
participants who enter the romance with a love motive. Love-motivated
individuals may feel the need to impress their partners through higher

productivity and to alleviate their supervisors’ fears that the romance will
negatively affect their work. In addition, they may simply be happier
because they have filled their need for companionship and now have more
time and energy for work.

Romance within mentoring relationships, however, may lead to negative
consequences for the protege. Successful mentoring relationships, judged by
the development of the protege, are characterized by a productive level of
intimacy between the mentor and protege that does not result in workplace
romance. Less successful mentoring relationships are characterized by either
unproductive intimacy, leading to a romantic relationship and poor
development of the protege, or unproductive distance, which also leads to
insufficient development of the protege.39

Depending on the circumstances, coworkers’ reactions to workplace
romances range from approval to tolerance to outright objection. At a
minimum, workplace romance stimulates gossip among coworkers. Whether
the gossip is positive or negative depends on the type of romance. A true
love relationship stimulates the most positive gossip. Most people root for
lovers in principle because they want to believe that romances can have
happy endings. However, a utilitarian relationship stimulates more negative
gossip, especially if it represents a hierarchical romance between a superior
and subordinate. When coworkers strongly disapprove of a workplace
romance, they may adopt extreme strategies such as ostracism of participants
in informal interactions, quitting the organization to remove themselves from
what they see as an intolerable situation, or informing the spouse of one or
both participants with whom they may have socialized at corporate
functions. If a coworker adopts the latter strategy, the romance may lead to

In general, people do not care what their fellow employees do as long as it
does not affect the conduct of work. When coworkers perceive the lower-
level participant in a hierarchical romance to be motivated by job concerns
such as advancement or job security, however, they have strong negative
reactions. These perceptions differ according to the sex of the lower-level

participant. Women who are involved in a hierarchical romance with a
senior-level executive are seen as more motivated by job concerns than men
in a similar relationship, leading coworkers to direct the most negative
reactions to lower-level women.41

Why are lower-level women in hierarchical romances subjected to
negative evaluations to a greater extent than are lower-level men? When a
lower-level woman becomes involved with a higher-level man, coworkers
tend to see the woman as motivated more by job concerns and the man by
ego concerns. That is, coworkers perceive a utilitarian relationship, even if
the relationship is better characterized as true love or a fling. In contrast, a
workplace romance between a lower-level man and a higher-level woman is
less likely to trouble coworkers. Although he may be seen as her “boy toy” if
he is significantly younger than she, he is still seen as satisfying his ego
needs. These perceptions work to the disadvantage of women.

The managerial response to a workplace romance also influences
coworkers’ reactions. Possible managerial actions, to be discussed at greater
length in the last section of the chapter, range from ignoring the romance, to
positive action (e.g., counseling), to punitive action (e.g., warning,
reprimand, transfer, or termination). Coworkers prefer that punitive action be
taken when the romance is hierarchical rather than lateral, one or both
participants is motivated by job concerns, and there is a greater conflict of
interest and disruption of the conduct of work. When managerial action is to
be taken at all, coworkers prefer that equivalent actions be directed toward
both participants. Thus, coworkers’ reactions are influenced by the
ramifications of a workplace romance, not just the existence of the romance

In conclusion, as with sexual harassment, women’s and men’s experiences
with workplace romance differ greatly. Women are more likely to be judged
negatively, and suffer the consequences, if they engage in a hierarchical
romance. Thus, it is not surprising that women have more negative attitudes
toward workplace romance than men do. The overall effects of workplace
romance on organizations vary widely. These effects may be positive (e.g.)

increased individual productivity, motivation, involvement; improved work
climate), neutral (e.g.) increased levels of gossip with no other impact), or
negative (e.g., decreased productivity, work motivation, involvement;
worsened work climate). When a workplace romance has negative effects on
the conduct of work, organizations need to be ready to act.

Table 7.1 summarizes recommended actions for organizations and
individuals in dealing with both sexual harassment and workplace romance
to make the work environment a comfortable place for all.

Table 7.1 Recommended Actions

Unless organizations address sexual harassment, they may be held in
violation of the law and risk loss of productivity and alienation of a large
portion of their work force. Many cases of sexual harassment, though not all,
require managerial action. In addition, organizations and their employees
benefit from managerial actions that discourage harassment from ever

Organizations must create cultures that prevent sexual harassment in the
first place. They may do so by adopting a zero-tolerance policy against it,
educating employees about the issue, and establishing formal grievance
procedures to deal with allegations of harassment. The organization’s policy
on sexual harassment should clearly specify the types of behaviors that are
forbidden and their penalties. New employees should be informed of the
policy on sexual harassment during their initial orientation. A training
program for managers should detail the reasons for the policy, the variety of
forms of sexual harassment, and proper responses to allegations of
harassment. Managers and nonsupervisory employees should be made aware
that sexual harassment could cost them their careers.43

In dealing with cases of alleged harassment, organizations should follow
this general principle: The severity of the action taken should be based on
the severity of the alleged offense and the certainty that an offense was

After a complaint of sexual harassment has been directed to a designated
party, organizational policy can be effectively implemented by a formal
grievance procedure:44

1. Interview the complainant, the accused, and possible witnesses.

2. Check personnel files for evidence that documents prior animosities
between the parties, previous complaints against the accused or by the
complainant, and recent discrepancies in the work record of the
complainant or the accused.

3. Assess the severity of the alleged offense, considering the type of
behavior, intent, power position of the accused relative to the
complainant, and frequency of occurrence. Actions by complainants’
supervisors should be considered more serious offenses than the same
actions by coworkers. Repeated incidents should be considered more
serious offenses than isolated cases. The severity of both quid pro quo
and hostile environment sexual harassment should be considered.

4. Assess the certainty that an offense was committed. Solid evidence, in
the form of either witnesses or documents, to support the complaint
provides assurance that there actually was an offense. Matters are less
certain when there is less than overwhelming evidence to support the
complaint. Whether an offense was committed is in greatest doubt when
the only evidence to support the complaint is the complainant’s word.

5. Determine appropriate actions to be taken. Severe actions (e.g.,
dismissal, demotion, suspension, transfer of accused) are to be taken
when the alleged offense is severe and the certainty that it was
committed is high. In such cases, the work record of the complainant
should be restored if unjustly blemished. Mild actions (e.g., no record of
complaint in file of accused, or record with annotation that accusation
not proved; letter to the accused stressing organizational policy against
sexual harassment; announcement reminding employees of
organizational policy) are to be taken when the alleged offense is mild
and the certainty that it was committed is low. Moderate actions (e.g.,
warning or disciplinary notice in file of accused with removal of the
notice if no subsequent offense within a specified period; required
counseling for accused) are to be considered in cases that fall between
these two extremes. A combination of actions of different levels of
severity maybe appropriate.

Such a procedure demonstrates that an organization is willing to take
action to minimize the incidence of sexual harassment. It also acknowledges
individual differences in definitions of sexual harassment by matching the
action taken with the severity of the offense and the certainty of its

occurrence. Clear and objective administration of such procedures protects
organizations from liability and increases the probability that their work
environment is free of harassment.

Formal grievance procedures, however, have little effect if the
organization exhibits deaf ear syndrome when it receives complaints of
sexual harassment. Many organizations have poorly written policies and
cumbersome reporting procedures. For example, one U.S. company stated its
sexual harassment policy in a single paragraph in the middle of a 50-page
handbook that no one was expected to read. Other organizations couch their
policies in language that only a lawyer could understand. In another
company, an employee reported a manager who would not stop making
sexual comments to her after she repeatedly asked him to stop. She was told
to keep notes on his actions. When the comments escalated to physical
harassment, she left the company and reported the incident to headquarters.
She finally filed a charge with the EEOC after headquarters failed to take
any action. The company denied liability for its inaction, stating that the
employee did not follow proper procedure and had reported the incidents to
the wrong person. This is how not to administer a sexual harassment
reporting procedure. Organizations exhibit deaf ear syndrome by minimizing
the seriousness of the offense, blaming the victim, protecting valued
employees, ignoring habitual harassers, and retaliating against employees
who “blow the whistle” on inappropriate behavior and on inadequate
corporate responses to it.45

No matter how well intentioned a formal grievance procedure is, it will
have little effect unless individuals who feel that they have been harassed are
willing to make formal complaints against their harassers. Many victims are
reluctant to use formal procedures. In the federal study described earlier,
only 6% of victims used formal complaint channels. If they take any action
at all, most victims choose to deal with the situation themselves. In fact, this
may be their only recourse if they do not have solid evidence that
harassment has taken place or if the organization turns a deaf ear to such
complaints. Oral requests may alleviate sexual harassment, especially if they
are assertively delivered and consistent across time and all types of offensive

behavior. In the federal study described earlier, this “knock-it-off” approach
improved conditions for 60% of female victims and 61% of male victims.
Telling colleagues, or threatening to tell, is also an effective response. On the
other hand, going along with the offensive behavior, making a joke of it, or
pretending to ignore it usually does not resolve the issue.46

If oral requests do not stop offensive behavior, victims may be more
successful if they write a letter to the harasser. The letter should contain (1) a
detailed description of the offending behavior, when it occurred, and the
circumstances under which it occurred; (2) the feelings of the victim about
the behavior and the damage that has been done (e.g.)”Your behavior has
made me feel uncomfortable about working in this unit”; “You have caused
me to ask for a change in job”); and (3) what the victim wants in addition to
an end to the harassment, such as rewriting of an unjust evaluation that was
prepared after the victim rejected sexual advances. The letter should be
delivered in person with a witness present. The harasser will usually accept
the letter and say nothing. There is rarely a response in writing, and, nearly
always, the harassment stops.47

Victims’ reluctance to make formal complaints does not relieve
organizations of their obligations to create an environment free of sexual
harassment and to provide support for employees who have been harassed.
Even if no formal complaint has been filed, the organization should be
prepared to initiate action if it uncovers significant evidence of wrongdoing.
In investigating and redressing the wrongdoing, it should respect the wishes
of those victims who wish to remain anonymous. The organization should
also provide support for employees who have been harassed. Support should
include off-the-record counseling to help victims identify and understand the
available options for resolving the problem and to assist them in coping with
the emotional consequences of harassment 48

In summary, we have detailed actions that organizations and individuals
may take to deal with sexual harassment. Organizations should (1) establish
a firm policy against sexual harassment; (2) provide training to employees
about sexual harassment, including workplace norms and regulations in

cultures with which they have contact; (3) set up and administer a formal
grievance procedure; (4) ensure that employees are aware of both policies
and procedures; and (5) provide counseling to help employees cope
psychologically with harassment and decide what to do about it. Victims,
however, should not bear the burden of solving the problems. Organizations
have a responsibility to monitor the work environment and make it as
harassment-free as possible.

There are sharp differences of opinion over whether workplace romance
can and should be banned. Catharine MacKinnon, one of the first scholars of
sexual harassment, argued that most of what passes for workplace romance
is actually sexual harassment in disguise, resulting from a patriarchal system
in which women are powerless to avoid being exploited sexually, and should
be treated accordingly. Margaret Mead, a famed anthropologist, argued that,
much like taboos against sexual expression in the family that are necessary
for children to grow up safely, taboos against sexual involvement at work are
necessary for men and women to work together effectively. However, others
claim that it is foolish to try to regulate welcome sexual attention. As one
manager put it, “Trying to outlaw romance is like trying to outlaw the
weather. 1149

In practice, most organizations are realistic and do not try to outlaw
workplace romance. According to a survey of human resource management
professionals, only 25% of companies have written or unwritten policies
about workplace romance. When policies exist, the two most frequent
restrictions are on relationships between supervisors and subordinates (80%)
and on public displays of affection (35%). The reasons most frequently cited
for restrictions on workplace romance include the fear of sexual harassment
claims (77%), the perception that it represents unprofessional behavior
(58%), the potential for retaliation between employees involved in the
romance if it ends (50%), and concerns about the lowered productivity of
participants (52%) and lowered morale of coworkers (44%). The most
frequent managerial responses to violations of the policy on workplace

romance, if one exists, include transfer within the organization (42%),
formal reprimand (36%), counseling (34%), and termination (27%).5°

How should organizations respond when two employees become
romantically involved? The general principle to follow in dealing with
workplace romance is the same as that for dealing with sexual harassment:
The severity of the action taken should be based on the severity of the
alleged offense and the certainty that an offense was committed. However,
unlike sexual harassment, the existence of a workplace romance does not
necessarily represent an offense. The primary concern of management ought
not to be who is involved with whom, but whether the necessary work is
getting done, and done well.

If there is no disruption to the accomplishment of work goals, then there is
little need to take any action. However, a relationship in which there is the
potential for task-related or career-related decisions to be influenced by
romantic considerations presents some threat. Coworkers may fear that the
relationship will influence the conduct of work or suspect that it is already
having an effect, causing their morale and productivity to suffer. When the
romantic partners have committed no actual offense but there is the potential
for offense, management should step in. The couple should be told that if
they continue the relationship, work assignments and/or reporting
responsibilities will be changed to reduce the potential for disruption of the
conduct of work. In this case, punitive action is not in order, but the situation
does need to be addressed by management.

When it is certain that task-related or career-related decisions have been
influenced by romantic considerations, there is greater cause for concern.
This situation calls for punitive action against both participants. The
hierarchical level of the participants should not be allowed to affect the
actions taken. This recommendation runs counter to the common practice
that the lower-status person bears the brunt of punitive action. However,
when both individuals are punished, rather than only the person at the lower
level, the appearance of an equitable decision will have the most positive
effect on morale and productivitys’

Management can also contribute to a satisfactory resolution of romance-
related issues by offering counseling to all individuals involvedthe couple,
the managers of work areas that are disrupted by the relationship, and the
coworkers in those areas. Coworkers need to have a designated neutral party
with whom they can consult about a troublesome romantic relationship. As
their manager may be one of the participants, they need freedom to report
their concerns without fear of reprisal.

Individuals need to weigh the potential costs against the potential benefits
when deciding whether to begin a workplace romance. The potential costs
include negative effects of a workplace romance on their careers (e.g., loss
of coworkers’ respect, lack of advancement due to violations of workplace
norms), self-esteem (e.g.) questioning of basis for their work-related
rewards), and family (e.g.) marital strife, divorce). The potential benefits
include meeting their personal needs at work and being happier as a result.
When caught up in the passion of the moment, individuals may not be
thinking clearly of the consequences. Nonetheless, they may gain from
considering these consequences before they act on their feelings.”

In conclusion, although workplace romance seldom poses a legal threat
unless a dissolved romance leads to sexual harassment, it poses potential
problems for organizations. Two types of romances have the most damaging
effects on individual, group, and organizational effectiveness: (1) a
hierarchical romance in which one participant directly reports to the other
and (2) a utilitarian romance in which one participant satisfies
personal/sexual needs in exchange for satisfying the other participant’s task-
related or career-related needs. Negative effects of workplace romance on
the conduct of work need to be addressed by organizations in some manner.
However, workplace romance often has only positive effects, such as when
both participants are single and committed to each other. In such cases,
coworkers will be happy for the couple, and organizations need not respond.

Although sexuality in the workplace cannot be fully “managed,” we have
outlined steps that organizations can take to respond to the negative effects
of both sexual harassment and workplace romance. In taking such steps,

organizations help create a more comfortable work environment for their
employees, even if it is not an asexual or “touch-free” zone. We also have
suggested actions that individuals may take to influence their own destinies.
As a convenient site for people to meet their personal needs, the workplace
may be more exotic than ever before. However, it need not be a battlefield
over issues of sexuality and work.


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28. Quinn; Pierce, Byrne, & Aguinis.

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50. Parks.

51. Quinn.

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[One] Saturday, Jennifer (not her real name) held a fiftieth birthday
party for her mother. She worked for several months in arranging the
party and in getting her family to agree to the arrangements. She lined
up the restaurant at which the party would be held. She arranged the
group gifts, prepared for the follow-up party to be held at her house
afterwards, the whole works. It was going to be a special day for
Jennifer, her mother, and everyone else involved. Early on that Saturday
morning, Jennifer received a call from her boss and was told that she
had to come to work that day. When she began to describe her plans for
the day, she was cut off and told, “The board doesn’t want excuses. The
board wants work.” The fiftieth birthday party was held, but without
Jennifer present. She spent the whole Saturday at work. According to
Jennifer, it wasn’t even an emergency that led her to be called in.’

tories like Jennifer’s are increasingly common in today’s workplace.
Many organizations expect their employees, especially managers and
professionals who are not bound by labor contracts, to put work first at all
times. They do not display even a minimal amount of concern for
employees’ needs outside of work. The combination of electronic
communication technologies such as e-mail and the Internet and portable
devices such as smart phones to access these technologies have made it
possible for such organizations to pressure employees who wish to advance
in their careers to be available at all times electronically no matter where
they are physically. Many employees feel compelled to log in to their e-mail
accounts late at night to scroll through and respond to messages received just
to maintain the impression that they are on call at all times. As a result, even
when at home, they are spending less time with their families.

Of course, not everyone wants to spend more time with their families.
Some people relish what may be called extreme jobs-jobs that involve 60
hours or more per week, fast-paced work under tight deadlines, 24/7
availability, work-related events held outside normal work hours, frequent
travel, and the like. Work is the primary source of satisfaction in life for
many people, from young professionals to senior executives. A book titled
Better Than Sex: How a Whole Generation Got Hooked on Work described
the appeal of work as follows: “Where once sexual attraction and
relationships drove humans, many now define themselves through work.
From work comes [not only] money and the capacity to live and enjoy
consumer items but also status, affirmation, and self-definition, especially if
you are winning inside the system…. Survival of the species may have been
about sex, but survival for corporate man or women is about work, to the
exclusion, if necessary, of everything else . 112

However, most people do not want to exclude everything other than work
from their lives. Instead, they seek a sense of work-family balance, which
comes from having their effectiveness and satisfaction in work and family

roles be consistent with the value they attach to each role. If their work role
is highly important to them, they want both to achieve a high level of work
performance and to derive a high amount of satisfaction from work; if their
work role is less important to them, being effective in it or satisfied with it is
less critical to their work-family balance. In the same vein, if family is
highly important in their life, people want both to be effective (however they
define “effective”) as a family member and to derive a high amount of
satisfaction from their family role?

Balancing work and family does not mean devoting equal time to one’s
work and family roles. Two people might distribute their time between work
and family roles identically but differ in the sense of balance they
experience. It also does not mean being equally involved in the two roles;
one person may achieve a strong sense of balance from being primarily
involved in family, whereas another person may achieve the same sense of
balance from being primarily involved in work. Instead, the notion of work-
family balance represents satisfaction with how things are going in one’s
work role in relation to how things are going in one’s family role.

Most people would like to have some degree of control over how they
allocate time and energy to the various roles in their lives, which may
include worker, spouse, parent, child, part-time student, community service
volunteer, and so on. To do so, they need to work for an employer that at
least acknowledges that they have a life outside of work. If this is not the
case, people may quit jobs working for others to start their own business just
for the purpose of gaining control. Whether people work for themselves or
others, they need to manage the work-family interfacehow their work role
influences their family role and vice versa.

This chapter is about how to manage the work-family interface to achieve
a sense of balance, and what employers can do to help. First, we consider
exactly what is meant by the term “family.” As we shall see, even single
employees have a family life that is likely to be important to them. Second,
we consider the challenges involved in juggling work and family roles and
how individuals’ experiences in one role may influence their experiences in

the other role, both positively and negatively. Third, we consider what
constitutes “success” for individuals in their work and family lives. Fourth,
we review how family factors influence important decisions individuals
make in their work role that determine the nature of their work-family
interface. We consider the role played by employers in shaping their
employees’ work-family interface, including different kinds of work-family
programs and the impact of the organizational culture. Finally, we offer
suggestions for how women and men may enhance their own sense of
balance and manage the work-family interface successfully.

Throughout the chapter, we consider sex differences in various aspects of
how people manage the work-family interface. According to gender roles
and stereotypes, the linkage between sex and the workfamily interface is
straightforward. As discussed in Chapter 3, gender roles, consisting of
beliefs about what role behaviors are appropriate for members of each sex,
set norms for the roles that men and women should emphasize: Women’s
proper place is in the home and men’s in the workplace. Gender stereotypes,
consisting of beliefs about what psychological traits are characteristic of
members of each sex, set expectations for the behaviors that men and
women will exhibit: Women are more likely to exhibit “feminine” traits
(e.g.) compassion, nurturance, sensitivity to the needs of others) that are
viewed as particularly important in the family domain, whereas men are
more likely to exhibit “masculine” traits” (e.g., aggressiveness, decisiveness,
independence) that are viewed as particularly important in the work domain.
Both gender roles and stereotypes dictate that (1) men will regard their work
roles as more important and their family roles as less important than women
do and that (2) both men and women will make decisions about how to
allocate their time and energy between work and family roles accordingly.’

However, given societal changes, the linkage between sex and the work-
family interface no longer seems so simple. As the proportion of women in
the labor force has increased, the traditional family structure of male
breadwinner and female homemaker has given way to dualcareer
partnerships, single parenthood, and other family structures. Both men and
women are less likely to endorse traditional gender roles, with the drop-off

especially pronounced among men; now there is no statistical difference
between men’s and women’s views. In addition, the most recent entrants to
the labor force are the least likely to endorse gender roles. In times like
these, sex differences in how individuals manage the interface between their
work and family roles are no longer straightforward?

To understand the work-family interface, we need to consider the nature of
individuals’ family lives. For example, if family life was fully determined by
three variables-marital status (married or single), parental status (children or
no children), and employment status of the spouse (employed or not
employed)-there would be six possible combinations:’

1. Single, no children

2. Married, no children, spouse employed

3. Married, no children, spouse not employed

4. Single, children

5. Married, children, spouse employed

6. Married, children, spouse not employed

However, this categorization scheme for family life is much too simple.
There are additional variations of marital status such as divorced, separated,
widowed, or remarried. Due to court or legislative action, marriage has
become an option in some states and countries for samesex as well as
opposite-sex couples. Single individuals may have a significant other who is
as important as a spouse to them; unmarried couples also have family lives.
Couples, married or unmarried, may or may not live together. The numbers
and ages of children vary, of course, as well as their places of residence;
blended families with stepchildren are prevalent. Younger children require
different care than older children, and the rearing of multiple children is
more demanding than that of a sole child. The employment status of the
spouse or significant other also varies. Spouses and significant others differ
in income contributed to the household and time and energy devoted to their

work and family roles. Other family members such as parents, siblings, and
extended family may also play important roles in people’s lives.

Table 8.1 reports parental employment in U.S. families with children. The
most prevalent combination of family and employment status is the dual-
career couple, a married couple in which both parents are employed; 43% of
families with children under age 18 and 40% with children under age 6 fall
into this category. The second-most prevalent combination is the married
couple in which only the father is employed; 21% of families with children
under age 18 and 27% with children under age 6 fall into this category. This
is the traditional family structure in which the father serves as breadwinner
and the mother as homemaker. The third most prevalent combination is the
female-headed family in which the mother is employed; 17% of families
with children under age 18 and 14% with children under age 6 fall into this

The family structures of women and men differ. Women are more likely to
be single parents than are men. In married couples, women are less likely to
be the sole breadwinner than are men. Even at top management levels, there
is a sex difference in family structure. As women assume managerial
positions at increasingly higher levels, they are less likely to be married or to
have children than are men with equivalent responsibilities. In general, the
more successful the man’s career in objective terms, the more likely he is to
have a spouse and children. The opposite holds true for women.’

Family structures are becoming increasingly differentiated as the
traditional pattern of male breadwinner and female homemaker gives way to
dual-career couples, single-parent households, and other alternatives. Even
the institution of marriage, traditionally the cornerstone of family life, is in
flux as an increasing proportion of children are raised outside of marriage
and the opportunity to marry is increasingly extended to same-sex as well as
opposite-sex couples. This is an era of increasing family diversity.’

Table 8.1 Employment Status of Parents in U.S. Families With Children

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009a).
Employment characteristics of families in 2008 (computed from data in
Table 4). Retrieved May 27, 2009, from http:/

NOTE: No spouse was present in families maintained by women and
families maintained by men. Own children include sons, daughters,
stepchildren, and adopted children.

However, the workplace does not equally accommodate all types of
family diversity. Individuals may be subject to biases in the workplace
based on their marital status, parental status, and other dimensions of
family diversity. For example, the stereotype of the workaholic single
person with no family life is an example of singlism, or the pervasive
stereotyping that single people experience in everyday life. Most
single childless (or “child-free”) employees are part of a family that
may include parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins,
and other extended family members. However, most corporate work-

family programs focus on the family-related needs of married
employees with children.’

Further, when companies offer paid maternity and paternity leaves for new
parents, new fathers are much more hesitant to take advantage of the
opportunity than new mothers because they fear that they will be stigmatized
for doing so. Married men fear that their careers will suffer if they request a
parental leave because they will not appear to be putting work first in their
lives, thereby violating the male gender role. In contrast, married women
know that they will be more likely to receive the approval of others if they
request a parental leave because such a request is consistent with the female
gender role.”

On the other hand, married women are offered fewer job opportunities
requiring relocation, including international assignments, than married men.
Job opportunities that require relocation enhance employees’ development
by providing them the chance to polish their skills, work on highvisibility
projects, and gain exposure in a different geographic location.
Organizational decision makers tend to assume that women will conform to
the female gender role by being less likely to accept relocation offers than
men because such a stance is less disruptive to their families. In reality,
women do not express less of a willingness to relocate domestically or to
accept international assignments than men. However, because they are
perceived to be less willing to move their families, women experience lower
geographic mobility than men, which restricts their career success.”

Thus, individuals’ family status, often in combination with their sex, may
be perceived to influence or may actually influence work-related decisions
about them to their disadvantage. Although we live in an age of increasing
family diversity, we do not live in an age of full acceptance of family
diversity by all parties concerned. This lack of acceptance of the new range
of family diversity presents a challenge for women and men who do not
conform to their respective gender roles in managing the work-family

There are different schools of thought about the linkage between work and
family roles. According to an optimistic view, people benefit from juggling
their work and family roles. When people participate heavily in multiple life
roles (e.g., engaged in employment outside the home while caring for those
within), they are able to avoid the worst aspects of any one role. Their
involvement in one role enhances their functioning in the other. As a result,
they have a heightened sense of well-being and subjective career success.
According to a pessimistic view, people suffer from trying to juggle their
work and family roles. When people attempt to participate in both work and
family roles to any significant extent, they face an inevitable time bind.
Either they flee home in response to the pressures or appeals of work, or
they sacrifice career success to devote themselves primarily to their

The reality for many families lies somewhere between these optimistic and
pessimistic views. A “trade-offs” view suggests that there are benefits to
juggling work and family roles as well as costs. The challenge for
individuals of juggling the two roles then becomes to minimize the costs
while maximizing the benefits.

According to a conflict perspective of the work-family interface,
individuals’ work and family roles are inevitable “enemies” and continually
interfere with each other. Individuals who attempt to juggle work and family
roles are likely to experience some degree of work-family conflict as a result
of simultaneous pressures from work and family roles that are mutually
incompatible. Such conflict may come about because work interferes with
family (work-to-family conflict), such as when long hours at work are
required, or because family interferes with work (family-to-work conflict),

such as when a child is sick and needs to stay home from school. Work-
family conflict has considerable negative consequences for employees, their
families, and their employers. High levels of work-family conflict produce
feelings of dissatisfaction and distress within both roles that detract from
well-being and life satisfaction. Three types of work-family conflict may
occur for individuals: time-based, strain-based, and behavior-based.13

Time-based conflict results from the finite amount of time that is available
to handle both work and family roles. Time spent working generally cannot
be devoted to family activities and vice versa. Parents experience more time-
based conflict than nonparents, parents of younger children more than
parents of older children, and parents of large families more than parents of
small families. In dual-career families, mothers are likely to experience more
time-based conflict than fathers. This is because married mothers spend
more time with their children and more time on household chores than
married fathers do. This gap has narrowed as the proportion of women in the
labor force, especially in managerial and professional jobs, has increased.
Fathers have significantly increased the amount of time they spend with their
children, and they have taken over more of the household chores as well.
However, fathers who want to become more involved in family life tend to
turn more to the nursery than to the kitchen or laundry room. One observer
concluded, “Housework remains the last frontier that men want to settle.””

Strain-based conflict results when strain in one role spills over into the
other role. Family strains may decrease performance at work and negatively
affect objective career success. On the other hand, strain at work may affect
one’s behavior as a parent or spouse.

Behavior-based conflict occurs when incompatible behaviors are required
for work and family roles, such as aggressiveness and objectivity at work
and warmth and nurturance at home. Managers who adhere to the think
manager-think masculine stereotype, whether female or male, may feel
caught between the emotional detachment exhibited at work and the
emotional expressiveness expected at home. “Shifting gears” between work
and home is required to avoid this conflict.

Work-family conflict increases for individuals when the demands placed
on them in either the work or family role increase. The greatest potential for
conflict occurs when individuals face simultaneous demands to participate in
both a work and a family activity and neither activity can be rescheduled. In
the opening passage, Jennifer faced this kind of situation when she was
forced to choose between an important work activity (emergency overtime
work) and an important family activity (mother’s birthday party). She made
the difficult choice of going to work and missing the party. As a result, she
experienced high work-tofamily conflict that day and felt terrible about it. In
general, when faced with conflicting demands, individuals are likely to
choose the activity about which others (e.g., boss, spouse) are pressuring
them most. They are also likely to choose the activity in the role that is most
central to their identity.”

Work-family conflict may be alleviated by social support that people
receive in both their work and family role for their involvement in the other
role. Social support may be both tangible (e.g.) information, advice,
assistance) and intangible (e.g., affirmation) affection, trust). In addition,
social support maybe expressed as a willingness to reschedule activities so
one can avoid potential work-family conflict. For example, if Jennifer’s boss
had been willing to reschedule or reassign weekend work so she could have
attended her mother’s 50th birthday party, this would have indicated that the
organization supported her participation in an important family activity and
would have resolved the conflict.”

Employees’ experiences with work-family conflict and social support that
may alleviate it differ across national cultures. For example, Chinese
employees are more likely to have their parents as live-ins or dependents
than U.S. employees. In addition, most adult children who do not reside with
their parents live close to them. This high proximity facilitates the exchange
of care between elderly parents and their married children. Elderly parents in
China not only are more dependent economically and emotionally on their
adult children than are their U.S. counterparts, but also are more important
providers of child care and household assistance. Although the net amounts
of work-family conflict felt by Chinese compared to U.S. employees may be

similar, dual-career couples in China experience both greater stress from
having to provide for their parents and greater support from their parents
than dual-career couples in the United States.”

National culture influences the extent to which men’s and women’s
experiences of work-family conflict differ. Cultures differ in gender
egalitarianism, or the extent to which they minimize gender roles and
stereotypes and promote equality of the sexes. Gender roles and stereotypes
are more likely to be emphasized in less egalitarian cultures. As a result,
members of cultures that are less egalitarian exhibit more pronounced sex
differences in how they manage the work-family interface than members of
cultures that are more egalitarian. In low-egalitarian cultures, women are
likely to be more involved in their family roles and less involved in their
work roles than men, leading to their experiencing higher levels of family-
to-work conflict and lower levels of work-tofamily conflict.”

According to an enrichment perspective of the work-family interface,
individuals’ work and family roles may be “allies” that continually enrich or
enhance each other. Work-family enrichment is defined as the extent to
which individuals’ experiences in one role, work or family, improve their
quality of life in the other role, either by improving their performance in the
other role or by improving their positive affect or feelings about it. Work-
family enrichment has considerable positive consequences for employees,
their families, and their employers, including high job satisfaction and
organizational commitment as well as high family satisfaction and good
mental and physical health. As for conflict, enrichment may be present in
either direction, work to family or family to work.19

Work-family enrichment takes place when resources generated in one role
are applied in a way that promotes high performance or positive affect in the
other role. Several types of resources may serve this purpose. Skills acquired
in one’s family or work role such as interpersonal skills and the ability to
multitask may enhance one’s effectiveness in the other role. Perspectives

obtained in one role such as the importance of selfdirection for personal
development or respect for individual differences may also be applied in the
other role. Psychological and physical resources developed or nurtured in
one role can increase performance in the other role. For example, self-
esteem, confidence, and good mental and physical health that are generated
from positive experiences and attention to physical fitness in one’s personal
life may promote work performance and positive work-related attitudes2°

Individuals may also generate social-capital resources, or tangible support
in the form of information, advice, or assistance in one role that benefit the
other role. For example, information provided by an employee’s spouse may
be useful to the employee’s career, and a colleague may use his or her clout
to help one’s child gain admission to the colleague’s alma mater. Flexibility
in the work or family role may also enrich performance in the other role. For
example, flexibility in the work role as a result of flextime work
arrangements may help an individual to meet family responsibilities better,
and flexibility in the family role as a result of a spouse’s handling child care
may help him or her to perform more effectively on the job. Finally, material
resources gathered in one role, such as bonus income from employment and
inheritance or gifts from family members, may be used to enrich the other

Women experience greater work-to-family enrichment resulting from the
application of nonmaterial resources than men. As discussed in Chapter 3,
consistent with gender stereotypes, women tend to be higher than men in
femininity, a psychological trait that places a high emphasis on interpersonal
relationships. As a result, women maybe especially committed to and
knowledgeable about meeting their families’ needs. Because they feel greater
responsibility than men for the emotional well-being of their families,
women may be particularly motivated to transfer nonmaterial resources
acquired at work to enhance their families’ well-being. However, because
men earn higher pay than women to bring to their families, they are higher in
work-to-family enrichment resulting from the application of material
resources. Also, as for work-family conflict, sex differences in work-family

enrichment tend to be greatest in national cultures that exhibit low gender
egalitarianism in their endorsement of gender roles and stereotypes2′

Individuals vary in their preferences for segmenting or integrating their
work and family roles. Segmenters prefer to keep these roles disconnected
from each other by maintaining rigid boundaries between work and family.
In contrast, integrators prefer to have these roles interwoven in their lives by
merging or blending various aspects of work and family. The extent to which
individuals prefer to segment work from family (e.g., by not taking
unfinished work home) may differ from the extent to which they prefer to
segment family from work (e.g., by not accepting routine family calls in the
office). We will use the term segmentation preferences to refer to the extent
to which individuals prefer to segment each role from the other.”

Segmenting work and family roles may have both advantages and
disadvantages. Individuals who are successful in segmenting work from
family are able to keep work demands from interrupting the time they devote
to family, turn off work stressors when in their family roles, and leave
behaviors at the office that would be dysfunctional at home. As a result, they
experience less work-to-family conflict than individuals who are less
successful at segmenting work from family or less inclined to do so.
However, they are also less likely to transfer positive affect from work to
family or see the relevance of applying skills or perspectives developed at
work to their family roles, resulting in their experiencing less work-to-family
enrichment. In the same vein, individuals who successfully segment from
family from work restrict the amount of both family-to-work conflict and
family-to-work enrichment they experience. Thus, there are trade-offs
involved in the segmentation or integration of work and family roles.”

Sex differences are likely to emerge in individuals’ segmentation
preferences. According to gender roles, men should emphasize the primacy
of work in their lives by segmenting their family roles from their work roles
(e.g., by not accepting calls from family members at work) but not their

work roles from their family roles (e.g., by bringing work home and being
on call 24/7). In contrast, women should emphasize the primacy of family in
their lives by segmenting their work roles from their family roles (e.g., by
not bringing work home and restricting their availability outside of normal
work hours) but not their family roles from their work roles (e.g., by
accepting and initiating family calls at work) 24

In conclusion, individuals may have negative experiences from juggling
their work and family roles that result in work-family conflict (work and
family as enemies), or they may have positive experiences that result in
work-family enrichment (work and family as allies). They may experience
both conflict and enrichment in different situations and at different points in
time, and they may experience each in the direction of work to family or
family to work. If they disconnect their work and family roles from each
other (work and family as segmented), they will experience neither conflict
nor enrichment.

Individuals may experience success in both their work lives and family lives.
In addition, they may be successful in achieving a satisfactory sense of
balance between their work and family lives. However, as we shall see, the
term “success” needs to be used with caution.

Career or work success is the more familiar concept. Both objective and
subjective measures maybe used to assess career success. In most research
studies, objective career success is measured by variables such as earnings,
level of position in the organizational hierarchy, and rate of advancement or
promotion. When objective variables are used to measure career success,
people’s careers are deemed more successful when they receive more pay,
hold positions at higher levels, and advance at a faster rate 25

In contrast, subjective career success is measured by variables that reflect
individuals’ satisfaction with various aspects of their work roles, including
their current jobs, potential for advancement, job security, pay, relationships
with coworkers, and so on. When subjective variables are used to measure
career success, people’s careers may be considered successful at any level in
the organizational hierarchy, no matter how much they are paid and how
rapid their advancement. What counts is that they are satisfied with where
they are and with their future prospects.

Objective and subjective career success are positively related; people who
achieve greater objective career success tend to be more satisfied with their
careers. However, career success in objective terms does not necessarily lead
to career satisfiaction. The factors that lead to objective career success may
be very different from those that lead to subjective career success. 6

Women and men tend to focus on different types of measures in assessing
their career success, with men focusing more on objective measures and

women focusing more on subjective measures. Men tend to regard status-
based satisfiers such as earning a high salary, getting promoted faster than
their peers, and rapidly advancing to higher organizational levels as more
important than women. In contrast, women tend to regard socioemotional
satisfiers such as having supportive coworkers, working as part of a team,
and helping others at work as more important than men. Men’s greater
reliance on objective measures of success that emphasize “getting ahead” in
organizations is consistent with the male gender role. When men achieve
greater objective success, they are better able to fulfill their traditional
responsibilities as breadwinners for their families. In contrast, women’s
reliance on subjective measures of success is consistent with the female
gender role. Women’s focus on their feelings about their careers corresponds
with the stereotype of women as expressive. In addition, the high value that
women place on positive interpersonal relationships necessitates the use of
subjective measures. The quality of relationships is best captured by
subjective, not objective, measures .”

The notion of “family success” is analogous to career success. We can
envision objective measures that could serve as indicators of this type of
success, such as marital (married or not married) or relationship (significant
other or no significant other) status, number of children, number of sports in
which children played (and their success in goals or points scored), prestige
of children’s colleges, number of family members who are friends on social
networking Web sites such as Facebook, number of photos posted by family
members on social networking Web sites in which one is tagged, and so on.
However, measuring family success using only such variables would be
absurd. Family success has to be measured subjectively. Satisfaction with
family, which focuses on the perceived quality of family life, is more telling
than objective measures of family status. In the same vein, satisfaction with
career, defined in terms of its perceived quality, may be more important than
objective career success as measured by promotions, salary, and the like.

The term success has been used in considering family life to make a point
about what constitutes success for individuals. The traditional “male model”
of career success emphasizes objective measures and focuses on work life.

In contrast, what may be called a “female model” of career success
emphasizes subjective measures and includes consideration of family life as
well as work life. This is not to say that all men define success solely by
objective measures or that all women define success solely by subjective
measures. Instead, traditional notions of career success need to be expanded
to include concepts that have been associated with how women as well as
men view success zs

When we examine the actual levels of career success achieved by men and
women, we find evidence of both sex similarities and sex differences.
Several studies have tracked the career success of male compared to female
MBA graduates who earned their degrees from the same institutions during
the same period of time. These studies have found no sex difference in the
level of subjective career success achieved. Over time, as their common
educational experience recedes, female MBA graduates are no more or less
satisfied with their careers than their male counterparts. However, the same
studies have found a sex difference in the level of objective career success
achieved as time passes. Eventually, female MBA graduates lag behind their
male counterparts in indicators of objective career success such as income
and managerial level.29

The phenomenon that women express no more dissatisfaction with their
careers than men despite the fact that they hold jobs with less pay and
authority has been called the paradox of the contented female worker. What
would account for this paradox? Working men and women may experience
similar levels of subjective career success because they perceive little
discrepancy between what they obtain from their jobs in objective terms and
what they feel entitled to obtain. If women expect less objective career
success than men, perhaps they will be just as satisfied as men are when
their expectations are met. In addition, if women value objective career
success less than men, they will place less emphasis on it when subjectively
evaluating their own success. The paradox of the contented female worker
has been observed in occupations such as lawyers, human service workers,
hospitality managers, and Protestant clergy and in part-time MBA students
employed in full-time jobs across occupations 30

Issues of objective and subjective success also apply to business owners.
Women-owned firms tend to rank lower than men-owned firms on measures
of objective success such as sales, income, rate of growth, and business
performance compared with competitors. However, there is no sex
difference in business owners’ subjective success. Despite differences in
objective success, male and female business owners are similarly satisfied
with the success of their business, supporting the paradox of the contented
female business owner. Overall, female business owners place less value on
achieving business success in traditional terms than male business owners.
Instead, they are more concerned with the quality of their relationships with
employees and contributions to society.”

It is not for us to say what being successful should mean for individuals in
their work or family lives. However, it is important to recognize that men’s
and women’s personal definitions of what constitutes success tend to differ.
Sex differences in the meaning of success are likely to be reflected in the
decisions individuals make in managing the work-family interface.

Throughout their lives, individuals make a stream of decisions in their work
and family roles. Work-family decisions consist of decisions in one role,
work or family, that are influenced by factors in the other role. Although
they do not have full control over their lives and are subject to work and
family pressures, people play an active role in shaping their lives. Earlier in
the chapter, we examined work-family phenomena such as conflict and
enrichment that individuals may experience as they manage the work-family
interface. In this section of the chapter, we selectively examine work-family
decisions that may influence the extent and direction of conflict and
enrichment that individuals experience. In particular, we focus on how
family factors influence the decisions individuals make at work.32

In general, individuals make three broad types of decisions regarding their
work domain-role entry, participation, and exit decisions-that may be
influenced by factors in their family domain. Role entry decisions involve
choices about whether to enter a particular work role. Role participation
decisions involve choices regarding how one engages in a particular work
role. Role exit decisions involve choices regarding leaving a particular work
role. We next consider examples of each type of work-family decision.”

The decision about whether to seek full-time or part-time employment
represents a role entry decision. Part-time jobs are in the minority in the
workplace, but their proportion is significant; the proportion of all jobs that
are part-time is 17% in the United States and about 20% to 25% in most
countries. Part-time work offers many workers the opportunity for a better
balance between work and family. It can help to lower workfamily conflict
and increase life satisfaction. It may also provide a transition to or from full-

time employment. However, part-time work also has drawbacks. Part-time
employees have lower status in organizations than full-time employees
doing the same kind of work. Their hourly wages are lower, they are less
likely to receive health insurance benefits, their jobs are less secure, and
their career prospects are more limited.”

Women and men differ in the propensity to hold part-time rather than full-
time jobs. Women hold two thirds or more of all part-time jobs in most
countries, which may be driven by their placing greater importance than men
on work-family balance when seeking employment. In the United States,
women hold 66% of all part-time jobs; 25% of the U.S. female labor force
and 11% of the U.S. male labor force are employed part-time. Overall,
although women’s greater tendency than men to hold part-time jobs offers
them a greater sense of work-family balance and subjective career success, it
restricts their objective career success.35

The decision about whether to start a business represents a different type
of role entry decision. Entrepreneurship is often depicted as a masculine
preserve, with entrepreneurs described in terms that are associated more with
men than women (“the conqueror of unexplored territories, the lonely hero,
the patriarch”). Despite the masculine norm for entrepreneurship, women-
owned business firms represent the fastest growth segment of privately held
business firms, and female business owners are increasingly important
contributors to their country’s economic growth. However, although the sex
difference in business startups is diminishing, women are still less likely
than men to start a business 36

Several types of family factors influence individuals’ decision to start a
business. For example, having a self-employed parent, being married to
another business owner, having one’s career as a business owner receive high
priority in the household, and being motivated to gain flexibility in meeting
family demands and responsibilities and integrate work and family are
positively related to the decision to start a business. Many of these factors

differ according to owner sex. For example, women’s careers as business
owners receive lower household priority than those of men, which reinforces
the sex difference in business start-ups favoring men. However, women’s
greater motivation to achieve work-family integration and flexibility through
business ownership constrains the magnitude of this sex difference. Overall,
women’s decisions about whether to start a business are more driven by
family considerations than those of men 37

The decision about how many hours to devote to one’s job or business
represents a role participation decision regarding the distribution of time
between the work domain and other life domains. This decision may have
both positive (e.g., enhanced enjoyment from work, greater job and career
satisfaction, higher compensation) and negative (e.g., workaholism, greater
work-to-family conflict) consequences for individuals and their families.
Over the past few decades, women have consistently devoted fewer hours to
paid work than men. Although this sex difference is due in part to women’s
greater likelihood of working part-time, men work more hours than women
even among full-time workers, and male business owners devote more hours
to their business firms than female business owners.38

Several family factors are related to individuals’ decisions about the
number of hours to devote to their job or business. For example, playing the
breadwinner role and having a spouse handle child care, which are more
likely for men, contribute to individuals’ working more hours. In contrast,
spending more time on housework and child care oneself, which are more
likely for women, contribute to individuals’ working less hours. Also, some
family factors influence women’s decisions about work hours but not men’s
decisions. For women, having a greater number of children and a spouse
who is more highly educated are negatively related to work hours, whereas
having a spouse who devotes more hours to housework and having domestic
help or a babysitter to handle child care are positively related to work hours.
In contrast, these family factors are unrelated to work hours for men.39

Overall, men’s decisions about work hours are less constrained by family-
domain factors than women’s decisions. For men, these results could be
driven by the desire to get out of the house for the joys of work or by the
need to fulfill their breadwinner role. For women, these results could be
driven by the importance of family in their lives or by the need to restrict
their work involvement to meet their family’s needs. Both of these possible
explanations are consistent with gender roles.

Employment gaps, or periods during which individuals leave and then
rejoin the labor force, represent a combination of role exit and role entry
decisions. They may be either voluntary or involuntary on the part of the
employee. Women are more likely than men to have employment gaps early
in their careers. In addition, their employment gaps are more likely to be
voluntary for purposes of child rearing.40

The voluntary employment gap violates the stereotype of a successful
career, which is largely based on the experiences of men. An uninterrupted
career pattern is assumed to demonstrate stability and commitment to work.
Time away from work, unless for the purpose of enhancing educational
credentials, is often assumed to lead to deterioration of skills and knowledge
and to reflect less commitment to work. As a result, when people choose to
take time out from their work careers for any reason, their subsequent
advancement and earnings are likely to suffer. Thus, women’s greater
tendency to have voluntary employment gaps contributes to their achieving
lower long-term objective career success.

The decision to quit a particular job represents a role exit decision that has
considerable ramifications for individuals, their families, and their
employers. For some people, this decision is accompanied by a role entry
decision to find alternative employment working for others, which may
require relocation or other family adjustments, or to start a business. For

others, this decision entails leaving the labor force altogether, which has
financial and other implications for their families. Although women are
more likely to have voluntary employment gaps than men, there is no sex
difference in quit decisions overall.”

Family factors have both positive and negative influences on the decision
about whether to quit a job. For example, being married and having more
children, taking advantage of family-friendly corporate initiatives, and
having supervisory support for meeting one’s family needs are negatively
related to the decision to quit. In contrast, having a spouse’s job relocated is
positively related to the decision to quit. High levels of workfamily conflict
make people more inclined to quit a job. However, family-to-work
enrichment improves the work situation and makes people less inclined to
quit a job. Some family factors, including having greater household
responsibilities and being motivated to work closer to home and take time
off for child rearing, not only have more positive effects on quit decisions
for women than men but are also experienced more frequently by women
than men. Overall, women are more likely to quit jobs for family-related
reasons than are men.42

In summary, the evidence about how people make a wide range of role
entry, participation, and exit decisions is clear: Women’s decisions at work
are more likely to be work-family decisions (i.e., decisions that are
influenced by family factors) than those of men. However, the overall
decline in endorsement of gender roles, especially among men and among
recent entrants to the labor force, suggests that this sex difference is
diminishing. Younger men in the present are increasingly expressing the
desire to balance work and family compared with younger men in the past,
who expected to devote their lives primarily to fulfillment of their
breadwinner responsibilities. As a result, to attract and take advantage of the
best new talent available from both sexes, employers need to be family-

Individuals’ success in managing the work-family interface is influenced by
the work environments that their employers provide and the strategies they
adopt. To understand the intersection of work and family more fully, we
need to examine the roles of both employers and employees. In this section,
we consider popular work-family initiatives and the influence of the
organizational culture. Table 8.2 summarizes recommended actions for
organizations to be family-friendly.

Employers may be family-friendly through the programs they offer to help
employees meet their family needs. Work-family initiatives that have been
adopted by organizations include child and elder care assistance, alternative
work arrangements, training on how to deal with common family issues,
counseling for employees and their families when organizational decisions
affect the family, employment assistance for spouses of relocated employees,
partnerships with schools, gifts to community organizations, support groups
for employees with similar family needs, and advisory task forces that
address particular work-family issues. Firms with a higher proportion of
professional employees and a higher proportion of female employees tend to
develop more extensive work-family initiatives and experience greater gains
in performance and shareholder returns as a result of such initiatives.”

Table 8.2 Recommended Actions for Organizations

Organizations may offer employees valuable assistance with care of
children and elderly parents, including referrals, financial assistance, and
corporate child or elder care centers. Employees’ needs for dependent care
vary greatly, and organizations need to consider their financial resources and
the diversity of their employees’ family lives when deciding how best to
address these needs. Even when resources are scarce, there are many kinds
of actions that can be taken to assist employees with meeting these needs.
These actions have a positive impact on recruitment, absenteeism, job
satisfaction, and organizational commitment.45

Organizations may also offer employees a wide array of alternative work
arrangements, including flextime, telecommuting, part-time work, paid
leaves and sabbaticals, unpaid leaves beyond what is legally mandated, job
sharing, phased-in work schedules following leaves, and phased-in
retirement. Alternative work arrangements are highly popular with many

employees because flexibility in their work schedules enables them to gain
greater control over their work and family lives. For example, parents may
find it easier to accommodate their children’s regular schedules and
predictable events such as teacher conferences. In addition, they may
respond better to emergencies and unanticipated events such as sudden
illnesses, weather-related school closings, and breakdowns in child care
arrangements. Flexibility in work arrangements appeals to all employees, not
just parents, because it symbolizes a focus on getting the work done rather
than how, when, or where it is done. Alternative work arrangements yield
benefits for employers such as decreased absenteeism and turnover and
increased productivity46

The most popular type of alternative work arrangement is flextime, which
allows planned variations from normal work hours. Managerial and
professional employees make the greatest use of flextime programs.
Flextime may consist of changes to the starting and ending times of the
workday or of compression of the workweek into fewer days (e.g., four 10-
hour days instead of five 8-hour days). It may also allow variation in the
work schedule from one workday to the next. Flextime has a positive impact
on employees’ productivity, absenteeism, job satisfaction, and satisfaction
with their schedules, which benefits their employers as well.47

Telecommuting, being paid to do some or all of one’s work away from the
work site, is an increasingly popular type of work arrangement as more work
becomes virtual. As for flextime, telecommuting is most common for
managerial and professional employees. It gives employees flexibility in the
location and timing of work by allowing them to work out of a virtual office.
Telecommuters report that working at home increases their productivity by
reducing interruptions and distractions and enhancing their concentration. It
also helps employees to balance work and family; their increased presence at
home enables them to better fulfill their child care and household
responsibilities and strengthens family relationships. However,
telecommuting can blur the boundary between work and family roles in
unproductive ways. Because work-related messages arrive electronically
around the clock, telecommuters can feel pressures to be working (or appear

to be working) around the clock. Telecommuters also face interruptions and
distractions from being at home. Thus, telecommuting may both decrease
work-to-family conflict and increase family-to-work conflict. The challenge
for telecommuters then becomes how to segment work from family and how
to segment family from work when desirable. When this challenge is met,
telecommuting benefits both employees and employers.48

Organizations may take a proactive role in helping their employees
minimize work-family conflict and maximize work-family enrichment
through the training programs they offer. They may offer training in how to
enlist a spouse’s support to alleviate work-family conflict. Further, they may
alleviate employees’ stress by providing useful information about matters
that concern employees outside work. For example, several firms offer
educational programs about how to get one’s child into and through college,
including advice about the admissions process, testing, financial aid, and
financial planning; this form of work-to-family enrichment is particularly
appreciated by middle-aged parents. When employees’ needs for low work-
family conflict and high work-family enrichment are met, they are more
likely to exhibit work-related attitudes and behaviors that benefit their

Being family-friendly involves more than offering a variety of workfamily
programs. It also means providing an organizational culture in which
employees feel comfortable in taking advantage of programs that are
intended to benefit them. Supportive managers are a crucial link in creating a
family-friendly culture. Employees are more likely to utilize work-family
programs when they have a supportive manager who empathizes with their
desire for work-family balance. Having a familysupportive manager reduces
employees’ work-family conflict, increases their work-family enrichment,
and gives them more incentive to stay with the organization.50

Despite the benefits of work-family programs for both employees and
employers, managers may resist implementing them. According to a study of

the factors that affect managerial decisions about whether to approve
requests for alternative work arrangements, the most important factor was
the criticality of the subordinate’s job assignment. Subordinates whose work
was more critical to the work unit were less likely to have their requests
approved than noncritical subordinates; subordinate sex had no effect on
managers’ decisions. These are curious results. Employees who are trusted
with more critical job tasks would seem to deserve special treatment.
However, in this study, their managers viewed such employees as the least
desirable candidates for alternative work arrangements. Critical employees
should not have to transfer to less critical jobs to qualify for these
arrangements. To reap the benefits of workfamily programs, organizations
need to educate their managers on the corporate benefits of these programs
and provide incentives to managers to implement them.s’

Organizations also need to establish a culture that combats singlism. Most
family-friendly initiatives are designed to meet the needs of married
employees with children. Although single childless employees may not need
work-family programs targeted toward them, they have other needs that may
be addressed. They need to feel included in social events at work such as the
annual company picnic for employees and their families, which should
include both child-friendly activities (e.g.) pony rides for small children) and
singles-friendly activities (e.g.) softball). They also seek equal access to
employee benefits and respect for their family lives. Single childless
employees need to know that there are similar work expectations for
themselves and married employees with children. They should not be
expected to travel more for business, to work more hours when coworkers
miss work for family reasons, or to work at times when coworkers are not
expected to work.52

Organizational cultures that define a successful career as an uninterrupted
sequence of promotions to higher levels, or assume that requests to take time
out from career for family reasons reflect a lack of career commitment,
discourage employees from following any other career path. Organizations
that want to create family-friendly cultures need to expand their notions of
what constitutes career success to include interruptions and lateral moves.

They should encourage, rather than discourage, employees to take advantage
of work-family programs, recognizing that employees who do so are likely
to be more committed, not less committed, to the organization.

In conclusion, when organizations recognize that they are employing
whole individuals and not just jobholders, they are more likely to be family-
friendly. They are also more likely to attract and retain productive

The challenge for all individuals, whatever their family status may be, is to
manage the interface between their work and family lives to achieve a sense
of work-family balance. Meeting this challenge is no simple matter. The
complexity of many employees’ family situations can make the task of
negotiating a balance between work and family interests seem like a full-
time job in itself. Social support from family members and employers makes
the task more manageable, but employees can do much to help themselves.
Table 8.3 summarizes recommended actions for individuals to balance their
work and family roles.

Table 8.3 Recommended Actions for Individuals

First, people need to be aware of their life values. What is the relative
importance to them of the various roles in their life, which may include work
and family as well as a host of other roles (volunteer, student, and so on)?
With which role or roles do they identify the most? If individuals identify

primarily with their work roles, decisions they make at work should seek to
maximize their sense of success, whether measured objectively or
subjectively, at work. Such individuals will experience balance primarily
from being effective in and satisfied with their work roles. If they identify
primarily with their family roles, their work decisions should take into
account family considerations with the goal of maximizing their
effectiveness in and satisfaction with their family roles. However, if
individuals identify highly with both work and family, their work decisions
need to be carefully calibrated to take into account the potential impact on
their satisfaction and effectiveness in both roles.”

Next, people need to cultivate social support in both work and family roles
for their involvement in the other role-from their managers and coworkers at
work and from their spouses or partners and other family members at home.
If they face pressures to participate in conflicting activities in both their
work and family roles, they will benefit by mobilizing support in the form of
release from time demands that will alleviate the need to make a choice.
Through the support mobilization process, they may avoid work-family

Mentors, or senior individuals with advanced experience and knowledge
who provide guidance to their proteges, maybe a valuable source of social
support. Although some organizations have formal programs that assign
mentors to proteges, informal mentoring relationships are most common.
Mentors typically help proteges in their career development by acting as
coaches and sponsors. Mentors also enhance proteges’ satisfaction with their
careers by offering friendship, counseling, and acceptance. Thus, mentors
contribute to their proteges’ objective and subjective career success. In
addition, mentors may contribute to their proteges’ management of the work-
family interface by being sensitive to and supportive of their values and
goals regarding attainment of work-family balance. Although women face
greater barriers to forming formal mentoring relationships than men, they are
equally likely to develop informal mentoring relationships.”

People also need to develop coping strategies to deal with stress from the
demands of their work and family roles. Strategies that help individuals cope
with stress in one role may not alleviate stress in the other role. For example,
cognitive disengagement or detachment maybe an effective strategy for
coping with work-related stress, but not with family-based stress.
Reassurances of emotional attachment and commitment may be effective
when directed toward family members, but not when directed toward bosses,
subordinates, and peers at work. Individuals need coping strategies for
dealing effectively with stress in both spheres of their lives. In addition to
unilateral coping strategies, couples may reduce their overall amount of
stress by agreeing on what their work and family roles will be and by
providing mutual support.56

Couples who relocate as a result of international assignments need to
devote particular attention to developing coping strategies. Although
relocated employees often receive employer assistance in coping with their
new environments, trailing spouses of relocated employees need to act on
their own behalf. For example, a group of men who trailed their executive
spouses to Belgium formed their own support group, Spouses Trailing Under
Duress Successfully (STUDS). The group provides the men a social
network, which helps them settle in and adjust to their new location. STUDS
brings these men together online and in person regularly for a weekly
brunch, monthly lunch, winter black-tie ball with wives invited, and other
events. These men are not only providing social support to each other. They
also are acting to enhance their executive wives’ career success and family
satisfaction. The failure of the trailing spouse to adjust is a frequent cause of
early returns home or resignations of executives from international
assignments, which can derail or stall their careers’

Whether they work for themselves or others, individuals face a dilemma in
deciding how much they want to segment or integrate their work and family
roles. Segmenters take the risk of preventing workfamily enrichment, the
positive side of the work-family interface, in the interests of preventing
work-family conflict, the negative side. Integrators, on the other hand, take
the risk of increasing work-family conflict to an undesirable level while

maximizing their opportunities for work-family enrichment. There is no
simple solution to this dilemma.”

In conclusion, as their careers unfold, women and men may set goals for
work-family balance in accordance with their life values and adopt plans for
action to achieve these goals. With a little help from their friends, employer,
and family, they may achieve their balance goals, thereby shaping their own

After beginning the chapter with the story of Jennifer’s fateful day, we
conclude by presenting the aftermath. In the weeks that followed her
decision to work overtime on the project that fateful Saturday and to
miss the 50th birthday party for her mother, Jennifer felt considerable
internal conflict and turmoil. She was very upset about what had
happened. Shortly thereafter, she found a new job in her field with an
employer who treated her with much more respect. She was still in
that job and enjoying it 2 years later.


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58. Powell & Greenhaus (2010b).

Company XYZ is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining the
best people from the broadest possible employee pool to meet our business
needs worldwide. Having a workforce that reflects the composition of the
marketplaces we serve and the communities where we operate is an
important competitive advantage. Our mission is to create a culture and a
business environment based upon inclusion, mutual respect, responsibility,
and understanding. We believe that business wins when everyone matters,
and that the true strength of diversity is unleashed when each associate is
encouraged to reach their full potential. We strive to be a great place to
work, to be respectful and supportive of our diverse workforce and
inclusive culture, and to recognize the benefits of our diverse suppliers,
customers and business partners. The more we embrace our differences-
diversity of thought, experience, perspective, race, gender, faith and more-
the better we can deliver what the customers want and the more successful
we will be.’

oes Company XYZ sound like a great place to work or what?
Actually, it doesn’t exist, at least as a single company. The six statements in
the opening passage represent excerpts from the corporate diversity policies
posted on the Web sites of six of the top 10 corporations in the Fortune 500,
a list of America’s largest corporations 2 (See Note 1 for the sources of the
six statements in order.) Can you tell the companies apart based on these
excerpts from their diversity policies? Neither can I.

If such statements represented what the workplace is really like, it would
be reasonable to conclude that the merits of having a diverse workforce have
been fully recognized and embraced. However, the reality is more complex.
Organizations are quite diverse in how they deal with the notion of diversity.
Although some firms live up to such statements, many firms create diversity
policies solely to reduce their liability, and many employees view such
policies as lip service.’

In general, organizations may take three types of actions:

1. Promote nondiscrimination in treatment of people and decisions about
people. This means promoting compliance by all employees with federal,
state, and local equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. Such laws ban
discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age,
religion, and other personal characteristics that are not relevant to the job at
hand. It also means refraining from discrimination on the basis of job-
irrelevant personal characteristics even if it not illegal. For example, there is
no U.S. federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation, but such discrimination is just as unacceptable as sex or race

2. Promote diversity among employees in all jobs and at all levels. The
focus of promoting diversity is on the number or quantity of employees from
various groups in different jobs and at different organizational levels.

Affirmative action programs, which are legally mandated for most
employers, represent attempts to ensure that organizational practices enhance
the employment, development, and retention of members of protected
groups such as women and people of color. Organizations also may attempt
to increase the diversity of their labor force for business reasons.

3. Promote inclusion of employees from all groups in the organizational
culture. The focus of promoting inclusion is on the nature or quality of work
relationships between employees who belong to different groups. There are
no laws that say that organizations ought to provide a work environment in
which members of all groups feel comfortable and accepted. Organizations
may engage in this kind of action if they see some advantage to doing so.

Organizations benefit from pursuing all three types of actions: promoting
nondiscrimination, promoting diversity, and promoting inclusion. An
organization successful in these actions is less likely to be the target of costly
litigation. Its employees bring a wider range of perspectives to work issues,
which result in more creative solutions to problems facing the organization.
Such an organization is most likely to attract and retain highly qualified
employees from all groups and to take full advantage of their talents.

In this chapter, we consider what organizations need to do to achieve these
benefits. First, we review the kinds of EEO laws with which organizations
must comply. Second, we present the business case for going beyond
minimal compliance with EEO laws. Third, we consider specific actions that
organizations may take to promote a nondiscriminatory, diverse, and
inclusive culture. We wrap up with the conclusions for the book.

Federal, state, and local laws govern the actions of employers, with federal
laws having the broadest impact. Examples of federal EEO laws include
Australia’s Affirmative Action Act, Canada’s Employment Equity Act,
Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law, the United Kingdom’s Sex
Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts, the Netherlands’ Equal Pay and Equal
Treatment Acts, and Denmark’s Equal Opportunities and AntiDiscrimination
Acts. Although the details of these laws vary, they share the general
objective of banning sex discrimination in employment practices and
promoting diversity on the basis of sex in organizations.’

We focus our attention in this section on federal EEO laws in the United
States. First, the legal requirements placed on employers to refrain from sex
discrimination are described. Second, we consider the further requirements
placed on many employers to take affirmative action to promote diversity on
the basis of sex.’

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, enacted in 1964, and the Equal Pay Act,
enacted in 1963, are the most significant pieces of U.S. federal legislation
that address sex discrimination. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the
basis of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin in any employment
condition, including hiring, firing, promotion, transfer, compensation, and
admission to training programs. It has been extended to ban discrimination
because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions and to ban sexual
harassment (see Chapter 7). The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal to pay
members of one sex at a lower rate than the other if they hold jobs that
require equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working
conditions in the same firm.

Several agencies are involved in the administration and enforcement of
federal EEO laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC) is charged with administering Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. It
investigates and reconciles charges of discrimination against employers,
unions, and employment agencies. The Department of justice enforces Title
VII in cases involving a state or local government agency or political
subdivision. Individuals may also go to court on their own behalf or in
behalf of a class of employees or potential employees to seek compliance
with the laws.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, two basic types of
organizational practices are considered discriminatory under Title VII: those
that involve disparate treatment and those that result in disparate impact.
Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when sex is intentionally used as a
basis for treating people unequally. For example, one employer violated Title
VII by asking a female applicant whether she planned to get pregnant and
quit, and if her husband would mind when she had to “run around the
country with men.” Male applicants, obviously, were not asked such
questions. Another employer violated Title VII by asking questions about
child bearing and child rearing of only female applicants.’

Disparate impact discrimination occurs when an employment practice
affects women and men unequally, unless it is job-related and justified by the
needs of the business. For example, a company’s minimum height
requirement for a certain job was rejected as discriminatory when it was
shown to rule out more women than men and was not essential to job
performance. Under the disparate impact standard, whether the employer
discriminates intentionally is irrelevant. All that matters is whether a practice
has unequal results, and, if so, whether it serves a legitimate need (such as
apprenticeship training for skilled craft positions and licensing requirements
for nurses and teachers) that cannot be met by an alternative practice with
less disparate impact.

Employers are not required to meet hiring or promotion quotas for specific
groups of workers (e.g., 45% of the area’s labor force or population is

female; thus, 45% of new hires should be female). Hiring quotas may be
allowed, however, to remedy an imbalance caused by past discrimination. If
employers’ past hiring practices promoted sex discrimination, they may be
expected to take action to rectify these inequalities. In such cases, employers
may give temporary preference to qualified applicants from
underrepresented groups to achieve a long-term balance in the representation
of those groups among their employees.

Although the vast majority of cases involving Title VII have dealt with
discrimination against women, discrimination against men also is covered.
For example, a court ruled against Pan American World Airways in the
1970s for limiting its flight attendants to women. Pan American cited survey
results that passengers preferred female flight attendants, and a psychologist
testified that women are better at comforting and reassuring passengers
simply because they are women. Nonetheless, Pan American lost the case.7

The Title VII ban on sex discrimination makes an exception for
discrimination based on a seniority system. For example, the U.S. Supreme
Court ruled that an employer cannot be ordered to ignore a seniority system
when making layoffs, even if the effect is to reduce the number of women
hired under an affirmative action plan.

Another permissible exception to Title VII is when an individual’s sex
represents a legitimate condition of employment or bona fide occupational
qualification (BFOQ). Employee sex may be specified as a BFOQ in
situations involving hygiene (such as cleaning of washrooms during periods
when they are in use), health care (such as counseling of rape victims), and
safety. For example, women may be denied the opportunity to serve as
guards in male prisons because of the possibility of assault by prisoners, but
women cannot be denied the opportunity to be prison guards altogether. The
sex of an employee also may be specified as a BFOQ for reasons of
authenticity or genuineness. For example, it is legal for theaters and movie
producers to hire only women to act female parts and only men to act male
parts; however, this is not a requirement. The refusal to hire an individual

because of customer preferences or stereotypical characterizations of the
sexes (as in the Pan American case) is illegal.

In a well-publicized case, the EEOC filed charges against Hooters, a
restaurant chain that features voluptuous waitresses in short shorts and
formfitting tank tops or T-shirts, for requiring its waitstaff (“Hooters Girls”)
to be female. The issue was whether Hooters is in the restaurant business, as
the EEOC saw it, or the sex business, as Hooters saw it. The EEOC claimed
that no physical trait unique to women is required to serve food and drink to
customers in a restaurant. In response, Hooters argued that the primary job
function of Hooters Girls is “providing vicarious sexual recreation” by
wearing skimpy outfits that meet tight (pun intended) specifications. Hooters
Girls also are expected to “enhance the titillation by their interaction with
customers. They are to flirt, cajole, and tease the patrons.” Ultimately,
Hooters settled with the EEOC by paying compensation to men who were
denied the opportunity to serve as Hooters Girls and by creating support jobs
such as bartender and host that would be filled without regard to applicant
sex. However, Hooters was allowed to continue luring customers with an
exclusively female waitstaff of Hooters Girls. According to the triumphant
company, “the settlement agreement acknowledged that `being female is
reasonably necessary’ to the performance of the Hooters Girl’s job duties,
forever preserving the integrity of the Hooters Girl concept”‘

The Equal Pay Act is based on the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The equal work standard requires that jobs be only substantially equal, not
identical. Equal work is defined by four factors: skill, effort, responsibility,
and working conditions. Skill refers to the experience, training, education,
and ability needed to perform the job. The skill level of the job, not the
jobholders, determines whether two jobs are equal. For example, female
nursing aides and male orderlies in hospitals perform equal work because
similar skills are required. Effort refers to the amount or degree of effort,
mental or physical, required for a job. Responsibility refers to the degree of
accountability required in the performance of a job. For example, a wage
differential may be justified for employees who are required to become
acting supervisor in the absence of a regular supervisor. Working conditions

refers to the physical surroundings and safety concerns of a job, such as
inside versus outside work and adequate heat and ventilation. The fact that
jobs are in different departments is not sufficient to demonstrate a difference
in working conditions.

Pay differences are permitted between men and women engaged in equal
work if they result from a seniority system, a merit system, a system that
measures earnings by quality or quantity of production (e.g., a piecework
incentive system), or some job-related factor such as a shift differential or a
difference in experience. For example, a court upheld higher pay for
salespeople in the men’s department of a clothing store over those in the
women’s department because the company demonstrated that the men’s
department was the more profitable. In another case, however, women
received 10% less pay than their male counterparts who did the same basic
job. The men occasionally did heavier work, but this was infrequent and not
done by all men. The court, ruling that the employer’s lower wage rate for
women was based on an artificially created job classification and that the
extra duties of some men did not justify paying all of them more, awarded
back wages to the women.

Pay disparities are often linked to job evaluation, a measurement
procedure that rates jobs on factors such as skill, effort, responsibility, and
working conditions. Job evaluations typically focus on a sample of key jobs,
characterized as having a standard and stable content across organizations
and within job clusters, which consist of groups of similar jobs. Job clusters
may be determined on the basis of geographical location, stage of the
production process, organizational level, or any other factor that makes the
jobs comparable to one another and suggests that their wages be compared.
Examples of job clusters include maintenance jobs, administrative assistant
jobs, and an insurance claim processing team.’

The starting point for the setting of wages is what the marketplace
currently pays for key jobs. Wages are assigned to key jobs according to the
wages employers typically pay for that job. Wages for nonkey jobs are set
according to how their job evaluation ratings compare with those for key

jobs in the same job cluster. Ideally, the result is a pay structure that has both
external equity-the pay for key jobs reflects the external marketplace-and
internal equity-the relative pay for all jobs corresponds to their job
evaluation ratings. Thus, wages for a software design job (typically a key
job) should correspond to the wages for that job in the labor market. In
addition, senior software design jobs that require familiarity with advanced
design techniques or have more responsibilities should be rated higher, and
thereby assigned higher wages, than lower-level jobs that require only
familiarity with simple design techniques or have fewer responsibilities.

Employers need to make sure that sex discrimination does not enter into
job evaluation or any other element of the compensation system. Sex
discrimination does not legally exist if pay differences are due to differences
in the value that the marketplace attaches to particular jobs or to differences
in skill, effort, responsibility, or working conditions. However, if an
organization has identified pay inequities that cannot be accounted for by
job-related or market-related factors, then corrective action may be required.
This does not necessarily mean immediately rectifying all differences or
lowering anyone’s pay, but it does mean fostering a commitment over the
long run to eliminate unjustifiable disparities.”

Being charged with and convicted of illegal discrimination or failure to
comply with affirmative action guidelines can be costly for a business firm.
Convicted firms may incur direct costs from fines, punitive damages, and
legal fees, and indirect costs from damage to their image and reputation.
Current and prospective employees may have less regard for the firm and act
accordingly. Firms also suffer long-term financial consequences when
convicted of discrimination. A study of Fortune 300 companies found that
those convicted of discrimination involving either disparate treatment or
disparate impact had lower returns on assets and sales in the 5 years
following the conviction compared to companies that were not convicted.
Some of these costs are incurred even if an accused firm is not convicted or
admits no guilt. Defending a firm against charges of illegal discrimination
consumes top management attention that is better directed elsewhere. The

costs of violating EEO laws and regulations provide a persuasive business
argument for refraining from discrimination.”

In summary, EEO laws ban sex discrimination in several ways.
Organizations may not discriminate in treatment of women and men in
hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, and other types of
employment decisions. They also maybe held responsible for the unequal
impact of their policies on men and women unless a legitimate business need
is served by the policies in question. Organizations incur high costs, both
intangible and tangible, if they are caught breaking EEO laws.

Affirmative action represents an extension of the notion of
nondiscrimination. Its purpose is to overcome the effects of past
discrimination by allowing members of a victimized group to compete on
equal terms with members of the favored group. Legally mandated practices
for this purpose have been called affirmative action, employment equity,
positive action, and other terms in various countries. They were first
introduced in the United States in the 1930s to compensate for past unfair
labor practices against union organizers and members. They were later used
to assist veterans’ reentry to the workplace after World War I1.12

Executive Order 11246, instituted in 1965, requires U.S. organizations
with 50 or more employees and federal contracts exceeding $50,000 per year
to prepare and implement written affirmative action plans. An acceptable
affirmative action plan must contain an analysis of the sex composition of all
major job classes and an explanation for the underrepresentation of women
in any job class. It must also contain goals and commitments to relieve any
deficiencies revealed by the analysis. Finally, the plan must describe detailed
steps that the organization will take to make a good-faith effort to meet its
goals and to remedy all other EEO deficiencies. These steps should include a
program for outreach to and recruitment of women for the job classes in
which they are underrepresented.

Thus, the goal of an affirmative action plan is to promote diversity on the
basis of sex in job classes in which women are underrepresented. If the plan
has its intended result, the outcome is that male-intensive job classes become
more balanced in their sex composition. Organizations are not under a legal
requirement to take affirmative action for the purpose of making female-
intensive job classes more balanced.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is
responsible for administering Executive Order 11246. Its guidelines specify
that unless sex is a BFOQ for a job, employers must actively recruit
members of both sexes for the job. Advertisements for jobs in newspapers
and other media cannot express a sex preference for jobholders. Employers
must take affirmative action to encourage women to apply for jobs from
which they previously have been excluded. This can be accomplished by
various means. For example, recruitment at women’s colleges may be
regarded as evidence of a good-faith effort to meet affirmative action goals.
In addition, if women are underrepresented in managerial jobs and specific
training programs have been demonstrated to enhance employees’ chances of
attaining management positions, a commitment to include women in such
programs is an important element of an affirmative action plan. The OFCCP
requires organizations to file periodic reports on their affirmative action
initiatives and to make their records available to federal administrators.

In summary, U.S. organizations must comply with EEO laws banning sex
discrimination in the workplace. In addition, most federal contractors are
expected to take affirmative action to remedy the effects of past sex
discrimination. Although we have focused on U.S. laws and regulations, the
governments of other countries make similar demands on organizations.

Business imperatives encourage organizations to go beyond minimal
compliance with governmental requirements and aggressively promote
diversity and inclusion. In this section, we summarize these imperatives.

Several economic trends suggest that it is advantageous for organizations
to promote diversity. First, the U.S. labor force has become more diverse in
recent years. As in many other countries, it has become more heterogeneous
on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and many other
dimensions of diversity. Organizations with management practices
appropriate for a homogeneous group of employees need to rethink their
human resource management strategies.

Second, the relative skills that members of different groups bring to the
workplace have changed. In particular, the educational attainment of female
entrants relative to that of male entrants has risen dramatically. Within all
racial/ethnic groups in the United States, women now constitute the majority
of individuals who earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees across all disciplines
(Table 2.2); the proportion of women earning these degrees has increased in
many other countries as well. As a result, more women worldwide are
prepared to enter the high-paying occupations that require advanced degrees.
Organizations that promote diversity by attracting highly educated women to
historically male-intensive jobs and occupations are at an advantage in
competing with organizations that do not.

Third, there has been a worldwide shift from a primarily
manufacturingbased economy to an economy based more on the delivery of
services. Service industries place greater importance on educational
attainment and less on physical strength than do manufacturing industries.
Because women and men compete for service jobs on more equal terms,

service industries are more diverse on the basis of sex than are
manufacturing industries. Companies in service industries have a greater
proportion of women in jobs at all levels, including top management, than
those in manufacturing industries. It is imperative that service firms
implement human resource management programs and practices (e.g., work-
family initiatives) that are appropriate for their diverse workforces.13

Service firms that aggressively promote diversity may be especially
effective in the marketplace. Because services are both produced and
consumed on the spot, employees have heightened contact with customers.
Employees must be able to understand the customer’s perspective, anticipate
the customer’s needs, and respond sensitively and appropriately. Employees
whose demographic characteristics mirror the characteristics of their
customers may be better able to do so. Also, customers may be more likely
to purchase services from providers whose attributes match their own
because they view such providers as more capable of understanding their
needs. As the pool of potential customers becomes more diverse, the pool of
employees with customer contact also needs to become more diverse for the
organization to be successful.

Fourth, the increasing globalization of business, including multinational
business operations and worldwide marketing of products and services, calls
for organizations to be responsive to customers who are increasingly diverse
in national origin. Organizations that want to take advantage of global
business opportunities face greater challenges than do those that confine
their business activities to the home market. They must learn to attract,
interact with, and satisfy customers from a variety of national cultures.
Overall, a diverse workforce may be better able to design, market, and sell
products and services that meet consumer needs in an increasingly diverse

All of these trends suggest that organizations benefit from promoting
diversity. Several studies have confirmed the relationship between sex
diversity and organizational performance. Companies with higher
proportions of female executives and female membership on the board of

directors (i.e., greater diversity in their top management and governance
ranks on the basis of sex) perform better on financial measures of return than
other companies in their industries. In addition, firms with workforces that
are about 50% female perform better in their industries than firms with lower
or higher percentages of female employees. Because firms with a 50-50 split
between male and female employees are the most diverse on the basis of sex,
greater sex diversity throughout the ranks as well as in top management and
governance ranks is associated with stronger firm performance.’s

Correlation, of course, does not prove causality. Although a company’s
long-term record of hiring and promoting women to all levels of managerial
positions could lead to higher profitability more profitable firms may do a
better job of attracting the best female talent or may feel freer to experiment
with selecting women for previously male-intensive jobs. Profitable firms,
however, typically attain their success by making smarter decisions than
their competitors. One of these smart decisions may be promoting sex

Thus, the business case for promoting sex diversity is that it enhances firm
performance and the bottom line. However, the appropriate culture needs to
be in place for organizations to fully realize the benefits of sex diversity.
Organizations need to promote inclusion as well as diversity to meet
business imperatives.”

Taking steps to promote diversity, but ignoring the need for inclusion, may
limit an organization’s ability to reap the full benefits of a diverse workforce.
Although increased employee diversity may enhance organizational
performance, it also poses potential problems. It is easier to maintain a sense
of cohesiveness in homogeneous organizations than in diverse organizations.
People tend to be more attracted to and feel more comfortable in social
settings in which they interact primarily with people like themselves. Thus,
diversity may be a double-edged sword, increasing decision-making
creativity and the congruence of the organization with the marketplace but

decreasing employees’ satisfaction with being a member of the organization.
Unless the potential problems associated with diversity are addressed, its
potential benefits may not be fully realized. The organization’s diversity
culture, as demonstrated by how it deals with group differences, influences
the extent to which these problems appear.”

Taylor Cox distinguished among three types of diversity cultures.”
Monolithic organizations are characterized by a large majority of employees
from one group (e.g., White men), especially in the managerial ranks.
Differences between majority and minority group members are resolved by
the process of assimilation, whereby minority group employees are expected
to adopt the norms and values of the majority group to survive in the
organization. Such organizations are characterized by low levels of
intergroup conflict because there are few members of minority groups and
these members have outwardly adopted, if not inwardly embraced, the
majority’s norms and values. Changes in workforce demographics have led
to a reduction in the number of monolithic organizations with White male
majorities. The diversity culture of monolithic organizations conveys a
straightforward message to employees and potential job applicants: We do
not particularly welcome diversity.

Plural organizations have a more heterogeneous workforce than do
monolithic organizations, primarily because they have taken steps to
promote diversity. These steps may include hiring and promotion policies
that stress recruitment and advancement of members of minority groups and
managerial training on equal opportunity issues. Plural organizations focus
on the numbers of majority versus minority group members in different jobs
and levels, not on the quality of work relationships between members of
different groups. The primary approach to resolving cultural differences in
plural organizations is assimilation, just as for monolithic organizations.
Intergroup conflict is high in plural organizations if members of the majority
group resent practices used to boost minority group membership. Even
though overt discrimination may have been banished, prejudice is still likely
in plural organizations. The diversity culture of plural organizations conveys

a mixed message: We promote diversity, but we expect employees from
minority groups to fit in with the majority group.

Multicultural organizations do more than promote diversity; they also
promote a culture of inclusion. They respond to cultural differences by
encouraging members of different groups to respect the norms and values of
other groups, in contrast to the assimilation required by monolithic and
plural organizations. Multicultural organizations attempt to bring about
qualitative changes in their work environments through increased
appreciation of the range of skills and values that dissimilar employees offer
and increased use of teams that include members culturally distinct from the
dominant group. The goal is to create a culture in which employees from all
groups feel comfortable and appreciated and are given a chance to make
meaningful contributions. In an inclusive culture, the knowledge, skills,
insights, and experiences of employees from different groups are regarded as
valuable resources that the organization may use to advance its mission.
Intergroup conflict in multicultural organizations is low due to the absence
of prejudice and discrimination accompanied by the appreciation of
individuals from different groups. The diversity culture of multicultural
organizations conveys a consistent message: We welcome members of all
groups as full participants in our organizational culture, and we strive to take
full advantage of what they have to offer.19

It is more difficult to assess the effects of promoting inclusion on
organizational performance than the effects of promoting diversity.
Researchers may obtain data on the sex composition and performance of
corporations from publicly filed reports. Researchers, however, do not have
the opportunity to assess the diversity cultures of organizations unless they
are granted permission to do so. Organizations that do not want their
business practices to be scrutinized, particularly those that are doing little to
promote inclusion, are reluctant to grant researchers such permission.
Organizations that are doing a better job of promoting inclusion may be
more eager to showcase their progress 2°

As noted in Chapter 4, inclusive cultures make it easier for organizations
to attract employees. A study of college students’ reactions to a fictitious
recruitment brochure demonstrates the importance of an inclusive culture for
applicant attraction. Students received either of two forms of the brochure.
Both forms stated that the company is an affirmative action/equal
opportunity employer, as many companies do in their recruitment literature.
One of the forms also stated that the company values the contributions of a
diverse workforce and has adopted programs to help teach all employees to
recognize the strengths that individuals from diverse backgrounds can bring
to the company. Students of both sexes and different races were more
attracted to the company when they received a brochure with the additional
statement about the inclusive culture.”

In conclusion, promoting inclusion is likely to contribute to full utilization
and retention of valued employees from all groups and enhance the bottom
line. Employees from different groups, especially minority groups, can tell
whether their organization is monolithic, plural, or multicultural. They are
well aware of the message that the organization’s diversity culture sends to
people like themselves. They are most likely to be attracted to and commit
themselves to an organization that promotes a culture in which members of
all groups are valued and respected. Such organizations are likely to have a
business advantage over competitors that are weaker in promoting inclusion
or that fail to make the attempt.

We have presented the legal and business cases for promoting
nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion. In this section, we consider these
issues from a practical perspective-what organizations need to do. First,
appropriate goals should be adopted and communicated. Second, the
representation of women and men in different jobs and at different levels
should be analyzed and a cultural audit performed to determine how well the
company is achieving its diversity goals. Third, a management system
should be adopted that sets concrete objectives for critical employees and
provides incentives for them to meet these objectives. Fourth, employee
network groups and advisory councils should be sponsored to stimulate
employee involvement as well as to identify obstacles to the achievement of
diversity goals. Fifth, employees should receive education and training that
enhances their abilities and readiness to meet assigned objectives. Finally,
changes in the organizational culture should be implemented as needed to
ensure that goal achievement is sustained. Table 9.1 summarizes
recommended actions for organizations and their employees 22

Table 9.1 Recommended Actions

The first step to be taken is to set goals for the organization’s diversity
culture. The appropriate goals for all organizations-large or small, public or
private, profit or nonprofit-are to be nondiscriminatory, diverse, and
inclusive in their employment practices.

Assuming that an organization sets these goals, it then needs to
communicate them to key employees. How organizational goals are sold to
employees plays a large role in determining whether they are achieved. They
may be presented to employees as moral, legal, or business issues. Appeals
to morality seldom work because few people do the “right thing” unless it is
personally advantageous. The legal argument does not fully work either; it
suggests that compliance with the law is most important, and thereby
promotes only a minimal effort to achieve diversity goals. A sales pitch is
most effective in promoting nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion
throughout the organization when it points to bottomline profits, which most
employees see as ultimately affecting their own livelihoods.”

Corporate communications should convey the message that promoting
nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion are important organizational
goals. These communications may include speeches by top executives, with
transcripts or videos available to internal and external groups, newsletters,
status reports, recognition events, special awards, and publicity for
employees who have done good work toward these goals. The mission
statement of the organization should state that the organization regards
achievement of these goals as critical to its success 24

Top management commitment is critical to achieving organizational goals.
The chief executive of an organization plays an important role in setting its
primary values. In organizations with strong track records in managing
diversity, the CEOs galvanize employees to take diversity seriously by
making them aware of diversity issues facing the firm and by personally
stimulating change. In addition, champions of diversity are needed-people
who take strong public and personal stands on the need for cultural change
in the organization and behave as role models in creating change. What
better champion of diversity than the top executive?25

Assignment of responsibility and allocation of resources also demonstrate
top management commitment. The person with primary responsibility for
achievement of organizational goals should either report to or be a top-line
executive. This person should have immediate access to and control over the

managers who determine program success or failure. If this responsibility is
buried in the professional ranks of the human resource management
department, employees infer that promoting nondiscrimination, diversity,
and inclusion are not top priorities, and there is less impact on the
organization as a whole 26

Making a good sales pitch for promoting nondiscrimination, diversity and
inclusion does not ensure that employees will act accordingly. An
organization also needs a sound management system that encourages
employees to engage in the right kinds of behavior on a regular basis. As one
executive said in a Conference Board survey:

How do you go about achieving [diversity] results in a company? The
same way you achieve any other results. You analyze the problem
carefully, determine what you need to do, and then set up an overall
management planning and control system to make very sure that it
happens-and on schedule 2′

First comes an analysis of what the organization needs to do to achieve its
goals. This analysis begins with an assessment of whether women are
equitably represented throughout the organization. Required by Executive
Order 11246 for U.S. government contractors, it should compare the number
of women in each job category with the number of women in the relevant
labor force who are qualified to fill jobs in that category. The relevant labor
force may be defined as that located in the immediate city or town, the
metropolitan area, or the nation, depending on the job category. Areas in
which women are underemployed then become the appropriate targets of
affirmative action programs. Although not required by law, this analysis
could also identify areas in which men are underemployed.

The organizational analysis also includes a cultural audit, a snapshot of the
current organizational culture. It assesses the nature of the organizational
culture as experienced by employees, which is not necessarily what top

management thinks the culture is or should be. It also assesses how the
organizational culture influences the treatment of members of different
groups. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, and meetings maybe used to
gather information for the audit. A successful audit uncovers obstacles to the
full attainment of organizational goals. Obstacles may include stereotypes
and prejudices that affect employees’ interactions with one another and
managers’ decisions regarding recruitment, performance appraisals,
promotions, compensation, and other employment practices ze

Next comes the specification of objectives. Managers will put more effort
into promoting nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion if they are
expected to meet concrete objectives in pursuit of each of these goals. For
example, the PQ Corporation, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and
glass materials, implemented a unique procedure to meet the objective of
promoting nondiscrimination in employment decisions. The key to the
procedure was the “selection checklist,” a two-part document that a manager
completed for each candidate interviewed for a position. The first part
contained questions about each step in the selection process and the degree
of possible discrimination (e.g., “Did you perform or do you have a current
job analysis for this position?” “Was the position posted internally?” “Were
reasons for rejection based on job-related deficiencies and not related to non-
job-related factors such as a handicap or religious beliefs?”) Each question
had to be answered yes, no, or not applicable. The questions answered with a
no reflected possible incidents of discrimination by the manager. The second
part documented the correlation between the job criteria (i.e., skills and
knowledge required to perform major job functions) and the attributes of the
candidate 29

PQ’s selection checklist was intended to make managers aware of the
process they used to make their decisions. Objectives for managers were
stated in terms of percentages of discriminatory incidents. Managers’
checklists were passed on to their superiors, who could then assess how well
the corporate goal of nondiscrimination was being achieved. If a manager
fudged the checklist to cover up discrimination, he or she did so with the
knowledge that this behavior could expose the company to an EEO lawsuit.

Managers should be expected to meet the objective of promoting diversity
in their work units. In pursuing this objective, they could adopt either of two
opposing affirmative action policies. According to one policy, competence is
the first screening criterion for hiring or promoting individuals. Members of
underrepresented groups such as women are then given preference if they
pass the screen. According to the opposite policy, membership in an
underrepresented group is the first screen, and competence is then used to
choose among the candidates who remain. The first policy yields qualified
and competent employees. The second policy yields the best of the available
“affirmative action” candidates, whether qualified or not.

Instructing managers to follow the first policy in meeting their diversity
objectives is advantageous to both organizations and individuals. The second
policy tends to be detrimental to its intended beneficiaries and the
organization in the long run. When employees believe that a woman has
been hired under the second policy, they conclude that she must be
incompetent. Such beliefs place women managers at a disadvantage. When
women managers believe that they were hired primarily because of their sex,
they tend to be less committed to the organization and less satisfied with
their jobs than those who believe that sex was not an important factor in their
selection. In contrast, when the organization makes it clear that merit
considerations are central to the selection process, employees’ reactions to
the selection of a woman to be their boss are less pronounced. A woman
who is selected for a leadership position under such conditions is more likely
to see herself as competent and want to remain in the position. Other
employees, even those who have been bypassed for the position, are less
likely to stigmatize her as incompetent and grumble about her selection.
Thus, organizations need to set objectives for promoting diversity that
emphasize the role of merit in selection decisions 30

Managers also should be expected to meet the objective of providing their
employees an inclusive work environment. Achievement of this objective
maybe measured by employee surveys. Monitoring of employee complaints
will provide additional information about whether a manager has problems
in this area that need to be addressed.

Once an organization develops and assigns specific objectives, they should
become part of the manager’s overall performance appraisal. Managers
should be made aware that their success at promoting nondiscrimination,
diversity, and inclusion will be evaluated by their supervisors. Good
performance in these areas should be reinforced with tangible rewards such
as promotions, salary increases, and favorable task assignments; failure to
meet objectives should result in the withholding of such rewards. Actions
speak much louder than words of approval or disapproval. By giving
managers explicit knowledge of the organization’s diversity goals and
incentives to meet personal objectives consistent with these goals, an
effective management system overcomes resistance from managers.

Organizations benefit when employees from all groups feel personally
involved in attaining the goals of nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion.
For example, Xerox stimulates employee involvement through its
sponsorship of employee network groups, including Hispanic Association
for Professional Advancement, Black Women’s Leadership Council,
National Black Employee’s Association (for all Black employees), Galaxe
Pride at Work (for gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual employees), The
Women’s Alliance, and Asians Coming Together. Each group has a
Corporate Champion assigned to it. Groups elect their own officers and run
their own functions, including meetings, conferences, professional
development activities, and outreach activities in the community. For
instance, Black Women’s Leadership Council takes an active role in
encouraging and developing young Black women through a high school
scholarship program. It also promotes mentoring and sponsorship of Black
women at Xerox, celebrates their accomplishments, and surveys its members
about corporate issues.”

Microsoft supports a wide variety of employee network groups initiated
by its employees. Separate groups, some with overlapping interests, target
women, fathers, parents, adoptive parents, single parents, military reservists,
the hearing-impaired, the visually impaired, employees affected by attention

deficit disorder, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees. In
addition, there are employee network groups for African, Arab, Black,
Brazilian, Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic, Indian, Japanese, Israeli, Korean,
Malaysian, Native American, Nepali, Pakistani, Portuguese, Romanian,
Russian, Singaporian, Taiwanese, Turkish, Thai, Ukranian, and Vietnamese
employees. These groups provide career development and networking
opportunities and assist the company with college recruiting and cultural
awareness activities.”

Organizations may form groups to involve employees in dealing with
diversity issues. For example, one organization established an advisory
council of a cross section of employees. The council met monthly to discuss
issues related to a diverse workforce. Corporate activities that resulted from
the council included a diversity booth at the annual family picnic, articles on
diversity in the company newsletter, training on refraining from
discrimination, guidelines for first-line supervisors on appraising employees,
and a suggestion box called “Dr. Equality.” The council also assisted in the
design of employee opinion surveys.33

Employee network groups and advisory councils serve several purposes
that benefit both the organization and its members. Such groups help the
organization to be aware of and address the concerns of employees. As a
result, employees are more likely to feel that the organization cares about
their concerns, which fosters their commitment to the attainment of
corporate goals. The outreach activities of such groups also help the
organization to be a good citizen in the community. Finally, they act as a
vehicle for employee self-help by providing opportunities for networking,
personal support, and career development.

In addition, given the preponderance of men in leadership positions,
engaging men in the attainment of organizational goals is in a company’s
best interest. It helps to prevent a win-lose mentality that gains for women
mean losses for men. In general, when men become more aware of sex bias
in organizational practices, they are more likely to believe that it is important
for the organization to set and achieve the goals of nondiscrimination,

diversity, and inclusion. Men with a strong sense of fair play are more likely
to be aware of sex bias and become champions of diversity, which makes
them powerful change agents in stimulating the involvement of other men
who are disengaged.34

Educational initiatives serve to promote the organizational goals of
nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion. Specific education and training
programs may be offered to employees at all levels to meet a range of

1. Increase participants’ knowledge about diversity issues, including EEO
laws, changing societal demographics, and the business case for
attention to these issues.

2. Increase participants’ familiarity with organizational policies regarding
inappropriate workplace behavior (e.g., sexual harassment) and what
they should do if they experience or witness such behavior.

3. Increase participants’ awareness of their own stereotypes and prejudices
based on sex, race, ethnicity, age, national origin, sexual orientation,
abilities/disabilities, and other primary and secondary dimensions of

4. Increase participants’ skills in moving beyond their stereotypes and
prejudices as they work with dissimilar customers and coworkers.

5. In multinational organizations, increase participants’ fluency in other
languages and knowledge of other national cultures.

6. Increase managers’ skills in making bias-free decisions, such as
decisions about selection, compensation, performance appraisal,
promotion, and development.

7. Increase managers’ skills in dealing with diversity-related incidents.

8. By addressing the above objectives, change the organization’s diversity
culture itself.

Diversity training programs should have an expected outcome: As a result
of the program, something should change. To determine whether the desired
change has occurred, program outcomes should be measured on a long-term
basis, not just at the end of the last session. For example, participants’
assessment of what was most useful about a program and how it helped them
maybe solicited 3, 6, or 12 months afterward. If the program’s objective is to
modify the organization’s diversity culture, periodic employee surveys of
employees’ attitudes toward diversity may provide information on whether
this objective is being met.36

One issue that arises is whether participation in a diversity training
program should be mandatory for employees. For example, Marriott has
mandatory diversity training every month to make sure that all of the
company’s employees are culturally competent when dealing with customers
from different backgrounds. Voluntary training may be more effective than
mandatory training because participants who volunteer are more aware of
the need for change. However, allowing employees to opt out of diversity
training may signal that top management does not regard it as particularly
important to achievement of corporate objectives. Making participation
mandatory sends the message that top management regards the training as
critical to achievement of corporate goals.37

If participation in diversity training is mandatory, the program facilitator
faces the challenge of dealing with reluctant participants. Under these
circumstances, the facilitator must get all participants to believe that they
have something to gain from the training or its objectives may be thwarted.
Programs that are designed to get everyone working toward the same
corporate goals, not to embarrass or blame anyone, are most likely to
encourage involvement.

According to a survey of human resource professionals, a diversity
training program is more likely to be effective when (1) top management

support for achievement of organizational goals is strong and visible; (2)
participation is mandatory for managers; (3) program success is evaluated
over the long term; (4) managers are rewarded for promoting diversity in
their work units; and (5) a broad definition of “diversity” is used that
acknowledges the needs and concerns of all employees, including White
males. Achievement of organizational goals is enhanced if employees know
why they are being asked to work toward these goals and are taught the
necessary skills.”

An organization’s diversity culture influences how group differences are
taken into account. It consists of a general perception of the value the
organization places on being nondiscriminatory, diverse, and inclusive.
Organizational culture is an elusive concept. It lies beneath the surface of
organizational life, yet it influences every aspect of how employees are
treated and work is conducted. Because organizational culture is deep-
seated, often going back to the values of the founder, it cannot be changed
overnight. If an organization sets goals of promoting nondiscrimination,
diversity, and inclusion and its culture does not fully support achievement of
these goals, some form of cultural change is needed.39

The first step in implementing cultural change is to decide, based on a
cultural audit and corporate goals, how the culture needs to be improved.
Cultural change will be especially critical for monolithic organizations.
Plural organizations, which promote nondiscrimination and diversity but not
inclusion, will also need to make some cultural changes. Even organizations
that are already multicultural may benefit from some modifications to their
diversity cultures.

The second step is to develop a plan that charts the course for cultural
change. The plan may include revisions to existing policies and practices,
including the management system, and new programs such as education and
training initiatives. Top management support of the plan for cultural change
is crucial, but not sufficient, to bringing about cultural change. The

participation of first-line supervisors in development of the plan also is
critical to its success. First-line supervisors are those most responsible for
getting work done in organizations. If they are told by top management to
implement a plan for cultural change but do not participate in its
development, they will not be committed to the plan. Long-lasting cultural
change can be brought about only when the change is accepted and owned
by all of the employees who will be involved in making the change effective.

The third step is to launch the change effort itself. For the launch to be
effective, leaders of the change effort need to specify objectives, achieve
early results to demonstrate the value of the effort, and assess progress along
the way. The management system should reward behavior that contributes to
achievement of needed cultural change.

The final step, once the initial change effort is complete, is to ensure that
cultural changes take hold and are not temporary. Long-term maintenance of
the organizational culture is necessary. Maintenance involves monitoring the
results of the change effort to guard against backsliding and motivating
employees to confront and overcome obstacles to sustained cultural change.
Cultural audits should be repeated on a regular basis to determine whether
intended changes are in place and to identify further needs for change.

Multinational corporations face additional challenges in changing their
diversity cultures. Change efforts are especially likely to fail if managers in
the home office impose their notions of diversity on operations in other areas
of the world. Such efforts maybe viewed as cultural imperialism and
resented by managers outside the home office. The challenge for a
multinational organization is to engage in efforts to influence the
organizational culture while taking internal differences in national culture
into account.40

All organizations benefit from promoting nondiscrimination, diversity and
inclusion. Even organizations with a history of such actions need to continue
to make special efforts to attract qualified applicants from all groups,
offering satisfying jobs and a welcoming culture. When organizations take

such actions and achieve the goal of being multicultural in their management
practices, they are likely to attract the best talent available, stimulate
employee involvement and commitment, and enhance the bottom line.

In Chapter 1, the following question was posed: “Is it only a matter of time
until the proportions of women and men in all managerial levels and all
occupations become essentially equal, until women and men are paid equal
wages for equal work, and until individuals’ work experiences are unaffected
by their biological sex?” As we have seen, the answer to this question is that
it depends on actions that organizations and individuals take.

Throughout this book, we describe the effects of sex and gender in the
workplace. We identify issues that arise as women and men seek
employment, work together in teams, serve as leaders, exhibit sexual
behavior at work, and manage the interface between their work and family
roles. In previous chapters as well as this one, we offer numerous
recommendations for improving interactions between, and promoting the
full utilization of, women and men in the workplace. Overall, more actions
are recommended for organizations than for individuals. However,
organizations consist of people who work together to provide products or
services. Thus, all of the recommended actions are ones that people may
take. Although this book’s title stresses the managerial role, all of us-current
and future members of the labor force, managers and nonmanagers-may
contribute toward making a better workplace.

In all likelihood, some sex differences in workplace preferences,
experiences, and behaviors will remain. We need to be clear on what
the facts about sex differences are, but not suggest what they should
be. Instead, our overriding concern should be with gender differences,
beliefs about how males and females differ and should behave. When
gender differences are guided more by stereotypes than by facts about
sex differences, they have a corrosive impact on interactions between
the sexes at work.

The goal is to create a nondiscriminatory, diverse, and inclusive
workplace-a world in which members of both sexes are valued for
what they bring to the workplace and are granted the opportunity to
make full use of their talents. By taking actions such as the ones
recommended, all of us can contribute to establishment of such a
world. What a wonderful world this would be.


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Organizational Behavior, 14, 61-81; Reardon, K. K., & Reardon, K. J.
(1999). “All that we can be”: Leading the U.S. Army’s gender integration
effort. Management Communication Quarterly, 12, 600-617.

40. Fulkerson, J. R., & Schuler, R. S. (1992). Managing worldwide
diversity at Pepsi-Cola International. In S. E. Jackson & Associates (Ed.),
Diversity in the workplace: Human resources initiatives (pp. 248-276). New
York: Guilford.

Gary N. Powell, PhD, is Professor of Management and Director of the PhD
Program in the School of Business at the University of Connecticut. He is
author of the first two editions and coauthor (with Laura M. Graves) of the
third edition of Women and Men in Management, editor of Handbook of
Gender and Work, and author of Managing a Diverse Workforce: Learning
Activities (3rd ed.). He is an internationally recognized scholar and
educator on gender and diversity issues in the workplace. His graduate
course on women and men in management won an award on innovation in
education from the Committee on Equal Opportunity for Women of the
American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and first
led to the writing of this book. He has won the University of Connecticut
School of Business Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (three times) and
Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. He also has received the
University of Connecticut President’s Award for Promoting

He has served as Chair, Program Chair, and Executive Committee
member of the Women in Management (now Gender and Diversity in
Organizations) Division of the Academy of Management, and received both
the Janet Chusmir Service Award for his contributions to the division and
the Sage Scholarship Award for his contributions to research on gender in
organizations. He has published over 100 articles in journals such as
Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review,
Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human
Decision Processes, Journal of Management, Personnel Psychology, Human
Relations, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Organizational Dynamics,
and Academy of Management Executive; contributed over 20 chapters to
edited volumes; and presented over 120 papers at professional conferences.
He is a Fellow of the British Academy of Management and Eastern
Academy of Management. He has served on the Board of Governors of the

Academy of Management and as President and Program Chair of the
Eastern Academy of Management. He also served as Co-Chair of the Status
of Minorities Task Force of the Academy of Management and has served on
the Editorial Board of Academy of Management Review, Academy of
Management Executive, Journal of Management, Human Relations, and
Journal of Management Studies.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Connecticut, he worked at
General Electric, graduating from its Manufacturing Management Program.
At GE, he designed and implemented automated project scheduling systems
as well as systems for inventory control, materials procurement, and so on.
He has provided management training and development for many
companies, including Webster Financial Corp., The Hartford Financial
Services Group, The Implementation Partners (TIP), GE-Capital, General
Signal, Apple Computer, Monroe Auto Equipment, AllState, and CIGNA,
and has conducted numerous other workshops.

He holds a doctorate in organizational behavior and a master’s degree in
management science from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor’s
degree in management from MIT.

Laura M. Graves, PhD (co-author of Chapters 4 and 5), is Associate
Professor of Management at the Graduate School of Management at Clark
University. She is a recognized scholar on diversity in the workplace. Her
work has examined gender and race effects in organizations, particularly
gender bias in employment interviewers’ decision processes and the effects
of demographic diversity on work teams. She has also explored issues
related to work-life integration and well-being. She received the Sage
Scholarship Award from the Gender and Diversity in Organizations
Division of the Academy of Management for her contributions to the
management literature. Her research has appeared in leading academic
journals including Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied
Psychology, and Personnel Psychology. In addition, she has contributed
chapters to several books and presented numerous papers at academic
meetings. She has served on the Editorial Board of Academy of
Management Journal and as a Guest Editor for an Academy of Management
Journal special research forum.

She is a former Chair, Chair-Elect, Program Chair, and Executive
Committee member of the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division
of the Academy of Management. She also has held several positions in the
Eastern Academy of Management, serving on its Board and chairing both
the Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management programs
for its annual meeting.

Prior to joining the faculty at Clark, she worked in Corporate Human
Resources at Aetna, where she was engaged in internal management
consulting. She was also a member of the management faculty at the
University of Connecticut. She holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in
social psychology from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s
degree in psychology from the College of William and Mary.

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Sex, Gender, and Work
  • Sex Versus Gender
  • Dimensions of Diversity
  • Watching Out for Biases
  • Organization of the Book
  • 2. Yesterday and Today
  • The 20th Century: A Century of Change
  • The Second Half
  • A Snapshot of the Present
  • The Sex Segregation of Occupations
  • The Sex Gap in Earnings
  • Looking Forward
  • 3. Becoming Women and Men
  • Sex Differences
  • Adults’ Social Behavior
  • Gender Stereotypes
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexism
  • Nature and Nurture
  • Gender Socialization
  • Schools
  • The Mass Media
  • Beyond Gender Stereotypes and Roles
  • Limitations of Gender Roles
  • What’s Next?
  • 4. Making Employment Decisions
  • Self-Selection Decisions
  • Reactions to Jobs
  • Reactions to Organizations
  • Job Search Behavior
  • Selection Decisions
  • Who Discriminates Against Whom?
  • Improving Employment Decisions
  • Improving Selection Decisions
  • 5. Working in Diverse Teams
  • Sex Effects
  • Sex Similarity Effects
  • Sex Diversity Effects
  • The Importance of Situational Factors
  • Making Mixed-Sex Teams Work
  • Proactive Organizations and Team Leaders
  • Responsible Team Members
  • 6. Leading People
  • Leader Preferences
  • Leader Stereotypes
  • Attitudes Toward Women as Leaders
  • Leader Behavior and Effectiveness
  • Gender Stereotypes and Leadership Theories

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