Sunday, June 5, 2011

The perception of women at home and in the workplace.

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Historically, men have reported, passed on, and manufactured a distinct enterprisingly outstanding biography of their longevity. For women the past is dead air. The absenteeism and non appearance of women’s lives in literature is evidence of the ideology of days gone by. Society perceived women as contributing nothing of value. This belief legitimised male self progress and dominant supremacy while on the other end of the spectrum women were unaffirmative.

A century ago, a dehumanising statement about women by Darwin and his followers was that women were biologically and intellectually inferior because their brains were less developed than a mans. In The Descent of Man in Relation to Sex, Darwin wrote

[Man] attains a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women--whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, history, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive of both composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages... The average mental power in man must be above that of women.

Women were precluded from unified communal participation and expected to tend to home duties, child rearing and keeping the family enriched.

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One kingdom where inequality still loiters today is within the work force. With the introduction of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1, a more balanced playing field has been actualised. Having said this, women still face barriers and prejudices such as stereotyped traditions, attitudes and undeveloped structural working practices.

Typical impeding stereotypes regarding women in business are

• Womens family orientation undermines their career commitment

• Women are not equipped to function in executive and senior management positions

• Women are not as committed to their careers as men;

• Women are not tough enough;

• Women are disinclined to work long or unusual hours;

• Women are too emotional;

• Women are not aggressive enough, or are too aggressive;

• Women lack quantitative skills;

• Women do not wish to relocate; and

• Women have difficulty making decisions

These stereotypes about women and subsequent discrimination against women are likely to succeed in situations where Men have limited association with women in roles beyond those women have traditionally held (men are more accustomed to women as secretaries and wives than as bosses and managers); and the bulk of the information about individual women, comes from customary ideas about the group as a whole (eg, women are best suited to nurturing and support roles; women do not have the mandatory attributes for running large businesses) (Fagenson and Jackson, 145; 177). Leadership and Management Skills (Karpin, 15) found evidence of prejudiced attitudes towards women at the workplace, evidence that `indirect discrimination is rife in both the public and private sector; and that Australian organisations have yet to adopt best practice approaches to progressing women into more senior positions (Karpin, 154)

While the `masculinity of management does not forbid women from entry, it excludes most. Those women who reach senior positions tend to be those who are tried and tested in the loyalty, predictability and trust stakes. Holmes and Edwards suggest

The main barriers to womens advancement in the Australian Public Service now are cultural. In an extremely stable workforce, the existing informal power structures, values, and expectations take a long time to change.

In conclusion, the culture of patriarchal status quo has at best assimilated women in the work force; discrimination and structural inequality remain inherent prejudices.

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