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Facilitating the Path for Women in Executive Roles: Wendy Loretto (17 Sep)


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In this joint presentation with ACCA, Wendy Loretto, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh Business School, explores the challenges facing women progressing to board and executive level.

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Facilitating the Path for Women in Executive Roles: Wendy Loretto (17 Sep)

  1. 1. Women In Executive Roles Emma Little Judy Wagner Prof. Wendy Loretto
  2. 2. Women into Executive Roles Wendy Loretto ACCA/UoE Panel Discussion 17th September 2013
  3. 3. What can facilitate the path to the top of the corporation for women? 3 DON’T GET OLD!
  4. 4. 4  Major policy focus on extending working lives and ‘older women’ (over-50s) as untapped potential  Rising proportion of women of all ages in workforce  Little focus on relationships between gender and age in employment (Biggs, 2004) Background
  5. 5. 5 Labour Force Survey figures show modest rise in employment rates of older women and older men (aged 50+) But, relative employment rate is still lower for women as compared to men Nature of employment also differs (all data from LFS Apr-Jun 2013, own analysis)
  6. 6. 6 Proportion of those in employment in each age group who are women
  7. 7. 7 Of those in employment in each age group, % who are working part-time
  8. 8. 8 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% M en 16-24 M en 25-49 M en 50+W om en 16-24 W om en 25-49W om en 50+ % Managers Professional Associate professional Admin & Secretarial Skilled trades Personal service Sales Operatives Elementary Occupational categories, by gender and age
  9. 9. 9  These differences are also related to pay differences  e.g. recent TUC survey showed that women over 50 earned less than men of the same age and less than younger women  Age versus cohort effects? Why do we see these age and gender differences?  ‘Choices v constraints’ debates have largely ignored the possible interactions between gender and age  Itzin and Phillipson (1995) – women may never be the ‘right age’.
  10. 10. 10 1. Arises mainly from gender discrimination  Dominance of patriarchy – prioritises ‘male’ careers and penalises discontinuity  Devaluation of older women reflects a lifetime of subordination and being less favoured  Gorman and Kmec (2007) – women report their jobs require higher levels of effort – serves to de-motivate them 2. Reasons for disadvantage
  11. 11. 11 2. Arises mainly from age discrimination  Based on fear of ageing and death ‘….ageism is rooted in an insidious social obsession with youthfulness and results in the assigning of social value, resources, and opportunities based on actual and perceived chronological age.’ (Clarke and Griffin, 2008: 655)  Older women are discriminated against by younger women
  12. 12. 12 3. Age and gender discrimination are additive  Bipolar distribution of age discrimination among both sexes, but older women more likely than older men to suffer discrimination (Duncan and Loretto, 2004)  Are current cohort of older women particularly vulnerable because of societal norms of working and caring responsibilities?
  13. 13. 13 4. Age and gender discrimination are mutually reinforcing  Draws upon the notion of sexualising women’s value in youth in a way that is not the case for men. One senior team member sent an e-mail when I forgot to sign a form….’Tell the dried up old maid to get her teeth in’. On another occasion a Team Leader called us a bunch of “old *******”….a coach asked us which was greater, our team’s combined ages or [Finserv’s] bank balance….to name but a few incidents. (Female, aged 35) (Duncan and Loretto, 2004)  Supported by work in New Zealand (Handy and Davy, 2007)  Walker et al’s (2007) research highlighted paradox of (loss of) attractiveness in professions where ‘successful’ women are those who suppress their feminine nature.
  14. 14. 14 Miriam O’Reilly – more suited to radio? 3. Invisibility of older women
  15. 15. 15 Focus on appearance leads to examining the invisibility of older women  Clarke and Griffin (2008) found that older women working in health-related jobs in Canada often felt invisible Ironically this invisibility was grounded in their visibility  Women associated looking younger with being better employees  Women were aware of the tensions Retired women spoke of the luxury of having appearance pressures lifted  Tensions also reported by Granleese and Sayer (2006) in their research among female academics Walker et al (2007) – processes of self-denial and self- separation differentiate gendered ageism from the other isms
  16. 16. 16  Gendered ageism is a ‘less visible’ gendered mechanism (Gorman and Kmec, 2007) 4. Concluding comments Key research and policy questions arising: 1. What are the drivers of gendered ageism? Is it all about appearance? (i) Health?  Older women are less healthy than older men  Lower relative employment for older women with health-limiting conditions  Payne and Doyal (2010) – important to differentiate between biology (sex) and gender
  17. 17. 17 (ii) Skills? Taylor’s work in call centres has shown that older women play a key role in mentoring younger workers/new recruits But, they are also chastised for a lower performance in terms of motor skills (iv) Stereotypes?  Krings et al (2011) focus on two core dimensions in social judgement: Older workers are perceived to be higher in warmth (F) and lower in competency (M) than are younger workers Competence more valued in employment
  18. 18. 18 2. What are the implications for older women in top roles?  Bring gender into extending working lives debates  Recognise challenges posed by increased (elder) care  Challenge invisibility of older women ~ questioning ‘neutral’ HR practices ~ support from law? (dual discrimination)  Caution in attributing too much to ‘cohort effects’
  19. 19. 19 THANK-YOU! If you’d like more information on any of these issues, please contact me:
  20. 20. 20 References S. Biggs ‘Age, gender, narratives, and masquerades’, Journal of Aging Studies, 18, 1 (2004) 45-58 L. Hurd Clarke and M. Griffin, ‘Visible and invisible ageing: beauty work as a response to ageism’, Ageing & Society, 28, 5 (2008) 653-674 C. Duncan and W. Loretto, ‘Never the right age? Gender and age-based discrimination in employment, Gender, Work and Organisation, 11, 1 (2004) 95-115. E. H. Gorman and J. A. Kmec, ‘We (Have to) Try Harder: Gender and Required Work Effort in Britain and the United States’, Gender & Society, 21, 6 (2007) 828-856 J. Granleese and G. Sayer, ‘Gendered ageism and 'lookism': a triple jeopardy for female academics’, Women in Management Review, 21, 6 (2006) 500-517 J. Handy and D. Davy, ‘Gendered ageism: Older women's experiences of employment agency practices’, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 45, 1 (2007) 85-99 C. Itzin and C. Phillipson, ‘Gendered ageism: a double jeopardy for women in organisations, in C. Itzin and J. Newman (eds) Gender, Culture and Organizational Change: Putting Theory into Practice (London: Routledge, 1995).
  21. 21. 21 F. Krings, S. Sczesny and A. Kluge, Stereotypical Inferences as Mediators of Age Discrimination: The role of competence and warmth, British Journal of Management, 22, 2, (2011), 187-201. S. Payne and L. Doyal, ‘Older Women, Work and Health, Occupational Medicine, 60, (2010), 172-177. H. Walker, D. Grant , M. Meadows and I. Cook, ‘Women's Experiences and Perceptions of Age Discrimination in Employment: Implications for Research and Policy’, Published Online January 4 2007