Women in the workplace

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Sebag Raphaëlle 07/05/2010

Organizational Behavior
Women in the workplace

A few weeks ago, The Economist published a shocking article tackling the issue of the Gendercide occurring in Asia. It gave us the figure of at least 100 million baby girls whowere killed, aborted or neglected in Asian countries including China or Armenia. The natural ratio of 105 boys at birth for 100 girls is completely skewed, with an example of 121 boys for 100 girls in China or 117 in Armenia.
But baby girls’ cause is not lost. South Korea, which had the worst birth ratio of all those countries succeeded in weakening this Gendercide thanks to the government actionwhich introduced quotas of women in public companies, thus promoting the rights of women. Between 1992 and 2010, number of women applicants for the Government’s Foreign Service examination jumped from 3 to 83, which represents more than half of the candidates. In 2008, the passing rate of women for Foreign Ministry was twice the men’s one. The flow of women in the public sector had such an extentthat the government also had to put in place a quota for men.
But there is still a long haul to change the attitude. According to an article of the International Herald Tribune, 33% of South Koreans still think that women’s place is at home.
Fortunately, the problem doesn’t have the same size in the West, but we could ask ourselves where exactly we are up to.
In the West, mentalities havechanged (?)
Nowadays, as Elisabeth K. Kelan and Rachel Dunkley Jones demonstrate in their article, the mind-set around women seems to have shifted, at least in the West. It seems we are really far from considerations like Nixon’s one during his presidency (1969-1974): “I don’t think a woman should be in any government job whatsoever… mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic andemotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be”.
In Gender and the MBA, two trends seem to emerge. A part of the interviewees thinks it is just the way business is, while another part clearly thinks that there are no difference between men and women among the students.
But it seems that those opinions are not the only ones, some behaviors are still making a difference between menand women, sometimes reminding us of Nixon words... I’m thinking about the example of a friend of mine at ESSEC. At the beginning of the year, when we are AST, we are supposed to take part in a simulation, Ariane, with a team we don’t know. My friend was the only woman of her team and she felt put aside by the other members, only taking care of the “little work”, while the men were taking all thedecisions, not listening to her, nor asking for her point of view and not listening when she gave it.
Still some way to go…
Moreover according to Gender and MBA paper, the MBA still involves learning to do business like a man. Even if we could think that considering women like the other students is a good march, there are still steps ahead missing: this situation may prevent from seeing the valueadded of including women in the workplace. As it said in “Gender and the MBA”, “more equitable organizations, which are less constrained by gendered roles and images, are also more effective at meeting their goals”. But if students are to realize that, MBA should teach about gender, “rather than allowing it to disappear from view”. In the paper, one of the recommendations is to make “everybusiness school course a gender-aware course”. This point of view seems to be shared in ESSEC since a few courses are teaching about this issue. Even a chair as been created which deals with this issue (among others): the Diversity & Performance Chair. We also talked about gender issues in the workplace in the courses Managing workforce diversity or Personality theory.
But on top of that, the Gender...