Performing in a Gendered Work Force By Lacey Ross Gender Roles in Society Professor Dixon
Background Human beings “perform” their gender that we learn through socialization. (Kimmel) Our plight in the world is to become a credible version of the gender in which we believe we are or, that we relate with. (Jeanes) Women are still being treated unfairly in the working environment; lower wages, the “glass ceiling” concept, sexual harassment, and tokenism. (Kimmel) Transgendered indivduals experience an increasing difficult task when changing their sex and retaining the same job. (Schilt & Connell)
Background (cont.) Research shows that individuals who make the change from a women to a man have more opened opportunities; while, a man making the change to be a woman have substantially smaller opportunities and run the risk of, “losing high powered positions.” (Schilt & Connell) This study also illustrated that how people “perform” in the work force determine their level of treatment. (Schilt & Connell) Men who demonstrated more feminine qualities were more likely to be segregated like women are in the work force. (Schilt & Connell)
Hypothesis In the beginning of this project I identified that, in regards to the work force, I wanted to research if individuals in the working environment believe they must “perform” to the stereotypical assumptions made about their gender. Also I wanted to correlate “doing” gender with the inequalities found between men and women in job market. Before conducting my research, I hypothesized that men and women, more specifically women, experience some level of inequality in with their occupation. I also hypothesized that because women experience a higher level of inequality in the job market, they also would have higher expectations to “perform” to the stereotypical assumptions and expectations made by society.
Method For this project I used two types of research methods: Survey and one personal interview The survey was given to 49 individuals with a variety of different work histories including; corporateand self-employment. The survey participants were asked a series of questions that related to unequal treatment and gender performance I divided the data based on age of the participant
Method (cont.) The interview was conducted with a 65 year-old female who had many years of experience working in a Cannery where, gender inequality was prevalent. She was asked the same questions on the survey sheet along with the narratives she provided from her work history. I removed her name from any written data to be morally and ethically sound.
Results (Survey) This section reflects the combined data of all age groups Out of the 49 individuals surveyed, over 57 percent reported that they have not witnessed and/or experienced any unfair treatment based on gender. However, 22 percent of individuals surveyed admitted that at some point in their careers they had and/or witnessed unfair gendered treatment. Of that same group of 49 individuals, around 49 percent were aware that women are continually bringing less money home than men are.
Results (cont.) When asked if both men and women were capable of being successful in managerial positions 71 percent surveyed agree that men and women equally could be successful. Of the 49 participants surveyed 60 percent believe that companies are becoming less gendered than they were twenty to thirty years ago; however, the majority that agreed the work force appears less gendered, they also pointed out the stereotypes and gender expectations still exist in one form or another.
Results (cont.) 53 percent surveyed said that at one point in time they did feel like they had to “perform” their gender, while a close 47 percent never felt like they had to in their working environment. Finally, the data reflects that 63 percent of the 49 individuals studied thought that currently men and women are offered the same opportunities, for the most part, in their working environment.
Results (cont.) Group 1: ages 16-25, Group 2: 26-35, Group 3: ages 36-45, and Group 4: 46-55 More individuals from Group 4, about 4 out of six, agreed that opportunities for women have drastically increased since they joined the work force. This same group of individuals was more split in regards to women bringing in less money. Group 1 stated that they feel it somewhat necessary to “perform” their gender, while Group 2 (77 percent) stated that gender performance at work was much higher.
Results (cont.) Within Group 3 almost all participants agreed that men and women could equally be successful in a managerial position and, that women and men have the same opportunities at work (60 percent). Finally within Group 1, 70 percent surprisingly were aware that women are bringing home less money than men.
Results (interview) Woman A illustrated in her interview that: Unequal pay was drastically worse then (She was paid $8.75 while men doing the same job as her were being paid between $10-$15) Womanly characteristics such as compassion and emotion were looked down upon in the cannery so she adopted more masculine tendencies. She also stated this, “Women really couldn’t win in my generation. You were either an unhappy housewife, because your husband paycheck couldn’t pay the bills or unhappily employed. Neither allowed women to step outside the preconceived ideas about them. In each setting, women, were suppose to be submissive and supportive. We were expected to be constant performers in a sense.”
Conclusion There appears to be some correlation between gender performance and unequal treatment in the work force. Although from the small sample of date it is important to note that the correlation between gender performance and unequal treatment is not strong enough to make an adequate conclusion. A bigger sample and a more in depth experiment would be sufficient in this scenario.
Conclusion (cont.) There also appears to be a relationship between generations in regards to gender performance in the work force. I believe that this research project is just the beginning of my work with occupation inequality and gender performance.
References Jeanes, E. (2007). The Doing and Undoing of Gender: The Importance of Being a Credible Female Victim. Gender, Work, and Organization. Retrieved July 17, 2009, Academic Search Premier Database. Kimmel, M. (2008). The Gendered Society. (3rd Ed.).New York: Oxford. Schilt, K., & Connell, C. (2007). Do Workplace Gender Transitions Make Gender Trouble?. Gender, Work & Organization. Retrieved July 27th, 2009, Academic Search Premier Database.