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Heppner, Rebekah S.
A paradox of diversity :
b billions invested, but women still leave
h [electronic resource] /
by Rebekah S. Heppner.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: In 2005, women made up 46.4 percent of the United States labor force but only 1.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs (Catalyst 2006). Although gains have been made since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, there is clearly something stopping women from equal representation at the top. Since the late 1980s, businesses have spent billions of dollars on initiatives designed to assist them in dealing with the anticipated increase in the "diversity" of their workplaces (Lubove 1997; Stodghill II 1996; Johnston and Packer 1987). Is there potential for diversity initiatives to help women conquer the "glass ceiling?" Presented here are the stories of ten women executives who entered the workplace in the 1980s, a time of great economic prosperity; opportunities appeared unlimited, yet these women have "opted out." Socialist feminist theory addresses this issue and provided the framework for analyzing the women's stories.^ ^As the stories unfold, a system marked by "hegemonic masculinity" (Acker 1990) becomes clear. This system of power and privilege that perpetuates the glass ceiling is invisible to the men who reproduce it and to a great extent, to the women whose careers are truncated by it, making it extremely difficult to change.As a pragmatic feminist and applied anthropologist, I have attempted to find opportunities to improve upon this situation, recognizing they are less than ideal. Diversity initiatives have the potential to disrupt stereotypes. Policies that undermine the corporations' right to the "ideal worker" can address sex discrimination. Feminists outside of corporations must also continue the fight. They can view the workplace objectively and raise issues that the women inside cannot. The women inside of organizations are making a difference just by their presence, by demonstrating their competence.^ ^But as long as the price for success includes assimilating to the "ideal worker," they will be making a sacrifice that the women in this study did not wish to make. And no one should have to, male or female. In the battle over who gets to "have it all," it is clear that the corporations are the only ones who are winning.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
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Adviser: Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D.
x Applied Anthropology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
A Paradox of Diversity: Billions Invested, But Women Still Leave by Rebekah S. Heppner A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D. Jonathan Gayles, Ph.D. Kevin A.Yelvington, D.Phil. Navita Cummings James, Ph.D. Robert L. Nixon, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 22, 2007 Keywords: gender, work, employment, discrimination, feminism, business Copyright 2007, Rebekah S. Heppner
Dedication This dissertation is dedicated to my pare nts, both of whom I lost during my time as a graduate student. They never quite unde rstood me, but supported me just the same. To my mother, Juanita Broadhead He ppner, 1924-2005, who I got to know better through my research on the women of her era and who I now understand had very limited options for her own life plans. To my father, William Joseph Heppner, 1919-2002, who taught through example that no one should be judged by the color of their skin and who raised a daughter to believe that she could be anything she wanted to be.
Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge The National Conference for Community and Justice, Tampa Bay Region, particularly Ma rgarita Sarmiento and Dr. Roy Kaplan, for allowing me unlimited access to their work both with corporate diversity and other antiracism programs. They were my inspiration for this research and helped me to see that workplace diversity initiatives can be a site for social change. I would also like to acknowledge the cont ribution of the former executives who shared their stories with me so willingly. Their enthusiasm for this project gives me hope for the future of women, both in the workplace and in society, as they have remained hopeful and optimistic despite the obstacles they encountered in their careers.
Table of Contents List of Tablesiii Abstractiv Introduction1 Literature Review6 Diversity Initiatives6 Public Policy20 Women and the Workplace32 Theoretical Perspectives51 Theories of Work51 Feminist Theories54 Critical Management Studies69 A Theoretical Framework for this Study71 Methods and Analysis74 Results 89 The Women 89 Judy Samuels91 Susan Thomas92 Colleen Roberts95 Barbara James97 Pegge George 99 Nancy Michaels102 Mary Charles104 Patricia Alexander106 Mary Anne Josephson109 Joyce Williams111 The Workplace116 The Old Boy Network118 Masculine Environment123 Leadership, Values and Loyalty136 WhatÂ’s Wrong?143 Discrimination and the Glass Ceiling143 Lack of Women Role Models155 Reasons for Leaving161
Diversity Initiatives167 Mentoring Programs and Networking Groups175 CEO Commitment177 Diversity of Personality/Style178 Affirmative Action181 Hopes for the Future186 A Female President of the United States187 Changing Technology188 Workplace Flexibility189 Innovation190 Generation X and Y191 Recommendations193 Further Research202 Conclusions204 References Cited210 Appendices221 Appendix A: Recruiting Script222 Appendix B: Informed Consent Form223 Appendix C: History a nd Trends in the Workplace Diversity Movement226 About the AuthorEnd Page ii
List of Tables Table 1 Demographics of the Study Participants82 iii
A Paradox of Diversity: Billions Invested, But Women Still Leave Rebekah Heppner ABSTRACT In 2005, women made up 46.4 percent of the United States labor force but only 1.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs (Catalyst 2006). Although gains have been made since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, there is clearly something stopping women from equal representation at the top. Sin ce the late 1980s, businesse s have spent billions of dollars on initiatives designed to assist th em in dealing with the anticipated increase in the Â“diversityÂ” of their workplaces (Lubove 1997; Stodghill II 1996; Johnston and Packer 1987). Is there potential for diversity in itiatives to help women conquer the Â“glass ceiling?Â” Presented here are the stories of ten women executives who entered the workplace in the 1980s, a time of great economic prospe rity; opportunities appe ared unlimited, yet these women have Â“opted out.Â” Socialist feminist theory addresses this issue and provided the framework for analyzing the wome nÂ’s stories. As the stories unfold, a system marked by Â“hegemonic masculinityÂ” (A cker 1990) becomes clear. This system of power and privilege that perpetuates the gl ass ceiling is invisible to the men who reproduce it and to a great extent, to the wo men whose careers are truncated by it, making it extremely difficult to change. iv
As a pragmatic feminist and applied an thropologist, I have attempted to find opportunities to improve upon this situati on, recognizing they are less than ideal. Diversity initiatives have the potential to disr upt stereotypes. Polic ies that undermine the corporationsÂ’ right to the Â“ideal workerÂ” can address sex discrimination. Feminists outside of corporations must also conti nue the fight. They can view the workplace objectively and raise issues that the women inside cannot. The women inside of organizations are making a difference just by their presence, by demonstrating their competence. But as long as the price fo r success includes assimilating to the Â“ideal worker,Â” they will be making a sacrifice that the women in this study did not wish to make. And no one should have to, male or fema le. In the battle over who gets to Â“have it all,Â” it is clear that th e corporations are the onl y ones who are winning. v
1 Introduction Subtle discrimination against women . is still an unwritten law today, and its effects are almost as devastating and as hard to fight as the flagrant opposition faced by the feminists. . It took, a nd still takes, extraordinary strength of purpose for women to pursue their own life plans when society does not expect it of them. This quotation would have been an apt c onclusion to this dissertation had it not been written over forty years ago (Fried an 1963:185,386). The intervening years have been ones of tremendous progress for women, but discrimination in the workplace is still a painful reality. In 2005, women made up 46.4 percent of the United States labor force and 50.6 percent of management and professi onal positions, but only 16.4 percent of the corporate officers of the Fortune 500, and only 1.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs (Catalyst 2006). Although women have made ma ny gains since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, there is clearly somethi ng stopping them from equal representation at the top of AmericaÂ’s corporations. This dissertation presents the stories of women who entered the workplace in the 1980s, a time of great economic prosperity; opportunities appeared unlimited. Theirs is the first generation in which large numbers of women graduated from universities and had early career successes on par with their ma le coworkers. All indications were that they were headed for the top. Yet the ten women who share their stories here have Â“opted out.Â” Recounted herein, in her own words, are each womanÂ’s experiences as she climbed
2 her own career ladder as well as the reasons that she ended her pursuit for success within the corporate environment. The Â“glass ceilingÂ” was first identified in the 1980s and this phenomenon has received attention from researchers, th e popular press and government agencies. Yet there is rhetoric in our society today that says women no longer face discrimination; that they are able to achieve whatever they have the desire, education a nd aptitude to achieve. If qualified women do not succeed, it must be because they have made a personal choice to dedicate their lives to other purposes, usua lly raising children. But are they Â“opting outÂ” by choice, or being forced out by the st ructures and attitudes they have tired of struggling against? Role stereotypes are a strong cultural factor influencing such life Â“choices.Â” Women who have attempted to Â“h ave it all,Â” both career and children, have been criticized as selfish because they are not living up to their roles as mothers, while fathers who pursue career success are consid ered to be unselfishly giving up their personal and family time to properly fulfill their role as providers (Williams 2000:182). A consulting industry has developed out of a perceived need to address the changing demographics of the workplace. This Â“diversityÂ” movement was originally an extension of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs and targeted the Â“diversityÂ” represented by race and sex. Anyone other than a white male was seen as unusual, especially in a management positi on. How effective has the diversity movement been in changing corporate culture to be mo re accepting of difference? Is there potential for diversity initiatives to help women conque r the glass ceiling? These are the questions that I have addressed with this research.
3 Ellis & Sonnenfield (1994) have concluded that diversity initiatives Â“signify an important shift in corporate philosophy, whic h is both symbolic and substantive,Â” but they also cautioned that programs should be oriented towards Â“fostering respect for employees as individual actors, rather than toward treatment of employees as members of groups with easily categorized diffe rencesÂ” (Ellis and Sonnenfeld 1994:101). Unfortunately, many of the programs undertaken have not followed this advice and have increased stereotyping and added to fricti on in the workplace, undermining the potential of diversity work to change corporate culture. In response to critici sm of early diversity training, the definition used by businesses for Â“diverseÂ” has expanded from race and sex to include less controversial things, such as education level and pe rsonality style. This broadening has further reduced the effectiv eness of diversity programs in addressing actual prejudice and discrimination against women and minorities. Gender is particularly difficult to addre ss in the workplace because gender roles transcend the business world and are deeply ingrained in our culture. The assigned role of women as nurturing caretakers follows them into the corporate boardroom and conflicts with the expectations for leaders that are found there. Men, on the other hand, can maintain their Â“heroic providerÂ” ro les both in their husband and fatherhood responsibilities and their work as leader s of corporations (Williams 2000; Olsson 2000). Feminist researchers have investigated the construction of gender both in society and in organizations and revealed that workplaces are defined by masculine norms. This must be addressed before Â“equalÂ” treatment of women and men will achieve equal results (Williams 2000).
4 As the life stories of the careers of thes e ten women unfold below, the invisibility of this Â“hegemonic masculinityÂ” becomes clearer (Acker 1990). They tell us in their own words how gender is operationalized as sex disc rimination. I have analyzed their stories with a socialist feminist theoretical viewpo int and revealed how gender roles are created and reproduced at the highest levels in Amer ican corporations. As a pragmatic feminist, and an applied anthropologist, I have endea vored to find places of intervention in this difficult struggle, while accepti ng the realities of the advanc ed capitalist system in which it is fought (Levit and Verchick 2006). In this, my own experience as a female executive becomes useful, especially in my understanding of the difficulty of using social justice as a reason to expect changes within the competitive business climate. However, a movement within the business world toward s Â“corporate social responsibilityÂ” provides hope that some cultural change can be s ought without having to justify it by its profit potential. The struggle is now being fought on multiple fronts. Although the women here have left the workplace, there are many who have stayed. Some will be able to make changes to the workplace, and their continue d presence chips away at individual biases regarding female competency. Feminist res earchers continue to expose the impact of power differentials and some have taken their theories into the workplace in an attempt to disrupt inequities Â“on the groun d.Â” I believe that theory a nd practice can work together to find solutions to important social issues. Diversity initiatives are one intervention where this can occur. Policies and the legal system that implements and enforces them are another.
5 The demographics of the workplace are continually changing and each generation brings new ideas and viewpoints. The women in this study express hope that the future will be different. I am hopeful also, but I donÂ’ t believe we can just wait for the world to change. There is much work to be done to meet this goal of socialist feminism: a society in which Â“all systems of private/public oppress ion based on sex, gender, race, class, etc.,Â” are eliminated and social relations are transformed (Calas and Smircich 1996:221).
6 Literature Review Diversity Initiatives In 1987 the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Â“Workforce 2000Â” report, which predicted that, by the year 2000, only 15 percent of net additions to the labor force would be white males. Since then, businesses have spent billions of dollars on initiatives designed to assist them in dealing with this anticipated increase in th e Â“diversityÂ” of their workplaces (Lubove 1997; Stodghill II 1996; Johnston and Packer 1987). Some researchers believe that the diversity Â“move mentÂ” was created by consultants, using this statistic to continue their work towards an inclusive workplace, after suffering from backlash to their affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs (Litvin 2006; Jones and Stablein 2006). Although often confused with those programs, Â“diversity,Â” as it is being used here, refers to voluntary initiatives undertaken by corporations Â“directed at the systematic recruitment and retainment of employees belonging to diverse social identity groups Â” (Prasad, Pringle, and Konrad 2006). The Â“identity groupsÂ” included in early diversity programs were limited to race and gender, but this definition has broadened, first to include other Â“protectedÂ” classes such as age, religion and physical ability, and later to add such factors as differing educational backgrounds, personality types a nd family situations. Unlike affirmative action programs, diversity programs recognize that merely hiring a diverse workforce is
7 not sufficient, something more is needed to ensure that those workers will stay and succeed. Not surprisingly, diversity initiatives are more likely to be found in large corporations and businesses with international operati ons (Bendick 1998). Surveys limited to only large employers have shown the preval ence of diversity programs in those firms in the range of 60-70 percent. Firm s with more than 5,000 employees, in fact, represent 60 percent of all the diversity activity, though th ey do not employ 60 percent of American workers. The cost and time commitment for any type of leadership development program makes it unlikely that there will be much participation by very small businesses. However, surveys done in the mid-1990s of employers of all sizes showed that 30 to 50 percent of them had formal programs for managing diversity in place (Bendick 1998:16). Early forms of diversity training emerged from the Â“encounter groupÂ” model of the 1960s, but have continually evolved. Some times called sensitivity training, this type of program is still being done. Because the civil rights movement occurred at the same time that pop psychology came into vogue, Lasch-Quinn (2001) concluded that there was Â“a fateful coinciding of events.Â” Others ha ve described this approach as Â“overzealous diversity bureaucrats exercis[ ing] their inclination toward s social engineering via 1960s style group therapyÂ” (Bernstein 1994:87). The Â“pluralÂ” organization (Cox Jr. 1991) was typical of this early period; companies were starting to accept in tegration but expected conformity and assimilation to the white ma le workplace. Organizations were trying to adopt the ideology of affirmative action in hiri ng, but were not successful in retaining and promoting women or minorities to any great extent (Cox Jr. 1991).
8 In 1991, diversity scholar Taylor Cox called for companies to move away from the Â“pluralÂ” organization toward a Â“multiculturalÂ” one in which individuals would not be required to assimilate into the dominant cu lture, but allowed to contribute Â“to their maximum potential,Â” by bringing their Â“uniqueÂ” views and experiences to the workplace (Cox Jr. 1991:12). This approach arose during the competitive environment of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when consultants told co mpanies that they could increase profits by matching the demographics of their work force with those of their customers (Thomas 1990). This approach also still exists, but ha s been criticized by soci al scientists because it often relied on Â“trait lists.Â” Konrad (2003 ) has expressed concern that this increases stereotyping, by essentia lizing employees to a group identity The identity is now seen as a positive since it is believed to be of use to the company. Research has shown that, where this approach is taken, minority work ers are clustered in parts of the business where they are matched to customer demographics, where their Â“uniqueÂ” qualities can be used Â“fullyÂ” to increase sales. They are not given any real power within the organization and are not likely to be promoted out of the Â“marginsÂ” (Ely and Thomas 2001:26). Roosevelt Thomas was first to call for th e expansion of the definition of diversity to include age, background, education, job function and personality differences (Thomas 1990). This has been seen by many as an at tempt to diffuse the tensions that surrounded programs focused on race and gender, and to c ounter the Â“white male backlashÂ” they had engendered (Mirchandani and Butler 2006). Defining diversity broadly versus narrowly is still discussed. Some believe the defini tion used should be situational, defined based on the goals of each organization and the issues it needs to address (Roberson 2003). Critics have said that defining diversity broa dly allows companies to ignore the impact of
9 prejudice, and reduces the chances that di versity programs will improve conditions for women and minorities (Konrad 2003). Since this approach to diversity tends to place equal value on each element of diversity, pow er differences are ignored and Â“historical asymmetric positions of power and privileg e continue to be enshrinedÂ” (Konrad 2006). Harrison and Sin (2006) reviewed research designed to measure the effectiveness of diversity initiatives and concluded that this broadening of the defini tion of diversity, and the resulting difficulty in combining the variou s dimensions into a useful index, has made it difficult to move this area of research forward. Hearn and Collinson feel that discussing gender is avoided by focusi ng instead on diversity Â“which can mean everything, anything or nothing Â” (Hearn and Collinson 2006:313). More recent programs have kept some of the elements of the multiculturalism paradigm, but have developed a more exte nsive Â“business case for diversity,Â” which holds that there is economic value in divers ity through increased creativity and diverse viewpoints in decision-making. The com ponents of the business case for diversity were detailed in a 1997 article in the Academy of Management Executive Cost savings from reduced absenteeism and turnover, as well as reduced discrimination complaints were included as benefits to businesses that undert ake diversity initiatives. In addition, it detailed these ways that diversity can lead to business growth: understanding diverse markets, increasing creativity and innovation, producing higher quality problem solving, enhancing leadership effectiveness, and building effective global relati onships [Robinson and Dechant 1997]. A Â“compelling business reasonÂ” was need ed in order to sell the programs to American corporations (Thomas Jr. 1999). To quote one business leader, Â“Moralistic
10 statements, and race and gender militancy, woul d not sell diversity management to CEOs . [it] must be sold as business, no t social workÂ” (Ivancevich and Gilbert 2000:3). The management literature includes studies of the business case which attempt to prove that diverse work groups are more creat ive and therefore more effective (Swann Jr. et al. 2004). The results of this research have been mixed (Kochan et al. 2003). Richard (2000) attempted to test the business case by proving that profita bility increased with increases in workforce diversity. He conclude d that there was a positive impact on profit when the firm is in a growth mode, but a negative impact when downsizing. He believes this is due to the need to focus on cost control while downsizi ng, and the fact that increased diversity Â“creates additional cost s stemming from increased coordination and controlÂ” (Richard 2000:167). This seems to refute the Â“cost savingsÂ” portion of the business case. Richard also admits that higher profits in the growing companies may have led to higher diversity, rather than diversity contributing to profit. He feels that he has compensated for this by using more th an one measure of profitability, but this complicates his argument and his work dem onstrates how difficult it is to evaluate diversity programs, in general, a nd the business case in particular. Dwyer et al. (2003) also attempted to use st atistical analysis to test the effect of diversity in management on Â“performanceÂ” of an organization, as represented by profitability measures. They concluded that diversity is a benefit when a company is growth oriented, but that it needs a s upportive culture. Introduc ing diversity in a competitive culture will reduce profitability. Recently, researchers in both business and social science are questioning the focus on economic value in the business case argument. It requires that we accept the premise
11 that the sole, or at least primary, purpose of business is to make money. Therefore, the only reason that a business would spend mone y on a diversity initiative would be a belief that it would return more in profits than it would cost to implement. This focus has become a part of the diversity discourse a nd has been accepted by most practitioners as a given (Litvin 2006). The idea that there is such a financial benefit has not been proven by scholarly research and the underlying philosophy that employees will change their behavior because they believe it will incr ease their employerÂ’s profitability has been neither tested nor proven (Litvin 2006). TodayÂ’s management researchers are worki ng in the areas of social responsibility and sustainability, which indicates a shift aw ay from the reification of the profit motive (Kossek, Lobel, and Brown 2006). Even some business leaders have begun to talk about loftier goals for business, as can be seen in the blog of John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, which he titles: Â“Profit Is The Mean s, Not End.Â” Mackey contends that some businesses (Whole Foods, for example) exist to fulfill a core mission other than profit, and that profit is just the mechanism that allows them to do so (Mackey 2005). One professor of management has suggest ed: Â“making space for a better caseÂ” for workplace diversity, one in which an alternative discourse is formed that begins with the premise that businesses exist to allow indi viduals and societies to pursue and achieve their own goals (Litvin 2006). She cites a 2003 study of visionary business leaders in which many espoused goals beyond profit, like Mackey, as the basi s for her belief that this Â“better caseÂ” can be presented at this time. The most well known component of a dive rsity initiative is training, but most initiatives are more comprehensive and include such things as compensation systems that
12 reward diversity efforts, diversifying the companyÂ’s suppliers, and Â“multiculturalÂ” advertising (Frankel 2004). Other tactic s include diversity councils and mission statements, as well as support groups, know n as networking or affinity groups, for minority and women employees and mentoring programs (Ellis and Sonnenfeld 1994). Most researchers agree that training alone ca nnot be effective and its impact is dependent on this more holistic approach and on the Â“co rporate cultureÂ” or atmosphere in which it takes place (Brown 2004; Wentling and Palma-Rivas 1997b, 1997c). Training methods vary among companies and consultants, but fall into essentially two categories, awareness and skill building (Roberson 2003; Wentling and Palma-Rivas 1997:27; Cox Jr. 1991). Awareness program s include educational seminars on topics including the business case for diversity, th e laws regarding employment discrimination, and specifics of the companyÂ’s anti-discrim ination policies (Bendick 2001). They may also include discussion of the history a nd impact of discrimination (Bendick 1998). Unfortunately, they have often included th e confrontational Â“s ensitivity trainingÂ” approaches that have created much of th e controversy over diversity training (Roberson 2003). Skill building involves more experiential l earning, utilizing case studies and roleplaying to allow participants to practice applyi ng their new skills to potential issues in the workplace. It may also cover communication and conflict management involving diverse groups and individuals (Roberson 2003). Surveys ha ve shown that behavior change is the goal of diversity programs, which should lead to greater use of skill building programs, but most training is still focused on awaren ess (Rynes and Rosen 1994). Trainers either feel that behavior change will result automati cally from awareness or are just unsure of
13 how to provide pragmatic, skill-based tr aining (Bendick 2001). Researchers emphasize that behavior change will not occur automatically from awareness and education. Without skill building employees will Â“be at a loss as to what to do with their new understandingÂ” (Wentling and Palma-Rivas 1997:28). The employee groups most commonly trained are first-line supervisors and middle managers. Some companies have atte mpted to train all employee groups, but the training provided to non-managerial pers onnel is often extremely limited. The participation of senior executives in traini ng is evidence of their commitment to diversity programs, but is often done separately from the rest of the employees, to Â“sellÂ” the concept to top management before adopting a company-wide program. Although involvement by senior management is ofte n cited as key to success of the program (Kossek, Lobel, and Brown 2006), rarely do the top executives receive training designed to change their own attitudes and behaviors. An issue that surfaces continually in the literature is the lack of evaluation of diversity training. Researchers who have attempted it have found both resistance from the corporate management and lack of data for quantitative evaluation (Chrobot-Mason, Konrad, and Linnehan 2006). A recent arti cle by business researchers confirmed that there is still: Â“very little re search analyzing the different ial effectiveness of various training designsÂ” (Kossek, Lobel, and Brow n 2006:63). Other researchers have said that this lack of evaluation is due to the busin essesÂ’ reluctance to address the need for Â“a radical upending of basic assumptions, patt erns, and structuresÂ” (Comer and Soliman 1996).
14 David Thomas of the Harvard Business School provided a description, based on his research, of the culture of organizati ons in which a diversity initiative can be successful. It must not be bureaucratic, needs to stimulate th e personal growth of employees and encourage openness, and employees must feel valued. The primary requirement, though, is that the management mu st believe that they benefit from diversity (Thomas 1991). Thomas was part of The Diversity Research Network which included researchers from six universities who studied four companies over the course of several years (Kochan et al. 2003). The NetworkÂ’s re search goal was to address the Â“mismatch between research results and di versity rhetoric,Â” since ther e has been little empirical research to support the business case for dive rsity and because Â“the research literature paints a more complex picture of the cons equences of diversity than does the popular rhetoricÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003:5). This prestigious group of researchers encountered several obstacles. First, companies did not wish to participate. Twenty Fortune 500 companies were approached but only four accepted. Three factors co ntributed to the corporate reluctance to participate Â– a fear of legal exposure, a reluctance to Â“raise the questionÂ” of the effectiveness of their programs and a Â“lack of analytical traditionÂ” among corporate diversity professionals (Bean 2004:39). The companies that accepted have a Â“long history of success in achie ving a diverse workforce and a commitment to leveraging diversity to enhance organizati onal performanceÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003:8). There is clearly bias introduced by limiting research to companie s that are willing to participate, and who most likely expect positive results.
15 The researchers found that Â“not only ha d none of the organizations . ever conducted a systematic examination of the eff ects of their diversity efforts on bottom-line performance measures, very few were inte rested in doing soÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003:8). Because data were not available, they we re unable to do the same research at each company, limiting the comparability of their results. They found little direct positive results, Â“at least not consiste ntly or under all conditions,Â” an d some direct negative results of diversity among employees, although these we re mitigated by the di versity initiatives. These results led the researchers to conclude that Â“context is crucial in determining the nature of diversityÂ’s imp act on performanceÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003:17). For example, highly competitive teams tended to show negative impacts of diversity. They also found that, when Â“organizations fo ster an environment that promotes learning from diversity,Â” racial diversity can enhan ce performance. The authors concluded that, since they found no direct eff ects of diversity, their resu lts are evidence that diversity initiatives have eliminated the negative impacts that were documented in the early literature. This seems to be quite a stre tch and it undermines the Â“value in diversityÂ” presumption of the business case. Among their recommendations, the researchers included modifying the business case becaus e it was too simplistic and looking beyond the business case because diversity is both a Â“labor market imperative and a societal expectation and valueÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003). This is additional evidence that the profit maximizing business case needs to be abandoned. Although the results of this research we re disappointing, it demonstrates the complexity of this type of research and of the issue of diversity itself. Overall, the researchers felt that their work Â“clearly doc uments the importance and value of firm-
16 wide, diversity sensitive managerial strate gies, human resource policies and organizations culturesÂ” (Kochan et al. 2003:16 ). It is difficult to see how they reached such a conclusion and, unfortunately, the conservatively written ab stract, which stated that: Â“Few positive or negative direct effects of diversity on performance were observed,Â” led the press to publicize this st udy as proof that there is no benefit to diversity (Armour 2003). Workforce.com, for example, ran a st ory with the headline: Â“DiversityÂ’s Business Case DoesnÂ’t Add UpÂ” (Hansen 2003). The l ead researcher responde d to this with: Â“I think people are looking for easy answer s or very good sound bites. When you say, Â‘Diversity doesnÂ’t necessa rily produce positive resultsÂ’ [reporters] can see the controversy in that and bui ld on thatÂ” (Bean 2004:39). Researchers from Europe, New Zealand and Australia, are beginning to address workplace diversity in their home countries, usi ng the concepts that originated in the U.S. (Konrad 2006). This increases the need for re search in this area as its impact becomes global. Although much of their research has been critical, leaders such as A. Prasad have stated specifically that their critique is no t meant to eliminate diversity initiatives from the workplace, but only to Â“alert management scholars and practitioners to the existence of multiple layers of complexity in which such programs are usually embedded, and to offer some ideas that might be useful in future discussions concerned with designing more effective diversity programsÂ” (Prasad 2006). A. Prasad (2006) expressed concern that diversity initiative s, if not properly designed, might perpetuate stereotypes that have their roots in colonialism. He is concerned with the issue of Â“soft power,Â” wh ich he defines as Â“the symbolic power that flows from relatively taken-for-granted and largely unquestioned understanding of what
17 constitutes legitimate, appropriate or allowa ble behavior for different sets of people in specific cultural contexts.Â” Pr asad cautions that relying on the goodwill of those in power to give it up in the interest of creating a mo re inclusive workforce is nave, and that it may be more useful to view Â“the terrain of workplace diversity as a discursive site of resistance . Â“ (Prasad 2006:139). Sinclair (2006) feels that the diversity movement in Australia, where the most significant concern is discrimination against women, began Â“because it feels unsafe or impossible to explicitly target gender i ssuesÂ” (Sinclair 2006:517), and that diversity initiatives label the Â“otherÂ” as a problem to be managed instead. She calls for a Â“critical diversity management practiceÂ” which reject s the business case because values and beliefs are not changed by economic arguments Sinclair specifically addresses senior women, like those in my study, and says that they Â“know that accurately labeling their exclusion will be career suicide, so most do not, but leave quietly to Â‘pursue other interestsÂ’Â” (Sinclair 2006:522) In her Â“critical diversity management practice,Â” professionals will use theory an d social science to reveal st ructural and systemic barriers at work and will not let the results of th eir work be kept Â“conf idential,Â” and thereby ignored. She recommends that professionals work one-on-one with top leaders to help them reframe the Â“problemÂ” that they feel they need to address. Â“Critical theory prompts us to ask . whether our work illumina tes and changes oppression or simply gives management new tools and additional legitim acy to intensify cont rol of peopleÂ’s livesÂ” (Sinclair 2006:527). Hearn and Collinson (2006) have writ ten about diversity among men and masculinities, pointing out that effeminate and homosexual men are marginalized also.
18 They use the term Â“hegemonic masculinityÂ” for organizations such as those in my study. Â“Women and gay men serve as the differentia ted others, against which heterosexual men construct, project, differentiate and disp lay gendered identityÂ” (Hearn and Collinson 2006:304). Hearn and Collinson point out that only a certain masculinity, Â“the white, middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual, Chri stian, able-bodied masculinity, dominates other men, such as working class and gay menÂ” (as well as women), but this masculinity Â“predominate[s], at least ideologically, in powerful organizations and managerial positionsÂ” (Hearn and Collinson 2006:305). Mainstream, and even some of the more critical, management theories have ignored th e fact that men have held most management jobs. Although they do not call for the end of diversity work, Hearn and Collinson feel that we should not allow it to take the fo cus away from Â“the structured, asymmetrical relations of power between men and womenÂ” (Hearn and Collinson 2006:314). Other researchers have also been caut ious about both the study and practice of diversity initiatives. Anthropol ogist Peter Wood of Boston Un iversity has been a sharp critic of the concept of Â“div ersityÂ” as it being used in business (Wood 2003). When the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the Un iversity of Michigan law school admissions case in 2003, he wrote that it allowed higher education to Â“reify the folk categories of racial and ethnic division in the U.S.Â” (Wood 2003). He has also said that anthropology, through the American Anthropological Associati onÂ’s participation in an amicus brief in that case, now Â“stand[s] as a profession offici ally in favor of clas sifying people by race,Â” in direct conflict with anthropologyÂ’s Â“bas ic insightÂ” regarding the arbitrariness and social construction of such classifications.
19 In a less caustic, but similarly critical viewpoint, Terrence Turner of the University of Chicago takes on Â“multiculturalism,Â” which he feels Â“risks reifying cultures as separate entitiesÂ” and Â“fe tishiz[ing] them in ways that put them beyond the reach of critical analysisand thus anthropologyÂ” (Turner 1993). Turner, however, feels that anthropologists should involve themselves with multiculturalism, and that we have made a mistake by ignoring this movement. The m eaning of culture is being changed by the multiculturalists, and anthropologists cannot a fford to be left out of this Â“historic transformationÂ” (Turner 1993:424). Avery Gordon has stated that, although di versity management purports to reject assimilation, in fact, it actually requires assimilation, if only to the belief in meritocracy Â“where the criterion for merit is winning in global competition . .Â” (Gordon 1995:18). GordonÂ’s argument is simply that diversity management is a tool used to maintain the capitalist system. Gordon, a sociologist, recommends that cultural studies move quickly to regain control of the concept of cultu re and emphasize the link between it and Â“the power relations that corporate culture would like to transc endÂ” (Gordon 1995:23). Other critics, such as Elizabeth Lasc h-Quinn believes that American racial attitudes have Â“undergone a genuine sea ch ange,Â” and, therefore, we no longer need diversity programs (Lasch-Quinn 2001). Rich ard Bernstein has stated that minorities should be willing to assimilate because the Â“diverseÂ” European immigrants did so, and that the diversity movement threatens the democratic system, which is the Â“greatest engine of genuine divers ityÂ” (Bernstein 1994). Anthropologists can use their involvement in this area to correct some of the misconceptions used by these critics of dive rsity programs, as well as those of anti-
20 affirmative action forces. Ann Jordan desc ribes the way that a secondary Â“corporateÂ” culture is learned and suggests that this learning process is something that anthropologists should study. Diversity programs become a part of this process, which involves Â“verbal asides of employees, the stories, ceremonies myths and especially the shared behavior patterns of employeesÂ” (Jordan 2003:45). Utiliz ing a holistic and historical perspective of employment discrimination can also assi st in dispelling the Â“level playing fieldÂ” defense. Public Policy The term Â“affirmative actionÂ” made its first appearance in an Executive Order issued by President Kennedy in 1961. This order created the precursor organization to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and recommended some Â“relatively weak forms of affirmative acti onÂ” like training programs for contractors on federally funded projects (Americans United for Affirmative Action 1999). President Johnson continued KennedyÂ’s work in this ar ea and the Civil Rights Act that was passed in 1964 was even stronger than what Kennedy had proposed (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). Title VII of this Act prohibits empl oyment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin by both public and private employers. Although it was primarily designed to prohi bit discrimination against blacks, sex was added to the Act late in its drafti ng (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). An opponent of civil rights for blacks, who actually suppor ted womenÂ’s rights, added the word Â“sexÂ” in hope that it would help defeat the legisl ation (Evans 2000). When it passed, women finally had the constitutional right that prot ects them from discrimination in employment.
21 The EEOC, however, was not quick to enforce it, continuing, for example, its approval of the use of Â“help wanted femaleÂ” classified ads (Evans 2000). The first director of the EEOC has been quoted as saying that the sex provision of the Act was Â“a fluke . conceived out of we dlockÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:59). The New York Times dubbed Title VII the Â“bunny la w,Â” referring to the dilemma of whether a man could sue the Playboy Club if he were not hired to be a bunny (Evans 2000). The country, however, showed its support of the Act in the 1964 elections, re-electing all of its supporters, and voting out half of those who opposed it (Cokorinos 2003). The EEOC was initially given very little power It could receive, investigate, and process complaints, but could not initiate th em and could not prosecute them through the criminal justice system (Thernstrom and Th ernstrom 1997). The authors of the Civil Rights Act were careful not to mandate any sort of preferential treatment, instead focusing on eliminating barriers (e.g. Jim Crow laws). It was the explicit disavowing of quotas and the absence of enforcement power for the EEOC that ended a 534-hour Senate filibuster against the Act, making its passa ge possible. The opposition to quotas and enforcement, however, was almost entirely from southern segregationalists (Lemann 1997; Cokorinos 2003). The Johnson administration was in favor of a much stronger policy, and it came eventually in the form of Executive Orde r 11246 which created affirmative action as we know it today. Issued in 1965, this orde r required government contractors to submit plans that Â“analyzed the demographics of their existing work force and indicated proactive measures the employer would ta ke to move toward greater equalityÂ” (Americans United for Affirmative Action 1999). The order also established the
22 Department of LaborÂ’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to enforce its requirements. Order 11246 was expanded in 1968 to include women (Cokorinos 2003). In 1971, the U.S. Commission on Civil Righ ts issued a report critical of the nationÂ’s progress. This led to the enactment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which gave the EEOC the power to initiate complaints and to sue employers directly (Thernstrom and Thernstrom 1997). It also extended the EEOCÂ’s jurisdiction to include groups other than racial minorities (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). Systemic discrimination, cases in which individual victims are difficult to identify, was now covered by Title VII (Nalbadian 1989). In his 1973 opinion in Frontiero v. Richardson U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan stated that Â“our Nation has had a long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination . rationalized by an attitude of Â‘romantic paternalismÂ’ which, in practical effect, put women, not on a pedestal, but in a cageÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:9). The EEOC brought suit against AT&T in the 1970s, a time when that company employed a predominantly female workforce as telephone operators, but only 1 percent of its managers were women. The company included in its reply the fact that it did not exist to provide employment to Â“all comers, regardless of ability.Â” They eventually settled the case for $70 million. Fortune magazine has pointed out that two of the eight women running Fortune 500 companies in 2005, including Carly Fiorina at HewlettPackard, were Â“products of the enlightened post-lawsuit AT&TÂ” (Morris 2005). In a notable quote from the late seventies, th en Congresswoman Bella Abzug said: Â“We donÂ’t
23 want so much to see a female Einstein become an assistant professor. We want a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemielÂ” (Williams 2000:245). In the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan made affirmative action a key issue, Â“a message that reverberated with a large number of increasingly insecure middle class white voters during a period of great ove rall change in the employment sectorÂ” (Americans United for Affirmative Action 1999 ). The Reagan-Bush years changed the public discourse through the contention that earlier anti-discrimination policy was a threat to American democracy because it replaced merit with preferences. Their administrations espoused the belief that most forms of discrimination had already been eliminated (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). In the 1986 case EEOC v. Sears Roebuck Co the EEOC was able to establish that Sears had a pattern of discriminating in fa vor of men for high-paying commission sales positions, while women were concentrated in lower-paid jobs. Sears presented a defense based on surveys of applicants that showed women Â“lacked interest in the commission sales positions because they were competitiv e, high pressure, a nd had irregular hoursÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:65). A federal cour t of appeals upheld this defense, known as the Â“choiceÂ” strategy and it is still in use, despite the fact that Â“recent survey data indicates women consistently have aspirations to work in traditionally male jobsÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:73). It is difficult to overcome Â“deep-seated cultural beliefs that males and females are inherently suited for f undamentally different kinds of workÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:77). Feminist Catharine MacKinnonÂ’s 1979 book about sexual harassment is credited for that behavior being added to the defi nition of sex discrimination used by the EEOC
24 (MacKinnon 1979) This was affirmed in 1986 by the Supreme Court in Meritor Bank v. Vinson and extended by the Court in 1998 when it detailed situations in which Â“employers would be vicariously liable fo r harassment by supervisorsÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:67). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an extension of Title VII that requires employers to treat pregnancy like any other disability, was challenged in a 1987 Supreme Court case, California Federal Savings & Loan v. Guerra. The employer was providing maternity leave but not paternity leave, whic h was challenged as unfair. The Court ruled this separate treatment was justifie d, although many womenÂ’s groups opposed it as unequal treatment (Levit and Verchick 2006). An important case for women executives was decided in 1989. The prestigious CPA firm Price Waterhouse denied partners hip to Ann Hopkins, despite her successful record of performance. The Supreme Court for the first time considered sex stereotyping to be a form of discrimination under Title VII. HopkinsÂ’ personnel file contained specifics about the reasons she was denied pa rtnership. In the file, Â“several reviewing partners criticized her dress and demeanor One states that she was too Â‘machoÂ’ and Â‘overly aggressiveÂ’ and need ed to take a Â‘course at charm school.Â’ Another was concerned that Hopkins was Â‘a lady using foul languageÂ’Â” (Levit and Verchick 2006:64). Hopkins was counseled to Â“talk more femini nely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear je welryÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:64). In Wards Cove v. Atonto a 1989 decision that outr aged the Civil Rights community, the court moved the burden of proof from the employer to the complaining victim of discrimination to show Â“specific employment practicesÂ” that are discriminatory
25 (Americans United for Affirmative Action 1999). Wards Cove was also widely criticized by Democrats who then had control of both houses of Congress. The Civil Rights Act of 1990 was proposed to counter this. President George H. W. Bush lobbied against the Act and vetoed it in October 1990. Bush eventu ally succumbed to pressure from Congress and supported a toned-down version of the Act, which passed in 1991, essentially overturning Wards Cove. The policy for enforcing civil rights le gislation for the first 25 years of its existence was clearly weak, providing no se rious financial risk to employers and attempting to resolve claims without creating a significant po litical turmoil for whatever administration was in power at the time (Sel mi 1998). It was not until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which allowed punitive damages, that employment discrimination lawsuits became attractive to private attorneys, and the large settlements in the headlines over the past few years ha ve reflected this. Even the EEOCÂ’s website plainly states that the 1991 Act was Â“enacted in part to reverse several Supreme Court decisions that limited the rights of pers ons protected by these laws, [and] provide additional protectionsÂ” (EEOC 2004). The 1991 Act also included the Glass Ce iling Act, which established the bipartisan Glass Ceiling Commission. This commission issued two reports that concluded men continued to progress faster than women regardless of education levels, ambition and commitment, and endorsed affirm ative action as one solution (Fick 1997). The OFCCP, which enforces affirmative action, added Â“corporate management reviews,Â” also known as glass ceiling reviews, to its audit program in 1989. Government
26 contractors could now be held accountable not only for non-discriminatory hiring, but for retention and promotion of women and minorities (Lynch 2001). The EEOCÂ’s role has expanded from its original purpose of monitoring employment discrimination on the basis of r ace, to covering a more widely defined group of Â“protectedÂ” employees. In 2004, a sociologist reported that more than three-fourths of the labor force is now part of a protecte d Â“minorityÂ” group (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). Sex complaints rose as a proportion of tota l complaints after the 1972 amendment to the Civil Rights Act (Wakefield and Uggen 2004) In addition, the EEOC was inundated with sexual harassment claims after th e testimony of Anita Hill at the Senate confirmation hearing of its former director Clarence Thomas, when he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991 (Wakefield and Uggen 2004). The EEOC received 5,849 such complaints in the 1980s and 37,725 in the 1990s (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004:155). In 2003, 30 percent of discriminati on complaints to the EEOC were for sex discrimination. Of those, less than one percent were litigated; 57 percent were found to have no merit and 23 percent were settled in favor of the plaintiff without a trial (Ortiz 2004). Wakefield and Uggen (2004) criticize th e relative ineffectiv eness of the EEOC, saying: Â“It is unlikely that the EEOC reduces discrimination primarily through its enforcement efforts, especially given the recent declines in class-action suits and reduction in its enforcement budget.Â” They do, however, contend that Â“the agency plays an important symbolic role in equalizing out comes by serving as th e public representative of government on civil rights issu esÂ” (Wakefield and Uggen 2004).
27 Recently, leaders of the American Fede ration of Government Workers and the National Organization for Women have argued that the EEOC is Â“being systematically weakened from within to just ify its eliminationÂ” (DeGroat 2006). Its backlog of cases is steadily growing and it is ope rating under a hiring freeze, despite having lost twenty percent of its staff in the past five years. It is also currently facing a funding cut of $4 million (DeGroat 2006). A legal feminist has stat ed that Â“today, some argue that the civil rights victories of the 1950s through the 1970s are being quietly rolled back by lax enforcement officers and hostile j udgesÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:72). On August 8, 2006, EEOC Chair Cari Do minguez announced her intention to step down at the end of her five-year term. She ha s been criticized for he r restructuring of the department and outsourcing of its national call center. Given the biases of the current administration, she has had little opportunity to aggressively fight discrimination, as is apparent in the continual funding cuts she has faced. Instead, she focused on management issues within her department. One of her critics, Dr. Mary Frances Berry, former chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Co mmission, predicted that the interim chair, then Vice Chair Naomi Earp, would be elevated by President Bush and no change in enforcement policy would be seen during the remainder of his presidency (Millman 2006). On August 31, as Berry predicted, Earp assumed the chairmanship (EEOC 2006). Affirmative action is needed because Â“w hen employers do not take race or gender into account, the result is not neutral decision-making, but rather decisions which unconsciously favor whites and malesÂ” (Fic k 1997:168). Unfortunately, the concept has been used in such a way that many now consider it a code word for reverse discrimination, the lowering of standards, and the use of quotas (Fick 1997; Erler 1997).
28 The arguments over affirmative action are primarily about: 1) the rights of individuals versus groups, 2) the concept of Â“disparate impact,Â” or equality of treatment versus equality of results, and 3) the Â“American CreedÂ” of reward based on merit, which many consider to be diametrically opposed to any sort of Â“preferenceÂ” program. In defense of affirmative action, when implemented as it was originally intended, studies have shown that reverse discrimination is rare (Neas 1995), and a study by Johns Hopkins in 1987 concluded that employers who demonstrate a commitment to affirmative action show a statistically significant increa se in annual wages for black males and are more likely to assign white females to more gender-balanced jobs (Fick 1997). In 2003, the Institute for Democracy Studi es published an analysis by its research director, Lee Cokorinos, entitled The Assault on Diversity: an organized challenge to racial and gender justice (Cokorinos 2003). Cokorinos ar gues that right wing think tanks are systematically working to undermine both affirmative action and any sort of equal opportunity program in this country, holding that they are discriminatory themselves, against white males. These think tanks we re started by conserva tive private foundations in the 1980s, and many of their leaders now serve in the Bush administration. With names like the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Institute for Justi ce, they are able to hold themselves out as equal rights organizations, while working to abolish affirmative action and any other Â“preferenceÂ” programs through litigation s upport and through the media. They have also supported ballot init iatives such as Proposition 209 in California, which ended affirmative action in that st ate. Proposition 209 was named the California Civil Rights Initiative, and its official spokesperson was Ward Connerly, an African American businessman with ties to Califor nia Governor Pete Wilson (Cokorinos 2003).
29 It passed by a majority of 54 percent, in cluding strong support by white men, who voted 66 percent in favor of it, and 58 percent of white women, who joined them (Erler 1997). Another organization, the Independent WomenÂ’s Forum, a name that sounds supportive of womenÂ’s causes, got its st art to showcase women who favored the nomination of Clarence Thomas for the S upreme Court. Cokorinos describes this organization as the leading antifeminist organization in Washington, funded by the religious right (Cokorinos 2003). Although much of the fight to date has been over university admissions, the Executive Director of the Center for Individual Rights, which Cokorinos describes as the most politically extreme of the anti-affirmative action groups, has said that the primary target for these fo rces in the next few years will be employment discrimination (Cokorinos 2003). Given its conservative leanings at the time, it was a relief to many when the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in at least a limited manner in the Bollinger (University of Michigan) cases in 2003. It is interesting to note that President George W. Bush filed an amicus brief in opposition to affirmative action in Bollinger while eighty major corporations filed briefs of support (Krislov 2003). The year 2005 brought major change to the Supreme Court. Justice Sandra Day OÂ’Connor, often the swing vote, announced he r retirement and, before she had been replaced, Chief Justice Renquist, a liberal, died. President BushÂ’s choices of John Roberts as Chief and Samuel Alito as Justi ce have moved the court to the right. Both men served in the Justice Department under R eagan and worked then to limit affirmative action (Marcus 2006). Analysts have described the current court as Â“on the brink,Â” with
30 Anthony Kennedy Â“at the centerÂ” (Marcus 2006). The most liberal justices, Stevens and Ginsburg, are also the oldest and most likely to leave. In June 2006, the Court agreed to hear two cases related to the use of race in assigning students to public schools. An education official from the Clinton administration called this a sign that the Â“m ore conservative justices see they [now] have a fifth vote to reverse these casesÂ” (St. Petersburg Times 2006). Also in 2006, Ward Connerly turned his focus to Michigan. In November, voter s passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, banning affirma tive action there (Hackney 2006). On the federal level, The OFCCP significantly overhauled its rules in 2000, which increased the chances of small and mid-sized c ontractors being subject to audits of their affirmative action programs. Prior to thes e changes, contractors who followed the technical requirements of the law were unlik ely to be questioned despite evidence that Â“their policies resulted in little tangible progress for women and minorities in the workplaceÂ” (Faegre & Benson LLP 2001:1). Even if a contractor failed to adopt an affirmative action plan, as required by the law, it could Â“almost always avoid any adverse consequences by simply agreeing to implement the program going forwardÂ” (Faegre & Benson LLP 2001:4). In 2001, the EEOC filed a class action lawsui t against Morgan Stanley, one of the largest brokerages on Wall Street, claiming that there was a system in place that precluded women from gaining access to th e most lucrative accounts and created a hostile environment where such activities as trips to strip clubs were the norm (Ortiz 2004). The firm stepped in before the trial date and settled this case for $54 million, although they denied wrongdoing (Velez 2006). Despite this experience, the firm found
31 itself the subject of another lawsuit in 2006, this time by a woman who alleged that her sexual harassment complaints led to retaliati on by the firm that included overlooking her for promotions and taking away important accounts. Also in 2006, a vice president of Lehman Brothers, another financial services firm, accused that firm of firing her because she complained about remarks regarding race at a training session. The woman stated in her lawsuit that she was told by her boss, also a woman, that the company didnÂ’t like wo men Â“to be too aggressive . you will get further is you are soft-spoken and agreeable.Â” The complaining woman, who is white, was also told not to Â“alignÂ” with the Afri can Americans in the office, who were viewed as negative (DiversityInc 2006). Boeing settled a class-action lawsuit related to discrimination in pay rates and promotion of women workers for $72.5 milli on in 2004, the same year that a sex discrimination case against Wal-Mart was certif ied as a class action. That suit is the largest class action in history and the potent ial damages to Wal-Mart have been estimated at $2 to $4 billion (Morris 2005). In Septem ber 2006, OSI Restaurant Partners, operator of the Outback Steakhouse chain, was named in an EEOC lawsuit on behalf of two women who claim that the company did not gi ve women opportunities that could lead to management and were not hired or promoted into management positions. Although OSI has denied all charges, their local newspaper included quotes that the plaintiffÂ’s attribute to their managers. These include one who said that: Â“he wouldnÂ’t let his own wife workÂ” and that one of the women Â“should turn to teaching.Â” Another allegedly said that: Â“women managers lose focus when they have children and that Â‘cute girlsÂ’ should work as serversÂ” (Barancik 2006).
32 The headlines created by these large lawsuits and their significant monetary settlements could have an impact on the behavi or inside of corpora tions, despite the lack of funding for the EEOC and the increasingly co nservative judiciary. The results of the 2006 federal elections, with Democrats taking over majority positi ons in both the House and the Senate, also offer hope that the tre nd away from enforcing the Civil Rights laws may at least be slowed through more bala nced public policy. However, the history presented here shows that there has been very li ttle real effort (or intent) to enforce Civil Rights laws for many years, through many ad ministrations and Congresses, and the nation has still not co rrected the problems those laws were designed to remedy. The number of annual complaints to the EEOC increased from 20,000 in the 1980s to 110,000 in 1990s (Chapman 2003). But budget cutbacks are reducing the ability of many federal and state agencies to enfo rce employment law, and the costs, both financial and emotional, of litig ating oneÂ’s case has to be ba lanced with the prospects for winning given the conservative climate in the courts and the government (Fick 1997). Â“Employment discrimination in the 1990s [and toda y] is more subtle and indirect than it once was, making it harder to identify and prove via litigation, but making it no less effective in its impact on womenÂ’s and minoritiesÂ’ employment opportunitiesÂ” (Fick 1997:165). Women and the Workplace My research involves white, middle-cla ss women working in executive-level jobs in the United States, primarily in the 1980s and 1990s. To situate th is research in the appropriate context, the history of wome n and work in the United States must be considered. White, middle-class women had e ssentially no legal standing in this country
33 as recently as 1900. Not only were they no t allowed to vote, married women could not own property in their own names, sue or be sued, or control their reproductive choices (birth control was illegal in most states). Their status was totally dependent on that of their husbands; the Supreme Court said that women were not persons entitled to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment (Evans 2001). The women who held paid jobs in 1900 were limited in their career choices. One third were in domestic service, the remainder were primarily doing unskilled factory work. For the educated middle class the onl y real option was teaching, and later, nursing or library work. Most of these middle-cla ss women who worked at the beginning of the twentieth century were young and single, pl anning to give up their jobs when they married (Evans 2001). But in the early 1900s employment options began to expand. The need for white-collar workers grew with th e invention of the typewriter and telephone and with business consolidations that crea ted large corporate offices (Boyle 2001). Clerical and secretarial work was now av ailable for educated white women, and by 1920 one quarter of working women had made it their career choice (Evans 2001). This represents the entry of women into the type of workplace that my research addresses. The fact that th ey began in roles directly su bservient to the men running the businesses is important to remember wh en considering their ongoing struggle to overcome the care-taking stereotypes of wife, mother and now, secretary. In the Â“first waveÂ” of feminism, thes e Â“working girls,Â” along with black women who worked as domestics, united with the National American Woman Suffrage Association to form an alliance that would finally win white women the vote (Evans 2001). This required resistance to the cultura l mores of the time. As Betty Friedan has
34 said of the feminist of the first wave, they Â“had to fight the conception that they were violating the god-given nature of women. Clergymen interrupted womenÂ’s rights conventions, waving Bibles and quoting fr om Scripture . .Â”(Friedan 1963:86). The Roaring Twenties have been character ized as a time of great gains for white middle-class women that included not only suffrage but also more acceptance of female economic independence. But the Great Depr ession brought about a move backward to a more traditional family structure and work for women outside the home was scarce. At the height of the depression, unemploymen t rose to 25 percent (Boyle 2001). Women were included in Works Progress Administration programs, but they comprised only 12 to 18 percent of WPA workers, and most ended up in sewing rooms (Tidd Jr. 1989). The New Deal sacrificed working women in its attempt to salvage American families. Section 213 of the Economy Act of 1932 resulted in hundreds of women being dismissed from their federal jobs; married wo men were designated as the first to be laid off. Similar Â“reliefÂ” programs in state and local governments followed (May 1988). The Â“family wage ideologyÂ” of the time assumed that men needed to support families and that women were only supplemental wage earners w ho did not need the same levels of pay (Milkman 1985). In 1939, women earned on average only 59 percent what men did (May 1988). A woman under such policies had no real option for economic independence; marriage was her only choice. The feminists of the 1920s Â“had destroyed the old image of woman, but they could not erase the hos tility, the prejudice, the discrimination that still remainedÂ” (Friedan 1963:100). During World War II, the nation was desperate for workers. Turning to women for help was unavoidable, although most middleclass white men still did not want their
35 wives to work. A 1943 Gallup Poll showed that 79 percent of married men opposed war work for their wives and that 78 percent of female homemakers agreed (Hartmann 1982; Gluck 1987). When the war began, unemployment fell to zero and women were needed in the workforce (May 1988). Newspapers of the time portrayed working women in an almost comical way, caricaturizing them and emphasizing how unusual it was that they could do the jobs of men. The media was tr ying to recruit more women to work in all types of jobs but was not ready to concede, even after reporting thei r success, that this was normal (Heppner 2005). A wartime pamphlet included this type of propaganda: Â“it is essential that women avoid arrogance and retain their femininity in the face of their own new status. . In her new independence she must not lose her humanness as a woman.Â” In a textbook of the era, scientific authorities stated: Â“socia l freedom and employment for women would cause sexual laxity, moral decay and the destruction of the familyÂ” (May 1988). When the war ended, women were the first to be let go and were denied unemployment benefits if there was a Â“wom anÂ’s jobÂ” available to them, despite the significant pay differential (Tampa Morning Tribune 1944). Nationally, three quarters of working women wanted to stay employed, including over half of the working wives (Gluck 1987). For those who were able to stay in the workforce, the prospects dimmed. WomenÂ’s pay declined 26 percent after the war, compared to the national average decrease of 4 percent for all workers (May 1988). The limited childcare options that had been made available during the war disappear ed and the for-profit childcare industry did not yet exist (Weatherford 1991).
36 Most scholars agree that the lives of individual women were changed by war work, but public policy did not change along w ith them. Feminist Susan M. Hartmann's Â“seeds of changeÂ” thesis says that, although the war did not bring revolution for women as a group, there were still enormous cha nges in the lives of individuals (Hartmann 1982). Sherna Gluck also felt that Â“the housewives who went home may have transmitted Â‘private changes,Â’ such as in creased feeling of self-suffici ency, to their daughters,Â” who became part of feminismÂ’s second wave in the 1970s (McArthur 1987). The American workplace had changed dr amatically by the 1950s. Because the economies of Europe and Japan were so damaged by the war, America became the global leader in manufacturing. Fears of another de pression were quickly overcome as continued military spending for the Cold War, combined with growing consumerism, resulted in remarkable economic growth (Rosenberg 1992) Factory and office work increased and farm labor became scarce. By 1950, 12 percent of the labor force was in clerical positions, compared to just 3 percent in 1900, and most of those jobs were held by white women (Boyle 2001). Despite the growing sentiment that middle-class women should be in the home, they were still needed in the workpl ace. Although the number of women employed increased after the war, now it was often for that second, supplementary income imagined by the family wage ideology (May 1988). This post-war economic boom resulted in an increase in GNP of 29 percent between 1953 and 1961 (Boyle 2001). It was into this time of prosperity that the women in my re search were born. But no organized womenÂ’s movement developed in the 1950s and white middle-class women were left to accept their fate as housewives or members of a low-paid Â“pink collarÂ” workforce.
37 The struggle for equal rights regained momentum in 1961 with the establishment of the PresidentÂ’s Commission on the Status of Women. The CommissionÂ’s 1963 report, outlining the continuing inequalities faced by women, helped set the stage for the passing of the Equal Pay Act that year and the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (Evans 2001). Also in 1963, Betty Friedan published Â“The Feminine Mystique,Â” providing the second wave of feminism its beginnings (Friedan 1963). Frie danÂ’s views were based in part on those of French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, who published Â“The Second SexÂ” in 1949. De Beauvoir held that women were never free in our society; only men led autonomous lives (Evans 2000). Friedan defines the Â“mystiqueÂ” this way: The feminine mystique says that the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity. . [it says that] the root of womenÂ’s troubles in the past, is that wo men envied men, women tried to be like men, instead of accepting their own nature, which can find fulfillment only in sexual passivity, male domination, and nurturing maternal love [Friedan 1963:43]. Friedan primarily credited the male dominated media with creating and perpetuating this Â“mystique,Â” but she also de dicated full chapters to the impact of both Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead on this phe nomenon. To her, these factors had all combined to create a culture that Â“does not permit women to accept or gratify their basic need to grow and fulfill their potentialities as human beings . .Â” (Friedan 1963:77). She felt that women were encouraged to ignore the questions of identity that are normally addressed by humans when they reach adolescence. This was partly due to lack of role models, an issue still important for the women in my study. Although it is important to note that Fr iedan wrote for a specific purpose, she painted this distressing picture of the ha ppy homemakers she interviewed in the early 1960s:
38 Sixteen out of the twenty-eight were in analysis or analytical psychotherapy. Eighteen were taking tranquilizers, severa l had tried suicide; and some had been hospitalized for varying periods, for de pression or vaguely diagnosed psychotic states . their voices were dull and flat, or nervous and jittery; they were listless and bored, or frantically Â“busyÂ” around the house or community . they were desperately eager to talk about the other Â“problem,Â” with which they seemed very familiar indeed [Friedan 1963:235]. This Â“problemÂ” is what Friedan labeled the Â“problem that has no name,Â” which is simply the fact that American women are Â“kept from growing to their full human capacitiesÂ” (Friedan 1963:364). The solution sh e recommends is work: Â“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other wayÂ” (Friedan 1963:344). In this she echoes liberal political theorists of the early 19th century who said that Â“womenÂ’s true potential went unfulfilled because of their exclusion from the academy, the forum and the marketplace . .Â” (Calas and Smircich 1996:222). FriedanÂ’s conclusions includ e this statement: Â“it is also time to stop giving lip service to the idea that there are no battles le ft to be fought for women in America, that womenÂ’s rights have already been wonÂ” (Fri edan 1963:374). It is not surprising then, that in 1966 Friedan helped to found The Na tional Organization for Women (NOW). Its statement of purpose was: Â“To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assu ming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnershi p with menÂ” (Evans 2000:155). With NOW, the Â“womenÂ’s liberationÂ” movement had officially begun, taking inspiration from the Civil Rights movement which had already achieved much success (Evans 2001). NOW supported the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed Congress in 1972 and was sent to the states, but never ratified. This support of the ERA caused
39 disagreements within the organization. This, and a lack of organizi ng skills, kept it from growing into a national movement that might have had a more significant impact (Evans 2000). The womenÂ’s movement actually had many factions, the two most visible being FriedanÂ’s NOW group, composed of women profe ssionals like those in this research, and a second, more radical group of activists, such as Women Strike for Peace, who gained attention through demonstrations and Â“consci ousness-raisingÂ” (Eva ns 2000). Although it was not as directly focused on the needs of women in business, this second groupÂ’s impact on the culture, by challenging the defi nitions of male and female, has worked to make the professional and policy challenges clearer. This movement was not without its de tractors. In addition to white male backlash, conservative women began antiabortion and anti-ERA movements and mainstream women began to shy away from the label of Â“feminist,Â” as the radical groups within the movement became more visible. The early womenÂ’s movement has also been criticized by many for not including the voi ces of women of color, while purporting to speak for all women (Gluck 1998). According to surveys, only one-t hird of U.S. women self-identified as Â“feminis tsÂ” by 1989 and this declined to only one-fourth by 1998 (Williams 2000:41). Williams (2000) speculates that this is because feminism inherited the Â“full commodificationÂ” model from Frie dan. This model proposed buying childcare and housekeeping to allow women to work full time, like men. Women rejected this model because household work could not be so easily Â“erasedÂ” and, ultimately, it got them more work (Williams 2000). The press played up this image of feminism, that it Â“devalues family and household workÂ” (Williams 2000:46). But significant progress
40 continued to be made into the 1980s as the women in my study were joining the workforce. Other issues of significance for women we re the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 (Evans 2000) and the legalizati on of abortion by the Supreme CourtÂ’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade Women had finally gained cont rol of their own reproduction, a matter not unrelated to their career options and chances for advancement. The activism of women during the 1970s also brought about the day care industry, which finally offered women who chose to have both children and a ca reer an option, other than relatives, for childcare during work hours. The white, middle-class women interviewed for this study were not only expected to attend college, they were en couraged by their parents to have careers. The oldest were pointed toward traditionally female careers, but for most of them, the option of business and the professions were considered reas onable. The 1980s brought the first woman Supreme Court justice and astronaut, as well as women in many prominent roles in public and religious life, in addition to the cor porate world. This provided girls and young women the role models that had been absent for the previous generation. The eighties also brought us media images of Â“superwom enÂ” who handled both successful careers and families, essentially blaming the women who couldnÂ’t seem to manage to Â“have it allÂ” (Williams 2000:46). And the workplace had changed again. The dominance of U.S. factories began to slow with the recovery of the economies in Japan and Western Europe. By 1980, unemployment had risen to 7 percent and infl ation was 13 percent. A major shift began, moving manufacturing jobs over seas, growing the service sector at home, and adding
41 Â“restructuringÂ” to the busine ss vocabulary (Boyle 2001). In the mid-eighties, the term Â“glass ceilingÂ” began to be used to desc ribe a Â“puzzling new phenomenonÂ” which seemed to prevent women from reaching the executiv e levels (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004:148). With the 1987 book, Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Can women reach the top of AmericaÂ’s largest corporations? the term became a permanent part of the discourse regarding women in business (Morrison et al. 1992). Its authors descri be the glass ceiling as Â“not simply a barrier for an individual based on the personÂ’s inability to handle a higher level job. Rather, the glass ceiling a pplies to women as a group who are kept from advancing higher simply because they are womenÂ” (Morrison et al. 1992:13). Reading Breaking the Glass Ceiling today reveals a text that is focused on assimilation of women into a male dominated workplace, what some gender researchers have called Â“fixing the womenÂ” and others would consider Â“blaming the victim.Â” The key to success for women, these author s say, is Â“to stay within a narrow band of acceptable behavior,Â” which means dispelling stereotypes about women that would indicate that they cannot be leaders, while not forfeiting Â“all traces of femininity, because that would make them too alien to their superiors and colleaguesÂ” (Morrison et al. 1992:55). They admit that these are contradi ctory behaviors, but nonetheless recommend that women not only perform their jobs better than their male counter parts but that they: Â“take risks, but be consistently outstanding, be tough, but donÂ’t be macho, be ambitious, but donÂ’t expect equal treatment, and take responsibility, but follow othersÂ’ adviceÂ” (Morrison et al. 1992:57).
42 The term Â“glass ceilingÂ” was also adopted by the Department of Labor and the Glass Ceiling Commission, as discussed above. A statistical study by a sociologist, based on data from the mid-1970s through the ea rly 1990s, concluded that the glass ceiling exists and that it differs from the accumulati on of discrimination at lower levels over the course of the womenÂ’s careers (Cotter et al. 2001). This research proposed a unified definition that includes these four criteria co mprising the glass ceiling: difference that is not explained by other job-relevant characte ristics of the employee, difference that is greater at higher levels (inequ ality in the chances of advancement into higher levels not merely the proportions of each gender or ra ce currently at those higher levels) and inequality that increases over the course of a car eer (Cotter et al. 2001). It was in 1987 that the U. S. Depart ment of LaborÂ’s Â“Workforce 2000Â” report predicted that only 15 percent of net additions to the labor force would be white males by the year 2000, but Kanter (1993) reminds us th at Â“what the raw statis tics did not reveal, however, is the likelihood that nonminority wh ite males who are already in place [would] still dominate the upper ends of professiona l and managerial pyramids, though they may no longer claim exclusive occupancyÂ” (K anter 1993:315). When Kanter updated her classic book (discussed below) in 1993, she sa id that the demographic changes in the workplace had Â“created a large pool of young, experienced women eligible for the same prime career opportunities men had long enj oyedÂ” (Kanter 1993:304). But they did not seem to be getting the opportunities, and many women had moved to smaller, more entrepreneurial companies that seemed more open to women leaders, or had started their own businesses. She felt that the Â“female entrepreneurial boomÂ” was Â“in part a response to blocked or distorted opportunities in la rge established companiesÂ” (Kanter 1993:306).
43 Kanter cites a 1992 poll by Business Week in which 70 percent of female executives Â“felt that a male-dominated corporate culture was an obstacle to success for womenÂ” (Kanter 1993:309). The Catalyst research organization was fo rmed at the beginning of the womenÂ’s movement Â“to help women enter the workforce,Â” but in 1972 changed its focus from the women, to the businesses, realizing that Â“w hile women have broken into the corporate world and have the education and skills necessa ry to advance, most still hold jobs on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder. It is time to fix the companies, not the womenÂ” (Catalyst 2006). A 2004 Catalyst research study found that women and men Â“have equal desire to have the CEO jobÂ” (Catalyst 2006). Catalyst conducted studies of the glass ceiling in 1996 and again in 2003 (Catalyst 2004; Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004). They surveyed CEOs and female executives of multinational companies, asking them to Â“account for why relatively few women make it to the top ranksÂ” (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004:152). The women in the study identified the following three barriers: 1996 2003 Male stereotyping and preconceptions of women 52% 33% Exclusion from informal networks of communication 49% 41% Lack of significant general management/line experience 47% 47%
44 The CEOs said the following factors were responsible for holding the women back: 1996 2003 Lack of significant general management/line experience 82% 68% Lack of time in the pipeline 64% NA Failure of senior leadership to assume accountability NA 37% The same study . Â“revealed four crit ical behaviors women must engage in to break through the glass ceiling in their orga nizationsÂ” (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004:156): 1996 2003 Consistently exceed expectations 77% 69% Develop a style with which male managers are comfortable 61% 47% Seek out difficult or highly visible assignments 50% 40% Have an influential mentor 37% NA Despite CatalystÂ’s self-proclaimed interest in fixing the companies, not the women, with few exceptions, the factors they identified that impede success, as well as the recommended behaviors they list, show a continued focus on the women. Other research has also suggested that, in most workplaces, women need to adopt Â“masculineÂ” management styles, while at the same time avoid being considered unfeminine (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004). Where women do succeed, it is generally due to their merits and hard wo rk, while men often succeed Â“because they have
45 a certain personality profile: they tend to be independent, dominant, and extrovertedÂ” (Stroh, Langlands, and Simpson 2004:155). Andrew Hacker (2003) dispels the common argument that the Â“glass ceilingÂ” is really due to there not being enough women e ligible for executive pos itions (lack of time in the pipeline). According to his statistic s, 8.4 percent of MBAs in 1975 were earned by women, and, if all of these three thous and women had actively pursued the business careers they had prepared for, and had equal talents and abilities to the men of the same graduating class, 84 of the top one thousa nd companies would have women chairmen in 2002; only eight actually did. Although the 84 would be a high estimate, eight is clearly low. The two principal reasons that Hacker cites for the disparity are the masculine culture of the corporation, for which he sa ys women have not been prepared, and the societal demands on women to be the primary caregivers for children (Hacker 2003). An historical event of significance fo r women, and particularly for women in business, was the Senate confirmation hear ings for Clarence Thomas in 1991. The treatment of Anita Hill and the apparent disregard by the all white male panel of her allegations of sexual harassment, gave women a renewed feeling of solidarity. Complaints of sexual harassment skyrocketed (Wakefield and Uggen 2004) and a record number of women ran for and won public office in the 1992 elections (Evans 2001). But the political climate became more and more conservative during this time, as the impact of the Reagan/Bush era slowly reversed much of the New Deal. Another consolidation of companies created global Â“mega-corporationsÂ” that defy industrial classification and compete fiercely on the stoc k exchanges. At the same time, the new high-technology industry grew a nd provided significant opport unities to highly-educated,
46 white-collar workers, while following the old-line companies in keeping most of their manufacturing out of the country. Although much of this change was seen as good for business and, as a result, benefited the types of white-collar positions th at were held by the women in my research, most of them also experienced the phenome non of the corporate layoff at least once in their careers. This gave some of them lucr ative severance packages that helped launch their new careers, but it also created a sense of insecurity and distrust that is part of the criticism that they have of the workplace of today. Women also face obstacles due to informal systems operating within businesses. McGuire (2002) concluded that women get less informal help than men in the workplace, even when the women are in similar positions of power. She criticizes network theorists for assuming gender neutrality, saying that Â“they tend to overlook the ways in which organizational norms, values and positions ha ve been constructed to privilege men and disadvantage womenÂ” (McGuire 2002:317). Policies labeled Â“work/life,Â” which purpo rtedly are designed to address Â“womenÂ’s issues,Â” have also been cited by researchers as reproducing the stereotype that women are responsible for children, which is not seen as compatible with commitment to a career (Benschop 2006). For example, in 2000 only 15 percent of male workers took time off under the Family Medical Leave Act and 57.6 percent of those leaves were for personal health issues. While most FMLA leaves are taken by women to care for newborns, only 3 percent of males workers took such leaves in 2000 (Levit and Verchick 2006). Despite the economic gains in the U.S. economy and the dramatic change in the overall status of women during the 20th century, as the century ended there were
47 significant disparities remaining. Although 61 percent of women were in the workforce in 2000, 70 percent were in healthcare, e ducation or wholesale and retail trade (Evans 2001). Their median income for full-time work was up to 79.5 percent of the median for men in 2003, but only 69.9 percent of menÂ’s for women in management, business, and financial operations. Although these are sign ificant gains since the 59 percent in 1939 noted above, the Institute for WomenÂ’s Policy Research estimates, based on the rate of progress from 1989 to 2002, Â“women would not achieve wage parity for more than 50 years (Catalyst 2006; Werschkul and Williams 2004). The Feminist Majority Foundation predicted in 1991 that it would take 475 y ears for women to close the gap in the executive ranks (Morrison et al. 1992:7). The companies where the women in my study were employed are predominantly service businesses that include large numbers of females, most of them concentrated in clerical and customer service positions. Women as directors and vice presidents, like those portrayed herein, are still considered unusual. In 2005, women made up 46.4 percent of the United States labor force and 50.6 percent of management and professional positions, but only 16.4 percent of the corporate officers of the Fortune 500, and only 1.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs (Catalyst 2006). The culture of the United States has al so changed dramatically over the past century, but somehow women still bear the primary burden of running households and raising children. Although most wome n work, the workplace operates under the presumption that workers have wives at home (Evans 2001). This presents challenges for women at all levels of employment, incl uding the executive level. A new phenomenon, labeled Â“Mr. MomÂ” in popular culture, has ev olved for the reverse of the stereotype of
48 the husband as breadwinner with a housewife to support him. Although still considered unusual, these stay-at-home husbands appear more likely when the wife is a corporate executive. These women can also afford nannies, but guilt from not being the primary caregiver for their children continues for many. Hacker (2003) noted that many top fema le executives, including CEOs like Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard and Anne Mulcay at Xerox, were married to men who had already retired and most of them did not have children. Male executives may acknowledge that they also have a struggle to balance work and home and be a part of their childrenÂ’s lives, but they do not face th e same societal pressure to do so. And the presumption that women are more interested in their home respons ibilities than their careers adds to the stereotypes that hold women back. The New York Times reported in 2005 that women graduating from elite colleges were choosing to stay home w ith their children and were not returning to the workforce (Story 2005). Such publicity led philosopher and former litigator Linda Hirshman to find women whose weddings were publicized in the Times in 1996. She was not pleased to find that 85 percent were staying home with thei r children. Her feeling is that they have set back the womenÂ’s movement and ended the fight for equality. She states that the womenÂ’s Â“revolution didnÂ’t finish Â– because it wasnÂ’t radical enough. It didnÂ’t address the family in an adequately revo lutionary wayÂ” (Dickerson 2006). Although I agree with this statement by Hi rshman, other research has contradicted these studies, concluding that more mothers are working and those who take time off after childbirth are coming back to work faster (DiversityInc 2006c). Others have seen women leaving not to stay home with their children but because of the limitations for
49 advancement they have experienced or perceived, and many were going into business for themselves (Stockdale and Crosby 2004). This trend by the media of painting womenÂ’s exit from the workforce as a matter of personal choice has been challenged by res earchers at the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California. They feel that it is both exagge rated and inaccurate. Exaggerated because women are not leaving in great numbers and inaccurate because they are not leaving by choice; they are not being pulled out by the call to home, they are being pushed out by workplaces that do not accommodate families. These researchers propose that the media is publicizing the Â“pers onal choiceÂ” viewpoint because it reassures them (the media companies) as well as other businesses that it is not their fault, they are not the ones that need to change (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006). Another report by the Center documented th e increase in lawsuits related to the Â“maternal wallÂ” and other issues of Â“family responsibility discriminationÂ” (discussed below.) Such cases have increased 400 percen t in the last decade and the average award is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The courts have b een favoring the plaintiffs in these suits, which the Center believes is because of their appeal to the conservative Â“family valuesÂ” ideology (Still 2006). In April 2006, The Economist magazine raised the issu e of the underutilization of womenÂ’s skills and abilities. They suggest th at greater participati on in the labor market by women Â“would provide a sounder base for long-term growth. It would help finance rich countriesÂ’ welfare states as populati ons age and it would boost incomes in the developing worldÂ” (Economist 2006). Also in recent news, the president of Harvard University set off a furor that cost him his job when he suggested that there might be a
50 scientific, genetic reason that women do not do as well in math and science as men. And an executive at one of the largest advert ising agencies in New York, responding to a question about why women were not seen at the top in that industry, said it was because Â“theyÂ’re crapÂ” (Velez 2005). The former presid ent of Catalyst, who is now a professor at the Stern School of Business, when asked he r reaction to this manÂ’s comment replied: Â“He spoke out loud what all too many men in leadership positions believe but donÂ’t articulate. . They act on those unspoken biases, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesyÂ” (Fisher 2005). In other words, Hirs hman was right, the revolution is far from over. A leader in feminismÂ’s Â“second wave,Â” Elaine Showalter, was interviewed regarding what many have termed the Â“third waveÂ” of feminism, populated by women coming of age in the 1990s. She prefers to label the current era as Â“post-feminism,Â” because she is Â“very dubious about the existence of a new feminist movementÂ” (Gillis and Munford 2004:60). She feels it is unlikely that a true movement will develop because there is no unifying goal and feminists have exhibited a lack of leadership skills. However, she does not feel that Â“feminismÂ” itself is gone; Â“feminism can go on independently of a womanÂ’s movementÂ” (Gillis and Munford 2004:61). In addition, academic feminism has split into factions (discussed below), which has alienated some. Spencer (2004) adds to this that feminist s today are having difficulties because many of their activists are Â“deeply opposed to many of the institutions within which womenÂ’s previous gains have been madeÂ” (Spencer 2004:11). They are anti -capitalist and anticorporate, making it difficult to e ffect change, short of a revolution.
51 Kanter admitted that her recommendations to work within the system to make structural changes could be viewed as Â“c ounter to the goals of fundamental social change,Â” since Â“the revolutionary would argue against strategies that temporarily alleviate distress, emphasizing the positive value of present suffering in heightening radical consciousnessÂ” (Kanter 1993 :286). To this, she responds: But who bears the burden of waiting? Not the well off. No, it is the people without advantage who continue to lose out; the women who find doors closed to them in certain jobs; the people stuck in dead-end positions, whose lack of opportunity depresses their aspirations a nd sense of self; th e powerless who bear the frustrations of trying to manage wit hout any real resources or influence; the token women or token minorities who suffer from their isolation [Kanter 1993:287]. Theoretical Perspectives This section provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives that provide insight into the issues addressed by this res earch. Included are work theorists, feminist theories and critical management studies. I draw upon these th eories to develop a theoretical framework for this study. Theories of Work Theorists of work have written that ther e is continual conflict between the innate desire to be fulfilled through work and the inability to achie ve this desire in the highly specialized jobs that have developed in advanced capitalism. Marx describes the Â“alienation of laborÂ” as an inevitable conseque nce of the capitalist system, which, at the time of his writing, had progressed to industr ialization. Work th eorists also express various forms of MarxÂ’s theory of man as a Â“species beingÂ” who distinguishes himself from animals through his conscious life act ivity which is Â“productive life,Â” or Â“life creating lifeÂ” (Leacock 1972).
52 Work theorist De Man stated further that there is a duty of labor in society, while Pope John Paul II believed that work is central to both the moral a nd secular life of man (Applebaum 1992). According to Bergson, the effects of work Â“bestow upon man feelings which elevate him, making him rise in every direction, enlarging his horizons as though the grip of intelligence upon matter and the consequence of work within the worker were even more important than the work itself . man, in making his world, makes himselfÂ” (Applebaum 1992:474,476). In de ManÂ’s book, Joy in Work, he says that Â“workers can find joy in work when they are gaining knowledge from their jobs. . working in groups can provide opportunities fo r inventing new methods of organization and work managementÂ” (Applebaum 1992:479). Regarding women, Pope John Paul II wrot e Â“It is fitting that [women] should be able to fulfill their tasks in accordance with their own nature, without being discriminated against and without being excluded from jobs for which they are capable, but also without lack of respect for their family aspirations and for the specific role in contributing, together with men, to the good of societyÂ” (Applebaum 1992:510). LeacockÂ’s introduction to EngelsÂ’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State presents his theory that private property led to the nuclear family which in turn separated women from their support systems and made them dependent on men. In LeacockÂ’s opinion, this made women Â“virtual slaves.Â” The nuclear family was necessary so that property can be owned by individua ls and inherited within families (Leacock 1972). Prior to this system, Engels believed, a more egalitarian system existed based on women as equal providers. This dependence of women on men has persisted and, since
53 the work that women do in the household is not paid, it is de-valued by the capitalist system. Leacock takes a more theoretical view of the responsibility of women for the reproduction of labor within th e household and provides the historical basis from which women assumed this responsibility. Re production here can be defined as the Â“replenishingÂ” or Â“rejuvenatingÂ” of labor, providing the paid laborer with food, shelter and rest so that he (or she) can return to th e workplace. The capitalists do not have to bear this cost; it is borne within the househol d, i.e. the person (often the housewife) performing the work is not paid in wages. The nuclear family ideology is what has led women to assume the responsibility for this work (Leacock 1972). Sunbelt Working Mothers provides an update on this theory by describing what happens when the primary provider of this re production of labor joins the paid labor force (Zavella 1993). The work within the home s till must be done; in f act, the labor of two workers must now be reproduced. One strate gy for dealing with this is the sharing of tasks between the husband and wife (Zavel la 1993). For childcare, strategies include turning outside the nuclear family to extende d kin and friendship networks (Gonzales and Lamphere 1993), or purchasing this work on the market (Zavella and Gonzales 1993). Zavella and Gonzales (1993) point out that the debate is still centered on mothersÂ’ employment versus mothering, not fathersÂ’ empl oyment versus fathering. This is perhaps the most important evidence of the conti nued prevalence of the inequality that was created by the nuclear family. It also causes the formerly non-valued work of the housewife to be valued by the system eith er through purchasing its replacement on the market or negotiating it from the husband thr ough exchange of the wifeÂ’s paid labor. In
54 both cases, the value of the work can no longer be ignored. Leacock feels that this has done more to further the cause of womenÂ’s rights than the feminist movement because it has forced the discussion of societyÂ’s responsibility for childcare (Leacock 1972). Feminist Theories Feminist Catharine MacKinnonÂ’s dominan ce theory dates to the 1970s; she stated that male dominance is Â“perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious system of power in history . it is metaphysically nearly perfectÂ” (Harris 1995:256). Although the dominance theoretical view has been instrume ntal in legal thinking regarding rape, sexual harassment and pornography, critics consider it both essentializing and condescending to women, as it presumes they have no the abil ity to make independent choices within such a patriarchal system (Levit and Verchick 2006). MacKinnon has also been criticized for shifting the focus away from inequality in the workplace and family relationships (Williams 2000). Feminists in the 1970s and 80s attempte d to create egalitarian organizations, without hierarchy, rather than work within the current structure of organizations. Their goal was to show that there were other st ructures possible, but few such organizations survived (Acker 1990). In 1982, Carol Gilligan published In a Different Voice which focused a developing split within feminism between Â“samenessÂ” and Â“differenceÂ” theorists. The early second-wave feminist s argued that men and women were the same and therefore should be treated equally, while Gilligan proposed that women are different and required special treatment, the most obvious being maternity leaves. GilliganÂ’s view linked women with an Â“ethic of care,Â” which st ill resonates in arguments that women lead differently, are more team oriented and coll aborative. The popular media picked up this
55 viewpoint when Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was published in 1992 and does not seem ready to abandon it, despite re search to the contrary, partly because even women accept this view as truth (Williams 2000:179-184; Gray 1992; Gilligan 1982). A recent article in The Wall Street Journal confirmed this and went further to report that when women fail to live up to the stereotype of being supportive in the workplace, their performance is rated poorly, while men viewed as unsupportive did not see such a decline in performance evaluation (Hymowitz 2005). Rosabeth Moss KanterÂ’s seminal work, Men and Women of the Corporation was published in 1977 (and updated in 1993) ba sed on her years spent inside one of AmericaÂ’s largest corporations (Kanter 1993) She described the Â“individualÂ” model of work behavior that was prevalent at that time, Â“an assumption that the factors producing inequities at work are somehow carried in side the individual personÂ” (Kanter 1993:261). She challenged this assumption. In her model, Â“responses to work are a function of basic structural issues such as constraints im posed by roles and the effect of opportunity, power, and numbersÂ” (Kanter 1993:261). The focus must move from changing the women to changing the organization. The individual model also assumes that people come to the organization a certain way to fit a certain job. KanterÂ’s work show ed that Â“to a very large degree, organizations make their workers into who they areÂ” (Kante r 1993:263). She also discusses the need for trust in managerial roles and how this need has perpetuated the dominance of white males in leadership positions. She refers to this as Â“the human tendency for managers to pick those with whom they feel most comfortable to serve as confidantes or trusted aides .
56 especially in important, higher level jobs . the sometimes-unconscious bias toward people resembling those already in l eadership positionsÂ” (Kanter 1993:316). As an intervention, Kanter proposed modi fication of the way systems of work are organized. But in the 1993 update to her book, she states that Â“the structural variables that determined success . in the 1970s are still relevant to the 1990sÂ” (Kanter 1993:289). She challenged the updated approach to the individual model which attempted to show that women are not only different, but somehow better, a manifestation of the Â“difference feminismÂ” of Carol Gilligan, discussed above. Kanter referred back to her original study which showed that Â“when men and women are in similar situations, operating under similar expectations, they tend to behave in similar waysÂ” (Kanter 1993:312). In 1990, sociologist Joan Acker said this of KanterÂ’s book: Â“Moss Kanter sets out to show that gender differences in organizational be havior are due to st ructure rather than to characteristics of women and men as indi viduals . in spite of these insights, organizational structure, not gender, is th e focus of Moss KanterÂ’s analysisÂ” (Acker 1990:143). Acker is more concerned with th e construction of gender, which was raised by Kanter, but not full developed (according to Acker). She describes organizations as Â“gendered,Â” in contrast to prior theoretical views of them as Â“gender neutral.Â” Being Â“genderedÂ” means that Â“advantages and disa dvantages, exploitation and control, action and emotion, meaning and iden tities are patterned through and in terms of, distinctions between what is constructed as male and female, masculine and feminineÂ” (Acker 1990:146).
57 Acker further theorized that cultural images of gender are invented and reproduced within the workplace. She called for changing the focus of feminist research of organizations to one in which it is understood that assu mptions about gender Â“underlie the documents and contracts used to cons truct [them]Â” (Acker 1990:139). For example, Â“. . menÂ’s bodies, sexuality, and relations hips to procreation and paid work are subsumed in the image of the workerÂ” (Ack er 1990:139). Acker identified five sets of gendering processes at work in organizations : formal practices and policies, informal work practices (which forms of work are recognized and valued), the organizationÂ’s symbols and images, everyday social interac tions, and peopleÂ’s internalizations and expressions of their gender identities. As an example of formal practices, sh e cites the job description. When job descriptions are written and placed within the corporate hierarchy, they are designed around the male worker whose Â“life centers on his full-time, life-long job, while his wife or another woman takes care of his persona l needs and his childrenÂ” (Acker 1990:149). Since women are presumed to have family responsibilities, they rarely fit the requirements of the job; Â“the concept Â‘a jobÂ’ is thus implicitly a gendered concept even though organizational logic presents it as gende r neutral . [it] assume[s] a particular gendered organization of domestic lifeÂ” (Acker 1990:149). Acker refers to this as Â“hegemonic masculinity,Â” which is portrayed in the organizationÂ’s leadership ideal of a Â“strong, technically competent, authoritative leader who is sexually potent and attractive, has a family, and has his emotions under controlÂ” (Acker 1990:153). As further evidence of hegemonic masculinity and the reproduction of gender in organizations, Acker presents an ex ample of everyday social interactions, Â“all
58 male play groups,Â” where men talk of sports and sex (Â“boy talkÂ”). These are Â“symbolic expressions of male dominance [and] also act as significant contro ls over women in work organizations,Â” because it excludes them from the place in which bonding occurs (Acker 1990:153). Bird (1996) did a qualitative study of men aged 26-50 in the early 1990s in an academic community and found that when they are in all male groups in social settings, the men conformed to these accepted patter ns of masculinity: emotional detachment, competition and sexual objectification of wome n. All of these behaviors were considered to be male behaviors, not female behaviors and better than female behaviors. Even those men who claimed they did not subscribe to these beliefs and would prefer to act differently, would not challenge the behavior norms while in the all male group. This behavior helps to perpetuate Â“hegemonic masculinity,Â” which Bird defines by quoting Connell: Â“the maintenance of practices that institutionalize menÂ’s dominance over womenÂ” (Connell 1987). In a 1996 organization studies book, Ca las and Smircich called for the use of feminist theories to make their field more inclus ive. Prior research in this field was Â“. . by men, for men and about menÂ” (Calas a nd Smircich 1996:222). As a result, studies of women in management were focused on how unusual it was to see them there and Â“the majority of the women in management literature [was] still trying to demonstrate that women are people tooÂ” (Calas and Smirci ch 1996:223). The authors express their concern for the capacity of feminist theories being used at the time to Â“examine the taken-for-granted organizational conditions wh ich more and more seem to advantage the few at the expense of the manyÂ” (Calas a nd Smircich 1996:242). They cite then recent
59 business publications as evidence that gender in equities were growing, but that they had become naturalized, and call on feminists to denaturalize them. Calas and Smircich also provided a discussion of the different feminist approaches and how they might relate to the study of organizations. Their typology begins with Â“liberalÂ” feminism with roots in the 18th century and includes what they term Â“radicalÂ” (what MacKinnon calle d dominance), Â“psychoanalytic,Â” Â“Marxist,Â” Â“socialist,Â” Â“poststructuralist/postmodern,Â” and Â“third world/(post) col onialÂ” feminisms. All are critical theories, but they vary in the degr ee of their critique Â“leading to agendas that range from Â‘reformingÂ’ organizations ; to Â‘transformingÂ’ organizations and society; to transforming our prior unders tanding of what constitu tes knowledge/theory/practiceÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:219). The Â“socialistÂ” feminists, as described by Calas and Smircich, take issue with the lack of attention to patriarchy in Marxism, and the lack of materialism in radical and psychoanalytic feminism. They view gender as socially constructed, but also as a dynamic concept Â“in both processual and mate rial waysÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:232). Socialist feminism has its intellectual ro ots in the 1970s womenÂ’s liberation movement and attempts to Â“synthesizeÂ” Marxist, psychoanalytic and radical feminisms. Their goal is a society in which Â“all systems of private/ public oppression based on sex, gender, race, class, etc.,Â” are eliminated and social re lations are transformed. Case studies and ethnographies are their favored research me thods and they choose to Â“focus on microsocial activities as they connect to macr o-social processesÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:220-221).
60 For the study of organizations, socialist fe minists believe that the focus must be broader than the organization, it must include the family and society; gender relations in the private sphere impact those within the wo rkplace. As Marxian theorists have shown, the separation of the public and private wa s brought about by industrialization, which resulted in a gendered structure of work (t he sexual division of labor) and Â“the unequal, and persistent sex-based patterns of employmentÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:234). In addition to this structur al pattern, Â“genderingÂ” of organizations occurs through use of symbols and images that lead to in equalities, such as im ages of the Â“idealÂ” employee, the top manager, and the organizati on Â“hero,Â” all of which Â“tend to be those of forceful masculinityÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:234). Calas and Smircich also discuss the Marxian view of women as Â“the hidden pr oviders in the economy, reproducing labor by doing the work at home . [which] also cause s the persistence of the inequality at workÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:234-235). But they admit that the remedies envisioned by socialist feminist seem to be Â“nave and utopic,Â” as they call for a Â“complete restructuringÂ” of society that they feel is unlikely (Calas and Smircich 1996:244). This theoretical view, however, has proven useful fo r applied research with less radical goals (e.g. Meyerson and Kolb, below). Feminist legal theorists have added Â“pragmatic feminismÂ” to the typology, an approach that attempts to consider each ca se of discrimination wi thin its own context, seeking the best resolution from what are accep ted as less than ideal options (Levit and Verchick 2006:34). The legal theorists also emphasize the need for unmasking patriarchy and bias, while recognizing that bias, especially structural bias in institutions may not be intentional (Levit and Verchick 2006). They suggest that such subtle bias as Â“not having
61 lunch or playing racquetball w ith a supervisor, and then not being considered as Â‘a team player,Â’Â” has helped to create and perp etuate the glass ceiling (Levit and Verchick 2006:74). These behaviors are often difficult to recognize, at least by the men, as forms of bias. Because it is so invisible, women also buy into the system as it is, looking for ways to change their own behavior, rather than being interested in understanding it as institutionalized discrimination (Levit and Verchick 2006). Joan Williams introduced Â“reconstructive feminism,Â” in her 2000 book Unbending Gender in which she questions the need for the Â“ideal workerÂ” norm (Williams 2000). The workplace has been bui lt around such workers, who are available for work continuously and full time because they have no responsibility for housework or childcare (Levit and Verchick 2006). In ex ecutive and professional positions, the ideal worker must be available to work fifty to seventy hours per week and be able to travel and relocate. In WilliamÂ’s view, this constitutes discrimination against women, since society continues to expect them to take full responsibility for Â“family workÂ” (Williams 2000:5). Employee benefits, including health in surance, are also tied to Â“ideal,Â” full-time workers, limiting the options for part-time work. The feminists of the 1960s demanded access to jobs and demanded that men share in the housework, but did no t question the Â“ideal worker Â” as someone with Â“immunity from family work.Â” Although men now have the benefit of a second income in their households, they have not accepted an equal share of this family work. If women have failed as ideal workers, Williams believes it is because husbands are not doing Â“family work.Â” Kanter also discusses the fact th at work hours have increased and both parents are unhappy when they donÂ’t have enough time to sp end with their children but, Â“if child
62 care worries are increasingly shared by men and women, child care work is not. Women still do the bulk of all household tasksÂ” (Kanter 1993:321). Williams acknowledges that both men and women are Â“caught in force fields that suck them back toward ideal worker and marginalized caregiver rolesÂ” (Williams 2000:276). Williams criticizes other feminists fo r their recent focus (in the 1990s) on only two themes, violence against women and gay issues. She calls for moving the focus to changing Â“the way we organize workÂ” both in the workplace and in the family. The current structure of men being in the workplace while women are at home with family responsibilities date s to the late 18th century, a gender system that Williams terms Â“domesticity.Â” Prior to this time, when their work kept them close to home, men were responsible for raising children because they were considered morally superior to women. Although domesticity was an improvement over this more condescending form of patriarchy, the result has been new descript ions of the Â“true natureÂ” of both women and men, and success is now defined as the Â“self made man.Â” This, and the goal of Â“being a good provider,Â” is still prevalent for the ma le identity, and women still express their support for menÂ’s careers ahead of their ow n. A study in 1995 found that 88 percent of women believed it was their primary responsibil ity to take care of the family. Utilizing BourdieuÂ’s model of the habitus Williams tells us that this move into domesticity represents Â“embodied history, in ternalized as second nature and so forgotten as historyÂ” (Williams 2000:38). Here is how Williams describes the alte rnatives available to women under the current system, Â“domesticity:Â”
63 They can perform as ideal workers without the flow of family work and other privileges male ideal workers enjoy. This is not equality. Or they can take deadend mommy-track jobs or Â“womenÂ’s work.Â” That is not equality either. A system that allows only these two alternatives is one that discriminates against women [Williams 2000:39]. The statistics that reveal increases in se lf-employment of women as well as in womenowned business Â“dramatize the pent-up pr oductivity that can emerge if work is restructured to eliminate the traditio nal ideal worker normÂ” (Williams 2000:83). Williams also believes that the system discriminates against men, who want to work less and have more personal time and time for their families, but donÂ’t, because to do so would cause them to be marginalized, as women are in the workplace. They also are held accountable to the Â“providerÂ” mode l, with 90 percent of top male managers having non-working spouses and children at hom e. The fact that men who stay home as primary caregivers have been labeled Â“Mr. MomsÂ” reveals the marginalization of the male doing Â“familyÂ” work. Williams believes this label Â“deflects attention from the fact that men nurture, by coding any man who nurtures as a womanÂ” (Williams 2000:190). She calls for feminists to form alliances with men and Â“identify their enemy as the current construction of gender and abuse of male power, not as menÂ” (Williams 2000:262). The current system within the workplace is also, according to Williams, inefficient, both because women are underuti lized and because everyone is overworked, due to increasing work hours. She feels that the Â“people who currentl y rise to the top are not necessarily the most competent; they are the small minority of people ready, willing and able to work eighty hours a weekÂ” (W illiams 2000:93). Kanter also addressed this and went further to say that:
64 There is a danger in excluding from the j obs high in power those for whom family is a priority. This could reinforce a tradi tional vicious cycle: Ma nagers that rise to gain influence over peopleÂ’s lives are th ose who place the least priority on family and therefore are least likely to understand the realities of working parentsÂ’ lives. Working parents and perhaps, mostly women are thereby kept out of power [Kanter 1993:322]. Williams outlines three Â“axes for intervention,Â” which she proposes could lead to change. For the first axis, gender redistri bution of housework, sh e updates the statistics that show most housework and childcare is done by women. This must be taken into account when distributing assets and the hus bandÂ’s income upon divorce, since this work by the wife has allowed him to function as the ideal worker, leading to higher income levels. She feels that this wi ll help to lift women out of th e poverty that is caused by our societyÂ’s marginalization of their caregiver role s. In addition, she ca lls for a redistribution of the Â“familyÂ” work, but does not feel it can be done in isolation from the workplace. Â“As long as employers are free to margina lize anyone who does not perform as an ideal worker . most men feel as if they have little choice but to resists demands to share equally in houseworkÂ” (Williams 2000:235). WilliamsÂ’ second axis is the reconfigura tion of public and private spheres. For this argument she cites examples from primarily European countries where the government provides paid family leave and supports quality childcare options. When it was seen that men did not take the paid leave that was offered them, Norway created Â“daddy days,Â” that were only available to men (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006). But even Williams does not see U.S. public policy moving towards large social programs like parental leave or government funded ch ildcare in the near term. Most of her recommendations revolve around her third ax is, redistributing entitlements between
65 employers and employees. It is here that she challenges the employers Â’ right to expect all workers to perform as Â“ideal,Â” with no res ponsibilities other than their jobs. Williams is hopeful that feminists can leverage the curr ent rhetoric around Â“family valuesÂ” to reduce the marginalization of caregivers in the workpl ace. More equitable distribution of family work could follow, as men are more willing to take on caregiving when it does not reduce their earning potential at work. Most importa ntly, Williams calls on feminists to give up the sameness/difference debate and focus inst ead on these potential axes of intervention. Her admonition to feminists: Â“DonÂ’t fight with your friendsÂ” (Williams 2000:241). A team of researchers from the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons Graduate School of Management has published the results of what they say is the first attempt to apply feminist organization theory in an action research project with the express goal of advancing gender eq uity. Although the project ultimately was abandoned, they developed a framework for using feminist theory in both the study of organizations and the practice of organizati onal change, bridging th e gap between theory and practice. Here is how they describe it: Our theory of gender was based in th e notion that gend er inequities in organizations are rooted in taken-forgranted assumptions, values, and practices that systematically accord power and pr ivilege to certain groups of men at the expense of women and other men. We wanted to transform work and its relation to other aspects of peopleÂ’s lives in wa ys that would fundamentally alter power relations in organizations and make th em more equitable [Meyerson and Kolb 2000:554]. Utilizing the typology outlined by Calas and Smircich (1996) and described above, this research is grounded in a comb ination of socialist and post-structuralist feminism. Specifically,
66 Insofar as we attend to the material a nd symbolic ordering of everyday life, our approach is similar to a socialist femini st theoretical position; because we view gender as an ongoing accomplishment, however, both product and producer of knowledge systems, identities, and social structure, our approach also draws from poststructuralist feminism [Ely and Meyerson 2000:606]. They describe four frameworks that ha ve been used for understanding gender in organizations, which parallel the various forms of diversity initiatives over time. They are frame one: equip the woman, frame two: cr eate equal opportunity, frame three: value difference, and frame four: resisting and re vising the dominant discourse. They have chosen to work within the fourth frame, c oncluding that the earlier frames have failed to achieve gender equity and that interventions tried using them would have been more effective if applied using the fourth frame (Meyerson and Kolb 2000). The definition of gender in this Â“fourth fr ameÂ” is more complex than in the others; it is not just about women, nor just about discrimination. It considers gender to be socially constructed and oper ating as Â“an axis of power, an organizing principle that shapes social structure, id entities and knowledgeÂ” and that it is Â“created and sustained through formal and informal social pro cesses institutionalized in organizationsÂ” (Meyerson and Kolb 2000:563). As part of their action research, they utilized a Â“dual agenda,Â” working both to overcome gender inequalities and to improve the effectiveness of processes within the organization. They believe that Â“genderedÂ” organizations are less effective (Ely and Meyerson 2000). In addition to working to understand how organizations operate, their method includes working with employees to identify Â“possible experiments Â– concrete changes in work practices that have the pot ential to interrupt ge ndering processes and at the same time improve work effectivenessÂ” (Meyerson and Kolb 2000:566).
67 Meyerson and Kolb (2000) say it is not enough to ask how many women have moved up, instead, researchers must ask: Â“how does the organization do its work? What is valued? What is ignored? And in what wa ys do these taken-for-granted aspects of the organization undermine womenÂ’s advancem ent prospects and, at the same time, compromise the organizations effectiveness?Â” (Meyerson and Kolb 2000:591). As an example, in a corporate office where they conducted research, they found that a leadership strategy of Â“heroicsÂ” was the most highly valued, but Â“heroic women were often vilified as Â‘too aggressive.Â’Â” Commen ting on this finding, Acker (2000) says: Â“I suspect that these gendered identities were important in maintaining commitment to the organization and that, although clearly dys functional from the standpoint of the researcher-activist these identities were not dysfunctional for the male individuals who adopted themÂ” (Acker 2000:631). Commenting further on the Simmons project, Acker has said: The view of organizations as gender neutral facilitates an individualistic view of relative success, influence and power th e view that people succeed because of superior abilities, dedication, and perf ormance. . many women do not want to participate in [projects like this] because they do not want to be identified as whiners and losers; they want to be seen as making it on the basis of their own capacities [Acker 2000:631]. This is not a uniquely American phenomenon. Olsson (2000) confirmed the pervasiveness of Â“heroic masculinismÂ” in he r study of workplaces in New Zealand. She describes it as Â“the traditional and hierarchical form of management, which depicts executives as solitary (male) heroes enga ged in unending trials of enduranceÂ” (Olsson 2000:296). Olsson also found that the male executives in New Zealand were also
68 uncomfortable with this Â“heroic toughnessÂ” being exhibited by women. Women were not allowed to be too much like men, but could not be too different. Poggio (2000) did a qualitative study of men and women working in the same jobs in Italy. She takes a symbolic interactio nist view that, since gender is constructed by organizational culture, it can change if the bu siness wants it to change. Using discourse analysis, she found that although the organi zations ranged from very male-dominated (construction industry) to more egalitarian (high tech), Â“ev ery organization . exhibits gender meanings and symbols which are take n for granted, produ ced and utilized in routine work interactionÂ” (Poggio 2000:384). She did find that the high tech organizations were more open to women in positions of responsibi lity, and that younger and more highly educated men were more open to different forms of organization as well as different models of parental responsib ility. Poggio feels strongly that organizations must change to increase gender equity and that they have a moral responsibility for the way that gender is constructed within them. A recent report from the Center for WorkLife Law builds on Joan WilliamsÂ’ theories of reconstructive feminism discusse d above. Stories in the media regarding what the New York Times named Â“The Opt Out RevolutionÂ” in 2003 were reviewed. Articles between 1980 and 2006 about women leaving the workplace to stay at home with their children revealed a strong bias towards portraying this Â“revolutionÂ” as the personal choice of women. The CenterÂ’s goal in issuing its report was to point out this media bias, present statistics to refute it, and provide information that the media can use to properly report the real story, that the women w ho are leaving do so because the workplace continues to be structured around an idea l worker, as discussed above, and women
69 continue to be marginalized because of thei r societal roles as family caregivers. Both menÂ’s participation in family work and womenÂ’s movement into the workplace have stalled. Men are also beginni ng to leave the workplace becau se it is taking up more and more of their time, and younger workers are challenging the notion that they must be committed to their jobs around the clock (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006). The CenterÂ’s analysis revealed that Â“intensive motheringÂ” is now the norm for childcare, requiring full time attention to ra ise Â“AmericaÂ’s most protected, overwatched generation everÂ” (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006:27). The women who have Â“opted outÂ” also report being bored, lonely and losing their identities, often resulting in depression. The similarities here to the findings discussed above of Betty Friedan regarding the homemakers of the 1950s are troubling. Critical Management Studies Critical management studies began in Brit ain in the 1990s, but the use of critical theory in business has been debated. Some consider it difficult to apply critical tools without them being co-opted by management to further business aims. This seems to contradict the point of critical theory, whic h presumes that there is something wrong that needs to be changed. Critics also feel that not all uses of critical theory in management have been done well. Consequently, there ha s been no agreement on what critical theory truly is within management science (Fournier and Grey 2000). British management researchers Fournier and Grey (2000) use the example of gender to illustrate the difference betwee n critical and non-critical work. Â“Whilst noncritical work takes gender as a Â‘givenÂ’ reposit ory of differences, critical perspective may concentrate on the making of gender differen ces and the ways in which organizational
70 practices, including equal oppor tunity practices, are implic ated in the reproduction of genders power relationsÂ” (Fournier and Grey 2000:17). They use the elements of the business case for diversity (ge nder inequality as a wasted re source) as an example of a non-critical approach, with working to denaturalize gender bei ng the approach they recommend to be taken by critical management studies. Jones and Stablein (2006) address this evol ving research area a nd conclude that it is appropriate for the study of workplace diversity because it would Â“acknowledge a complex web of economic, social and political forces that constitute the positions of the dominant and marginally diverse employees, managers, interested academics and associated workplace and research practic esÂ” (Jones and Stablein 2006:149). They provides us with the statement of the Criti cal Management Studies Interest Group of the Academy of Management: Our premise is that structural features of contemporary society, such as the profit imperative, patriarchy, racial inequality and ecological irresponsibility often turn organizations into instruments of domina tion and exploitation. Driven by a shared desire to changes this situation, we ai m in our research, te aching, and practice to develop critical interpretations of manage ment and society and to generate radical alternatives [Academy of Management 2006]. Using this approach, Jones and Stablein tell us that feminist post-structuralist researchers are concerned with the definitions being given to Â“sameÂ” and Â“differentÂ” in diversity work and cautions that all categories should be view ed skeptically since they are chosen within the power system. They revi ew two articles on workplace diversity and conclude that the concept of management of diversity Â“is no more than the seductive veneer of a fundamentally assimilationist ca pitalism,Â” since the Â“business objectives are
71 taken as a givenÂ” (i.e. the business case)(Jon es and Stablein 2006:153-154)). Their view is very similar to that of Avery Gordon, discussed above. Meyerson and Kolb (2006) discuss Â“tem pered radicals,Â” people in inside organizations that also identify with a social cause and can help bring about change from within. They conclude by asser ting that critical theorists can also be advocates for social change and that diversity work allows us to bring social change to workplaces, which can lead to social change on a wider scale. A theoretical framework for this study I consider this research to be primarily a socialist feminist work as defined by Calas and Smircich, built on the belief that gender is socially constructed, both inside and outside of organizations (Acker 1990). The taken-for-granted nature of the gender roles in the workplace results in a system of priv ilege that advantages certain white males (Calas and Smircich 1996). This privilege is invisible to the white males in power and, to a great extent, to females and other males. Our culture has naturalized the sex roles both in the workplace and in the home, resulting in women being primarily responsible for Â“familyÂ” work (Williams 2000; Zavella 1993). This Marxian concept, the reproduction of labor has led to a workplace designed around Â“ideal workersÂ” who have no responsibility for family work (Leacock 1972; Williams 2000). In most cases the only people that meet this ideal are men who have non-working wives. Even women who are childless and unmarried are held to the stereotypes of the caregiver that follo w the responsibility for family work. Also naturalized in the wor kplace, as it is in American society as a whole, is the Â“individualÂ” model, which says that people succeed or fail on their own merits (Kanter
72 1993). This process is undermined in the Â“genderedÂ” organization by Â“hegemonic masculinity,Â” the value that business places on the masculine (Acker 1990; Hearn and Collinson 2006). Hegemonic masculinity can be seen in the informal processes within organizations. A feminist post-structuralist lens unmasks the symbols that perpetuate this. The gendering process can also be seen to disadvantage men because it requires them to fulfill the role of the provi der and of the Â“heroic masculineÂ” (Williams 2000; Olsson 2000). Both men and women also suffer from barri ers to the Â“joy of workÂ” that exist in todayÂ’s corporations (Applebaum 1992). Although Marx said th at industrialization alienated labor, de Man believed that work ers could still achiev e satisfaction through work that allows them to gain knowledge and invent new ways of work; the executive level work done by the women in this study should allow them to achieve this goal (Applebaum 1992). In addition to seeking joy in work, humans create themselves through it, and women should not be denied this basic human need (Leacock 1972; Friedan 1963). The gendered organization inhibits the ability of women to do so and the Â“toxicÂ” workplace of today makes it more difficult for women and men alike. Because I am an applied researcher, I strive to develop recommendations that can be implemented within workplaces as they ex ist today. This is a Â“pragmaticÂ” feminist view (Levit and Verchick 2006), and acknowle dges that what I propose may be merely the best choice among the poor choices availa ble. However, I do not believe that the workplace is the only location for intervention; we must change the way work is shared and organized both in organizations and in th e family (Calas and Smircich 1996). This is the view of Â“reconstructiveÂ” feminism (Williams 2000). Diversity initiatives are one
73 possible intervention, and this use of critic al theory will allow me to evaluate their potential effectiveness (Meyerson and Kolb 2000). Gender is so pervasive and so much a part of well-established power structures, that it is difficult to address in the wo rkplace. Coleman and Rippin acknowledged that Â“raising issues of gender in organizations a ppears to be introducing something that did not previously existÂ” (Coleman and Rippin 2000). In addition, those in power do not have to address issues of privile ge and have no real motivati on to acknowledge its existence (Acker 2000). Â“It is also evident that until it is real ized that the symbolic order of gender is functional to an organizati onÂ’s self-preservation, it will be difficult to changeÂ” (Poggio 2000:400).
74 Method and Analysis The principal goal of my research was to evaluate the effectiveness of diversity initiatives in reducing discrimination agains t women in the workplace. My primary interest is in assessing the potential of such initiatives to change the Â“secondaryÂ” culture in businesses (Jordan 2003) to improve equality of opportunity. Through my work, I hoped to make recommendations regarding the best practices for diversity initiatives, to the extent that they address gender. As an ethnographic researcher, I expected, and indeed found, that the direction of my research would change as it progressed. Denzin and Lincoln (2000) tell us that the interview is a process and my research ques tions evolved and changed as the interviews unfolded. Specifically, my data revealed much more about how gender is constructed in the workplace than about how diversity initiatives operate Consequently, my analysis changed from one of an interactionist looking for culture change (through diversity initiatives) to that of a critical theori st revealing the processes by which gender is constructed and reproduced in organizations, and how this limits the career potential of women. The possibility of diversity initiatives im pacting this process was still considered, and this continues to be an applied project. As Delgado responded to criticism of why critical race theorists are not Â“down in the trenches, helping activists deal problems,Â”
75 Â“ . theory and practice must work togetherÂ” (Delgado and Stefancic 2001:93). Organizational studies researchers have also proclaimed the need for interventions to address patriarchy, Â“not as some abstract stru ctural force but as practiced in organizations around us, and of which we are partÂ” (Hearn 2000:610). I collected life stories to construct an oral history of the first generation of executive women in corporations in the United States, a history created by the intersection of ten individu al lives around a single topic. In-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with thirteen wo men over a period of four months. Thurlow, et al. discuss the usefulness of feminist qualita tive research in the diversity arena, because it allows researchers to gain Â“insights into how discrimination develops and is maintained . (to) develop appropriate change stra tegiesÂ” (Thurlow, Mill s, and Mills 2006:218). They advocate for use of a holistic perspectiv e and mention the benefit of a life history approach Â“for understanding the experiences that influence womenÂ’s career choices and opportunitiesÂ” (Thurlow, Mills, and Mills 2006:225). Because I was interested in analyzing what actually occurs on the inside of corporations at the highest leve ls, I did not feel that a surv ey was appropriate. I did not think that answering survey que stions would reveal actual e xperiences, nor give me time to build rapport so that the women would be comfortable sh aring their personal stories and thoughts. I agree with Benschop (2006) that Â“large scale survey data typically cannot take into account the complexity and social embeddedness of the choice process that qualitative interviews canÂ” (B enschop 2006). Calas has said that socialist feminism Â“favors case study methods that make visibl e the informal and invisible processes of
76 segregation which remain inaccessible to t hose who favor survey researchÂ” (Calas and Smircich 1996:234). The time required for this research met hod necessitates that the sample size be kept small. Despite this fact, I found redund ancy in the types of situations that the women described, and I do not feel that a la rger sample was needed. My results cannot be generalized to a larger population, but I feel they provide a more accurate picture of what is going on inside the corporations where these women worked than would the results of a survey. They answer why and how where a survey would only tell us what. Even diversity researchers at the Harvard Business School have begun advocating the use of ethnographic methods for evaluation of di versity initiatives (Thomas and Ely 2001), and diversity practitioners have begun to se e that the issues being addressed by these programs are not easily translated into numerical goals and measurements. But the use of interview data is not wit hout limitations. There is bias involved in the interview, Â“an in teractive processÂ” that involves sharing of information (Thurlow, Mills, and Mills 2006:226). The researcher cannot be separated from this process, nor can the personal life situation of the subject. Some of the women interviewed were undergoing life transitions, trying to define th e next chapter of their careers and personal lives and these influences must be considered as they impact the topics that the individual women chose to discuss and the Â“lensÂ” each chose to use. Regarding myself as the researcher, I experienced the difficulties of being a Â“native anthropologist,Â” as described by Cher yl Rodriguez, who cau tions that Â“research conducted in our own environs challenges us to deconstruct notions of familiarity in that we are required to gaze deeper into the st rangeness of everyday realities we take for
77 grantedÂ” (Rodriguez 2001). I spent over twen ty years in corporate and professional service firms and faced many of the issues that my interviewees discussed. Although I often had experiences that I would have revealed if this had been a social conversation, I attempted to remain neutral and let the womenÂ’s stories unfold without my intervention. This was not an easy accomplishment, and some of the data collected had to be discarded from the analysis when I realized the woman was merely agreeing with me, using my words to describe a situation. This did not happen often, however, and I improved my role as neutral observer over th e course of the research. Thurlow et al. feel that Â“the researcherÂ’s experiences and involvement in the research process [can be] seen as resources, rather than Â‘problemsÂ’ to be ove rcome in the research process,Â” but that we need to recognize and Â“reflect uponÂ” our involvement (Thurlow, Mills, and Mills 2006:231). I believe that I have done this. By studying successful women in the corporate world, I am Â“studying upÂ” as defined by Laura Nader (1972). Nader believes that the ethics for studying up may differ from more traditional studying Â“down,Â” becau se of the broad public impact of the institutions that we study. She also admits that the ethical dilemmas may be greater (or at least more difficult to face) when studying power structures in our own culture than when studying (and then criticizing) those far away (Nader 1972). Having left the corporate workplace twelve years before the research began, the difficulty of seeing through takenfor-granted assumptions was not as great as it clearly was for most of my subjects. In addition, I utilized the socialist feminist vi ewpoints described above to review the data, always attempting to keep an open mind and not fall back on how I would have interpreted situations when I was part of a corporation. My viewpoints and opinions
78 regarding the workplace have changed dram atically since my tenure as a corporate officer, but I was still very aware that the workplace culture is one which has become part of who I am and which I sometimes have difficulty viewing objectively. Although I have expanded my project to critique the genderi ng processes in the workplace, my primary research question has no t changed: Do todayÂ’s corporate diversity initiatives have the potential to change the secondary cult ure within organizations and, thereby, to increase opportunities for wo men? Employment discrimination against women is my dependent domain and is repres ented by the fact that women are choosing to leave successful careers. The independent domains are the reasons that these women choose to leave, of which the gendering of orga nizations may be one, even if this process is transparent to the women themselves. Diversity initiatives are a mitigating domain and I wish to determine if they can have enough impact on the independent domains, including the gendering proce sses, to allow women like those that I interviewed to stay and succeed. My formative theory is that such initiatives can change both the structure of organizations and the way in which the in dividuals within them interact (through reduction of prejudice and stereotyping) and through these changes increase opportunity for women, thereby reducing discrimination. Women who have achieved a high level of Â“success,Â” as it is defined in the business world (position, power, income) we re interviewed. Initially, I defined Â“successÂ” as holding a position that has ma nagerial responsibility over other managers, oversight of a budget of at least $5 million and a compensation package worth at least $150,000 annually. Since the women worked in various roles and in different industries, it was difficult to hold to these specific criteria. The women I ultimately selected had
79 held director, vice president or senior vice president positi ons, were all highly compensated (in excess of $100,000) and had si gnificant impact on the corporations in which they worked. This was determined judgmentally, based on my conversations with them prior to beginning the interviews. I provided them with a description of this criteria which also allowed them to self-select into the study. Thirteen women who appeared to meet this profile were identified through personal networking and referrals. I started by asking female friends and colleagues of mine, who are in executive positions now, or have been in the past to refer women whom they knew who fit my criteria. They ma de introductions either by phone or by E-mail and then I contacted each woman directly and shared a brief overview of my research (Appendix A). All but one woman who was referred responded and I stopped contacting referrals after I had what I felt were thirt een good candidates (my original goal was ten). I chose not to interview a nyone that I knew personally, to avoid confusing what I already knew about their lives and careers w ith what they chose to tell me through the interview process. I had met two of the women on a few social occasions but had never discussed their careers with them prior to th is research. I eliminated three women from the analysis portion of this project, although I conducted a complete set of interviews for all thirteen women. The three were elimin ated because they did not actually meet my criteria. Two did not hold positions that had enough authority or responsibility to qualify. The third woman told me that she left her position not because of any dissatisfaction, but as part of a long-held plan to retire at 55. She also presen ted a very different case history from the other women, having waited until her child was grown to join the workforce and never having completed college. Although her car eer is a fascinating st ory in itself, I felt
80 that it was an aberration and, therefore, it was excluded. I will include some stories from these three women in the results, as they fit, but their interviews were not included in the analysis process. All ten of the women included in the anal ysis are individuals who have chosen to give up their careers, and are either self-empl oyed or have plans to be in the near future. Although I originally planned to split my sample between women who entered the workforce in the 1970s (baby boomers) and younger women who followed them (Generation X), all of the women in th e study are technically baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). They do span a si gnificant period of time, though, some entering the workforce in the 1970s and others as late as 1987. Because I wanted women who had reached a certain leve l of power within an organization, they generally needed to be older than the oldest Gen-Xers. My ne twork is also older, and I did not have any women under age forty referred. The women ar e also all white, at least partly because the population of women at executive levels is still predominantly white. I believe that the lack of Â“diversity,Â” both in ethnicity and age, in my study is actually helpful. Since my sample size is so small it would be di fficult to have a reasonable number of any one segment, and the effects of gender would be impossible to separate from the effects of age or race/ethnicity. I originally wanted to give preference to women who had worked in organizations that have invested significantly in diversity initiatives or that have been given awards for achievement in workplace diversity. I did not act ually screen for this, but feel that I have a good representation of large and small co mpanies with some who have had active programs. The women that worked in those companies were still only peripherally aware
81 of these programs, so I do not feel that I missed anything by not looking for more women representing such companies. Basic demographic information about the ten women whose stories were analyzed can be found in Table 1 (pseudonyms are used).
82 Table 1: Demographics of Study Participants. Career Demographics: Highest Position Held Career Corporate Years in began employment Corporate In ended in Barbara James Director 1981 2003 22 Colleen Roberts Director 1974 2005 31 Joyce Williams Director 1987 1998 11 Judy Samuels Vice President 1974 2001 27 Mary Anne Josephson Director 1987 1998 11 Mary Charles Director 1985 2004 19 Nancy Michaels Senior Vice President 1985 2004 19 Patricia Alexander Vice President 1987 2005 16 Pegge George Senior Manager 1981 2003 22 Susan Thomas Vice President 1977 1998 21 Average: 1982 2002 20 Personal Demographics : Age in Number of Married Notes Fall 2005 Children Yes/No Barbara James 46 2 Yes Colleen Roberts 54 0 No (1) Joyce Williams 40 2 Yes (2) Judy Samuels 54 0 No (3) Mary Anne Josephson 40 0 No (4) Mary Charles 43 3 Yes Nancy Michaels 46 2 Yes Patricia Alexander 41 2 Yes (5) Pegge George 46 2 Yes Susan Thomas 56 0 Yes (6) Average: 47 1.30 Notes: (1) Colleen was married in th e early years of her career. (2) Joyce did not have children until she left her last corporate position. (3) Judy was married briefly before her professional career began and remarried in March 2006. (4) Mary Anne was married twice during the years of her corporate employment. (5) Patricia was married in the early years of her career, was a single mother for several years, re-married in 2000 and has two stepchildren.
83 In total, the women were employed by over twenty-five companies, but most spent a significant portion of her career in one or two. In order to protect the identities of the women, I have not named the companies and have only indicated industries where it was important to the analysis. The companies range from very large, international corporations to regional, family-owned bus inesses, although all would qualify as Â“bigÂ” businesses, companies with over one thousand employees. All of the women had some connection to Tampa, Florida, where I conducted the interviews, but they had worked in many diffe rent cities both in Florida and elsewhere. Several cities in the Midwest and Southeast ar e represented. One woman spent part of her career in the Northeast, as did two of the women interviewed but later eliminated. Although my sample size for any one city was extremely small (often only one), there was no evidence of a significant variance in the workplaces in different regions. My primary research method was in-dep th, open-ended interviews with each woman, over three sessions of approximately sixty minutes each. The interviews took place primarily in public spaces (coffee shops or restaurants) and o ccasionally in private homes or by telephone. During the first intervie w, I provided each woman with a copy of the informed consent form (Appendix B) and gave her time to read it and ask questions. Two copies of the form were signed by me and by the interviewee. One copy was given to the interviewee and I have retained a copy, filed sepa rately from other research documents, since they contain the womenÂ’s names. Included in the form, which was approved by the USF Institutional Review Boar d, was the fact that I would endeavor to the best of my ability to protect their id entities. Each woman was given a pseudonym which was used in my fieldnotes and transcrip tions and is used in this dissertation.
84 My research questions and the relate d interview questions and probes are summarized below: Research Question 1 : Why are successful women leaving their careers? Interview questions: Tell me about your career path. Describe your highest-level position. Why did you decide to l eave the organization? Probe for work-life balance issues, compla ints about the Â“old-boyÂ” network, stress from trying to assimilate to male-dominated environments, corporate politics. Research Question 2: What role does the secondary culture within corporations play in the ability or inability of women to succeed in their careers? Interview questions: Tell me about the culture of the company or companies in which you worked. Did the culture impact your decision to leave? Do you think that corporate culture has changed over the past fifteen years? Do you think that corporate culture needs to change? Why? Probe for understanding of the concept of culture, cultural constructs such as gender stereotypes, acceptance or rejecti on of the need to assimilate to male dominated culture. Research Question 3: How does the structure within organizations impact the likelihood that women will stay and succeed in corporations? Interview questions: Describe the structure (hierarchy, hi ring and promotion policies, compliance with employment laws, etc) within your company. How flexible was the organization? Did the structure and flexibility of the organization impact your decision to leave? Probe for bureaucracy and inflexibility, fr ustration with inability of company to adapt to diverse workforce. Research Question 4: Can the theories and met hods currently being used in diversity initiatives affect the secondary culture and st ructure of organizations in such a way that women will be able to fulfill their career aspirations? Interview questions: Tell me about your experience with corporate diversity initiatives.
85 How serious was (is) your company about diversity? Do you feel that diversity initia tives are money and time well spent? Can the theories and methods of divers ity initiatives change the corporate culture? Can the theories and methods of divers ity initiatives change the structure of corporations? Probe for understanding of the theories and methods and connection of them to the issues identified in the previous questions. In order to answer the last series of questions, the interviewees were provided with information about the theories and me thods currently used by qualified diversity consultants. See Appendix C for a copy of the document that was provided to them in advance of their last interview. The interviews were recorded (audio only) and transcribed for analysis. Schensul, et al., tell us that ethnographic theory Â“ undergoes continuous rede finition throughout the life of the studyÂ” (Schensul, Schensul, and LeCompte 1999:2), and my formative theory changed as the data from these interviews were analyzed. The ultimate aim in this analysis was to find patterns in the data, ground ed theory from the data itself. I utilized NVivo software for the analysis and began by reviewing the first one -hour interview with each woman, which covered primarily resear ch question one, above. I conducted this analysis, looking for Â“itemsÂ” from the Â“bottom upÂ” as described by LeCompte and Schensul (1999). Although I had some ideas of the items I was looking for, as described in the Â“probe forÂ” section of the interview questions, I attempted to remain impartial and did not intentionally look for anything in particular. I just began coding as topics appeared in the transcriptions. When I completed this process for the first interview with each of the ten women, I went back through them to see if codes that arose in later intervie ws were applicable to
86 those done first. I then reviewed each code (free node in NVivo) and eliminated or combined those with very few passages coded to them. A few nodes with small amounts of data were kept, if I felt they would be used more in subsequent interviews that addressed other research questions. When th is was completed, I had 50 free nodes. After repeating the process for the second round of interviews, I had 107 nodes. I reduced this to 81 by combining and eliminating the ones that still had very little data, and I again went back through all of the interviews to s ee if nodes that came up in the latter review were applicable to those coded earlier. To reduce the number of nodes for the analysis, I then went through a piling exercise. I began with a card for each of th e 81 nodes and found that the data fell into 11 categories, plus an Â“otherÂ” category of inform ation in very small nodes that I did not want to lose. I was able to combine some nodes inside of the 11 categories and eliminate some more of the lesser-used nodes, reducing to 52 free nodes. The third round interviews were coded and 11 new nodes added. I did a final review of all 63 free nodes and eliminated or combined any with less than ten passages coded to them. This left 55 free nodes, in cluding the Â“otherÂ” node, within 11 categories, which I felt was a reasonable number. I th en utilized the NVivo tree function to group the nodes into three main trees with four sub-trees each. Within each sub-tree are between three and ten of the free nodes. This gave me the structure to report my results. The main trees are Â“the women,Â” Â“the wo rkplace,Â” and Â“whatÂ’s wrong,Â” which are used as sub-sections of my results below. I then reviewed the first sub-section, Â“the women,Â” looking for similarities and differences among the ten subjects to create a normative depiction of what I call the
87 Â“organization woman of the 1990s.Â” This fo llows the career as a social process, as described by LeCompte & Schensul. I was al so reviewing for what they term Â“critical events,Â” in this case those that led to ca reer change (LeCompte and Schensul 1999:181). Introductions of each woman were then written to summarize the careers that were being analyzed in the remainder of the results a nd to provide a Â“thick descriptionÂ” of the women and their careers. During my review of the second sub-sect ion, Â“the workplace,Â” I started to see evidence of the gendering process in organizati ons, as discussed above. In the analysis, I utilize the terminology that the women chose to describe this, but attempt to reveal the underlying processes that were almost always invisible to the men in the workplace and often to the women. At the same time, I continued to look for places for intervention, recommendations that could be made to the businesses or the women in them that might interrupt these processes and provide more equity in the workplace. The third sub-section was originally de signed to discuss the opinions of the subjects regarding both the relative benefit or detrimen t caused by Â“structureÂ” within organizations and the usefulness of current me thods used in divers ity initiatives. Since the women had little knowledge of diversity init iatives and were not comfortable with the concept of Â“structure,Â” this evolved into a more generic Â“whatÂ’s wrong,Â” a collection of topics that might help to identify appropriate interventions. In addition, I have created a specific subsection of results for their experiences with diversity initiatives, or lack thereof, sin ce this was integral to my research questions. That section also includes a discussion of affirmative acti on programs, which I originally thought were no longer prevalent. When as ked about diversity initiatives, many of the
88 women chose to talk about affirmative action, and I felt their experi ences and opinions on that topic were important to this analys is. The women also were asked a more openended question of what needs to change or wh at might make a difference for equity in the workplace. Their responses are included in the Â“hopes for the futureÂ” subsection.
89 Results The Women In the 1950s, William H. Whyte, Jr. wrote Â“The Organization Man,Â” and provided us with a description of the stereotypical business man of that era (Whyte Jr. 1956). He is a man of course, and conforms to a strict cons ervative code, assimilating easily into the office culture of the time. He will be loyal to one company his entire career and his loyalty will earn him job security and the obligatory gold watch, not to mention a nice pension plan, upon retirement at age 65 (Pink 2001). The workplace was still dominated by these organization men when the women in this study first began entering it in the 1970s By the 1990s, when they began to leave their corporations, the environment had cha nged dramatically; there is now little loyalty on the part of either the company or the em ployee. But the men still looked pretty much the same; and they still had no problem assimilating into cultures that were created by the organization men that came before them. But what of the Â“organization woman?Â” Based on the women that I interviewed, I offer this composite for the organization woman of the 1990s: Although she didnÂ’t grow up expecting to have a lofty title and earn a six figure salary, sh e finds herself in a beautifully appointed corner office with a la rge staff reporting to her. She is highly educated, having earned an MBA at night whil e building her career. She is married with two children and is constantly challenged bo th by the logistics of a young family and the
90 emotional energy it takes to hold down an ex ecutive position and raise children at the same time, despite having a husband who is al so balancing a career with an equal share of the parental responsibility. But this is nothing compared to the frustration she feels with her employer. Now that she has risen to the executive ranks, she sees the poor quality of leadership above her and is beginning to tire of the constant de mands to grow the busin ess bigger and increase profits more, regardless of the impact this pressure has on everyone Â’s personal life. At the same time, she has begun to be bored. Bo red with the lack of challenge in her own job and bored with the whole business of bus iness Â– playing corporate politics, wasting time in meetings, feeding childish egos. Surely there is more to life than this. Over the course of four months in late 2005, ten such Â“organization womenÂ” shared their stories with me. All have c hosen to give up their powerful corporate positions and find independent work as consultants or in smaller businesses. In 2001, Daniel H. Pink wrote Free Agent Nation and gave us a new stereotype, one that most of the women of my study have chosen, after r eaching this point of frustration with the corporate world. He describes Â“free agents Â” as those who have left corporations and taken charge of their lives, becoming what he categorizes as soloists, temps, or owners of micro-businesses (Pink 2001). Most of the wo men in this study are so loists, selling their talents to corporations as consultants without having to be a part of what one of them calls, Â“the bowels of corporate. Â” Pink quotes a 1998 article in Fast Company magazine that says that American business have b ecome Â“toxic places to workÂ” (Webber 1998). These ten women, who I will introdu ce now, would not disagree with that characterization.
91 Judy Samuels Judy Samuels was certainly not destined for the business world. Graduating from high school in 1968, she was encouraged to c hoose to be a teacher, a nurse or a flight attendant, the only careers considered suit able for a girl. Although she was the better student, Judy stayed home and attended a commun ity college, while her parents sent her brother away to a more prestigious four-yea r university. Not wanting to be a teacher, nurse or flight attendant, Judy took her associateÂ’s degree and found a job as a secretary. She quickly learned that this was also not fo r her, but it led her to her career in the financial services industry. Judy married and moved away from her hometown, a large city in the Southeast, for a short time. When she moved back and divorced, she took a job working for the president of a financial services company, while going back to school for a degree in accounting and finance. Her goal was to become a loan officer. Along the way she found her real calling, human resources, wher e she would build her career over the next twenty-five years, eventually reaching the executive ranks of one of the largest financial services firms in the United States. At this company, Judy witnessed an environment of opportunity and an employee-centered culture through the 1980s and into the 1990s, as her employer grew and merged several times. The growth of the company spurred her own career and allowed her to assist others in their career growth. She wo rked as part of a leadership group that she deeply respected, including a supervisor who was at the time one of the most powerful women in the state and the industry.
92 Judy felt strongly that she was part of a team, and thought her loyalty would be returned in kind. Sadly, it was not. As the 1990s wound down, she found herself confronted with a drastically changed culture as one last merger created a much larger company, with new leaders who chose to dismantle many of the people-oriented programs that she had helped create. The focus now was on squeezing the most out of every dollar of revenue, setting continuously higher financial goals and striving to meet them at the expense of everything else. As the leadership that she respected exited, so did Judy. Luckily, leaving during a major downsizing and after so many years of service meant that she would receive two years salary as severance pay and be vest ed in the companyÂ’s retirement program, including health insurance. She had just tu rned fifty, was financially independent, and had no idea what to do with the rest of her life. After a time of soul searching, she decided to take some of the skills she had developed in her former career and turn them into a business of her own, finding jobs for ot hers in the financial services industry. Judy helps people leave other organizati ons that have gotten too large and lost their focus on people. In her words: You listen and let the person talk. You can hear what they don't like. And ninetynine percent of the time, it's not the work they don't like, itÂ’s the way they're being treated, like the lack of inclusion. They feel lost in the maze. They don't see any opportunities. Ninety-nine percent of the time it's never about the money. It's about the feeling of value, added value and being valued. These are the same reasons that Judy hersel f chose to abandon her corporate aspirations. Susan Thomas At age fifty-six, Susan Thomas is the eldest of the women in this study. Like Judy, she didnÂ’t grow up expecting to be a corporate officer. Susan graduated with a
93 degree in liberal arts and her first job was as a buyer in a department store. She left that position to return to school to study business, supporting he rself with a job in social services. Then, in 1977, without completi ng business school, she returned to her hometown, a major city in the Midwest, and began her career in earnest. She was now 28 and was recruited by a major corporation wh ere she suspected, and later saw evidence, that she was Â“a diversity hire,Â” a beneficiary of affirmative action. Although the company and the industry were male dominated, Susan had an excellent male mentor and her career in sa les had early success, earning her promotions that required her to relocate and travel. Although moving a nd being on the road did not bother her at the time, she was bothered by the requirement the company placed on her to own a home and the pressure she felt to break off her engagement. Both of these were ways that the company had of trying to, as sh e terms it, Â“find the albatrossÂ” that would ensure that she was committed to her career. For men, the albatross was always the wife and children, but the company struggled to find it for someone like Susan. When she resisted the pressure to break the engagement, it was clear to her that this had stalled her career. Susan ultimately left that company to join her fianc in another city, where she continued to work in challenging career positions, evolving from sales to marketing to quality management, and completing her MBA. Eventually, her engagement ended and she relocated once again, this time to accep t a vice president position with a large professional services firm where she would travel even more extensively. When, as the result of a merger, the company asked her to move again, it was one move too many. Although she was traveling nearly one hundred percent of her time, her direct supervisor
94 felt that this move was imperative. When sh e threatened to quit, the company president stepped in and agreed that in deed, given her travel schedul e, it did not matter where she lived. She opted to move to a city in the South to be near to her aging parents and remained loyal to the company for a few more years. When Susan met the man that would become her husband, her travel schedule became an issue. Having waited until the age of fifty to marry for the first time, she now wanted a more normal life. In 1998, she t ook control of her own destiny and started a consulting business. She has built a profes sional reputation and manages to find plenty of work without ever getting on an airplane. She even found time to be a stepmother to her husbandÂ’s young daughter, arranging her client schedule to avoid leaving her alone as a latchkey child. Now that her practice is thriving, Susan says that self-employment means you get to pick which twenty three hours a day you wo rk, and she admits that she has not had a vacation since her honeymoon over five years ago. Despite the hours, and although she has had many attractive offers, she has resolved never to return to traditional employment because, in her words: I was always bored in corporate jobs, I was always bored, no matter how challenging the job was, it wasnÂ’t broa d enough . going the same place, doing the same thing, working the same work, day in day out . it wasn't like I could go from this problem today to this problem tomorrow and then go back to that problem yesterday with a fresh perspec tive. It was keep working on the same problem over and over for the next 20 year s . that was the number one reason I chose to not go back into a full-time corporate position. This is what Susan refers to as the lack of Â“intellectual divers ityÂ” in the corporate environment.
95 Colleen Roberts Although she is only a few years younger than Judy and Susan, Colleen Roberts grew up without feeling that he r career options were limited. While raising Colleen and her two siblings in the deep South of the fifties and sixties, ColleenÂ’s mother chose to work, though other mothers did not. There was no financial need; it was a personal choice for ColleenÂ’s mom. Instead of fee ling abandoned, Colleen was inspired by her motherÂ’s example. Actually, she was more than inspired. When ColleenÂ’s brother told their mom he wanted to be a lawyer, Colleen at the time a twelve year old who adored her brother, said she would be his secretary. Her mother took this as a teachable moment, letting Colleen know that she did not have to be a secretary to be near her brother; she could be a lawyer too, a radical idea in 1963. ColleenÂ’s extended family was filled with many such independent and opinionated women. She and her sister gr ew up thinking that was the way women were supposed to be, that they were supposed to have their own life and find their own way. Colleen followed her brother and sister to a large university campus where she discovered there were innumerable career choi ces she had never even heard of growing up in her small town. Encouraged to take a variety of electives, Colleen changed her plan from majoring in English and becoming a wr iter (one of her motherÂ’s avocations) to business, specifically the creative business of advertising. After one false start in a toostodgy organization, Colleen landed a job in an ad agency and progressed rapidly through a series of upward career moves in this fast paced world. In the early years, Colleen met with no apparent limitation due to her sex, despite the male dominance of the profession. Like Susan, she learned her trade from male
96 mentors who were generous with their time and expertise. Her career also survived several geographical moves to accommodate the career of her husband, until the last move before their divorce landed her in a pl ace where she was highly recruited, but told that her pay would have to be drastically redu ced. Not willing to accept this as an option, Colleen held out until finally, through a contac t of her fatherÂ’s, she found a position that enabled her career to continue its forward movement. Unfortunately, all this success eventual ly led to a grueling work and travel schedule that finally burned her out. When she asked her boss to change the structure of her job to reduce the travel, he refused, despite her years of service and clear contributions to the success of the firm. Not willing to be dictated to, she resigned, walking away from an extremely successful and lucrative position. Disillusioned by this experience, which she describes as being used, Colleen was enticed to leave the ad agency world and join a family-owned and family-oriented business. The company was growing and needed ColleenÂ’s expertise on staff. Enthralled by the excitement of this creative start-up opportunity, it took her a few years to notice that she wasnÂ’t really part of the Â“family.Â” The epitome of the Â“old boy network,Â” the leadership of this company was actually referr ed to as Â“the boysÂ” by the rest of the staff. Â“The boysÂ” lunched together daily and esse ntially did whatever the CEO (who was also the father of the president) requested, not ro cking the boat of this strong patriarch. When Colleen found herself in conflict with Â“the boysÂ” over the direction of the company, she once again chose to walk away, rather than bend to the will of a leader whose choices conflicted with her professi onal judgment. Since this meant resigning, unlike Judy, Colleen received no severance package to cushion her career transition.
97 That transition is still in progress. At 54, Colleen is moving back to the deep South area of her childhood to be near her family and determine where the future will lead her. She wants to continue working but says that she will most likely start her own business or become an independent contra ctor. Â“ I donÂ’t trust corporate executives anymore,Â” she told me: Most of them are male, most of them are money driven, most of them cheat on their wives. There is not a lot of honesty at the top for me to believe in anymore. I donÂ’t want to sound like a scorned woman or anything, but I think for me at this next level in my life, IÂ’m looking for th at truth. IÂ’m looking for the sense of, wanting to be a part of something good, something strong, but also something truthful, and if I canÂ’t find it, IÂ’m going to do it myself. Barbara James Barbara James also stumbled into business when her original career choice, dental hygienist, was abandoned after one semester of college chemistry. She found accounting more her style and, luckily, was at a larg e mid-western university with an excellent business school. Upon graduation in 1981, she was recruited by a major corporation and given the opportunity to be part of a manage ment development program, working in three different six-month assignments before maki ng a commitment to a locale or division of the company. The Latin American division intrigued Ba rbara. She had lived South America as a child, until her fatherÂ’s untimely death wh en she was only eight, and she was fluent in Spanish. Her interest waned, however, on her first business trip as a twenty something single female, when she discovered that she wa s very restricted in her ability to travel alone in that part of the world. She was then attracted to an assignment in a warm city in the southern United States, where she w ould spend the majority of her career.
98 On her way up the career ladder, Barbara ea rned an MBA going to school at night and accepted an assignment in the corporationÂ’ s New York headquarters. There she had exposure to top executives, but also to high-level corporate politics and a more conservative business environment. Being th ere allowed her to meet a personal goal of running a marathon before turning thirty, a nd experience having her car stolen in New York City! She was happy when a former boss r ecruited her to return to the southern city that she now called home. He asked her to he lp him with the start up of a new division. Despite working in a major corporation, most of BarbaraÂ’s career was involved in this type of start-up and other small busin esses within this giant company. Continuing to climb the ladder, Barbara wa s asked to move back to headquarters. Although it had moved to a more congenial lo cation in the Southwes t, Barbara was not interested in yet another relocation. She was established and happy in the town where she was living and had just met the man that would soon become her husband. He was divorced with shared custody of a young child; moving was not an option. Barbara managed to land another good assi gnment, but knew that declining the headquarters position would limit her career potential. She had achieved the level of director, but would not move further up. Now thirty-five and married, she stayed in positions with limited travel while having two children, but eventually needed to travel internationally again. She still has to ho ld back tears when describing scenes at the airport and phone calls home with her daughters. The travel schedul e eventually led her to search for a different life, which ultimately meant starting her own business, despite the fact that her husband had been laid off and was also working independently.
99 The decision to venture out on her own was made easier when her division was sold from the large corporation in which she had always felt comfortable. The culture of the organization lost what little dignity it had when the new management allowed an environment of drinking and partying to take over. Because she ha d been so successful and stayed with the company so many years, she was making more money than her boss and some other vice presidents. To address this, after the sale of the business, her job was Â“restructured,Â” meaning she could keep her title and all of her re sponsibilities but her pay would be reduced. Clearly an unaccepta ble option, Barbara chose instead the four months severance pay offered. Two years later, she has a growing consu lting business and no regrets. Asked if she would return to a corporate environment, Barbara quickly responds, Â“I could never do it, because what I have found is my purpose in life, and my purpose is to inspire others and IÂ’m doing that in what I am doing now and IÂ’m so fulfilled and energized by what I do, there is no way.Â” Pegge George Unlike Barbara, Pegge George had no problem with college chemistry. She was one of very few female graduates in m echanical engineering in 1981. After two internships and a year of Â“realÂ” engineeri ng work, she found that she did not enjoy it, but she was able to build this background into a su ccessful career in sa les and marketing for companies that manufactured industrial product s. Her personality was very well suited for these more people-intensive roles and her knowledge of the engineering behind the products gave her instant credibility.
100 The work environments she found herself in were predominantly male, but Pegge never felt that she was discriminated against. Once, when being introduced to a plant manager, she attempted to shake his hand but he informed her that he didnÂ’t shake, he hugged and proceeded to do so. Though Pegge did not complain, a vice president who was with her went out of his way to ap ologize for what he knew was inappropriate behavior. Pegge worked in government contracting for much of her career, an area where affirmative action came early and was well developed by the time she arrived. She enjoyed her work and was good at it, but the co mpanies were the type of large, national and international businesses in which moving up the ladder meant lots of travel and frequent relocation. At one point she was o ffered a promotion to relocate to a division based in a small town in the deep South. On her interview visit she was charmed by the town but could quickly see that she woul d not be taken seri ously and her career progression would stop. The only other woman officer in the company, who was Â“paradedÂ” out for her to meet, was clearly a glorified secretary, having no power in the organization. After marrying and starting a family, th e travel and relocation requirements became more and more difficult, and Pegge ma de a personal choice to take a step back career-wise to reduce her travel while her children were sm all. Along the way she earned an MBA going to school at night. Her husba nd was always supportive of her career, but he was also very successful, eventually b ecoming president and part owner in a business, making it financially foolish for them to even consider moving again.
101 Pegge was hand picked for a newly crea ted position, including a promotion to regional manager that did not require her to m ove, but did put her in a situation where she had to travel frequently. For a while she ba lanced her family responsibilities with this hectic travel schedule and that of her husband. When an acquaintance told her she was considering starting a business and was looking for a partner, Pegge surprised herself by saying she would like to talk about it. Wh en the business plan turned to consulting, Pegge was adamant that she would not be a consultant, believing they are Â“a dime a dozen.Â” An epiphany occurred for her, however when she had to take some time off for minor surgery. Getting to spend more time with her ch ildren during the weeks of her medical leave caused Pegge to realize how much sh e was missing by being away overnight. One afternoon in the midst of playing with her ch ildren after school, she says that it hit her Â“like a ton of bricks,Â” and sh e called her potential partner and asked to look more closely at her business plan. Pegge now saw that the plan was to build a consulting practice that would help others solve problems, something she had been doing her entire career. She and her partner have been in business together for three years now and she says that she would never consider return ing to a corporate job. Recounting a specific client who stood up at a networking meeting to attest to how much she had helped him in her new role, both to grow his own business and balance it with his personal life, Pegge says, Â“you know that at the end of the day I can go to bed knowing that I made a positive differe nce in peopleÂ’s lives. You donÂ’t get that in the corporate world, as much as I did good things.Â”
102 Nancy Michaels Nancy Michaels took an even more indirect path into the business world. Leaving home and high school at sixteen, she credits her parents with helping her to form her work ethic by not forcing her to move back. Starting out working multiple jobs paying the then minimum wage of $2.50 an hour, she l earned quickly how hard it was to survive without an education. But she was bright a nd aggressive and eventu ally her supervisor at a gas station asked her to enter a management-training program. She was all of 18. Deciding that her career goal was actua lly to be a chef, she attended a weekend culinary training program while continuing to work full time at gas stations managing other teenagers, mostly boys. Before comple ting the chef program, she decided the hours of restaurant work would not suit her and started taking business courses at a local community college. Nancy soon found that accounting was something she was good at and transferred to a university, finally comp leting her business degr ee in 1985, at the age of 27. Recruited by a major professional services firm, Nancy rose quickly, but chose to resign after four years to work in a corpor ate environment because she wanted to leave the advisory role and be more directly invo lved in managing a business. She worked in two large corporations, rising to be a se nior vice president and an officer of a Fortune 100 company by the time she reached her mid-forties. Along the way she married and had two children, with the s upport of a stay-at-home husband. Nancy never missed a day of work due to the children, other than si x weeks each for two maternity leaves, during which she stayed involved by telephone and E-mail.
103 Despite this dedication, NancyÂ’s career was nearly derailed mid-term when she was not considered a candidate for an impor tant promotion. Questioning her manager about it, she was told that he was concer ned about her ability to make the necessary commitment, having just given birth to her second child. After protesting this in writing to senior management and clearly demonstra ting that she was qualified for the position, she did receive the promotion and her career pa th continued upward. This situation left a bad taste in her mouth over what she describe s as the Â“old boyÂ” na ture of the company, which was actually run mostly by men who were younger than her. One of those men eventually became the reason that Nancy decided to abandon her career. Choosing her for a prominent se nior executive position working directly for him, Nancy thought she had finally made it un til she found that his management style was abusive. Yelling, screaming, and cursi ng at the executives on his staff, this was also the only behavior he respected in return. Nancy adapted to this style for a time, until a particularly ugly confrontation, witnesse d by the CEO, led her to begin looking for another way to spend her life. Now she is working in a business role for an academic institution, something she thought, incorrectly, would be less stressful. Nancy hopes to find something else within a few years. When asked what she is looking for, she says: I don't know. . my preference would be not to work for somebody else, and my real preference would be . I'd much rather do something totally different . something like buy houses and fix them up and sell them . have a coffee shop bookshop or something . if you could make a living at it, but really not have to be involved with the bowels of corporate . I'm really looking for something that's more free.
104 Mary Charles A self-described Â“army brat,Â” Mary Ch arles chose her college because it was in one of the few states where she had never lived. Originally planning to major in architecture or engineering, she changed he r plan when she found out many of the classes were only offered at a neighboring university. Still wanting to please her father, who had always encouraged her to be a profession al, Mary chose accounting. She began her career in 1984 as an intern with a small CPA fi rm in a large southern city, graduating and joining them full time the following year. She quickly found that, far from the glamorous world she had imagined, the profession sh e chose meant working grueling hours. Mary was the first woman ever hired by this firm and the managing partner never seemed to learn her name, referring her only as Â“sweetheart.Â” Mary never let this bother her, knowing that he did not mean it in a bad way and seeing that she occasionally got treated favorably because she was the only fema le. With the goal of eventually raising a family full time, she planned to work until she was thirty, just long enough to gain the experience she would need to be able to pr ovide for her family if something happened to her husband. According to plan, after a couple of years she became engaged and decided to look for a position with fewer hours. O bviously someone who thrives on stress, Mary scheduled her wedding for the w eek after the annual tax dead line and then accepted a job interview the same week. She thinks this may have helped her get the job, as the interviewers thought she was not a Â“normal girl.Â” The company Mary joined was far from a reduced stress environment. It was a rapidly growing company, run by a flamboya nt entrepreneur, and Mary soon became
105 their key person in the international tax ar ena, flying around the world on the corporate jet. She lived up to her reput ation of not being a Â“normal girlÂ” when she did not miss a day of work during her three pregnancies, de spite spending a great deal of time being sick in the ladies room. As Mary started addi ng children to her lif e, the long work hours became an issue again. She successfully c onvinced her manager to allow her to work part-time, but she was instructed not to let anyone else in the company know of this arrangement. Mary was persuaded to return to full time at one point, accepting a promotion to a director level position, but soon decided she had to leave to find a more balanced life. This was after giving birth to her third ch ild, who was unplanned and came at a time when she was so stressed she did not even realize she was pregnant for three months. Having lost their live-in nanny, MaryÂ’s husb and was staying home with the children, a decision she says was for financial reasons but th at obviously left her with some regrets. Mary felt very fortunate to find a positi on in a European company with a division based in the city where she lived. She wa s pleasantly surprised by the culture of this company, essentially the opposite of the one she had left. The company believed and put into action the slogan Â“a happy employee is a productive employee.Â” After she had proven herself, they agreed to let her change to part-time status and, just before she was planning to leave to start a business with her husband, gave her a severance package when her position was moved to another city. Now part of a successful small business, Mary still works forty hours a week, but her office is in her home and she takes time in the middle of the day to help with homework, returning to her desk after her children are asleep.
106 Although Mary was able to work a flexible schedule for much of her career, she knows that by doing so she sacrificed her upward mobility. When asked if she thinks her example helped the companies be more flexible with other employees, Mary says, Â“they didn't believe it would work for other people, other people will take advantage of that. And there would be people taking advantag e of it, but the thing was, you can't know they're going to take advantage, unless you gi ve them a chance. I guess they didn't want to give them too many chances.Â” Asked what her career goal is today, Mary says she would still like to be Â“a mom.Â” Patricia Alexander When her parents divorced, Patricia Alexa nder saw her familyÂ’s standard of living decline dramatically because of her motherÂ’s inadequate earning power. Patricia vowed to be financially independent herself, whic h led her to study business. This lesson served her well, as she ended up a single mom for many years and was the breadwinner of the family in her first marriage. After graduating in 1987, Patricia was re cruited by a prestigious international services firm. Although she never planned to stay at this firm long term, she attributes her leaving after just three years to the lack of family-friendly policies. The firm had been hiring women in reasonable numbers for the previous ten years, yet no one in her office had ever had a baby while still employed there. Not wanting to be their Â“guinea pig,Â” she moved on when she was ready to star t her family, but not before letting the top executive know that this was her reason. The firm eventually began a proactive program to encourage women to stay, possibly due to PatriciaÂ’s willingne ss to be honest with them.
107 The majority of PatriciaÂ’s career was sp ent at a rapidly growing, privately owned retail organization in the Southeast. Beginn ing on the professional staff in the finance area in 1990, she progressed qui ckly and eventually was the director of a large group of professionals, involved in all aspects of the business, reporting directly to the president. Making the move into this group did not come easily, however. The previously all male department had drawn its staff from the tec hnology area and Patricia had to confront the hiring manager with the fact that she ha d the skills that he was seeking. Although she loved the work and consider s it to have been a wonderful way to learn business, the environment devolved over the years as the business became more and more competitive, with large national compan ies threatening the survival of regional companies like PatriciaÂ’s. The culture change was led by the management of the finance area, the part of the business that Patricia ha d left. Office politics, primarily in the form of animosity from a manager who felt betray ed by her choice to make this career move, would make her life difficult for the remainde r of her tenure with the company. An example of the change in the work environment was the mandate that professional staff keep detailed time records and that those re cords show that a minimum of forty-five hours per week was worked, net of all breaks or vacation time taken. When she became the head of her department, Patricia turned this negative into a plus, allowing flexible time and telecommuting as part of the logge d hours. This also annoyed her former boss and nemesis. Other management changes and corporate politics eventually meant that Patricia and her formerly prestigious group were no l onger considered valuab le to the company. This limited her upward mobility and took away much of the job satisfaction on which
108 she had always thrived. The company wa s organized in Â“silosÂ” and moves between divisions were not an option, so Patricia had to pursue her career elsewhere. Patricia also had remarried and added two stepchildren to her household. As the children were getting to be preteens she wanted to be closer to home; her commute was nearly an hour each way. Through personal contacts, she located an opportunity that appeared perfect. It was a step up to vice president, in the indus try that she wanted to join, and ten minutes from home. Unfortunately, it was also w ith a large corporation that was not well organized and she quickly learned she could not function in the environment. As luck would have it, the business was being reorga nized and she managed to land a severance package despite being there just over a year. Patricia used this to take some time off and consider her future. She spent time with her children and conti nued to study her new industry, gaining professional qualifications in that field and finding contract work that she is enjoying. When asked if she will consider going back to a more traditional employment situation, Patricia was quick to respond: Not in corporate, I am done with corporate America, absolutely . itÂ’s just not good for me. I'm just not good at it; managing up, the kissing up, playing politics. I just want to work. . I just thi nk when you're smart and you have energy, I think you can make a lot more money and have a lot more freedom if you work for yourself, or a very, very small comp any. If you add in all the bullshit meetings and bullshit in the hallways, I think I'm working about the same amount of hours. And that's why I don't want corporate America. IÂ’m not bitter. I am thankful for every experience. It got me to where I am now. I donÂ’t want to do anything where half of my time is not addi ng value. I just want to add value and go home and go on vacation and get rest or have a manicure or work out.
109 Mary Anne Josephson Like most of the women in this study, Ma ry Anne JosephsonÂ’s first career choice was not business. Mary Anne wanted to be a teacher. He r father, a successful businessman, assured her that teaching was a noble profession, but he made sure she knew that there was not much money in it. With his encouragement, she took a few business classes and found a place where sh e could use her teaching skills to help businesses succeed, working in human res ources and organizational development. Mary Anne graduated in 1987 and in her early career worked for two relatively small companies, quickly becoming involved in the human resources side of downsizing, so common in that era. Because of her husba ndÂ’s job, she declined a transfer to the home office when her own position was downsized She not only received a severance package, she went to work for a much larger company with more challenge and opportunity. When she found herself limited by her boss, she approached the president of the company and convinced him to let her report directly to him. Recently divorced, she became the subject of office gossip, the rumo r being that this perceived promotion was the result of her having an affair with the pr esident. Mary Anne chose not to let the gossip trouble her and set out to earn respec t through her abilities and accomplishments. Just ten years out of college, Mary Anne was offered two and half times her salary to join a large professional services firm and add direct selling to her resume. After two years in that position, Mary Anne remarried and needed to relocate to a smaller city where she and her husband could care for his ai ling parents. Unable to find a comparable position near her new home, Mary Anne was offered positions in larger cities nearby that would require lengthy commutes. Planning to st art a family and continue to care for her
110 in-laws, she felt she needed a job with fe wer hours, so she started her own consulting business. Mary Anne chose the parts of her former jobs that she enjoyed most and marketed them to smaller business that could not afford her expertise on staff. She was able to work reduced hours, controlling her schedule to fit her personal situation. When she and her husband abandoned hope of having childre n, she increased her marketing and grew her business significantly. Unfortunately, an ugly divorce caused her to feel the call to return home for the support of friends and family, which required her to give up many of her clients. After an attempt to return to the fast-track world of the professional services firm she had left, Mary Anne made a decision to grow her own business through the few clients she had continued to serve, eventually adding othe rs, this time in her hometown and in the area of the South where her parents now lived. This is the business that she continues to run, selecting th e clients that she enjoys, cont rolling the hours that she works and traveling to the areas that she chooses. Although she is single and ch ildless, she feels the same need for balance in her life that Mary did. A recent health scare has solidified her decision to continue this lifestyle and she thoroughly enjoys the work that she is doing. Although she has clients, both male and female, who have created cor porate cultures that she feels are a great improvement over older models, she told me: One of the reasons I'm off on my own is because, even though they're changing, and there are some extraord inary cultures out there . you still have to be very mindful of the political and cultural a nd social dynamics inside organizations if you want to be successful . that, some people say is playing politics. You can call it whatever you want, it is a very r eal thing. And you have to know how to
111 read the unspoken language of culture to know how to navigate inside of it successfully, and if you don't you're going to get hurt. Somewhere in the game, you are going to get hurt. . I don't want to do that every day all day, and that's why I broke off on my own. I donÂ’t want to do that anymore. Joyce Williams Joyce WilliamsÂ’ parents are both entrepreneurs who encouraged their children to pursue business. Despite her original career goal of landscape architecture, Joyce chose marketing, the most creative field within business, and minored in finance. Although she always knew she would end up self-employed like her parents, Joyce started out working in corporations to gain experience. Her original plan was to try her luck in sunny California, but the Â“black MondayÂ” stock ma rket decline in 1987 changed that. Having just graduated, she was concer ned about her ability to gain employment, so she stayed in her hometown, a major city in the Midwest, where contacts through her family would help her to land her first job. Joyce began her career in a marketing role for an entrepreneurial company in the high-tech industry, but soon lear ned that the company was more in need of her financial skills. After developing a financial analyst position, and convincing the company that it was needed in all of their divisions, she was told that she did not have the qualifications for the job! This made it clear that, to conti nue in the corporate world, she would need to obtain an MBA. Accepted into two of the top business schools, the company allowed her to stay in the job while she attended classe s at night. When the company wanted her to relocate to its headquarters, she had to resign in order to complete her graduate education. Through her business school classmates, she found a position in the financial department of another major corporation. It soon became apparent that the power in this
112 company was in marketing, so Joyce negotiated her way into a marketing position and worked her way up, eventually having asso ciate brand manager responsibility for a product line. This company was drastically diffe rent from the first, being so conservative that by the time a promotion came the person had to be overqualified for it. Consequently, Joyce felt bored for much of her time in the company and, when her mentor moved to an opportunity elsewhere, she followed him. Another culture shock, her new company was undergoing major changes that began showing up in an environment wher e people were screaming at each other, accusing one another, and constantly try to de flect blame away from themselves. The job also came with a lengthy commute to th e suburbs that took already long hours and extended them to being nearly unbearable. Although Joyce was promoted to what was considered one of the most prominent executive positions in her division, she began to realize it was time to move on to a business of her own. Joyce started her new life by buying a sma ll retail business, bu t quickly learned that she did not enjoy retail. She hired a manager for that portion of the business, eventually selling it to her, and expand ed the product into something she could sell directly to corporations, utilizing her experi ence to help them use the products in their own marketing efforts. The business did well very quickly, but was seasonal, being busiest near the year-end holidays. Knowing that she wanted to start a family, this was not at all attractive. She eventually sold that portion of the business also, and turned her efforts to another dream, writing a book. He r book, about work-life balance, was picked up by a major publishing house, and kept her busy for a few years, with speaking
113 engagements and seminars, while also allo wing her to realize another personal goal, starting a family. Joyce is now working from home as a pa rt-time marketing consultant and raising her young family on her own terms. Asked if she believes that corporations are a place where a woman can succeed and also have a family, Joyce says: Yes, there are women breaking through to th e senior levels, but they are fully coopted and they have made every sacrifice . you have to just decide I'm going to be one of the boys, I'm not going to rock the boat, I need to have a stay-at-home husband or other support system, I will not see my children. That's what you are agreeing to, to get to that level. During the time we spent together, the women shared some of their personal beliefs and values. They were all raised in traditional, two-parent, middle-class families and, although they have succeeded beyond th eir expectations financially and are financially secure, they would probably still cons ider themselves to be middle class. All of the women are white, several shared their Christian beliefs in their interviews; over half of them were raised in the Midwest, a few in the Southeast, two in the Northeast. Several of them mentioned the influence of one or both parents on their careers choices. Although their backgrounds, careers and expe riences have many similarities, their views are more wide ranging. Barbara a nd Pegge, for instance, expressed typically conservative views of American meritocracy and the need for personal responsibility. Mary shared this view, though she admitted she might be naive. Having never felt discriminated against themselves, these three women are confident that the doors of opportunity are open to anyone who is willi ng to work hard and not choose to be a victim.
114 Susan also expressed dislike for programs like affirmative action, feeling that Â“anytime you laser in, you focus in on, Â‘IÂ’m going to make it better for,Â’ thatÂ’s an exclusionary statement itself.Â” Despite th ese views, Susan knows for sure and Barbara and Pegge suspect that they benefited from affirmative action themselvs. Regardless, they expressed a bias toward succeeding on your own merits, which they clearly believe is how they personally had succeeded. Mary: Maybe because I'm too much of a, I live in a bubble world . you get where you are because you work hard to get there and you shouldn't spend time making excuses. I'm a woman. I'm too short or too this. That's why I'm not getting promoted, and you're focusing on th at thing, you're not going to advance. If you focus on the fact that I can do anything, and you're in this country, and you're given opportunities. You just go find another place. You find that opportunity. . And maybe that's just me, just wanting to think that's the way the world should be, and itÂ’s r eally not the way [it is.] On the more liberal side, Nancy explicitly stated that she thinks affirmative action is needed. Judy talked negatively about th e pressure on public companies to grow and show more and more profit and also the greed of those at the top to make more and more money personally. Both Colleen and Joyce tr aveled to Europe around the time of this study and felt that the quality of life there is higher than in th e United States, even if the GDP is lower. Joyce: Americans tend to puff up their chest at, Â“oh, our gross domestic product numbers are better than ever y other country.Â” And I would contend, and I think a lot of people would contend, that there is more than one way to measure success . there is a quality of life issue. The women expressed concern about being essentialized, what they described as being stereotyped or being token representati ves of all women, but some also expressed essentializing views themselves; they felt women manage differently.
115 Patricia: I believe that women are, they sort of put their heart more into what they're doing. And they have more compassion, and that compassion leads them to be more customer-oriented. ItÂ’s like an empathy thing. I think weÂ’re pre-wired that way . and it gives us more em pathy for our employees, and it makes women more effective leaders. Mary Anne spoke of women still working within the corporate environment who love what they do, who Â“wouldnÂ’t have it a ny other way.Â” However, she does admit that these women have sacrificed in other areas: Â“ . they are the bread winner of the family. Their husbands may work, may not work. Many of them don't even have children. They are not traditional families.Â” And Judy has some very strong opinions about the women still remaining inside of her former employer, a major national corporation: They are given a bunch of crap and they believe it. They drink the Kool Aid. They drink the corporate Kool Aid. Th ey get handed a small little token, the corporate jet comes and takes them someplace, and they have a lunch with somebody, and they think that thatÂ’s arri ving . itÂ’s okay if you stay in that as long as you know what the deal is. But you really are fooli ng yourself to think that itÂ’s changing because of you, itÂ’s not. The three women who are over 50, Colleen, Judy and Susan, none of whom had children or traditional families, were also the most negative about the state of the workplace today. This may have been because they have given the most years to it and endured it when women were even less represen ted than they are now. Despite the trials and tribulations they have experienced, all of the women are amazingly optimistic for the future and had many ideas about what woul d bring about a change for the better. The women used words like interesting, exciting, learning and fun to describe times in their career that they were really happy. They used similar words when describing what they are doing now that they have left the corporate environment and are
116 working more independently. It is clear th at these women are financially secure and some could probably stop working if they ch ose, but they do not seem interested in completely giving up this part of themselves Even Mary, who never really liked her work and told me her ideal job is to be a Â“mom,Â” can not seem to make a complete break from working: Do I need to have [the respect that comes from a professional career]? I donÂ’t think I do, but like my husband said, Â“you havenÂ’t found somebody to take your position [in our home based business],Â” but IÂ’m trying, but IÂ’m not trying too hard. Rebekah: Do you still think maybe you will? Mary: I think maybe I will, but ma ybe I will just continue working. Nancy, who has not yet settled on a new career, does not think she could give up working: Â“I think that a lot of the mental stimulation, challenge, helps to make you feel good about what you know, who you are, and all th at stuff, and I think at some point I would miss not having it.Â” The one question that all of these women answered the same was, Â“would you ever consider going back to work for a corp oration?Â” They all said, Â“No!Â” They have found work that they feel is more meaningful, or at least more manageable than what they did as directors and vice presidents, and th ey will not be persua ded to give it up for corporate titles and corporate headaches. The Workplace The secondary culture of a workplace is created and transmitted by all of the people within it and includes the Â“verbal asides of employees, the stories, ceremonies, myths and especially the shared behavior pa tterns of employeesÂ” (Jordan 2003:45). Each
117 woman was asked to describe the culture of her organizations. I provided my definition of Â“corporateÂ” culture, but encouraged the women to define it for themselves. My definition was: shared values and beliefs, tr aditions, what is important to the company and to its leaders, including things like dr ess codes and meetings, as well as language, and how people treat one another, what sort of behaviors are acceptable. I did not ask specifically for stories about how the cultu re impacts women, but everyone was aware that my research was focused on female executives. It was during this segment of the interviews that the tone of my research began to change. In the first interview, the women told me their career stories, which was a very positive experience for them; they are pr oud of their accomplishments. Although some may have left the corporate workplace before achieving all the success that they were capable of, most had accomplished more than they had ever imagined. Now I was asking them to focus in on the organizations, and sp ecifically asking for stories about the culture within them. This gave each woman an opportunity to share her frustrations and criticisms of the businesses in which she had spent, on average, twen ty years of her life. As expected, their experiences varied, but much commonality can be seen in the themes that emerged from the interviews. The women do not use the vocabulary of feminist theorists, but the cultures that they describe are clearly marked by Â“heg emonic masculinityÂ” (Acker 1990; Bird 1996). They can see the effects of the expectati ons that all employees function as Â“ideal workersÂ” (Williams 2000). Some insights were expressed regarding the unfair nature of these ideologies, but the women found it difficu lt to articulate what needed to change. Deterioration in the atmosphere of companies was noted and it was attributed to
118 competitive pressures to grow and increase pr ofits. Although this was mostly viewed as negative, these women are products of this system and have difficulty even imagining a fundamentally different business environment. The Old Boy Network As the descriptions of cor porate culture began to unfold a term that continued to come up was Â“the old boy network.Â” Nine of the ten women used this term at least once, although I never used it as a prompt. Nanc y provides a good introduct ion to this topic: Â“There, through the years, were many occasions . where it's very clear that the good old boy, even though theyÂ’re young professional men (laughs), the good old boy mentality is alive and well. And it's frustrating.Â” Much of the frustration stems from th e fact that the men are young; another generation has joined the Â“club, Â” but hope was expressed that the next generation (their own sons, perhaps) will be different. Severa l attempted to limit their observations of the old boy network to specific companies or i ndustries in which they had worked. However, their stories include very similar comments, de spite the fact that they are describing many different organizations, leading me to conclude that this atmosphere is universal within American business today. For example: It was still very much a good old boys ne twork. It was also an engineering environment and women hadnÂ’t really gotten into it. Public accounting, especially . some of the big firms were still by far kind of good old boy networks. In general the paper industry is very good ole boy. ThereÂ’s very much a boyÂ’s club in real estate.
119 Although one might hope that this environmen t was a relic of the past, even if of the very recent past described by my subjects, I confirmed its continued existence with a friend who works in a large professional servic es firm that is often cited as a good place to work for women. She told me that her office conducted an employee survey in early 2006. When asked what was the most important thing their firm could do to improve its environment for inclusion, the most common answer was to get rid of the old boys network. Barbara and Pegge acknowledged the exis tence of the old boy network but said that it had never held them back; it was not a problem for them. Interestingly, these were the two women who worked for government c ontractors with active affirmative action and diversity programs (this is discussed fu rther below). Three women complained about business still being conducted on the golf c ourse, and two were clearly distressed that relationships are also being built in th e even more exclusionary environment of Â“gentlemanÂ’sÂ” clubs. Nancy expressed her amazement at this, which was still happening in 2003 when she left her position as a senior vice president at a major corporation in the Southeast: I find it kind of astounding and IÂ’m not rea lly a prude but I find the whole strip club phenomenon sort of amazing . I just found that astoundi ng that they didnÂ’t see the inappropriateness of something like that . guess they just donÂ’t, to me I draw the link, that first of all itÂ’s exclus ionary. If itÂ’s not exclusionary, itÂ’s really weird, if you are trying to bring women in the workplace to sit with you while you are watching a naked woman. But just the whole . a group of workers staring at women in a sexual way, they just donÂ’t see that the way I see that, which is pretty astounding. Mary Anne recalled a recent episode of The Today Show that dealt with this behavior:
120 The CEO of a company racked up like $240,000 at a strip club in New York City and it was for a client he was entertaining . [ The Today Show ] brought out some consultants to interview, to say, Â“Is this what business is coming to now?Â” and, Â“How are women supposed to compete when this is what is going on?Â” And one consultant, who was a man . said, Â“You know, bottom line, I donÂ’t care how my people get results, they just need to get results.Â” And the woman consultant said, Â“This is not ethical.Â” I mean, how is a woman supposed to, you know, a male client is never going to ask a woman to take me to the New York Manhattan strip club and spend money all night. How is sh e going to get the customer, develop a relationship and, if this is the wa y that relationships are promoted? A more mundane example of a Â“boyÂ’s cl ubÂ” was described by Patricia, who told stories from two different companies where the culture valued working in the office on weekends, a behavior she refers to as Â“face time:Â” I just felt like it was a boy's club . They went in there on Saturday morning, and hung out and shot the shit for a few hours. And didn't really get any work done . it was just part of the club, and ther e were several [top managers] that were there. And I wasn't going to waste my Saturday . But I wasn't part of that club, nor did I want to be. I found it distaste ful that you have to give up your Saturday to be in the club. These Â“clubsÂ” help to perp etuate the Â“good old boyÂ” nature of business and exclude women from important relationships. Sometimes the women are invited, as Patricia was certainly Â“invitedÂ” to come to the office on Saturday morning, but they chose not to participate. Another example of this was the Â“boys lunchÂ” mentioned in ColleenÂ’s biography above. She was invite d but this is how she felt about it: ItÂ’s the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen how they all run out the door and climb into these big old SUVs. And the pres ident, thirty minutes is all he wants to take for lunch; you have to gobble your lunc h down. ItÂ’s sad, itÂ’s like something out of a cartoon . you get in there, and the guys would embarrass the daylights out of me. They are pulling tables togeth er and yelling, Â“get over here.Â” And I was mortified. After a couple of those experiences, I told the president of the company: Â“It's not that I don't enjoy your company at lunch. But if I have something I want to say to you, I canÂ’t do it with nine people sitting around,Â” and I said, Â“everybody's talking loud. Everybody's eating fast. I don't enjoy it. . .Â” And he was very offended by that and I th ink that was a huge mark against me at some point.
121 Nancy sums up how the Â“boys clubsÂ” imp act the careers of professional women: ThereÂ’s places where the boys go and th e girls donÂ’t and I think that that continues to sort of build, that when th ey are thinking about who they want to be their next in command, they think about the person they feel comfortable with and who they know, instead of saying Â“IÂ’m going to go out and find somebody who is going to break that stereotype.Â” Mary Anne, who has worked with many companies over her years as an organizational development consultant, c onfirmed that even in highly structured organizations with systems designed to prevent favoritism, this happens: I think that happens, even in the structured organizations. I mean structureÂ’s there on the surface. It looks good. Does it work? Maybe. It does in some cases, but I think ultimately when we dig down deep a nd peel the onion to the very core, that people are going to hire who they want to hi re. Especially at senior levels, which is where you can really make a difference . And even though there are formal processes, I think people get hired sort of based on who you know and how you know them and who they want regardless of the structure. I might be a little cynical, but I think that's what will happen. Despite how unimportant and sometimes humorous the Â“clubsÂ” might appear on the surface, they have a serious impact on opportunities for women at the top level of organizations, and most women are painfully aw are of this fact. The Â“old boys networkÂ” is their term for the informal processes th at systematically priv ilege a select group of white males and disadvantage everyone else, particularly women. Since men and women often socialize in separate spheres outside of the workplace, this behavior is part of the taken-for-granted nature of the sex roles in our society, making it pa rticularly difficult to disrupt in the workplace. As much as women like Barbara and Pe gge try to ignore these boys clubs, there is still the undercurrent of who knows whom and it impacts the climb up the corporate ladder and access to the power structure within any organization. Men also discount the
122 discriminatory nature of this behavior, es pousing equal opportunity despite the fact that their closest confidants continue to look just like them. Nancy, who was very perceptive on these issues, explained it like this: I think, were you to interview, my guess is the vast majority of people would not respond like that advertising guy said [i n a recent item on the news] that women are stupid. They would all say all perf ectly wonderful thi ngs about how capable women are and they can do everything men can do and blah, blah, blah. And it would be unusual, I think, to even get a glimpse of peopleÂ’s re al inner-prejudice, because IÂ’m not even sure they recognize it in themselves. I bet if you asked the average CEO, esp ecially the younger ones if you said, Â“if you had two candidates for whatever, pres ident, and one was male and one was female which one would you hire?Â” I don Â’t think theyÂ’d immediately say the male; they would say, Â“depends on the qualification.Â” And if you said, Â“would you be open to the woman as much as the man,Â” and theyÂ’d say Â“yeah,Â” and I think they truly believe that theyÂ’ve done everything right, but the numbers donÂ’t prove it out. Rosabeth Moss Kanter brought this te ndency toward Â“homosocial reproductionÂ” to our attention in 1977 (K anter 1993:54). It dates from the beginnings of industrialization when entrepreneurs (who were all white men) were personally responsible for all of the de cisions in their own companies. As the businesses grew, others were needed to fill management ro les. Trust and loyalty were keys in such positions and owners hoped they could maintain control by only hiring from a Â“closed circle of homogenous peersÂ” (Kanter 1993:51 ), often members of their own family. Although professional managers from outside the family are now common, trust continues to be a principle concern in hiring and this concern grows the closer a position is to the top of the organization. This leads the predominantly white male executives to hire people they know, people who will act lik e them and most often also look like them. This contributes significantly to the crea tion and preservation of the glass ceiling.
123 Masculine Environment In addition to specific refe rences to the Â“old boy netw ork,Â” the women used other terms to describe the masculine atmosphere in their workplaces: Patricia: The [operations department] culture . was similar to the military. It was very command and control. . The top four people in operations, the vice presidents, all had similar, they were either really tall or had a booming voice. Joyce: So my boss somewhere along the lin e chose our mascot for our division . the rhino, to use for awards. They gi ve you a bronze rhino . It was all this Â“donÂ’t tell me you have obstacles in your way. You are a rhino, you blast through it.Â” It was very macho, very male. Patricia also described th e industry that she recently joined in this way: The typical [professional in th is business] is this guy that kind of reminds you of a cowboy. Somebody who's a gambler . Mary admitted that the predominantly masculine environment had worked to her advantage at times. For instance, she was ab le to work a flexible schedule, when others were afraid to even request one: People were scared. They are like, Â“we ll he likes youÂ” . Â“well that's because you're the sweet little cute girl.Â” It's like okay, and granted I do admit that being pleasant looking didn't ever hurt me . I'm not being conceited, but I don't think I'm ugly. I don't think I'm beautiful. . I don't know if that's the right thing to say for a woman, but it's true . you use it and you get around. Nancy feels that any such advantage was not worth the price of having to give up a part of yourself to fit into a work environment: I think there was a time when part of what women needed to do, right, wrong, or otherwise, to grow the idea of women in the workplace was to sort of get rid of their woman-ness, you know. And there was a time when women had to be, you know, they had to dress more like men, th ey had to tough things out like men do . they had to do all these things like men did, so that they would kind of fly below the radar screen.
124 This observation by Nancy was made while she was describing a woman who had been a vice president at her company several years before she herself reached the executive level. It is an excellent depiction of the women of my own era, those of us who entered the workforce in the late seventies, when we were very often the only female in a meeting or on a management team. Books like The WomanÂ’s Dress for Success Book and Games Mother Never Taught You: Corporate Gamesmenship for Women came out around that time with advice on how we could assimilate as much as possible into a world that was created by and for men (M olloy 1977; Harragan 1977). Kanter (1993) discussed the dilemmas facing women in this token position, revealing that most reacted to the visibility of it by attempting to be invisible, what Nancy calls Â“fly[ing] below the radar screen,Â” which sometimes involved ignoring the behavior of the men: Colleen: Well I'm here to tell you that I never met the biggest bunch of egomaniacs in all my life. And of course I was always Â“darlinÂ” to them . darlin and honey. And I realized there wasn't a lot I could do about that. If you acted like a real bitch about it you didn't endear yourself to any of them. The women are describing examples of what Joan Acker terms Â“hegemonic masculinity,Â” exemplified in the ideal of the leader as a Â“strong, technically competent, authoritative leader who is sexually potent and attractive, has a family, and has his emotions under controlÂ” (Acker 1990:153). Bird further defines hegemonic masculinity as Â“the maintenance of practices that institutionalize menÂ’s dominance over womenÂ” (Bird 1996:120). The women try to assimilate to this ideal. For example, they are expected to Â“tough it outÂ” like the men, but there is an ill -defined line they cannot cross. Being too much like the men can be unacceptable: Mary Anne: Women . have tried to conform to the male dominated culture and the male dominated leadership team and itÂ’s gotten them in trouble. They have
125 tried to be too much like the men in terms of how they dress, how they act and itÂ’s gotten them in trouble. They have been la beled as bitchy. They have been labeled as ineffective. They have been labeled as inflexible. So there have been women trying to create a place for themselves and move up through organization ranks where they have seen what has been successful, they have seen what has gotten promotions, they have seen the heroes, so to speak, and they have tried to emulate that, and it comes off wrong. And it does more damage than good to them in their careers. The best example of a behavior that was read differently when seen in a woman is aggressiveness, a trait that is rewarded in men in the workplace but can be threatening when seen in a woman: Nancy: I firmly believe . .the men at [my last company] could not accept aggressive behavior in women the same way that they expected it in fact, in themselves and in men . because people look at you like you are a bitch, you are not supposed to be that way. Aggressive with a woman is sort of a dirty word, while aggressive with a man isnÂ’t really. ItÂ’s bizarre. . ItÂ’s fascinating and it used to frustrate the shit out of me, and itÂ’s very true. When I asked Nancy where she felt this leaves women in the workplace who want to succeed, she responded: Â“I think that most successful women, albeit sad in a way, have to be able to tone down their aggressiveness or whatever and still be really good at what they do.Â” Once again, the rules are very confusing, if they exist at all. The culture values the Â“heroic masculineÂ” but women who try to emulate it are considered Â“bitchy.Â” The narrow band of acceptable behavior for professional women was identified in the 1987 book Breaking the Glass Ceiling (Morrison et al. 1992) The book included a graphic of two overlapping Â“hoopsÂ” with a very narrow Â“acceptable bandÂ” of behaviors in each hoop. The hoops are labeled Â“masculine or like menÂ” and Â“feminine or unique to women.Â” The authors hint at how difficult it w ould be to even know what behaviors fall in the band, much less to stay within them, th en proceed to state that doing so is the most
126 important factor for success for women, a nd provide a discussion of the contradictory behaviors that they must exhibit. These we re discussed above and include, notably, Â“be tough, but donÂ’t be machoÂ” (Morrison et al. 1992:55-57). In contrast to the struggle by women to find the behaviors for success, Susan gave an example in which the roles were reversed, where a man found himself in a stereotypically female situation and was unable to determine what behavior was appropriate: I had the first employee that ever got pregnant. And I remember saying, Â“Hey, weÂ’re going to have a sales meeting [a t a nearby resort], let's have a baby shower.Â” And, as it happens, the VP for sales came in for the meeting, and he didn't just, he knew that, I think he was politically correct enough, not to be upset that I had done this, but he did not know how to act. He honestly was literally out of his element so much so that somebody thrust a teddy bear in his arms to hand to her, and it was like, he c ould not do it, could not do it. Picturing this hapless male may be humor ous, but it is doubtful that his inability to behave properly limited his care er success in any way. The contrast between this and a situation in which a woman is not sure of th e appropriate behavior helps to illuminate the power differences between men and women in the workplace. The masculine dominant environment also manifests itself in raised voices and use of profanity, which the wome n generally chose to ignore: Mary: I was never one to say, excuse me; don't curse in front of me. You know, I'm a little girl; no I never did that . ever y so often, they would recognize that I was in the room. And they might rec ognize it and say something like Â“oh, let's not curse so much.Â” Rebekah: Did they apologize? M: Oh goodness no, it was more an amusement for them when they realized they were cursing and that there was a woman there.
127 More than one of the women felt that the fact that they did not allow cursing to bother them was a plus in their careers: Susan: If it makes people uncomfortable, then itÂ’s improper. I think that now people are much more sensitive to it. Y ou almost have to be coached that itÂ’s okay to a certain extent to make peopl e uncomfortable. And some people can't communicate without it. So if you want to communicate youÂ’re going to have to make it okay for them. I can't say that that was a problem. I considered it a compliment when another woman says to a guy at the table, [SusanÂ’s] okay (Laughing). Barbara: (Laughs) You will get a pardon my French. I never ever took things as IÂ’m a woman therefore, I will ta ke it a certain way. I don't. But can women join in when the languag e gets Â“colorful?Â” In the 1989 Supreme Court case Hopkins v Price Waterhouse discussed above, the men evaluating Ms. HopkinsÂ’ potential for partnership in their firm were concerned with her behavior, including her being Â“a lady us ing foul languageÂ” (Levit and Verchick 2006:64). Nancy is the only woman who admitted that she participated in this practice, feeling that she had to conform to the confrontational style of her bos s, but she admits Â“thatÂ’s not a style that I turn to as a reaction, itÂ’s a style that I us e when itÂ’s necessary, IÂ’m confronted with it.Â” She provided the most dramatic example of this in the story of an interaction that she had with her companyÂ’s president while she was serving as a senior vice president at a Fortune 100 company: I mean at one point, probably within a year of when I finally left, he pushed me so far. I was in his office, and his o ffice was separated only by a conference room from the CEO's office. They were in sort of their own little suite. And I was in his office and the door was open. And I'm sitting there going over some things with him and he said something that just pushed my button, big time. I started cussing at him (laughs) yelling and cussing at him. I was like Â“you're an [expletive] asshole.Â” And I just went off. I've never done this before. I lost my mind. IÂ’m like Â“youÂ’re an asshole.Â” He's like, Â“I'm not an asshole.Â” I'm like Â“you are,Â” and the secretaries are out there a nd everything else. And finally, the CEO appears at the door, and he said, Â“So, how 's it going?Â” (laughs), and it was just
128 enough, obviously, you don't like being ca ught by your parents. It was just enough that we both sort of stopped and looked at each other. And I mean I could just feel my blood pressure was probably maxed out. And you know, eventually, [the CEO] talked to him for a few minutes about something else or distracted us. And later I went back to my office and I called my husband, and I said, Â“well, I'm working on my severance package todayÂ” (laughs) and my husband said, Â“oh, you have to go back and apologize to them.Â” I said, Â“I can't apologize to him. ThatÂ’s what heÂ’s all about. He's all about power and if I go back like a girly girl and apologize to him, I'm going to lose anything from him that I can stand on my own.Â” So, eventually, I went and said to him, Â“You know, sorry I yelled at you, but you really did piss me off.Â” I tried to take a masculine approach to it. In any case, after a few years of that you just get sick of it. Not all environments accept this sort of behavior from women or men and it is not always acceptable within the lower ranks of th e professional staff. Joyce, whose first job was in a Â“maverickÂ” culture, was reprimanded for raising her voice on two occasions after she joined a larger, more formal organization: I mean swear words were not unusual at [the Â“maverickÂ” company]. It wasn't a preponderance, but nobody would be offended. It was perfectly fine for swear words to be in a meeting or whatever. NEVER at [the more formal organization]. Oh no, no, no, you should never be. It should never be colorful language; you were never allowed to lose your temper Unless you were a director; directors could, general managers could, maybe a VP could. But us analysts, a manager or whatever, oh, no. You were supposed to have your stuff together at all times. The rules continue to increase in comple xity. Some say that women cannot be too much like a man, some say that you have to act like the men do or they donÂ’t respect you. And itÂ’s not just gender; itÂ’s rank. Manage rs with less power cannot lose their tempers, but executives can. Men are forgiven because they cannot communicate without profanity. The women feel pressure to be c onsidered Â“okay,Â” meaning it is okay to use profanity in their presence. The use of this type of language can be viewed as another symbol of hegemonic masculinity, since prof anity is identified with masculine, and not feminine, behavior in our culture. The men fo r whom it is amusing, as in MaryÂ’s story,
129 may not be conscious of it, but they are exerting their dominance in these interactions when they use a language that is not availa ble to Mary. Nancy refused to allow her boss that power over her, but was eventually worn out by constantly using a style outside of her comfort zone. Other language implications are notable here. The women do not want to be labeled Â“bitchÂ” or Â“bitchy,Â” but do not comment on the fact that these words are never used to describe male behaviors. Terms like Â“aggressiveÂ” and Â“heroicÂ” are used for the men, often for the same Â“bitchyÂ” behaviors. The women do not want to be Â“girly girlsÂ” or Â“little girls,Â” terms used to describe negative behaviors by women; but the childish behavior of the old Â“boysÂ” has a very positive, powerful connotation. Drinking is another area wh ere there are different standards for behavior: Susan: I can remember stories about some real old-timers, had to have their boss go to the hotels where they were on the road, because they had gone into a drunken stupor. And I'm sorry, but I would have been out on my you-know-what . There was certainly behavior that was acceptable for the guys that wasnÂ’t acceptable for the women. Barbara, who said that she was not both ered by the Â“old boyÂ” nature of business, told some of the most outrageous stories about drinking, and was clearly fed up with having to be a part of such behavior: They flew down . they were all VPs . and they are just talking about how they were drinking all night and Rosie th e flight attendant, and IÂ’m thinking these poor people who were on this overnight f light to [South America]. So . we meet them in the afternoon, we had dinner, talked about what we needed to do. I went back to my room, the three of them went out to the bars . They were out till 3, 4 oÂ’clock in the morning. Two of them were late coming down in the morning. . They have no sleep, they are at this meeting and they are like (sighs). We managed to get through what we needed to get through but we went to lunch without the [customer] and they are ju st laughing about all the, just like a fraternity, we drank so much and were nÂ’t we funny. And IÂ’m thinking, IÂ’m in [South America] with you guys, and I really want to be home with my family.
130 We finished the meeting, we are at the airport executive lounge and they canÂ’t wait to start drinking again and IÂ’m exhaus ted . get on the plane . they are drinking and they are laughing and they are loud. . So finally, a passenger in front got up and yelled, I won't do this on your tape, but yelled an obscenity at them and they are all of a sudden like, Â“Why are you getting so mad?Â” And IÂ’m looking at them . and this fight is breaking out. This incident was a catalyst to put Barb ara on what she calls her Â“faith based journeyÂ” to find a new career. Â“My whole thi ng is just respect. I have no respect for them,Â” she told me. So, she does not feel that they discriminated against her, but they put her in a position that was clearly in conflict with her values. Despite this, she makes excuses for finding the behavior objectionable, telling me that she is not a Â“teetotaler,Â” she just canÂ’t drink like she did in colle ge. She does not address what might have happened if she had attempted to keep up w ith them and their Â“fraternityÂ” behavior, or had complained about it, choices she likel y did not feel were available to her. Barbara told a second story about this same group of executives and draws her own conclusion about what their behavior cont ributed to the culture of the organization they are running: How can it get worse? The big annual customer conference . every one of these vice presidents is so drunk. One of the customers is a nudist. And she is not into sexual anything or whatever but sh e just feels comfortable in her body. So after a night of drinking, she strips a nd goes into the pool and is skinny-dipping. One of the vice presidents drops his drawer s and gets in with her. Now, you want to talk about corporate culture? What are the employees saying? Â“Now I know I canÂ’t do anything. If he didnÂ’t get fire d, there isnÂ’t anyt hing I can do at this company that is going to get me fired.Â” Certainly there are men that would not accept either the skinny-dipping or the rowdy drunkenness on the airplane as reasonable business behavior, but in this company it was acceptable. The executives in this situation were leadi ng a business that had
131 recently been purchased from a large corporat ion where they held similar positions. That company had what appeared to be a very structured environment and a well-developed diversity program. Any lessons they might have learned there do not seem to have carried over once they were outside of the c ontrol of the large corporate structure. SusanÂ’s story also indicated that drinking while out of town on business was not uncommon and others alluded to the use of al cohol both during business travel and office functions, including routine happy hours after work. Stories of sexual harassment (not always labeled as such by the women) were often tied to situations where alcohol was involved. Drinking is clearly a part of the cu lture of these businesses and an area that is difficult for women to navigate. If they act too much like men they open themselves up to allegations of being unfeminine, but if they are not tolerant of this behavior, they are considered prudes (another female-only term) or too inflexible. This was even more of an issue after Mary Anne became the s ubject a rumored affair with her boss: That organization kind of had a lot of af ter-hours get-togethers and I was selective about going to those because of [the ru mor]. And I was selective about afterhours, still walking the line of being frie ndly, but professional, particularly with my boss, because I was aware of that. And I was bound and determined to prove that rumor mill wrong. So I had to be sele ctive, but I think thatÂ’s just smart. Although it may well have been smart, as it might be smart for women to avoid many of these situations in which the rules ar e so unclear, it does not change the fact that relationships are being built, Â“clubsÂ” are bei ng formed, and, right or wrong, these impact everyoneÂ’s career potential. The masculine environment also lends itsel f to stereotyping of women. A female senior executive told me that when a major layoff occurred at her company, the male executives stayed in their offices and left the two female leaders to deal with the
132 emotions of the day, an arena in which the men, and this woman, believed that women were superior: [The other female executive] and I were c onferred with considerably in regard to the handling of a layoff of over two hundr ed people, in terms of the management of the day, the emotional impact, and we were looked for, just understanding we might have more, and itÂ’s very interesti ng, males, at least the males in this company, found it very hard to walk the halls and face the disappointment and the hurt by the people that are st ill there and the people that were in the process of leaving, and they tended to stay in their offices. Where [the other female executive] and I were more comfortable in getting some of our management team to walk the halls and be visible. And I remember her going into the office of [a senior executive] and she said [he was] hiding in his office and he said, Â“whatÂ’s going on out there?Â” and she said, Â“ I donÂ’ t think IÂ’m going to tell you, see for yourself.Â” We thought they were a bunch of wusses and couldnÂ’t handle it. On the reverse side, they did ask for our input and were grateful that we acted in that, I donÂ’t know, maternal way. They wanted to do the right thing. This female executive not only appreciated be ing seen as Â“maternal,Â” she forgave the men who were trying to do the right thing, but were just Â“wusses.Â” For a woman to represent the situation this way reveals the taken-for-granted, naturalized sex roles that operate, even among male and female corporate executives. Comments were also made about women needing to work harder than men or be more competent to get to the same place. Judy felt that they and other women had been taken advantage of in this way: Well, I also believe, and this is difficult to say, but I believe that in the seventies and eighties a lot of these men in high positions they took tremendous advantage of women that wanted to move up in their careers and they took advantage of them in a way that was unacceptable. From a sexual standpoint, from a leading them on, thereÂ’s a lot of that that went on, a lot of that and that was not, that has never been, really, I think, really highlighted. The competitive nature of business itself can be viewed as an extension of hegemonic masculinity. A well-accepted stereotype (Hymowitz 2005), endorsed by some feminist theorists (Gilligan 1982), considers women leaders less competitive than
133 men, and some women in this study appear to accept this. Research on differences in leadership style between men and women has been criticized. Evidence of gender differences has been found in lab studies, but research done within organizations has shown no difference. Benschop (2006) cautions that this is because leadership is contextual, depending on the type of organiza tion. Regardless, some of the women here identify with the stereotype and consider it a positive. Patricia: I think male-run businesses te nd to be more command-and-control while women are more collaborative, willing to adapt. Like we will stop for directions. There is an analogy. But it's a joke, because men wonÂ’t do it and women will. So when a woman is at the top of a compa ny, she is asking the customers, what do you want, she's asking the employees, what do you need, and reaching out. Our expression was Â“captain of the universeÂ” . .the captain of the universe mentality, which is what 90 percent of the leader s were. You know, you don't have to have the whole universe on your back; we all do it together. And I think that's more of a male perspective. Although this sounds positive, the workpl ace continues to value the competitive, Â“heroic masculineÂ” leader (Olsson 2000), for which PatriciaÂ’s company has its own label, the Â“captain of the universe.Â” When wome n accept stereotypes about themselves, they affirm the taken-for-granted nature of sex-role differences, which makes it much more difficult for others to challenge them. Part of the competitive nature of busin ess is the continual emphasis on business growth, something that benefited the women in their careers: Joyce: The whole company was $250 million in sales [when I joined it], which is tiny. By the time I left two and half year s later they were a two and half billiondollar company, so huge growth. So it wa s an exiting time to be there because they were growing so rapidly, the opportunities, you create it. Judy: So [the company] was what I woul d consider to be a growing organization. So they were kind of finding their way. They were ever-changing, the people were having fun, because they were tapping people who were very young to take on bigger and broader scopes of responsibil ity which made my job fun, because I
134 got to be part of that perception and be able to grow with an organization. That was a huge opportunity for many, many people and to take their careers to another place. . and the great thing was that you had a group of people that were talking about the growth and being part of th e growth and if you do this you will have career opportunities. So that was a really wonderful place. The comments above have a positive tone b ecause the growth is seen as the key to providing opportunities, but both of these women could also see the downside of this focus on growth: Joyce: There are tremendous growing pains and so many times they were growing so fast they would eventually promote people beyond their capabilities and you go from being the star to being the fool in a matter of six months. Judy: And so [the company] just conti nued to grow and broaden in scope and the bigger it got and after [the chairman] left and retired [the president] who was the heir apparent became the chairman and there was a huge shift in my mind in the culture. A huge shift and the shift had a lot to do with just, you know, winning at all costs. The idea of peopl e who brought you to another le vel, the respect factor, and a lot of those things, were not upheld in the same fashion. It was a different mindset. WeÂ’re gonna grow; we need to get more market share. We need to get more shareholder value. Nancy reflected on another downside of a rapid growth environment; it masks poor management: When times were great, you know the whole land of milk and honey. . you had kids with two years of college, pulling down $100,000 a year in sales, because it was Â“yee ha!Â” You know, it's like these kids that went into the dot com and just got in the right time and made a ton of money . Nobody really cared about good management. If the kid is twenty-one and making $100,000 a year, if his boss ever yelled at him to hurry up and get that sale, well, who cares? He kept working and everybody's happy, and they go out drinking later and that's the end of it. When I asked Joyce how her company had been able to grow so quickly (tenfold in two years), she told me: Actually this was just growth [from] ve ry aggressive sales tactics, some might say, and, certainly in hindsight, I might sa y some fairly unethical behavior. It was sort of Â“get the deal done no matter what. I'm going to look the other way, and I
135 don't want to hear what you did to book it.Â” It caught up with them . but that's why when the whole dot com thing that happened. I was like, Â“oh my god, this is the same thing,Â” accounting irregularitie s, in quotes (motions quotation marks). Pegge worked for a company that grew through acquisitions, something that led to its own set of issues: Â“The core group that I worked with got bought and sold about five different times. . When you are bought and sold, every time your culture gets chipped at, so by the fifth time . and if you study acquisitions . acquisitions often break in two.Â” Mary, who worked for a very entrepre neurial company, characterized by long hours and a high level of stress, told of the impact on one personÂ’s life: [The] CFO . he, in fact, he died really early, because he ha d a heart attack from the stress. He died like at fifty, becau se it was fast-paced, and I think they would go out at night, too, and [travel] to these [companies they were acquiring.] Rebekah: You really think th at was brought on by the stress? Mary: Oh, hush yes. Part of this competitive, growth-oriented environment is the focus on financial results. Although these women accept that pr ofits are needed to keep companies in business, some saw a movement toward goals of higher and higher profits, resulting in less and less for other things. Colleen: [My last employer], it is privatel y owned, they just wanted to put more money in their pockets. I remember the year we had the largest sales increase in the history of that company, I got the same bonus I got the year before. They didnÂ’t throw a party, they didnÂ’t give us a pound cake, they didnÂ’t do anything. And we had worked, it was two years ago, and it was just, I donÂ’t know, very crazy. I got a pen . And a lot of us said then, Â“it doesnÂ’t matter how hard you work, how much money the company is maki ng, year after year, it doesnÂ’t trickle down.Â” I think most companies, large or small, have become so profit driven that money is such a motivator for the guys at the top, and for us as middle managers, we
136 wanted to make money, but the guys at the top, man, they want more money. . . People say they want you to have balance in your life. They donÂ’ t. If it impacts the bottom line, Â“get up here on Sunday morning, we are having a meeting.Â” Competition, a focus on growth, and the continual need to increase profits are described here primarily as negatives, but ar e considered Â“natural,Â” taken-for-granted in the business world. This explains the some what ambivalent opinions of the women, who seemed to think competition is a positive thing and that a growing company provides the best Â“opportunityÂ” for career advancement. Bu t their belief in this version of business seems to be faltering. Most of them felt that there was too much focus on money and that people, and ethics, were being pushed aside in the relentless pursuit of more and higher profits. Whether these feelings are more prevalent in women than men would be an interesting subject for further research. Th is is certainly an ar ea where men are equally affected, both in terms of the opportunities and the downsides such as stress-related illnesses. Leadership, Values and Loyalty Strong opinions were expressed about the leadership at the very top of corporations. Of course, not all of the l eaders were bad, but only a few of the women volunteered positive comments; Joyce for a CEO who stayed only a short time at her last employer, and Mary Anne and Barbara of the CEOs of two small business clients of their respective consulting practices. The majority was negative, and played a part in why the women left the corporate world. Lack of lead ership, lack of vision and just plain lack of management skills were mentioned. Colleen: [The president and CEO] have no vision for the company. . When I would sit in meetings with them and try to talk to them about . the things that
137 we need to do to make us a better bus iness down the road, not a larger business, but a better business. I couldn't do anything with them. Could not. Nancy: There's a lot written about, and they try to teach people about, to be supervisors and managers, but being presiden ts is something that they just assume people can do . In fact they [canÂ’t]. If anything, they turn into more jerks, because what happens is that the people you're managing are higher and higher up and not so fragile. Joyce: I never felt like the senior peopl e at the company were the best and the brightest. . It was a gr eat place to learn but I felt like the people who moved up were the people who towed the line and so rt of stuck it out. They werenÂ’t people that dazzled me, I can tell you that much. These observations are examples of another phenomenon that Joyce Williams (2000) identified. In her view, those who rise to the top are not the best; they are the ones that are Â“ready, willing and ableÂ” to work the eighty-hour weeks required by the Â“ideal workerÂ” ideology. Some of those that are re ady, willing and able believe that they make the choice freely, as Mary Anne saw with a client of hers: . he is behind the bleachers at his kidÂ’s soccer game [on his cell phone]. And his wife has told him, Â“I'm about done with this.Â” And I'm coaching him and he said, Â“. . gotta help me get control of this. For one thing, I'm setting a standard on the inside [of my company.] But I don't wanna lose my family.Â” What he told me is that, Â“I know this is out of c ontrol, and I know that this is not a good example IÂ’m setting on the inside or for my marriage and my family.Â” But then, he said that, Â“I am so passionate about wh at I do, itÂ’s such a huge part of who I am, I can't stop it.Â” And I said, Â“ArenÂ’ t you a father? And arenÂ’t you a husband?Â” . Then he really, he got tears in his ey es. And he said, Â“I almost feel like I don't know how to turn it off,Â” and he said, Â“honestly, I don't want to.Â” He loves it. He loves it and I think a lot of men who are su ccessful, at the top, feel that way. They work those hours because they love it so much. They're passionate and it is so a part of who they are, theyÂ’re almost not able to see why it isn't that way for everybody else. They really struggle unders tanding that. And if people say that: Â“I have a family,Â” they say: Â“So do I. Why can't you give more? Why aren't you more committed?Â” This presents an interesting example of the way that the ideal worker role has impacted men. Although he thoroughly enjoys his work, this man also wants to do the
138 right thing for his family. Given the business culture that he faces, he cannot see any way to be successful without working the long hou rs, sacrificing his family time. This also provides a demonstration of KanterÂ’s theory th at people who rise to the top are those who do not put family as a priority, and once they are there do not create workplaces that are family friendly, which hurts women disproportionately (Kanter 1993). Related to leadership are the values exhi bited by the leaders, embodied in part by the way that they treat people within the company. Once again there were both good and bad examples, but the predominant feeling was negative: Barbara: He will call the people and swear at them and threaten to fire them, Â“who made this big screw up?Â” and heÂ’s th e CEO of this business . the culture followed the leader, which is a total lack of respect for people. There's just no respect for the people. Colleen worked for a relatively small, family-owned business, but did not feel that she was treated like family, especially not on he r last day when she was escorted from the building with no prior notice: Â“We just want you out of here.Â” The th ing that bothered me a lot about that company was they presented themselves as Â“Oh, we care about our people, weÂ’re family.Â” And then they treat me the way they did, after years of hard, hard service and dedication. Nancy offered her theory about why peopl e at the director and vice-president levels are treated poorly, which may help to explain some of the blatant discrimination experienced by executive women, i.e. the glass ceiling: You know, when you manage a bunch of minimum-wage people, they're more likely to sue you, complain about you, than the higher up you go. It's kind of expected, and I think that ju st by our nature, we put up with more. It's much more unusual to hear about some vice presiden t or senior vice president who has some action against the company. Even though the things that companies do from a sexism, from a you know, whatever, are just as bad if not worse at those levels. They just aren't careful anymore, because they don't think they need to be.
139 Pegge felt that her company treated people well, but as part of her job she worked with supplier companies that did not. Sh e expressed her philosophy and that of her company as the golden rule: If you are driving a customer service, cu stomer-focused organization, first and foremost you have to treat people like you wa nt them to treat the client. I say that and I worked very closely with other companies that were [suppliers] for products. One of the real challenges was that lack of professionalism, lack of core values in treating employees like you would want to be treated or like you would want the customer treated . it was use and abuse the employees, provide them no support, versus what I was in was more professionalism, respect of employees, treat them like you would want them to treat the clients, invest in them. . .What happens then is that you create a l oyalty among the employees, you create an environment in which they can shine in the areas you want them to. And it all starts at the top. Barbara and Mary provided these specific examples to support their assessment of certain companies having strong values and tr eating people well. The simplicity of the examples underscores how bad the situation must be otherwise: Barbara: [The company president] . heÂ’s really cool, he said that they had a woman who was going to have a baby, sing le mom, and the supervisor was going to have the receptionist order flowers and send them, and he said Â“no, I want you,Â” the president said to the supervisor Â“I want you to get her something you know she is going to want, not just send the flowers.Â” So they got her a gift certificate to Wal-Mart to buy diapers or whatever and she called the president and said, Â“I canÂ’t believe.Â” Those little acts of kindness mean more than if they sent the flowers, instead of just doing the easy thing. Â“What specifically does that person need?Â” It was really impressive. Mary: [The company] was a really good environment. I mean, they were nervous if you got, you know a happy employee is a productive employee. They absolutely believe that, that a happy employee are productive employees. They believe that, they followed it. Rebekah: What kind of things did they do? M: They had a refrigerator in their kitc hen. They had . some people like Diet Pepsi, some people like Diet Coke, some people like Diet Coke Caffeine Free . Perrier lime or lemon, Â“What kind do you like? We'll make sure it gets put on the
140 list of what we order.Â” Always stocked. Never did you run out of whatever kind you like. As simplistic as this example might seem, Mary told this story during two different interviews and was clearly very impr essed by this attention to the comfort of the employees. When questioned, she admitted that part of her reaction to this treatment was its dramatic contrast to the environment she ha d been in prior to joining this company, the one where the CFO had died of a heart attack at fifty. An example of that environment was when her boss left $100 in cash in her desk to thank her for doing some extra work. He felt that money was the only thing that pe ople cared about and chose not to actually say thank you, something that woul d have meant a lot to Mary. Nancy spoke of the attempts she saw by leaders to create more humane organizations, Â“but as soon as times got tough, they hunker down and turned back into assholes, which was their normal . and th at's probably a charged word, but they turned back into sort of an onslaught of authoritat ive, autocratic, Â‘good because I said so,Â’ type management style.Â” In relation to values, the concept of l oyalty also came up, loyalty on the part of employees and on the part of the companies towards their employees. Both were seen by the women to have declined since previous generations or, for the older women, during their own careers. One manifestation of a lack of loyalty is high turnover. Many comments were made about high levels of tu rnover in a variety of different companies, but especially in the younger, more Â“maverickÂ” companies. Susan worked in a company that provided loyalty, but only to those who assimilated, a price she felt was too high: I remember thinking back in my very na ve days in the company. You know, all you have to do is perform, and they will take care of me for the rest of my life.
141 Well, you know, you've got to get over that real quick too. The cost of taking care of you was too counter my own set of values. Judy, who worked for one company for over twenty-five years, only to see herself and most of the long-tenured workforce offered Â“early retirement,Â” finds that most executives today are willing to talk to her wh en she recruits them to change jobs. They recognize that there is no job security: They [the companies] are the ones that ar enÂ’t loyal. . and when the workers of today have seen their parents, their gra ndparents, their sisters, brothers, because we saw that across corporate America, everyone has been touched by [layoffs] once, twice, five times. The phenomenon of low levels of loyalty was sometimes attributed to a new generation of employees, but most agree that the Â“rightsizingÂ” of workforces represents a lack of loyalty by businesses to their employees and led the employees to be less loyal to companies. As Judy pointed out, being laid off can, and most likely will, happen to everyone who works for a large company in the U.S. today. A woman who left a corporate position to start her own advertising agency recently told me that she is surprised when people ask her if she is worried about the lack of security in having her own business. Be ing a corporate employee, in her opinion, is much less secure. She, at least, has some control over her future. Like most of the women in this study, she has chosen to be a Â“free agent,Â” as Pink (2001) has termed this move to self-employment. Williams (2000) considers this phenomenon among women to be evidence of the abilities and creativity that they have been unable to use inside corporations. The workplace of today has been described as Â“toxicÂ” (Webber 1998), an assessment that is confirmed by the stories shared here. Many of the problems that these
142 former executives describe are bad for wo men and men alike. When we look deeper, though, we must acknowledge that their wor kplaces were Â“genderedÂ” in very specific ways. Networks were created through social activities th at exclude women, building relationships of trust and familiarity th at limit who has access to power and who will succeed the current leaders who are overwhelmi ngly white and male. Behaviors that are glossed as masculine are valued, but women who display them are criticized. Women continue to be encouraged to adopt styles that men are comfortable with (Catalyst 2004), but those styles are not associated with power and success. The women leaders themselves often agree that th ey are less competitive, despit e research that disputes this stereotype. The women are a product of their envir onment, they consider competition and profit maximization to be inevitable factors in business, but they are also a product of their socialization as females. They value things like respect and loyalty, which appear to be evolving into Â“feminineÂ” traits, as the wo rkplaces they describe value them less and less. As they achieved executive rank, the wo men discovered that the men at the very top lacked important leadership qualities and ba sic management abilities, and that many of them were not concerned with how the executives below them were treated. Since all of the stories presented here are from women, it is not possible to determine from this research how men feel about these issues. The women are also all white, middle class and all at about the same life and career stag e, which certainly impacts their viewpoints. Most of them s poke of happier times early in their careers. The workplace has changed, but so have these ten women. Other research projects need to be undertaken to reveal the viewpoint s of men and of younger women, as well as
143 women of color and women who have remained inside the corporate environment. But these are personal life stories, told in the voices of ten women from the first generation to reach the executive offices, and they speak for themselves. WhatÂ’s Wrong There is certainly much in the descripti ons of the workplaces above that could be considered wrong, but specific topics rais ed in the interviews were more obviously classified as problems. Blatant discrimination and the existence of the glass ceiling, as well as lack of role models for women executives fall here. The women also gave some specific reasons that they chose to end their corporate careers. These help to illuminate issues that must be addressed for businesses to retain women. The stories and opinions of what is Â“wrongÂ” in this section are more fact ual, more straightforward than those in the previous section, requiring less analysis to determine what is happening. They would appear to also be easier to address; a law exists, it should be followed. The continued persistence of these factors, however, reveals that they are part of the taken-for-granted sex roles in our culture and th ey, along with the more subtle factors in the prior section, are difficult to remedy. Discrimination and the Glass Ceiling Much of the literature, as well as popular rhetoric, holds that blatant discrimination has been eliminated and repl aced by a more insidious form, more difficult to identify and prove (Fick 1997). Given this, it is somewhat surprising that six of these ten women related personal experiences of ove rt discrimination. Only three, Barbara, Mary and Pegge feel that they were never discriminated against. Mary acknowledges that her view may be nave. Pegge and Barbara worked in companies with strong affirmative
144 action and diversity programs that should ha ve worked to reduce the likelihood of overt forms of discrimination. These two women did not, however, identify those programs as a reason for their positive experiences. Pegge is an engineer and worked in ve ry male-dominated fields where she was often the only woman in a particular job bu t felt that Â“in general, if you performed you had opportunity. And in general it was gender neutral. ThatÂ’s what you want. ThatÂ’s what you want.Â” Her company was a government contractor who had a track record of hiring and promoting a diverse workforce. Th ese efforts were probably in place for many years when Pegge arrived in the early eight ies and she benefited from the resulting environment. This most likely influenced he r personal opinions regarding discrimination: For the companies that I was trying, coming in as a senior manager, responsibility in a very tactical environment, I never, well personality excep tions, I never, a few individuals, but in general, I never fe lt being a female in that field was a disadvantage . if we stop to focus on Â“poor me,Â” or Â“IÂ’m a woman therefore,Â” and just focus on professionalism and excep tional results; if you focus there, even when there is a barrier, you break through it easily, easily and . you know, good ole boy in a [manufacturing] plant in [the South] and they spit their wad of tobacco out before they shake your hand, to across the country in various different, and even when there would be a little not being taken seriously, if I just focused on, remembered helping them solve problems, focused on . IÂ’d do exceptionally well. . and so many people make the opposite mistake . and if more women would [think]. . Â“I canÂ’t change them but I can change how I let it affect meÂ” . focus on being the best professional you can possibly be, which produces results, and any barrier is going to be so temporary and there is credibility. As positive as Pegge is about her ability to overcome obstacles, she does admit they exist. Words like Â“a little not being taken seriously,Â” indicate that some of the men she dealt with did subscribe to sex-role stereotypes, not believing that a woman can perform in a traditionally male career like engineering. Pegge is sure she was able to overcome these initial impressions by Â“being the best professional.Â” Her efforts may well
145 have pushed the glass ceiling upward, as the men she encountered changed their opinions. Unless, of course, they just assu med she was an exception, different from other women. BarbaraÂ’s experience and personal philoso phy are similar to those of Pegge. She speaks more about the corporate structure that aided in creating the environment, however, and also related a story she had recently heard of a woman who quit her job because she was asked to fire someone b ecause they were African American. By bringing this up she is acknowledging that such things occur, but holds firm that she was not a victim of discrimination herself, a nd does not feel that her former employer discriminated: Could be, you know that big of organization, certainly, they pu t a lot of stuff in place, to avoid the lawsuits. But I persona lly never observed or felt that I was discriminated against. Now, that's not to say that I did not observe or think there were good ole boys, but to me that was their problem. Rebekah: It didnÂ’t stop ot her people from getting in? Barbara: No. Certainly, there would be statements of bias, just because I felt there are male chauvinist pigs, for lack of a better term, who worked there. But that was who they were. And there were also lots of other kinds of people who worked there. For me it was always your performance. And this was my perspective on it. I donÂ’t like affirma tive action because I think that's as discriminating as, you know, people, should be based on their performance, their merits, their capabilities. . and that's not to say that other people didn't feel it. But I think there's a whole problem with victimism in this world, where people simply don't take responsibility for th eir own lives and their own actions, who say, Â“I can't.Â” And itÂ’s men and women, white, black and Chinese, it doesn't matter. There are people in this world who fall on the victim side of the scale as opposed to the responsibl e side of this scale. Like Pegge, Barbara acknowledges that ther e were barriers, Â“statements of bias.Â” She also agrees with Pegge that if you donÂ’ t take on the victim role you can succeed on
146 merit. Barbara does admit that she may have benefited from the affirmative action program that she does not support: I never felt it. And I don't think even in the reverse I haven't, yet may have. Well, when I was promoted to my first director position, I was the only woman. Maybe they felt compelled to bring a woman in because they had all these men. I don't know. The experiences and opinions of these tw o women are important in the contrast that they provide to the stories of the others. As I have speculated, their positive experiences may have been the result of year s of affirmative action in their companies, although they clearly are believers in mer itocracy. They trust in what Kanter (1993) called the Â“individualÂ” model; that you succeed purely through your pe rsonal abilities and hard work regardless of the culture and stru cture of an organization. That they have managed to maintain this belief after many years in corporations may be evidence of the benefit of affirmative action and diversity initiatives, or may be purely a reflection of their worldview or their sp ecific career experiences. It is important to note that these two women are currently in business together, primarily as executive coaches. Since the role of the coach is ofte n that of cheerleader, their positive attitudes may be the result of spending the last few years learning how to cheer on other business professiona ls, or it may be that they were attracted to that work because of their own positive outlooks on business and meritocracy. Nancy and Patricia, on the other hand, e xperienced blatant forms discrimination as recently as the early and mid 1990s. No t only did they uncover biased treatment, the male managers responsible were so bold as to admit to it. Nancy wa s told explicitly that
147 she was not considered for a promotion becau se she had just had a baby, what Williams (2000) calls the Â“maternal wallÂ”: When they were looking for [someone for the higher level job]. . I had been there for several years in the director role. I was clearly the best director they had. I was clearly a viable candidate. And even though in a lot of other cases they did plenty of promote from within things, th ey were really jerk ing around for quite a while, in terms of whether they were ta king me seriously as a candidate. And they were parading in people with my exact background, but men. You know, people who looked like a bright shiny pe nny like a rsum looks, in comparison to someone who's actually worked for you. So I decided to update my rsum and actually sat down with my boss and sa id, Â“Look, I'm just as capable on paper as all these people, plus, you know me. I have the skills.Â” So what my boss told me, a man probably five years younger than I was. Most of them were young . What he says to me was, Â“Well, you know, we're not really sure,Â” because I had had a baby, Â“weÂ’re not really sure if, because of your family situation, you'd be able to make the commitment weÂ’re looking for.Â” Rebekah: Blatantly illegal statements. Nancy: Yeah, but also even forgetting all that, my husband was the stay-at-home dad, had been forever. I had never missed a day of work. When I had my kid, I was out exactly the six weeks, and oh, by the way, still doing E-mail, conference calls, having meetings and everything el se during the whole time. There was absolutely no reason, no nothing to even jus tify the concern. And again, that's the kind of thing they would never have said to a lower-level person, but they feel like they can say that to me. So I ended up writing a letter to the CF O, who was his boss and him, attaching my rsum: Â“I feel that, number one, here's why I think IÂ’m a great candidate.Â” Made the letter as positive as possible, but also said: Â“I feel it's important to respond to [your] concern that my family situation, blah, blah, blah.Â” And I reminded them that IÂ’d not missed a day of work. And I've not gone home early. My husbandÂ’s the primary caregiver. And I pulled a lot of the cards that men pull, you know, I'm the primary provider, I need to provide for my family. Blah, blah, blah, blah. And you know, ultimately got th e job. . anyway I moved on and did that, cracked and broke through a little bi t of the glass ceiling, and so forth. Patricia, who was also the breadwinner in her family at the time, found out that she had been paid less than a male with the same credentials, and the manager responsible had done it intentionally:
148 And there is a guy who started after they brought me in and they brought him in at a higher salary. And I know from [my bo ss] that [she] questioned [her manager] about it, because this other guy who came around the same time, went to work for another department, with the exact same background as me, and . [her managerÂ’s] response to [her] was, Â“He's got a mortgage to pay.Â” . I mean, I was married to a [blue collar worker]. I mean, he was making $15,000 a year. I had a mortgage to pay. In both of these incidences of overt disc rimination, the male perpetrators of the discriminatory acts are basing their decisions on the naturalized sex roles in society. The women are not expected to be the breadwinne rs and are not expected to commit as much to their careers, particularly if they have a family. What makes it even more interesting is that, although they were married, both of these women were the primary providers in their households. In addition, NancyÂ’s husba nd was staying home, in the caretaker role, so that she was able to perform as the Â“ideal worker.Â” These factors apparently were not sufficient to overcome the stereotypes. Nancy provided another example of the maternal wall in her company. A younger woman who she feels is extremely well qualifi ed was held back, subtly, early in her career: There was a time early on where they had an attitude about [her]; a real, incredibly sexist, stupid thing. Her fi rst child was born with a birth defect. Her baby had open heart surgery at like two weeks old and [she] stayed out on, that was just when family medical leave [FMLA] came out, and she stayed out the whole twelve weeks, and they had an at titude about it. How stupid is that? And she was only a manager then. They had an attitude about Â“she took so much time off.Â” ThatÂ’s arcane, but true; it was pretty bizarre. This woman may never have identified a sp ecific act of overt discrimination, but Nancy, an executive several levels above her in the organization, was aware that the men in power used this instance as proof of reduced commitment to the job. The fact that this womanÂ’s baby had a serious medical conditi on, and that she only took time that is
149 available to her by law, causes them to look pa rticularly heartless, but does not stop them from perpetuating the stereotype. The Center for WorkLife Law has also identified cases where women were routinely assigned less impor tant work after returning from maternity leave. One notable quote in their work is from an attorney who was given work that could be done by a paralegal when she returned She said that she wanted to tell them, Â“Look, I had a baby not a lobotomyÂ” (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006:45). When JudyÂ’s employer of twenty-seven years went through a major downsizing, she feels that they particularly targeted ex ecutive females and employees over fifty, two categories that she fit: I think what happened is that corporate Am erica, in my mind, from what I've just seen in the last few years [as an executi ve recruiter], and looking at it from the organization I was with, had the opportuni ty, through the auspices of downsizing, to do their right-sizing in who they wanted from who they didn't want, and the percentage of people they didn't want we re older, and were predominantly, in my industry, female. Rebekah: And did any of the women survive this culture change? Judy: There's a few. But a few of thos e women were viewed as pets or had personal relationships with some male pe ople. They are not viewed as people who did it on their own. That's a tough thing to say but IÂ’m gonna have the courage to say it. JudyÂ’s company was large and had a long history of providing opportunities for women and minorities. Like those of Ba rbara and Pegge, this company had longestablished affirmative action and diversit y programs. Judy believes that they used Â“downsizingÂ” to reverse those years of prog ress, reflecting the underl ying bias that still existed among the top managers. The company had undergone two significant mergers, so these top managers may have come from other institutions, but this experience left Judy bitter about the true stat e of Â“equal opportunity Â” in the United Stat es. This bitterness
150 can be seen in many of the passages that I have included from her interviews and was clear from the tone of voice she used when discussing her departure from this company, although five years had passed. ColleenÂ’s boss, with whom she had an ongoing conflict that finally led to her departure from the company, told her that she was not what was needed for the Â“environmentÂ” of their business. This attit ude also manifested itself in a pattern of discrimination that was reflected in the dem ographics of the management in the retail operations of her company: And I was actually told by [my boss] that he needed somebody that was better suited to work in the male environment in the [retail locations.] In other words, get down and dirty in that environment, in the stores, and he said that to my face. Rebekah: What about the ultimate customer, the retail customer [were they mostly male]? Colleen: No, the research weÂ’ve done itÂ’s fifty-fifty. R: So even for a manager . C: Our stores have no black [managers], we have a couple of Spanish [managers] down in Miami. But no, all males. They have one female [manager] in [a nearby city] and they treat her like she is from outer space. Susan experienced more subtle forms of discrimination, early in her career at a Fortune 100 corporation that was very male dominated. Rebekah: So do you feel like you were stopped from promotion at that company? Susan: Absolutely. Absolutely. My immediate supervisor, when I would have conversation about paths and careers . af ter a period of time. . Â“Well, we'll talk about that.Â” I think the ceiling was in [that office]. I asked the question again, and he looked at me and he sa id, Â“You will not go anywhere until I say you'll go somewhere. It will be my choice.Â” R: And you think that was because of your fianc? Because you were a woman?
151 S: No, I think in that case, it was because I was a woman. He was let go from the company a few years after that. R: Still, at that point, he had all the pow er. You said they told you to break off an engagement. Would they have done that to a man? S: No. I will tell you that when I was in [the headquarters], was hired into . within three years or so I was promoted into running the [headquarters] market, which was the largest market for them in the country, and up until the time they hired me, they hired only men with either a fianc or a wife with plans to have children. And they were very honest. They said, you know, this is our strategy. We want people to have a reason to have to stay. Susan referred to this as a game that the company played with its employees, a game that finally got to her: It was a game. . as I look back, I knew it was a game. And the insulting part, and thatÂ’s the first time I've ever used the word insulting, the degrading nature of that, which eventually causes you to walk in and say this is it. Is they didn't think it was a game, and they didn't figure out th at I did. It was almost like employees are too stupid to figure our game. WeÂ’ll only let people thr ough the bottleneck we can trust with our game, and that's just editorializing. And there were other parts of the game in this organization that she felt were discriminatory and very personal. She is clearly still disturbed by this bias: The cost of taking care of you was t oo counter my own set of values. Rebekah: How so? Susan: Lack of challenge. The image thing. The weight issue. R: Was that because you were calling on clients? S: Yeah. Right. Even the men, there we re certain physical, no one with a beard, no one with a mustache. R: And the weight issue, did that apply to men also? S: I don't know that it did. R: Really?
152 S: (Sadly) I don't know that it did. Although she was not a party to it, Patric ia worked in a company during the time it was settling a class action lawsuit regardi ng promotion of women. She worked on the team that developed a new career path to correct the situation: For two or three years, and it gets to the crux of the class-action lawsuit, because the class-action lawsuit was only in [one department] th at women were not having success becoming [department] managers. That's what the whole class-action lawsuit was about . So what we di d, it was a group of about ten of us that worked for a long time on this. We reorganized the organizational structure within the [the department]. . So we put in a structure that had all these different established departments and ca reer paths. . 95 percent of [the managers of the company] didn't want to do this because it was so different. It was not the way they came up. They came up being Â“second man,Â” and you had to be [in the manual worker side of the business]. And you had to be able to [do heavy lifting]. This class-action lawsuit recei ved a great deal of media attention, which I believe was primarily because of the popular belief that women have equal opportunity today. PatriciaÂ’s description of this situation reveals that the discrimination was at least partly structural. Entry-level positions that women traditionally held never led to management, while those for which men were recruited, jobs that required no more experience or education, had a direct path upward. If a wo man could perform as an Â“ideal worker,Â” and manage the manual labor in those jobs, she might also make it to manager, but few were ever willing or able to try. Similar cases mentioned above, are now facing Wal-Mart and Outback Steakhouse. Half of the women used the term Â“glass ceilingÂ” for the more subtle forms of discrimination that kept them from m oving upward within their organizations. Colleen: After that many years in the co mpany and after [the president] knowing my abilities, my contributions to the or ganization . It was an eye opening experience that the good old boys have de cided that they do not want a senior
153 level woman making decision in that company. . And I think also [the CFO] did not think I was worth $120,000 year. No woman is. I make twice as much as any woman in the company and I just donÂ’t think he could deal with that. And my head was banging on that ceiling. And he couldn't handle a woman at that level. Several became very philosophical on this topic, sharing their personal views based on their years at the highest levels in AmericaÂ’s corporations. Judy, who was regional vice president of human resources for one of th e largest corporations in the country, describes it this way: There's people that know they have to go through, and especially what I consider to be high-level managers. They understand the law. They know what the company stance is, but they have a persona l agenda and a personal mantra that is diabolically different, and it shows from the way they promote, from the way that they give out their increases, the way th ey stand up and praise someone, to their inclusion, in the sports activities that th ey pick. How they eliminate the female. Every aspect is geared towards, sublimin ally, their feeling that women are not the same as men. . So I think there's been a lot of lip service to the aspects of the glass ceiling. I truly beli eve the glass ceiling has been bulletproofed. I don't think it's been permeated. And Nancy, who overcame the Â“maternal wa ll,Â” as discussed above, and went on to become a senior vice president of that Fortune 100 company has this viewpoint: I think that the world sort of kids themselv es. Or at least this country kids itself, when they think there's no gla ss ceiling. ItÂ’s just higher th an it used to be. It used to be that women were allowed to be good secretaries, nurses, and their teachers, and [now] women are allowed to be good managers, and good middle managers, middle-level executives, but you still don't see women respected as much as they should be, more in some sort of gender-neutral fashion, in my mind, in the board rooms or at the highest levels. Just like you see, we're not ready for a female president [of the United States], apparently. It's that same thing as people can deal with congressman, because there are so many of them. If you get one woman, that doesn't take one of your two spots. But then there's far fewer senators from a percentage standpoint a nd president and vice president have never been touched. . and I think itÂ’s less of an issue, and I thi nk this is why people kind of pooh-pooh it, I think itÂ’s less of an issue at lower levels. And the average person is at a lower level and they donÂ’t really see it. They say, Â“when I look around the office, I see black people, I see women, so it must be fine.Â” But from an actual higher-level case, itÂ’s just not the case.
154 Rebekah: They are just not moving up? Nancy: Well they are, but only to a certain point. And I think, I personally, like I said, I really believe that affirmative action practices, itÂ’s not like it was sixty years ago, or forty years ago, whatever the number is. ItÂ’s not like trying to find a woman with an MBA and twenty years of strong business experience isnÂ’t going to happen. ThereÂ’s tons of us who could sit in the seat of a president of a U.S. corporation, tons of them. So, to me, to have any impression that theyÂ’re not out there is just silly. And I think what they do is they go in their own little network, and this guy tells you about that guy who tells you about that guy, and itÂ’s all guys. As to why things havenÂ’t changed, Mary Anne, who has worked with many companies in her consulting practice, feels that the top managers are comfortable and donÂ’t even recognize that the issue needs to be addressed: I just donÂ’t think the men who are still largely running our organizations today see this as a problem. They donÂ’t see glass ceilings as a problem. They donÂ’t see the diversity issues that are happening at lowe r levels, because at their level itÂ’s not usually real apparent. They havenÂ’t had any problems there. Susan, the eldest of the group, dealt with much of the latent discrimination that Judy described, and had this to say when I asked if she thought she could have been the president of her company: Â“I would never have gotten to be president. That would've been viewed as lack of respect for the legacy that many years had built.Â” These reflections on the phenomenon of the glass ceiling illuminate the personal feelings of the first generation of women to reach the ceiling and sometimes move it further up, only to then find it has been Â“bul let-proofed.Â” They reveal an understanding of hegemonic masculinity in their use of phr ases like Â“their feeling that women are not the same as men,Â” Â“no woman is [worth $120,000],Â” Â“itÂ’s all guys. Â” They recognize the function of power in keeping them from br eaking through the ceili ng, as well as the importance of informal processes. They also recognize that the men deny that the ceiling
155 exists, something they find frustrating. This is an example of white male privilege, as Joan Acker pointed out, Â“one of the privil eges enjoyed by those with power is the privilege to not see the systemic s ources of privilegeÂ” (Acker 2000:630). Lack of Women Role Models As women move up within organizations, they both move the glass ceiling higher and provide role models for younger women. Not too surprisingly, few role models were available for the women in this group. They were the first of their gender to occupy many of their jobs. The older women in th e group had the least exposure to other female executives. Susan and Colleen, for instance, occasionally worked with women who were roughly their peers, but ne ver as supervisors. Susan: When I [transferred to a new c ity for a promotion], there was one other woman and I swear that the CEO that recruited me went to her and said you have to be [SusanÂ’s] friend because he had no other way of knowing how I was ever going to adapt to [the new city] and so we became friendly, I mean . I swear it was in her job description to be friendly. We were so opposite, she was born and raised in [that city] . Bu t it was still just her and me. I never got a sense that it was a real breakthrough that he had hi red a woman to come out there. Colleen: When I was an account manager on [a large corporation], when we launched [a new] business, [I saw] a change. Because I worked for, my clients . all big, powerful men, all corner offices. I was constantly the only woman in the room on a lot of those meetings. What was so good . it was a company that even though it was a spin-off from [an ol d fashioned regulated industry] and all that stuff, which was probably the most rigid corporate environment that ever was, it was a spin-off and I began to see more and more women in those rooms and more and more women in decision-making positions. Judy, in her human resources role, saw many women move up inside her organization, but was not positive abou t what they had to do to succeed: When you look at it and you see the numbers of women who are making it and had made it, it's just all typical. Most of the individuals are single. They work exponentially more than their male counter parts. More hours, and they are doing things from a social or from an envi ronmental standpoint, or from a community
156 standpoint, that just raises them up and gives the organization leverage, because of their ability. TheyÂ’re really kind of saying, Â“I want my career to blossom, and I'm going to use all the mechanisms that I have.Â” And that's what I think women have done very, very well. Have learned to do, they learned how to play in a male world. The younger women sometimes did have women in positions above them, but they, also, did not often like what they saw: Joyce: So again, in terms of advancem ent, the opportunities were there as long as you were willing to kind of buy into: this is my life, and I have a lot of help at home, a spouse or a nanny or whatever . I mean [that company] was touted all the time, it seems like every year, and I may be exaggerating, or every other year, The Wall Street Journal does an article in their mark eting section of what a great company [it] is for women, because they have these women in senior management. And of course, [one woman] had made it up to [a very high level] until she was Â“moved to special projects.Â” But I always hated those articles, even when I worked there, because I never felt that . I knew what these women were like . Yes, they were there, and I s uppose that's progress. In other companies, maybe they're not there, . they are general managers. But the life and the tradeoff those women made is not a trade-o ff I would've wanted to have made. NancyÂ’s early career experience had very few role models, and none that she wished to emulate: I remember when I was in [a professional services firm]. It would have been eighty-five, which wasnÂ’t that early, but at the same time, back then, there were like two women partners and this was in [a large northern city], back to your fifteen hundred professionals. There were two women partners . one was just your classic old-time woman professional. She dressed very, very much like, very conservatively. She had children yet sh e worked like a dog, a million hours. Gave up her life basically to sort of prove so mething. She was the classic woman of that day. And I remember thinking to my self, and I wasnÂ’t even interested in children back then, didnÂ’t think I ever would be, but I remember thinking to myself, Â“if I have to give up who I am, I donÂ’t even ca re, itÂ’s not worth it.Â” But thank god for those women because, again, itÂ’s back to those women certainly were the ones that laid the groundwork. Mary had women supervisors who tried to mentor her, but she did not want to follow their path:
157 The comptroller, she was a one, a woman, but she didn't have children or anything like that, so she was just blazing her way . we hired a senior VP for tax . and it was a woman. Rebekah: Did she help? Mary: Yes, and no, because she was married and never had children, which I have nothing against, but she just seemed to think like Â“well, if you get a nanny.Â” That's the type she was. I mean, she'd gotten up, she had risen through the ranks at [a major retailer]. Started out like in sales tax, you know, and she got her doctorate, J.D. to be a tax attorney, so, but she really wants me to go back to school and expand my career. I asked Mary whether or not the men sh e worked with were married or had children. She responded, Â“The y had stay-at-home spouses, I gue ss all of them did, or else they didn't have kids.Â” Being the first woman in a job where the men all had wives at home lent itself to stories that were more light-hearted, but st ill very frustrating. Susan remembers some situations in the early part of her career in which men just seemed to be oblivious: None of the wives worked . to wher e I would even challenge when they say, you know, Â“You'll fly in on Sunday night. On Monday we need you so-and-so,Â” and I go, Â“When am I going to do laundry ?Â” And they would look at me like I had three heads. Laundry? Never talked about that. I pointed out one day that every one of them had a wife who pack ed his suitcase, did the laundry, and so they miraculously have the suitcase. The practicalities of life was something that the men, never, never understood, and it wasn't like I was a prima donna about it. I'm not a prima donna. (Laughs) Mary Anne, one of the youngest women in the study, told me the story about the office rumor that she had an affair with her boss to get a promotion. I asked her if that was because she was the only woman executive in the company: No, there was two others, a chief marke ting officer, married with children and another woman from customer service, and she was in the process of a divorce with three kids. Neither of them were very trendy women, in terms of how they dressed. They were very traditional, in terms of how they dressed; they were older than me. I was single at the tim e and had just gone through a divorce and
158 was younger. So you know, I was the target . . Because I wore trendy suits. I had no fear; I was brazen. . and outspoken. Patricia had a few women role models in her company, one who was in a very powerful position, an officer of the corpor ation and on the board of directors. Although she admits that this woman was very capable, sh e did not like her style and felt that it was a factor in the womanÂ’s eventual fall from power: She is very vocal, very controlling, ve ry smart and very tenacious, a tenacious negotiator. Anything that we had that was big, big bucks, she was involved, because, by virtue of her personality, sh e would get involved with everything. She works gobs of hours; no detail is too de tailed for her . just a slave driver mentality, she's a workaholic. Never had any kids; married a man ten or fifteen years older, who has been retired for five years . And she benefited by the class-action lawsuit; she got put on the board . And I knew that [the president] wasn't comfortable with a lot of her philosophy. He trusted her opinion about financial decisions, because she is so smar t, and she is so detailed, and she was going to tell you what she was feeling. She was never playing any games or being manipulative. But she was more emotional, and lots of words, and in the weeds. And there were some times that I knew he was just not comfortable with her approach. He didn't want emotion, he just wanted facts and he wanted it to be condensed, and quick. . So, sure enough, [she] is no longer on the board. That happened after I left . I think th at he was sick of listening to her. Not too surprisingly, both Pegge and Barb ara, the two women who worked for the companies with the most developed affirmative action and diversity programs, felt they had role models. Pegge did not see many other women engineers above her, but she saw that women in other areas of the company were being given opportunities: Â“it was very successful in promoting women, in moving th em into positions of responsibility, and the first woman to be on the board, the person to be in key management and top director position, those were all in the time I was ther e. They were all milestones that they set.Â” The need for total assimilation seems to have decreased as more women have entered middle management. The change can be seen in the demographics of my study
159 population. Although my population is small, none of the women over fifty had children, and all three of them were single for most of their careers. All of the women under fifty had children, except Mary Anne who told me that she had been unable to conceive. The idea of balancing a family and an executive level job seems to have been abandoned by many of the women who entered the workforce in the seventies. It could, of course, be that these three women were not interested in having children, but this split in the demographics did not surprise me, given that all of my professional female friends who are near or over fifty, did not have children ei ther, or did not have them until late in their careers. PatriciaÂ’s company had an unwritten rule that a woman could not reach the executive level unless she had a stay-at-home husband: [The senior female executive] had no child ren and a husband that is retired. You canÂ’t apply that lifestyle. Do you want people who don't have families? Can we not procreate? WhatÂ’s the deal? Rebekah: And they build themselves to be family oriented? Patricia: They donÂ’t want your spouse to work. ThatÂ’s why [another woman executive]Â’s husband doesnÂ’t work anymore and [another women there], the two women who got VP, the three women who got VP in the last three years, two of them, their husbands retired before they got promoted, and the other one is not married. And that's what [the senior female executive] would push them to do. Colleen expressed some hope that women w ould be able to change things as they achieve higher levels, but was unsure that any would stay long enough: Yes, I think we certainly can affect change but there have to be more of us that want to change things. And I think wh atÂ’s scary, and you are going to find in talking to all of us, we donÂ’t want to go back in that corporate world and try to change it, because itÂ’s just too painful. Although she expressed a strong view abou t the continuing presence of the glass ceiling, JudyÂ’s company had many high-level female executives. I asked her if she
160 thought that women could make changes to the way that business is done. She responded, Â“I don't think they're allowed to change it. It's like a creed, like smoking a cigar, you know, not once have martinis been introdu ced to the boardroom. No, the scotch, the cigars, and the dirty jokes.Â” At one point, she worked directly for one of the most powerful women in both her industry and her geographic region. I asked specifically if that woman, at that level, could effect cha nge. JudyÂ’s answer was still negative, Â“I think that's part of the reason why she never got on the big board [of the corporation.] And that's part of the reason why she never moved up [to president or CEO]. Because they don't want someone to rain on their parade.Â” Nancy provided an example of a younger woman who she had mentored and who she felt might be able to achieve the top level at her former company: She is very calming, likable . comes across, and I canÂ’t really give an example because I canÂ’t do it but she . make s you feel like you are getting a positive response. [She] just has a way, a very po sitive way. She is not Polly Anna but she just has a very positive way of making you feel like she said yes to you . .You like, especially men, who I think have mo re fragile egos, they like to deal with someone, especially when they are a woman, that is in fact meeting their needs. And I donÂ’t mean that in any sort of weird way, but basically she is being supportive. She just has a way. And to me when you combine the smarts, which I think has to be a foregone conclusion w ith women, her attractiveness, which I think, as silly as that is, helps men like you more, and then her pleasing way and her calming, pleasing, positive way of dealing with people; itÂ’s just the perfect combination. Apparently Nancy, having struggled trying to adopt a style as much like the men as possible, now agrees with the Catalyst organization, which recommends that women adopt a style that men are comfortable with (Catalyst 2004). She does not say that she could do this herself, but the woman she belie ves might actually break the glass ceiling is someone who has such a style. She also feels that a woman must be considered attractive
161 to be successful in business. Bell and McLa ughlin researched the issue of appearance as it related to discrimination in the work place and found that Â“attractive women are advantaged in lower level jobs and in j obs held predominantly by women, but not at higher levels, in professional jobs or those perceived as menÂ’s jobsÂ” (Bell and McLaughlin 2006:457). Attractiveness was f ound to be associated with negative stereotypes leading to the conclusion that th e woman is less intelligent or competent as a manager or executive. With so few others above them on the corporate ladder, these women have encountered many challenges in deciding wh at style is appropriate. As discussed previously, the business books written for them at the time encouraged them to assimilate to the male model, but not to offend men by losing too much of their femininity. The stories here reveal that the women who had role models were generally not willing to adopt the styles that they observed, which were much like the men. As Nancy said: Â“I think part of how we as women can help is by not giving into the temptation of trying to be just like them. Just be ourselves and let th em get used to it.Â” To their credit, most tried to be themselves. Unfortunately, it has not led them through the ceiling. Reasons for Leaving The reasons that the women gave for l eaving their corporate careers were as varied as the women themselves. Unwillingness to travel or relocate was the most concrete reasons. Although the women did not s ee this as discrimina tion, they viewed it as their personal choice, it is yet anothe r example of the Â“ideal workerÂ” ideology. Companies create jobs that presume the workers who fill them have no outside responsibilities, they ar e free to travel and relocate at the will of the company. Other
162 reasons were the draw to self-employment, a need to have more control over oneÂ’s life, and general job dissatisfaction and conflict with the leadership of their companies. Regardless of the specific re asons given, all of the women told me that they would not consider returning to any corporate job. Travel was the primary reason given by half of the women. For three of those the travel was complicated after they had children. Susan, who had no children, wanted to be at home more after marrying for the first time at age fifty. Mary Anne just wanted to have a more balanced life, something that became clearer to her after dealing with a serious health issue. Both Barbara and Mary mentioned being out of town on business and away from their families when the terr orist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001, an experience that increased their desire to travel less and be with their families more. Pegge and Barbara told very heart-touc hing stories about their children, who played a big part in their reasons to give up jobs that required travel: Pegge: I had to take some time off, had to have some surgery, not a big deal but I was off work for a little while. And [my husband] was out of town. And that day I had picked the kids up at car line, whic h I didnÂ’t even know what that was . I didnÂ’t know what car line was, itÂ’s long (l aughter). So IÂ’m in car line and I get the kids home and we get all their homewor k done and we have this really healthy dinner because I actually cooked and we had all this playtime. So we got out the Lincoln Logs and we are in the living room and weÂ’ve got Lincoln Log forts everywhere and weÂ’ve got cowboys and In dians and we are just having a ball and it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks: I am missing way too much and I need to change my life starting tonight. Barbara: I had taken a trip to [South Am erica]; it was supposed to be my last trip of the year. It was the first week of D ecember and the next week I had to go to [a large northern city], a last minute, and I missed something at my daughterÂ’s school. And I was on the phone with her li ke I am every night when I travel. SheÂ’s in tears and IÂ’m trying to tell her, Â“IÂ’ll be home tomorrow,Â” always trying to be real upbeat, positive, Â“I miss you a lot, but this is important for Mom, and IÂ’ll be home tomorrow.Â” So I started to ask about her homework and I asked her what did she have for homework, and she sa id, Â“I had to write a letter to Santa
163 Claus. You want to know what I asked for? It was for Mom not to have to take any more tripsÂ” . that was like (cringe s). So I came back from that, took two weeks off at Christmas for vacation, and when I went back to work, I knew it was temporary. But it was not only women with children who felt that they were missing something in their lives: Mary Anne: I should also tell you, that sa id, that besides job responsibilities and time, I was diagnosed with a health i ssue last fall . I was running around, traveling around so much . I really st opped, took a look around, and said, Â“I am unbalanced in my health, for one area, and there is a multitude of other interestsÂ” . just some other things, that I said, th at are really meaningful to me, and IÂ’m not making any time for any of this. And so that drove me to want to get in control of my schedule. . IÂ’m really in a work-life balanced time in my life again which is important to me, and it had nothing to do with kids. The jobs they held included a requirement to travel and, generally, they had no hard feelings for the companies who had placed that requirement on them. There was some hope expressed that technology could overcome some of the need for travel in the future. As more companies become national and international, however, it seems likely that many jobs will continue to require travel and this will be a challenge for women, and men, who want to have balance in their lives. Colleen and Judy both left their careers during times that were emotionally trying. Judy took a severance package when she saw th at her company was moving in a direction that she could not support, af ter over twenty-five years. Colleen stood up to a boss who eventually won out, and she left a compa ny where she felt her contributions were no longer valued. Patricia left under simila r circumstances. Her boss, the company president, changed, and she no longer felt that her work was considered important to the business. Both Patricia and Colleen also felt that they had outgrown their respective companies. Mary, who received a generous severance package when her position was
164 moved to another city, made it very clear that she never liked her work; she only did it for the money. Joyce had the shortest career and left fo r a myriad of reasons, the most concrete being that she had always wanted to be self-employed and the time seemed right. Contributing factors were a co rporate environment in which she felt it was impossible to succeed and a long commute. She also wanted to start a family and her work hours, combined with the commute, would not allo w her to spend the time she felt she would want with children. Although not their primar y reason for leaving, Patricia and Judy both commented on the time that is wasted in the corporate world in meetings and other activities that they do not feel add value. Mary Anne and Barbara commented that they do not miss the corporate politics and the en ergy that is expended on it while making the climb to the top. The women also understand that they are pr ivileged in that they are able to quit their jobs to pursue their ow n paths, through the security provided by savings they have built over years in lucrative positions, genero us severance packages and, for some, the income of their spouses. Patricia: I could stop working, I don't even have to . we could easily get by on my husbandÂ’s salary. I want to [work]; I n eed that. It's just me, and I want the kids to know that the mom has a life outsi de. I know their wives will never thank me, but I want them to be good husbands. I don't want them to think that my world revolves around them. It's been nice to do that for a while in a lot of ways, but I feel good about working, doi ng cool stuff, and making money. Joyce: [My husband] and I, base sa lary-wise, were making roughly the same thing. His bonuses were a lot bigger than mine were but they werenÂ’t as consistent. And so we first talked abou t, could I leave, could I go out on my own, could I do something else. Luckily, I had [my husbandÂ’s] support. He basically just said, you need to do whatever you n eed to do and weÂ’ll figure out the other piece of it.
165 Implicit in many of their reasons, and coming out even more when they talk about what they are doing now, is a lack of job sa tisfaction when confined to their corporate roles. Pegge and Barbara, for instance, who had few complaints about their jobs, both say they are much more satisfied now; they feel a true calling to their new roles as consultants and coaches to ot her business professionals. When describing work they enjoyed early in their careers, or that they are enjoying in their new self employment the women used words like: learning, development, contributing, challenge, exciti ng, making a difference, feeling fulfilled, a lot of fun, valued. When describing their reasons for being unhappy in the latter years of their corporate careers they us ed: boring, hard to make a difference, donÂ’t have much control, ideas not being heard, lack of inclusion, it wasnÂ’t fulfilling, it wasnÂ’t intellectually diverse; and this is at the director and vice president levels. Nancy, the highest ranking of the women, was the most philosophical about her departure. She had a stay-at-home husband, so the work hours were never an issue for her and her job required very little travel She just could not support the company anymore. She had gotten close enough to the top to see that she did not respect the leaders and no longer felt satisfied in her work: So then after eight years with [a Fortune 100 company] and probably many more than I was all that happy with, at least th e last few I wasn't all that happy with, I had really gotten to the point where the money was nice and all, it wasn't worth the unhappiness side of things . it's not about the hours, the work, the travel, although I didn't travel much. It's not about any of that. Because I think, at least for me, if you're fulfilled, youÂ’re making a difference, you're appreciated at least a little bit; you're appreciated by your boss a nyway. That's okay, all those things. Where you have an achiever type personali ty, you can endure a lot of peripheral stuff, if you feel like you're getting back that sense of accomplishment and gratification. That was nowhere.
166 When I first met Colleen, she had gone through the emotional experience of leaving her job just a few days before. Over several years, she had created the advertising and marketing function for her company, and conflicted on a regular basis with the Â“boysÂ” at the top. By our third interview, she had spen t time reflecting on her career and was more introspective about th e entire experience and about her future: I think if there is anything I know, th e reason IÂ’m leaving that corporate environment is because there was no balanc e in my life at all. And I donÂ’t even know what that word means, because I havenÂ’t had it in so long. IÂ’m pretty much a workaholic, for so long, and I just want to step back and try to understand how I can contribute to society, how I can hopefully make a difference somewhere and make a living without the trappings that our society tells me I have, to live a certain way. I donÂ’t want to live that way. The women express a need for meaningful work while giving their reasons for leaving their corporate jobs. They recognize th at their frustration level may be partly due to burnout after many years in the workplace, or just part of their cu rrent life-stage. But it appears that they also seek what de Ma n identified as Â“joy in workÂ” (Applebaum 1992). Most of the women had this joy, what they would call job satisfact ion, early in their careers, but could no longer find it inside la rge businesses. Severa l have recaptured this feeling working as consultants and in smalle r organizations. They do not want to abandon this part of themselves; they want to work it defines who they are. Following MarxÂ’s theory of man as a Â“species being,Â” this illustrates that Â“man, in making his world, makes himselfÂ” (Applebaum 1992:476). It is no different for wo man. Although MarxÂ’s theory of alienation of labor is more easily understood when applied to less skilled workers, these women seem to have felt it at very high levels of responsibility. Despite the seemingly powerful positions that they held, they began to see
167 that they had little power or control over thei r work product. Being laid off, as several of these women were, is the undeniable proof of this loss of control. They were also kept from achieving their career goals through blatant and latent forms of discrimination, as well as the constricting nature of the corporat e workplace, all of which cause them to feel powerless. Diversity Initiatives The womenÂ’s knowledge of diversity init iatives varied. Judy was the only one who had extensive experience with them. She worked in the human resources area of a large corporation that had undertaken extensiv e efforts in diversity. Mary Anne also worked in human resources, specifically in the field of organizational development, but saw very little activity in this area, either by her employers or by clients of her consulting practice. Barbara and Pegge, as mentioned earlier, worked in companies with wellestablished affirmative action programs and ha d some exposure to the diversity efforts in those companies. Although Susan and Joyce worked for large, publicly traded companies, they had almost no exposure in this area. Susan was in the workforce before the beginning of the diversity movement and ten years after, and had essentially no exposure, although she was involved in equal opportunity and affirma tive action programs. Joyce worked in a large, well-established corporation well after SusanÂ’s experience, but also had very little personal experience with diversity initia tives, although her company had one. Nancy and Mary both worked in companies that had recen tly grown to be large and publicly traded, but that did nothing formal in this arena othe r than training to prev ent sexual harassment.
168 PatriciaÂ’s company, though private, was forced into addressing diversity by a class-action lawsuit, and she was part of a te am that worked on the structural issues that were identified. Colleen also worked for private companies and her only experience was with sexual harassment training. Some of the women had also seen mentoring programs and networking groups, components of diversity initiatives, but neither was significant to any of their careers. Overall, other than Judy, the human resource professional, these women have experienced very little in the area of diversity initiatives, which is evidence that there is really very little being done. The majority of the Â“billionsÂ” reported as spent in this area is either being spent by only a select few mega-corporations, or is misclassified from other areas, such as sexual harassment awareness programs or affirmative action training. It may also be that the use of one-time, half-day programs, although expensive when given to many employees in large organizati ons, does not leave any lasting impression on the participants. A few of the women re membered attending diversity training, for instance, but could not recall anything specific about it. Three of the women also identified pers onality-profiling programs and training to work in cross-functional teams as being part of diversity. This may be the result of the recent broadening of the definition of diversity, or it may be just their attempts to think of something to share, given that we ha d scheduled an hour to discuss this! Despite JudyÂ’s extensive experience w ith diversity programs, she was negative about their overall effectiveness. She expr essed disappointment that the programs she helped to build had been all but abandoned when new management took over her
169 company. She does not feel that these programs can really change the deep-seated prejudice that she saw within its new, male-dominated, management team: So I think the reality is that a lot of times organizations have all the right buzzwords, whether it's sensitivity training, or diversity initiatives, or inclusionary management style, and whatever, but if the individuals don't really believe that women are as smart and capable as they are. If they really don't want a female, or only view a female as a person that should be at home or lying flat on a cot, that you can have the thousands, different processes and opportunities and training sessions, and none of those are gonna work, people innately th at don't believe that people are created equal. She did admit that some of the programs had made a difference. I asked her specifically if the programs I had described in my document (Appendix C) were similar to the ones she had seen: Oh, for sure, very much. As you know, we've gone through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and a lot of people ha ve gone through a lot of good process management . And I think all that ha s been very beneficial for some people, and some leaders and some managers, and I really do believe that some of them, you know, have been forced to do some things, because they've come to realize that if they don't, you know, look like thei r client base, they might miss out on some profitability, so they've been pushed in to it, or backed into it, or shamed into it almost (laughs). But I really, really, feel that no matter how progressive, and no matter how real and sincere the core lead ers are that are putting this together, if you don't have people that are really, I want to say, embrace these ideas . Judy did not seem very interested in going into the details of any of the programs that she had been involved in: We had a lot of training over the years. All the way into the sensitivity training, into the ability to look like the customer, to the form of, really one-on-one basics of to be inclusionary, what do minorities feel like, elderly . It was very successful. I think it was ve ry successful for a lot of years, because in the building process, say the building times, the organization had to step out and tap people and take risks [through hiring and promoting a diverse workforce]. . But when it starts to get more political, when it starts to get a situation where people can control more, and you don't have as many people looking, because obviously youÂ’re so big, then I think some of thes e pitfalls and some of these unacceptable things really happened.
170 She summed up her opinion this way: So I think that the reality of this is that it looks re ally good on paper. It sounds really good to say you are a work friend ly, and you have all these diversity programs. But peel back the onion and l ook at what do the numbers say? Who are the role models? Are they at the table w ith the big boys? Do they socialize with them? Do they get included in the strategi c, real plan, not th e one they go and tell everyone about, the real goals of the orga nization? Are they in the inner sanctum? And the answer, in my humble opinion, is very, very, very rarely, if at all. Mary Anne has spent the last seventeen years in the field of organizational development, but told me: Â“I don't know that I've seen any rea lly successful programs per se in my work.Â” She was familiar with some, and had actually designed a mentoring program for women at one client (discussed below) but, overall, doe s not think the area is getting much attention. She feels this is primarily because it is being driven by human resources and the individuals in that area ar e not usually able to make such strategic changes happen. Barbara worked for a large corporation that had a very diverse workforce. Although she worked there for nearly twenty years, she could on ly recall attending one program that was specifically designated as diversity training and it was less than one half day. Although she personally enjoyed it and felt that she learned something about herself, she did not think it made any diffe rence in peopleÂ’s behaviors in the workplace, primarily because it was just one session and she did not feel that any one session could change peopleÂ’s behavior. Barbara also had a recent experience that told her big companies donÂ’t take diversity seriously. Her consulting practice go t a call asking if they would participate in a Â“diversity fair.Â” Here is how she described the conversation:
171 [The caller said:] Â“I don't know if you can help out, but Wal-Mart wants to do something for women, kind of a fair, a dive rsity fair.Â” And I said, Â“Well, what are they trying to accomplish?Â” Â“Well, the manager says he doesn't really care. Do whatever you can do, just so I get this requirement done.Â” . He said the manager of that store didn't care what the he ck it was just so he could say he had done a diversity program. Basically, he wanted the vendors to come in who had things for women and show their wares. I'm like, Â“I can't. I have nothing to do there.Â” Rebekah: How does that help women? Barbara: It doesnÂ’t at all. Joyce worked for a very large, well-estab lished company, which she said gets a lot of press for being a good place for women to work. She could only cite one session that she remembered as being overtly dive rsity training, although she worked there for more than five years and was at the corpor ate headquarters. Sh e could not recall the content, but remembered the session becau se it was conducted by a psychologist and every employee was offered a free counseling session with him after the class. Since she was planning to marry soon, she and her fian c used her free session to discuss their future marriage. She was familiar with diversity programs through her research for a book on work/life balance and she shared her personal opinion that all of these programs are done merely for show, and that there co ntinues to be pressure to assimilate: My impression of companies in general is they're supposed to do it, so they do it. (hesitation) To me, unless you're going to address the cultura l structure of a company that makes it difficult. There is definitely more pressure to assimilate to whatever the company's culture was. The programs were there so that they could say they were there. Susan began her professional career ten years before the start of the diversity movement (generally agreed to be 1987) and left ten years after it began. Although she worked for large corporations with internat ional operations, none of the companies she
172 worked for had active diversity initiatives while she was there and she did not see any signs of a move in that direction. Her first employer, however, was clearly attuned to affirmative action and equal employment oppor tunity and actively recruited women, but the women didnÂ’t always stay: There was a tendency for those of us women who recruited other women to hang on to them, but the ones that were re cruited by men, who were doing it because there was a bonus attached to it, got the women in and it was an unfriendly culture and they lost them, some sooner than others. Rebekah: So they didnÂ’t do anything to try to change it, to make it more welcoming? Susan: No. It was just unimaginable. They were a long way away of understanding that they could. The professional services firm that Susa n worked for near the end of her career was a much more welcoming environment. She believes this was due partially to a more Â“enlightenedÂ” CEO whose wife also had a career. When asked if she thought there continues to be a need to address diversity in the workplace, she responded: Â“I always argue too, if you have to ask about diversity, if you have put a diversity goal in your plan, youÂ’ve got a diversity problem. If you have to talk about it, it Â’s still an issue.Â” Nancy entered the workforce in 1975 as a sixteen-year-old high school drop out. She worked for some large companies before she obtained her college credentials and began her professional career. Sh e says that: Â“A fair amount of that awareness sensitivity stuff was still going on, I think, when I went into the workforce so [your summary] did ring true.Â” She feels it is important, t hough she does not think it has made a major difference over her thirty years in the workpl ace, during which she advanced all the way
173 to senior vice president with a Fortune 100 company. I asked Nancy if she felt such programs were worth continuing, considering the low impact they seem to have had: I think you have to continue to do them. I feel like young people of today, and they have made some significant stride s, depending on [what] culture you come from, from your background and everything else, on where you worked, depends on whether you really are sort of gender blind when you reach the workplace. . You cannot say it's not better today than it was in 1960 [when] you never saw anybody in a position like mine that was female. There have been huge strides made. But I think to keep doing that you have to keep, as you say, pushing the envelope, exposing them to things that are working in other companies, exposing them to other ideas, and I think the rest will come. Despite her favorable views of divers ity programs, the company where Nancy held senior leadership positions did not have a formal program: Â“other than they did a lot of management training and IÂ’m sure, while I canÂ’t remember a specific, IÂ’m sure a component of their general management tr aining was affirmative action and diversity.Â” In probing for why her company did not have a more visible diversity initiative, she said that for the founder/CEO to become interest ed in something it would have to be by example: If he read it in a Harvard Business Review article, then he believed it. But if me, or somebody [inside the company] told him, then he didn't believe it, so the Harvard Business Review And trainings and things evolve into demonstrating other things that help retain and grow, embrace women or minorities in the workplace. I think that will push their enve lopes a little bit, and as they push their envelopes, it'll get better. PatriciaÂ’s employer, a private company, was forced into doing diversity training by a class-action lawsuit related to the career path of women in their operations department (discussed above.) This was in the early nineties and she described it as an awareness program, based on my descriptions of the different paradigms of diversity, although she also refers to it as multicultura lism. She told me that there was a lot of
174 resistance to the structural changes that ha d to be made in the company to correct the career path problems, but she felt that many of the people who were in the diversity programs were impacted by them to change their behavior. PatriciaÂ’s description however, is a good example of the dilution of the concept. The examples she gave were all related to diversity am ong various functional areas: I truly saw a lot of people in the compa ny that really bought in to it, not just different cultures, and sex, and gender, but just even different backgrounds. And that's when we really laid the groundwork for what we did with cross-functional teams, because it was value the differe nces. My department took that a step beyond and said, Â“well, you were an [opera tions] guy and that influences you, and you were in marketing, youÂ’re a techie from the IS department, we all have to come together to try to figure out how to enter [a new market]. So that we would use this (referring to my diversity docume nt) to help cross-functional teams work better together and value the fact that you have different education, you have different work experience . Her choice of this example may have been because this was how it impacted the department that she ran, where the cross-f unctional teams were organized. So, instead of a dilution of the concept, this may be an expansion of it, since the company was also addressing gender in the structural issues: There was a very concerted effort in th e early nineties at [that company] for multiculturalism, to put it into practice. . after that took hold and then we had cross-functional teams, and then we ha d people talking that it was actually helping the business, I would guess that about somewhere between a half and two thirds of the men, now this was a male -dominated industry, truly believed it, believed that diversity was a good thing. A nd that, and this is my subjective, and over a course of about five years, I'd say we went from zero or five percent of, to somewhere between a half and two thirds, truly saw the value in it. Although this appears to be a very posi tive assessment of the results of the program at that company, Patricia was philo sophical regarding the overall value of such programs:
175 It depends on the person. I think if you're an open-minded person and youÂ’re wanting personal growth and you approach life like you want to learn, and you're open to new ideas and new perspectiv es, then you are a person who's going to change. Mentoring Programs and Networking Groups Mary Anne was involved in designing a me ntoring program for women at a client company. This is the way she describes it and its success: And that was an attempt to help younger women in the organization appreciate the dynamics at the senior levels, and how they can adapt to those models and what they could do. All the feedback was that it was working . Their goal was to help them be prepared to move up, prepare [the company] to take a better advantage of the talent internally than they would be if they didn't have the program. . The feedback was that it worked exceptionally well; they expanded it globally. This was clearly a program designed to he lp women to assimilate to the current management culture, which was seen as the only way to succeed. Only Joyce and Pegge discussed their experience with employee networking groups. Although her company had such groups, including some for women, Joyce was never a member of one. She remembered that they were formed by the employees themselves, in a rather informal manner. The meetings were not held on company time, but the company did provide them the space to meet. The groups did not have any voice in the company or try to lobby for any cause, as far as Joyce knew. Pegge was involved in such groups at two different companies: They formed a group for women in management, and it became a very strong group, a very supportive group, had guest speakers, different executives come in and talk, one of the more effective womenÂ’s groups IÂ’ve seen. . they structured it around value. When you went there to those meeting you always got something out of it. Always walked away with some sort of value. . It wasnÂ’t just for fun, it was something of value, a structured issue. Now, sometimes it was a structured education, but there was always someth ing you walked out of there with and so everybody had a reason to go.
176 Rebekah: The culture didnÂ’t keep you fr om going, like you donÂ’t want to be part of it? Pegge: No, not at all. Much earlier at [my first employe r], this was early eighties, it was. I was in a technology group, on pr ojects. There used to be some razzing, Â“thatÂ’s the secretariesÂ’ group.Â” It didnÂ’t r eally bother me, but it wasnÂ’t viewed as . [the latter companyÂ’s] group was very much focused on professionals that want to grow and develop. The other one was more social. R: Did it have secretaries in it? P: It had any woman, any woman could join it probably had more of those, which was fun, and it was good for them, thatÂ’s what itÂ’s about. In all three of these examples, the gr oups seem to be focused on Â“fixing the women.Â” There was no mention of the groups taking any proactive moves toward Â“fixingÂ” the workplace, nor did the companies utilize the groups to he lp them tailor their marketing to female consumers. JoyceÂ’s company sold its products primarily to women and they did recognize the value of having a womanÂ’s view in decision -making, but she did not feel they were asking the right women: You know at [my company] it was a big deal because women purchase like 85 percent of all [our products], and so that 's why they claimed they wanted women in senior management and marketing, because we are talking to our own audience. Okay, so there are some women bodies in senior management. But that doesn't necessarily mean theyÂ’re . and I'm sure almost everyone has some [of that companyÂ’s] products in their [home], but my guess, hypothesis, would be that the average person buying [our] pr oducts, well, buying significant volumes of it, is probably not a general manager of some corporation. JoyceÂ’s observation is an example of th e essentializing nature both of many networking groups and of attempts to Â“value Â” diverse viewpoints. An individual woman, in this case an executive, was expected to speak for all women, which Joyce knew did not make sense:
177 You know as well as I do all women don't think alike, all African Americans don't think alike, all Asians don't think alik e. There may be some small amount of sensitivity. You need to know that certain words for different groups can be offensive, but beyond that, I don't think being a woman defines me per se. CEO Commitment Colleen worked for smaller, privately-owned companies. Her experience only included sexual harassment training that was in cluded in a larger program about effective management, and a program that identified personality types among the management team to help them learn to work together better. She felt that these programs were interesting but didnÂ’t change anything within the company, because the top managers did not participate. Joyce agreed: Â“I think so much of it is top-down. If the senior guys, and I say guys because itÂ’s almost all white males, if they believe it . you can put all the policies in place, but if the senior peopl e don't buy into it, the culture won't change, because everyone takes their lead from that.Â” Patricia also shared this view, discussing a senior leader in her company that did not fu lly support their divers ity efforts: Â“I think there's people under him that probably would have converted, if they saw that he really walked the walk.Â” As to why a leader mi ght not be supportive, Mary Anne, who has done extensive consulting in organizations, said, Â“I also think that a lot of leaders in the organizations, predominantly men, donÂ’t think thereÂ’s an issue, so why spend all the money? ThereÂ’s nothing showing us weÂ’re go ing to get any great return, and we donÂ’t really have an issue anyway.Â” Joyce shared two examples of executives w ho blatantly stated that they were not supportive of attempts to change the culture, at least not in how it related to the treatment
178 of executives. The first case wa s in the large corporation where she worked that had an active program: And I remember his boss, who was the general manager at the time said to [my boss], Â“You know, I don't think work-life bala nce, or I donÂ’t think diversity works at the director level.Â” I m ean, he literally came out and sa id that . I just thought it was interesting that a general manage r would come and say, overtly, Â“I don't think this works at the director level.Â” Like if you want to be successful, higher up the chain, that doesn't work anymore, thatÂ’s for the people [at more entry levels]. JoyceÂ’s second example was from a company that she interviewed when doing research for a book on the issue of work-life balance: One of the senior guys basically said, Â“Yea h, I'm not sure I r eally believe in the whole work-life thing; I'm not sure I believe that it's our responsibility. That's the employeeÂ’s problem.Â” So that's what I' m saying, like the only way to really get through to those guys at all will be financ ial, [proving the monetary value of such programs]. Since Joyce wrote a book on the topic of wo rk-life balance, it is not surprising that she interchanges that term with dive rsity. Although they are not the same thing, work-life balance issues are directly related to the concept of the Â“ideal worker.Â” These executives may not have been talking about diversity programs as I have defined them here, but they are saying that they do not think that the requirements of the Â“ideal workerÂ” need to change, especially not on ce someone reaches a certain level in the organization. Once again, this impacts women disproportionately due to societal expectations that they are responsible for care-giving and Â“family work.Â” Diversity of Personality/Style The subject of style difference came up seve ral times, in the context of personality profiling tools, the most popular of which is Myers-Briggs. Joyce cons idered this related to diversity in that it helped people identify their differences in style and learn to work
179 better together, but she admitted that there was a preferred personality type in her company, and pressure to assimilate: So there was a difference of styles, and I think it's relevant in terms of how it affects a culture and it does get some [cre dibility], simply because, Myers-Briggs is so, at least at the time when I was in corporate America, was kind of viewed as credible in terms of how a work group works together. Rebekah: When they did the Myers-Bri ggs, did they use that then to increase diverse views, or do they prefer one? Joyce: That was the idea. While both, I mean there clearly was a dominant way of being . the model of behavior was to be very thorough and very detail oriented, and they were called in Myers-Bri ggs a J, IÂ’m a P. Js were definitely the dominant, preferred behavior. And so I adopted some J behavior, just because I had to, to assimilate to the culture, but J behavior is not my natural way of being. So there was a dominant one, but yes, the idea was certainly . that ideally, on the team, you need some people who are innovative thinkers and some people who are executors. Did they try and struct ure teams such that that was the case? I'm not so sure. Did they really rewa rd people like me who could be coming up with all the new ideas? Now I'm not so sure but that was the idea of it, really to have the best team, you want to have these different types. Nancy had also experienced Myers-Briggs training and felt that it was related to the topic of diversity: That's been popular, and I think what that's done, though it hasn't necessarily talked about the color of your skin or your sex, part of their pitch is that it is good to have different types of people together One of their pitches, when they meet with an executive group, is that you don't wa nt to all be, whichever that one it is, I think it's INTJ, or there is one of them, th at sort of wild, high-stress types. You don't want to just have those people. Y ou want to have some of these other people. I think, even though it's not touc hing on sex and race or whatever, itÂ’s the idea that different people help better solve problems. I think that's interesting. I am familiar with Myers-Briggs profil ing and the training that accompanies it, but would not have considered it related to Â“div ersityÂ” as it is being us ed in this study. I found it interesting that more than one of the women did. This may be because the document I shared with them (Appendix C) discusses the value of diverse viewpoints and
180 this personality-profiling example is the closest they came in their careers to experiencing that concept. If it had been used to actually support diversifying styles on teams, it might at least show a willingness to consider th e idea of the business case for diversity. Unfortunately, it seems to have been used more to reify one style, the Â“heroic masculine,Â” or what Nancy calls the Â“wild high-stress type s,Â” than to suggest that there are other styles that might also be successful. Mary, who worked in a very fast-paced, high-stress environment, agreed philosophically with the idea of value in diverse views (which she first saw in my document), but also felt that it would be a more time-consuming way of making decisions and the people in her company just would not take the time: I like that. YouÂ’re working towards the same goal and the same goal might be okay, how do we become a more profitable company. There's lots of ways to get to that goal, and different people have different ideas of what profitability is, so a diverse group would be kind of good in that sense, but you would also be spending a lot of time in meetings . well, then it has to be well run, the meetings. But you have to make sure you have people that have open minds. It doesn't matter what culture you are, but if you have an open mind for like, I will listen to what this person thatÂ’s sitting in the meeting has to say. But I think most people are either too tired or too busy, t oo tired and too busy. So like, I don't have time to think about what you have to say, because it's more work for me. This is a reflection of the preferred pe rsonality type in MaryÂ’s company, someone who is action oriented with low tolerance for process, like meetings or, for that matter, listening. From the other stories Mary told (the CFOÂ’s heart attack, etc.), it is clear that the preferred style was also the Â“heroic masculine.Â” These preferred leadership styles help to reinforce a power structure, which excludes women because they value what society considers Â“masculine.Â” As discussed above, women who adopt such styles are usually not effective. In JoyceÂ’s story she felt
181 compelled to use some of the dominant style. Mary chose instead to work part-time and sacrifice some of her upward mobility. Nancy chose to adopt the dominant style almost completely (as described in her story about the shouting match with her company president), something that eventually wore her down. None of these options represent equality of opportunity for either women or men who do not have the dominant personality and style that is rewarded. Affirmative Action When discussing diversity, affirmative ac tion inevitably came up, especially with those women whose companies had government contracts and were, therefore, required to file affirmative action plans. This did not surprise me, since the diversity movement grew out of earlier equal employment opport unity and affirmative action programs. Most people are familiar with those concepts, which have been part of the business vocabulary for many years. The fact that they are still conflated with diversity is another indication of the weakness of the diversity movement. The st ories shared are also of interest in the search for interventions to create a more equitable workplace. It is interesting to note that this is the topic where the womenÂ’s views ar e the most divergent, not unlike the division among the general population, as discussed above. At one point early in her career, Su san was the equal employment opportunity officer for her company. This is how she describes that responsibility: I was required out of thes e piles and piles of resumes, to track how many responses we got, how many were minorities, because in those days you could figure it out, and it was legal to figur e it out. How many people you interviewed, what percent were, it was a matter of counting things. That was the extent, and once a quarter, it might have been more often, you made a report. You did your EEOC report. There was really no strategy that drove from that. . It was data collection for the sake of data collecti on. And I suspect it was audited somewhere
182 down the road if they thought the EEOC was going to come knocking on the door. That was the extent. There was really not even an awareness to start talking about what this text says, the cultural stuff (referring to my document). The whole idea of putting any kind of feelings of frustr ation or personal experience, wouldnÂ’t happen there because that was what their idea of diversity was. Diversity was defined as counting, counting, how many. Rebekah: What about men versus women. Susan: They didnÂ’t check women. R: They werenÂ’t worried about that? S: No. Now years later I came across, y ears later as I worked up the chain, up the ladder if you would, I had acce ss to data at a corporate level that id entified a goal of having three women. Imagine that. Which was three times as many as me. And I think there might have been an incentive among, I believe it was part of senior, senior leadership bonus structures to find those three women and let them through. The whole time they were in that reward system, two of the women spun out and the ones that I recruited stayed. Mary Anne also had responsibility for wri ting an affirmative action plan at one of her employers. Although it occurred several ye ars later, her experience was similar to SusanÂ’s: It's a matter of punching in numbers and getting data. ItÂ’s all numbers based. That's really what, all it was, that's my point. We were affirmative action regulated because of a government contract but it was all a numbers-based plan. Rebekah: It wasn't culture? Mary Anne: No . At least it wasn't then and that was in the early nineties. I mean, there was some lip service to the e ffect that we needed to recruit different talents. As long as we can slap together a written plan, is a part of our numbers. That was good enough to call it a plan, that required, because at least we said we were trying. And all it really was a lot of language, word-smithing. It wasnÂ’t really a different recruiting program. There was no training. Although Mary Anne said there was not a different recruiting program, she did describe efforts by the human resource depart ment (which she was part of) to bring in
183 people that would help them with their numbers. She felt that this could be a disadvantage to the person hired: We would say for example of the two applicants, a white male and a black female, while their credentials on paper, education and experience, they had very similar, comparable backgrounds, we would try to advocate for the minority, because of affirmative action. And a lot of times management, who would have the final say about who we hired, would comply with our request to hire the minority, because of the plan . But it real ly hurt that woman. It didn't help her, because they felt like they had to hire he r, they didn't really want to hire her. Because they had to hire, sometimes it will work against her, and that they almost sort of subtly, not overtly, but maybe cove rtly, be out to prove a point, that they could have hired the other person, would've worked out better. Mary, whose female mentor encouraged he r to climb a career ladder that she did not desire, acknowledges that she may have be nefited from affirmative action, but she is also not a fan of it: [My boss] really wanted me to go back to get my masters . because she really liked to keep moving me up. So she promoted me. If that was because I was a woman or not, I was there, I was at the right place at the right time. Do you spend most of your time trying to, okay, I've gotta make sure I promote the first Haitian? And sometimes I think people miss the boat. Especially like, when even on the news like, this Â“black Â” judge, or this Â“womanÂ” senator, said that, okay, when it's a white male senator, itÂ’s [not] the Â“whiteÂ” (laughs) . They're just, you know, you pick the best person for the job. Stop this labeling. Barbara is also not a fan of affirmative action, despite the fact that she was most likely a beneficiary of it: We had some measurements they would measure at the end of every month. How many females, how many Hispanics . wh enever you had hired. And like I say, I resented that, because I want to hire the most qualified person and not make a quota. You know, they did have targets buil t in. I hired an Asian woman. She's fantastic. I remember her first coming and she's fantastic. Rebekah: You didn't hire her so you could check the boxes on a form. Barbara: No.
184 Nancy, who was a senior vice president at a company with an affirmative action program, was the strongest advocate for it among the women in this study: They had affirmative action practices that they followed, because they had to, and again, I believe that once you get a wo man or whoever into these positions, you realize, geez, they're not different than fr om some white male. So they can be just as good, and then you get over it. . IÂ’m a firm believer in affirmative action. And I know a lot of people arenÂ’t from th e standpoint of sort of a quota mentality. Frankly, I don't think like you have to ge t 51 percent because that's the population [of women]. But you shouldn't have 5 percent, you know (laughs). In describing why she feels so strongly that affirmative action and diversity programs are still needed, Joyce talked about what she saw hiring managers doing in the workplace: I don't think a single one of them would tell you that they have an ounce of prejudice. And I doubt that it's deliberate but there is a difference between hiring the best candidates and being open to minorities and saying weÂ’re going to hire five candidates and I want to make sure four of the five are minorities. . one is much more affirmative than the other, do you know what I mean? Despite the fact that, in an earlier inte rview, Pegge was very clear that she felt there was no discrimination in the companies where she worked and that people only need to work hard to get ahead, she gave th e most specific description of an affirmative action program, admitted she had benefited from it, and felt it was fair: The culture was changing to the point where in various roles in the . organization it was to my advantage. Th ey were consciously looking for ways to promote women and minorities into those pos itions . If you look at when I was hired, anywhere from an intern to a [p rofessional staff memb er] to someone for the office staff, always a considerati on given to how are we going to recruit candidates that were women and minorities. How are we going to, what resources are we going to reach, what is the pe rcentage pool we are looking at. Now we have narrowed it down to six candidates, wh at is the mix of that, a diverse pool to make the final account. If we didnÂ’t, th ere was that check, is there something we didnÂ’t do? And if thereÂ’s nobody thatÂ’s out th ere that met the qualifications . if the situation is such that I have a dive rse pool of people and now I come to pick, okay, youÂ’ve got to pick them because we need them, but if I have a diverse pool of people, IÂ’m allowed to pick the best candi date. If there is a tie, then it goes [to
185 the minority]. ThatÂ’s fair. If itÂ’s not a tie, youÂ’ve got to pick the best person. If you have done your work in the field, and document very thoroughly the pool so if there is ever a question. When I hi red I didnÂ’t have to justify whoever it was whether it was the white male or a cultural minority. I still had to have the paperwork there that they were the best candidate . Judy does not feel that laws and policies like affirmativ e action are really being enforced. She spoke of her hope that this would change in the future, under a different administration, perhaps with a women U.S. President: So thatÂ’s the way I see it, and I thi nk government will then, with the helm of someone that really does know how to do th is, then I think that in their audits, when they are looking at things, like the [Sarbanes-]Oxley bill, they are going to have something that looks at, really a li tmus test, of are you really discriminating. Not just this pseudo thing, where when there is a charge we will go in and look at it. I mean what a joke. What a joke. We have an affirmative action plan. We have laws in this country and they are not even [held accountable]. Lawyers get them out of it. Big business has the most mone y to get umpteen different lawyers. And even when they are guilty, they st ill get free. ThatÂ’s despicable. Although the womenÂ’s views, both of th e fairness and the effectiveness of affirmative action, are quite va ried, there is evidence here that these women, along with the rest of their generation, benefited from it. Some of the women feel they have succeeded on merit alone, but others recogni ze the importance of policies that were coercive to businesses. I think that even Judy would agree that the programs had an impact, but she saw so much of that progress reversed by a change in management that her viewpoint is now jaded. The women who benefited from the program at her company are some of the people that she now recr uits for high-level positions in other organizations. They gained the necessary e xperience because of the affirmative action program, even if it is no longer in place. I was disappointed that the women had so little experience and knowledge of the state of the art diversity initiatives that I have studied and experienced while doing this
186 research. Upon reflection, I recalled that wh en I became interested in this topic a few years ago, I had little knowledge or experience either, despite my twenty plus years in the business world, including several in employee r ecruiting. In fact, my impression was that the topic of workplace diversity was mostly disparaged by business people. I did not hear that negative viewpoint from these women, but there was a strong sense that they did not expect the workplace to change dramatically through these efforts, even if they become more widely dispersed. Hopes for the Future Despite their low expectations of diversity initiatives, the women were surprisingly positive a bout the future for other women in corporate workplaces. I asked them to think specifically of what might cha nge the circumstances in corporations so that women who are in similar executive roles in the future would not also choose to leave. None of the women could think of any specifi c interventions, and they did not feel that diversity initiatives would make a big differenc e. They were, however, able to share their ideas of what they felt were the ca talysts that would bring about changes. Three of the women brought up the subject of a woman President of the United States. Others brought up the changing wor kplace from the standpoint of technology and an increased need for crea tivity and innovation. Mary Anne added that the next generation might be more open to women in power. For Mary, the most important thing is flexibility in work hours, a specific recommendation, but she cannot envision a workplace where everyone has it.
187 A Female President of the United States Overcoming the perception that women are not capable of the highest office in our government was seen as an important symbol that would help to create a work environment where women could no longer be viewed as less capable than men. Judy, who was the most negative regarding the curr ent state of the workplace, was the most vocal on this issue: My optimistic view is there will be a woman president. There will be a woman president, I really hope in my lifetime. And when there is a woman president she will obviously select a lot of other women in roles and tasks and I think the ability to get things done, the ability to multi-task, the ability to move it to the next level is going to be like Superman. Because once women have the power and once there is belief in this country that good things can happen and women do know how to handle things like economy and environment and war and famine and healthcare and all those factors and that we are making true inroads, we are not talking about the same issues fifty year s from now, then I think we are really going to thrive . so in my humble opinion you almost need a true huge leader that has a major voice and major power a nd all eyes will be upon her and a lot of doors will be open because the key that opens all the doors is that position. Judy not only thinks this will be symbolic she feels it will change public policy so that we can put some of these issue behi nd us for good. It is interesting that her optimistic view is that women in leadership will be like superman. Nancy was not as philosophical, but also indicated this symbolic issue is a problem for women: How stupid it is that the United States is not ready for a woman in the White House? I mean, that is just so stupid. Fo r those of us who are professional women, we just sort of shake our heads at that. The three women who brought up this subj ect did not go into any detail on how it might happen. Given their views of the women who preceded them in the workplace and those who are there now (see women role models, above), it is interes ting that they ignore the obstacles that have kept this from occurring, the same glass ceiling issues they
188 encountered in the workplace. Most of the women agreed that executive women have to be as much like a man as possible, without crossing that undefined li ne that might offend the men. How a woman who has succeeded in those circumstances could act differently after reaching the Presidency is an interesting question. This does not, however, undermine the symbolic significance of women in powerful positions. Changing Technology The rapid changes that are occurring through the intensive use of computer technology enabled Colleen to envision a different kind of workplace: I think that communication and whatÂ’s go ing on in the world is going to recreate the business environment on its own in the next decade. I think the office as we know it will go away because of the conne ctivity. And once that happens and managers at the top lose control, they donÂ’t have people along, then, you canÂ’t bring anybody into a room. What happens then ? I think that that is going to force the next evolution in the business world and what will be beautiful about that is you donÂ’t have to come in and they donÂ’t ca re if you come in a skirt or a pantsuit. It wonÂ’t matter because they canÂ’t see you. So hopefully that will begin to help. Colleen emphasizes the benefits of not seeing the other person, now knowing if she is male or female, perhaps, at leas t not knowing if she has assimilated to the appropriate dress code. But implied here a nd mentioned by others is the fact that this becomes a less structured workplace, where ma nagers have less control, a place where people can be more free to achieve in their own way. They felt that these changes would lead to increased emphasis on results and less importance of relationships. This might also lead to reducing the influence of the old boy network.
189 Workplace Flexibility The use of technology has also provided ma ny people with increased flexibility in their work hours and the ability to work at home. This is something that several women felt was key to making the workplace more hospitable, especially for working mothers. Mary: If they gave you, like to allow fo r flex time, like if I wouldn't feel guilty because I had to go to my kidÂ’s program because then you're dealing with this guilty conscience. I'm guilty because I'm not working for my company who's paying me and put some faith in me that I'm going to get this job done. And I felt guilty because I'm not with my kids. But Mary did not feel that everyone in the company could have flexible time: You can't give it to everybody. So how do you keep the good peop le? I guess if I was considered a good person, they did keep me by offering me the flextime. But okay, I can't offer everybody flextime. Some of these people I know. I know myself, there's a couple people that worked for me, I wouldn't offer them flextime because I know them. It would not work. Nancy expressed the hope that women who choose to work shorter hours in order to be with family would eventually be vi ewed the same as men who work shorter hours for other reasons: I think as people get more comfortable with working around people different from them and realizing that hereÂ’s this awesome executive and she leaves by 5:30 every day because she wants to be home w ith her kids and that doesnÂ’t make her less professional or less capable or whatever. You might have in the workplace, youÂ’d see hereÂ’s this male executive who leaves at 5:30 because heÂ’s some particular orthodox faith who has to be in some church thing and they never think that person is less capable. They think he puts in fewer hours but they donÂ’t think heÂ’s less capable. Today they look at the woman who makes a family-type choice as less capable. Nancy recognizes that when the choice is for the caregivers ro le, it has resulted in women being marginalized. Note that her co mparable male example is not choosing the caregiverÂ’s role. This is interesting, especially since NancyÂ’s husband is the primary caregiver in her family.
190 In their earlier interviews, some of the women discussed the issue of inflexible work hours or the need to be seen in the o ffice, Â“face time,Â” as problems, but did not raise this when we discussed potential solutions. They too might think that it would not work for everybody, or possibly just that the workplace is far from being open to this on a large scale. This is an area that was discussed ofte n in the literature. Workplace flexibility and work/life balance are terms that have come to be associated with retaining women. Because they have been tied to women, and specifically to womenÂ’s roles as caregivers, they seem to have done as much damage as good. Women who want to be viewed as serious about their careers and not to have their prospects limited have shied away from them, even when they are offered openly by the company. Attempts to make these policies apply to men and women equally (e.g. FMLA) have failed because men are not going to avail themselves of a policy that re sults in them being marginalized, like women. If care-giving roles were more equalized in the home, flexible time in the workplace might be more in demand by both men and wome n. This is what Joan Williams seems to be aiming for with her fight against the Â“ideal workerÂ” ideology (Williams 2000). Innovation PoggioÂ’s research (2000), discussed above, found that high tech organizations were more accepting of women in power. Susan echoed this with her belief that the innovation required in the new economy w ill change the workplace for the better: I think that with all the fo cus on innovation and fast cycle time, fast to market and all that, IÂ’ve seen the structural issues, org chart and silos, you canÂ’t have all that, you canÂ’t have. So companies are moving, and maybe this is a hopeful, IÂ’m going to be nave or Pollyannaish about it here it seems to me that in this day of recognized need for innovation, that implies in my mind the eroding formal
191 structure, formal silos, territorialism territorialism as a form of good old boy system. . If innovation is the key, what difference does it make where the innovation came from? . If innovation gets rewarded, people will figure out how to be innovative, or they will hire people that are innov ative, and innovation doesnÂ’t have a face, or a skirt, or a pair of pants . To me I think a continued emphasis on innovation and the culture of innovation will by mistake or chance create that more family-friendly, and in turn more diversity-friendly. Generations X and Y There was also hope that the younger males in the workplace would be different, or that the younger females would be able to change things. PoggioÂ’s (2000) research also suggested that younger men were more open to women in powerful positions, perhaps because they were raised by working mothers. Mary Anne: [I] think the only thing that is going to change it is perhaps a generation of new professionals coming in to the organization. . more and more today women are filling the business schools and they're coming out with MBA educations that allow them to demonstrate talents and the expertise that for a long time only men had. Susan: Maybe you donÂ’t make it female-friendly, maybe you make it familyfriendly. As more and more men become more balanced in their personal life around family, then itÂ’s not a matter of ma le versus female, itÂ’s a matter of that holistic approach to family-friendly. All of these ideas are hopeful, but do not lend themselves well to proposing interventions. They generally require us to wa it and see; to hope that time (and, perhaps, technology) will heal the problem. I agree with most of them, they are difficult to dispute. I am hopeful that there will be more women in high positions, including the United States President, which will provide both role models and important symbols that the people in this country believe that women are truly as competent as men. Much has been written about Generation X and the chan ging expectations they are bringing to the workforce. Their resistance to the Â“ideal workerÂ” model may be sufficient to bring about
192 changes as they move into higher levels wi thin organizations. Changes in technology should also allow more flexibility both in work hours and location that can lead to better balance for all workers. I am more skepti cal about the need for innovation as a catalyst for change. Although I agree that organizations know that they need to reward innovation over conformity, the management challenges that it presents make it unlikely to succeed with the current generation of leaders in power in corporations. I have the same reservations about the technological changes. Even Mary, for whom flexible hours was key, did not think that you could trust all work ers with flexible sche dules. This attitude by managers will undermine the acceptance of a more flexible model. Technology also can be used against employees, as in the case of the PDA. Instead of allowing workers more flexibility to be in the office, they are now expected to both be in the office long hours and to be available to answer message s at all other times, including weekends and while on vacation. Although the women are no longer inside of corporations, they are to a great extent a product of that environment and, although they may be critical of it, find it difficult to envision another model of organi zation that could be successful in the competitive environment that they experienced Many of the ideas that are discussed in the literature would be considered revolut ionary to women so recently inside the workplace who lack the perspective of an outsi der or researcher. For this reason, I am not surprised that the women in this study did not suggest them.
193 Recommendations The intention of this research was to make recommendations for workplace diversity initiatives. In addition, it has provide d data that can be useful for making policy recommendations as well as identifying structural changes needed for businesses to attract and retain women executives. Becau se sex-role stereo types transcend the workplace, recommendations must address ch anges in the wider society, specifically regarding responsibility for what Williams ( 2000) terms Â“family work.Â” Structural, policy and cultural changes needed both inside and out side of corporations are interrelated and must be considered as a whole. The goal of these recommendations is to disrupt the reproduction of gender stereotypes. One manifestation of this is the Â“ideal workerÂ” ideology, but it is broader. When the women in this study were willing to adapt to the requi rements of the ideal worker, we have seen them stopped by a Â“g lass ceiling;Â” those wi th power are still making assumptions about their capabilities a nd commitment. Informal systems, such as the Â“old boys networkÂ” further undermine the chances for women to move up. Men are also impacted by gender stereo types that require them to conform to roles that demand long hours on the job and specific behaviors that are defined as masculine. Interventions must be designed so that they benefit all workers to avoid furthering the Â“white male backlashÂ” that has resulted from previ ous diversity programs and public policies.
194 My data do not provide much insight into diversity initiatives specifically. The fact that my informants had very little to say about them is evidence that they have not had a tremendous impact. My literature re view, however, and my attendance at several of these programs over the past few years, gives me a perspective from which to make some limited recommendations. The initiatives that are being done toda y are vastly improved from earlier models that were criticized for raising negativ e emotions and perpetuating stereotypes. Awareness training educates managers (the primary attendees) about the history of discrimination and the impact of stereotyping. When awareness is combined with skill building, allowing trainees to practice utilizing their new knowledge, individuals within workplaces who are open to new ideas may change their attitudes and behaviors, which may lead to an overall cultural change. The broadening of the definition of di versity, however, is troublesome, as it reduces the time available to focus on issu es like gender. The Â“business case for diversityÂ” is also of concern, since it suppo rts the belief that changing the workplace culture to be more inclusive is only worthw hile if it can be justified economically. As Sinclair (2006) so aptly stated, the business case diverts diversity practitioners Â“in never ending efforts to please senior managers, while those managers get on with the real business of holding on to powerÂ” (Sinclair 2006:521). But Meyerson and Kolb (2000) liken the bus iness case to a Trojan horse, Â“on the outside are the [economic] arguments, on the in side is a passion for justice . .Â” They assert that Â“workplace diversity struggles ar e necessary to bring social change into workplaces Â– and workplace diversity with a broader social agenda can create
195 organizations as sites of wider social ch angeÂ” (Meyerson and Kolb 2000:160). Diversity initiatives are our opportunity for access to workplaces. Consequently, I support the continuation of diversity initiatives. The women in this study, who represent both business l eaders and individuals who have experienced discrimination, are also generally supportive of these programs. In addition to providing awareness and skill building through training by qualified facilitato rs, these initiatives must engage CEOs in a discussion of the issues that this work addresses. The focus must be moved away from Â“fixing the womenÂ” (a nd others targeted by these programs) and toward changing the culture at all levels of the organization. As Sinclair (2006) suggested, consultants should work one-on-one with CEOs to reframe the problem. The current momentum towards Â“corporate social responsibilityÂ” is a positive sign that the profit motive can be complemented by a social motive, the responsibility to do the Â“rightÂ” thing. If it is important, as this ideology is suggesting, that companies do not harm their communities or environment, surely it follows that they should not harm the lives of their own employees. In order to address the problems faced by the women in my study, there must be a component in the diversity training specifical ly addressing gender. A principal objective of all diversity programs is to reduce stereotyping and examples of stereotypes for both men (heroic provider) and women (nurturing ca retaker) can be included to begin this discussion. The fact that business values the Â“heroic masculineÂ” can be addressed, as well as the undervaluing of qualities consid ered Â“feminine,Â” including care taking of children. As Coleman (2000) has said, just bringing gender into the discussion seems to
196 be creating something that was not already there; it will not be easy to address. It will also be difficult to overcome the assumption that Â“genderÂ” means Â“women.Â” Diversity initiatives, if well designed, also address structural issues within organizations. Employment policies, includi ng job descriptions, should be reviewed to reveal where they result in discrimination, ev en if unintentional, such as where the Â“ideal workerÂ” is assumed and Â“heroic masculinityÂ” is endorsed. More difficult to address are job requirements such as long work hours, tr avel and relocation wh ich are part of the Â“ideal workerÂ” ideology that must be disrupted. These issues were si gnificant in the lives of more than half of the women in this study. The Â“old boy networkÂ” must be undermined by strict enforcement of policies designed to give equal chance at promotion to all qualified candidates. The women spoke out loudly on this topic. Enforcement of all equal employment opportunity policies must be reviewed and strengthened. The blatant discrimination experienced by the women in this study is evidence of the lack of enforcement of policies that were surely a dopted as part of th e structure of their companies. The data presented herein provide some evidence that affirmative action policies have improved opportunities for women to move to higher levels in corporations. Barbara and Pegge were the most positive a bout their corporate experiences and they were also the only two women who worked in companies where there were strong programs based on these policies. Their companiesÂ’ compliance seems, by the time these two women moved into the workforce in 1981, to have actually changed the way that women were being treated. Since my sample is so small, I cannot make a broad generalization about the effectiveness of affirmative acti on, but this does provide us with
197 some insight into how a company might be different because of it. Judy and Susan, on the other hand, worked for employers that we re subject to these federal requirements, but did not embrace them. The culture of the or ganization is an important factor and the attitudes of the leaders, whether they believ e the policies are important, or that they just need to comply superficially, determines whether a policy will be effective. Federal enforcement has also been lax, without a r eal threat, and leader s who do not believe in equal opportunity ideologically are likel y to merely pay them lip service. The policy arena, however, is clearly a site for intervention in employment discrimination. The Â“ideal workerÂ” was created through both an ideology of a male worker supported by a stay-at-home wife and legislation, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), which created the forty-hour workweek and overtime pay. Although the purpose of FLSA was to prevent employers from requiring employees to work excessive hours without appropriate compensation, the result has been a system of Â“exemptionsÂ” from the rules, which now encompass over one-fourth of the workforce, including almost all managerial and professional occupations Because they are Â“exemptÂ” from overtime for hours beyond 40 in a week, managers and professionals have come to be seen as Â“ownedÂ” by their employers 24 hours a day. The layoffs and Â“downsizings Â” of the 1990s, which continue today, have resulted in fewer employees with more work to be done per person, leading to documented longer workweeks. The criteria for exemption from FLSA were revised in 2004 after years of discussion that cente red around changes in the economy away from manufacturing and towards services. There was concern (and lawsuits documenting) that even low-paid office workers were being considered exempt from overtime based on
198 outdated salary-level requirements and comple x rules regarding the use of Â“discretion and independent judgment.Â” The hearings and analyses regarding th ese rule changes did not include any indication that this basic presumption of th e rule is suspect: that Â“exemptÂ” workers, due to their managerial status, are not forced or even coerced, to work excessive hours. There is evidence in this research that executives are working longer and longer hours and that being seen in the office (Â“face timeÂ”) is a rewarded behavior. This seems to be against the spirit of the original FLSA, which was enacted because Congress found that there were Â“labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.Â” A change in the FLSA to disallow such exemption for employees who do not actually have control over the number of hours they work is conceptu ally attractive as a wa y to bring the Â“ideal workerÂ” at least closer to the 40 hour workweek envisioned in 1938. Glass ceiling reviews are another policy that has the potential to improve opportunity for executive females, but only if the OFCCP has enforcement power. As has been seen with affirmative action revi ews, without strong enforcement powers, companies can remedy poor findings by submitting written plans for the future and will not be held accountable. One of the women in this study worked for a company that received negative feedback on a glass ceil ing review during her time there. Shortly afterward, the only two female senior vice presidents in the company left and were replaced by white males. One of the issues that surfaces often in the discussion of the ideal worker is maternity leave. Although FMLA is not gende r specific, few men utilize it to take time
199 off to care for their newborns. One reason is that it is associated with the care-taking roles of women, and men who take it are si milarly marginalized. But it is also unpaid leave, which discourages its use. If structur ed as a government benef it, as parental leave is in many countries, with at least partial pa y, fathers might utilize it more, reducing the stigma. The state of California recently bega n providing partial pay for six weeks during otherwise unpaid leave like FMLA. Kanter (1993) has suggested the use of a Â“flex-year,Â” instead of a flexible work schedule on a daily or weekly basis. Since so much work, particularly by managers and professionals, is done on project s and in teams, it seems feasible that individuals could take rest periods after each project is comple ted, if the company is willing to schedule the work accordingly. Although this will still pr esent challenges to getting Â“family workÂ” accomplished while on each project, it would overcome some of the stereotypes of using FMLA for parental leaves. If it becomes a nor m to take blocks of time off, using it when your baby is small should not be looked at any differently than us ing it to take a trip around the world. According to Kanter, some of the high tech companies in the nineties were allowing sabbaticals of three months every five years. The recent report issued by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, discussed above, mentions day care, equal pay for part-time work and universal health care as areas that need to be addressed if the ideal worker is to be supplanted with a new ideology more conducive to raising families (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006). Many European countr ies have government-sponsored day care which is neighborhood based and high quality. St atistics show that the options in the United States are not only expensive they are lower quality. This discourages one parent,
200 usually the mother, from working. Part-tim e work is another option to help working families, but most part-time options pay less per hour and do not include benefits. Some countries require that part-time work pay the same hourly rate. Countries with socialized medicine also avoid the need to work full tim e to have health insu rance. The professional women interviewed would benefit from such policies since they are in an income level that allows them to support families on part -time work, if paid fairly with access to affordable benefits (Williams, Manvell, and Bornstein 2006). The potential for such large-scale pol icy changes has certainly improved by the recent election of a Congress with a Democratic majority. Public opinion also influences policy and, in a 1996 survey, Â“n early three-fourths of all re spondents said that Â‘reducing stress on working families with policies like flexible hours and affordable child careÂ’ would be a very effective way of improving their economic situation. Concerns over the pressures on families outweighed even peopleÂ’s desire for increased salaries and concerns over layoffsÂ” (Williams 2000). But policy changes and changes in orga nizations cannot be made without also reviewing the need for change in the roles a ssigned in the larger society, specifically responsibility for what Williams (2000) terms Â“family work.Â” It is much harder to legislate things like husbands and fathers ta king equal responsibility for childcare and managing the household, and as long as it resu lts in them being marginalized in the workplace, men cannot take on such Â“feminineÂ” roles. Families donÂ’t benefit when both parents are marginalized by lowe r pay and reduced opportunities. It is important to mention that the ideal worker ideology results in the marginalization of all women, not just those who are married or who have children. The
201 ideology is based on a stereotype of worker s with no responsibility for day-to-day life activities, which is an expectation that is difficult for single men and women to fulfill. It also results in discrimination against wome n when their superiors act on the perception that women will marry and have children someday and either quit working or lower their commitment to their jobs. In the example of one of the women in this study, even when she had no intention of reducing her commitme nt after having a baby, her managers did not consider her a candidate for promotion based on their own perceptions. Working to reduce these stereotypes and th e ideal worker ideology, ther efore, benefits all women. Consulting work like that being done by th e researchers at the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons Graduate School of Management is another method for intervention in gender construc tion in organizations. Their us e of a Â“dual agenda,Â” which includes business process improvement as a goal of equal importance to disrupting gender stereotypes, helps to Â“sellÂ” their work to companies who have a difficult time understanding how gender issues are importa nt. They cautioned, however, that not keeping gender at the forefront was a large part of the failure of the research they attempted. They offer a theoretical framework and published an analysis of their work that can assist other researchers who wish to continue to move feminism Â“out of the armchairÂ” (Meyerson and Kolb 2000). I believe that this work can also be incorporated into diversity initiatives, the Â“Trojan horseÂ” that gives us access to the workplace. Any changes to the workplace must benefit men and women alike. Many of the stories that the women told revealed a culture that fits well into a depiction of the workplace as Â“toxic.Â” Improving things like the long work hours and out of control stress that results in heart attacks should be attractive to men. But if some have a goal only to
202 acquire power and money, and they have been successful in the curr ent environment, the idea that there is a need for a revolutionary change in corporate culture is preposterous. Yet the success of diversity work is unlikely without their support. The women in this study are hopeful that the next generation will be different. It is important that both the men and the women who will be the business l eaders of the future are exposed to the ideas discussed here as part of their bus iness school and early career experience. Further research My sample includes only women who have chosen to give up their careers. Similar interviews should be conducted wi th executive women who are still working within corporations to determine if they have insights that these women did not. My informants are also all from the baby boom generation. Women born after 1964 should be interviewed to discover any differences in their experiences and how they perceive these issues, due to changes in the wor kplace, generational differences, or merely differences in life-stage. The voices of men are also missing from this work. I have alluded to the fact that the interventions to disrupt hegemonic mascu linity will benefit men. Such interventions should not be designed without including the vi ewpoints of executive men. Several of the women suggested that I talk to their husba nds, who had also chosen to Â“opt out.Â” Although the women recognized that gender-sp ecific issues had impacted their careers and their decisions to leave, they also feel that workplaces are bad for all workers, not just women. Interviewing both men inside of corporations and men who have opted out would help to tell the rest of this story. Of those that opted out, some have chosen the stay-at-home husband role. This role is stil l considered very unusual and is generally
203 marginalized in our society. Interviewing men who have chosen this role would be a fascinating contrast to the women who felt they had no choice but to accept it.
204 Conclusions This dissertation deals with complex issues for which there are no easy solutions. The life stories of these women reveal both th eir struggles and success as members of the first generation of female executives. They describe a workplace that continues to be marked by hegemonic masculinity, where they were required to assimilate to a white male dominated culture. The women succeeded beyond their expectations, but something stopped them from continuing upward. A Â“glass ceilingÂ” is perpetuated in U.S. businesses by this hegemonic masculinity and its interrelationship with both informal systems, like the Â“old boys network,Â” and sex-role stereotypes. Rarely, if ever, are the actors in this dr ama aware of their parts. The elite white males in power are not sitting around a tabl e deciding how to operate an exclusionary culture in their workplaces. The systematic issues illuminated here have built up over generations in which the men before them we re busy in day-to-day struggles of running complex and competitive businesses. When th ey hire their fraternity brotherÂ’s son as their next senior executive, they are not doing it to thwart all women managers. They are being nice guys, helping out a friend and hiring someone they can trust. When they hang out together on the golf course, they are just having fun, even if th ey inadvertently make decisions there without the involvement of the women who are supposed to be on their Â“team.Â” They didnÂ’t sneak off to the golf course to make decisions behind her back. They were just spending time with friends, enjoying a little time away from work, as
205 women do with their girlfriends. Indeed, the systems of power and privilege that perpetuate the glass ceiling ar e invisible to the men who create them and to a great extent, to the women whose careers are truncated because of them. Diversity initiatives represent an opportun ity to change the corporate culture that allows this glass ceiling. Although these initia tives are designed to address a more broadly defined diversity, they have the pote ntial to disrupt stereo types and they provide an entree to the workplace where such discussi on can begin. Policies that undermine the corporationsÂ’ right to the Â“ideal workerÂ” can also help to disrupt the system of sex discrimination. But raising the topic of ge nder is difficult because it is Â“a system of meaning so pervasive and inescapable that it shapes our identityÂ” (Williams 2000:198). Gender is also constructed in the wider so ciety and we carry our gender identities with us into the workplace. As women have moved into traditionally-male occupations, like corporate executive, they have struggled to find behaviors appropriate for success. If they model themselves on those who held the jobs before them, they have to give up something of themselves, move away from be haviors that are comfortable to them. Even if they agree to do this they risk being pe rceived as too much like the men, which may makes the men uncomfortable. This narrow band of appropriate be havior is difficult to find. And itÂ’s not fair, in any sense of the word. Williams (2000), in fact, argues that it represents illegal discrimination, requiring women to fulfill job requirements that were designed around men with stay-at-home wives, while also expecting them to fulfill caretaking responsibilities for their own husbands and families. But many women believe the stereotypes that females are better at care-taking roles. And men who attempt to fulfill those roles are marginalized, treated like women, Â“Mr. Moms.Â”
206 Socialist feminist theory addresses th ese issues and provides an excellent framework for critiquing the stories that were re vealed in this research. We can see the creation of gender and the syst ems of control and power that stand in the way of the womenÂ’s success. But finding ways to interven e and disrupt it is very difficult. The feminist researchers of the Center for Gende r in Organizations at the Simmons Graduate School of Management have tried to do this di rectly in consulting work. Legal feminists at the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law are addressing it through thei r work in family responsibility discrimination law. But most women in business today would never identify themselves with these feminists who are trying to change the system to make it more equitable for them. Somehow feminism has become a dirty word. The failure of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is a symbol of the incompleteness of the womenÂ’s movement. There is much work remaining to be done. The continuing applicability of the observations of Betty Friedan in the 1960s and Rosabeth Moss Kanter in the 1970s, discussed above, is evidence of this. The women inside of organizations are ma king a difference just by their presence, by demonstrating their competence. But the stories revealed by the women in this study have shown us that this is not enough. Femi nists on the outside must also continue the struggle; they can view the workplace objectiv ely and raise issues that the women inside cannot. Working both within and outside of or ganizations is needed. Working together is the only way. This study is entirely of white middle-cl ass women working as executives in U.S. corporations in the 1980s and 1990s. It provides a window in to the workplace as it was experienced by them, but cannot be generalized to other groups of women or other types
207 of workplaces. Since all of the women in th is study are also Â“of a certain ageÂ” and all have chosen to leave their corporate jobs, th e data have an obvious bias. None of this diminishes its value. The voices of these women are rarely heard. Their personal experiences both inform us and create a f oundation on which we can build theory and develop interventions. They are the ones w ho tired of trying to assimilate, of trying to please leaders who they no longer respected. Ye t they still want to work, they want to be productive and they enjoy the Â“free agentÂ” ro les they have carved out for themselves. This is the bottom line for one of them: Judy: So the reality is that I really think th at if I had a daugh ter starting out the advice I would give her is to get a good education and find something that you have a passion about and figure out who is really good and do an internship or work for that person, then start your own business. ThatÂ’s what I would say. For this generation of executive women, leav ing to find work of their own is often the best option for their own personal growth a nd well-being, but it is not the best thing for businesses. If corporations truly want to keep women, they have to change their cultures or the women will continue to leave, and advise their daughters to do the same. But not everyone thinks that we can change the workplace: Colleen: I donÂ’t think you can fix corporate America. I think what we have to do is create a new business model of our own. We canÂ’t tear down so much of that structure that has been built over so long and also so many attitudes and old mores that just wonÂ’t go away right now. After so many years of fighting the fight only to be pushed out the door, the women have little hope for businesses as they exist today. And yet these women were hopeful for the future. Opportunities for women have improved dramatically since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s and the womenÂ’s movement of the 1970s. The women in this study held executive positions that no woman before them had held.
208 Their success in those roles has made a di fference, even though they chose to leave before they achieved all of which they were capable. And the women who continue to reach milestones today will push the glass ceil ing upward and provide role models for the next generation. But as long as the price for success includ es assimilating to the Â“ideal worker,Â” they will be making a sacrifice that most of the women in this study did not wish to make. And no one should have to, male or female. Everyone should have the opportunity to have a complete life of her or his choosing, not just those who can find a spouse who will donate her (or hi s) career potential to Â“makeÂ” a home so that the worker can give all of his (or her) effo rts to a corporation. In the battle over who gets to Â“have it all,Â” it is clear that the co rporations are the only ones w ho are winning. This may be merely symptomatic of the current state of a dvanced capitalism, but it is the situation in which we find U.S. businesses today. As a pragmatic feminist and applied anthropologist, I have attempted to find opportunities to improve upon this situation, recognizing they are less than ideal. Regarding whether real change is possible, Acker has said that it will most likely happen through Â“many small skirmishes, labo r market changes, and slowly changing perceptions of the possible and acceptableÂ” (Acker 2000:629) I agree. The labor market is changing and more women are there to demonstrate their competence. A younger generation is entering the workplace, many of whom were raised by working women; they have different perceptions. The Â“ski rmishesÂ” will include the discrimination lawsuits, the day-to-day struggles and yes, the diversity programs.
209 Just when I was sure there was no ha ppy ending for my dissertation, I met a woman who, at only forty-two, has achieved a higher level of su ccess than any of the women in this study; she holds the CEO title. She told me she would not have been a good Â“trailblazer,Â” her word for the women w ho came before her; that she had risen Â“on their coattails.Â” What a wonderful thankyou to the women whose stories are presented here. Their lives, their careers, may only be Â“small skirmishesÂ” in this struggle, but they have made a difference.
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222 APPENDIX A Recruiting Script I am looking for women who have held, but chose to leave, ex ecutive level positions within corporations. They may not be work ing now, or they may have started their own businesses, gone into academia or nonprofit wo rk, or just ended their career path and found other work. Participation should not be too difficult. I wi ll want to interview each woman four or five times over the course of the next few months. Each interview should last around an hour. My goal is to collect the stories of these women and analyze them for common themes and potential changes to the workplace that might have resulted in their continuing their career paths. Why would someone want to participate? Firs t, it should be fun and interesting. But I also believe that the women will help me to develop recommendations that may assist businesses to attract and retain women in their workplaces. I hope that this will increase opportunities for women to advance, and im prove the conditions in which all women work.
223 APPENDIX B Informed Consent Form Social and Behavioral Sciences University of South Florida Information for People Who Take Part in Research Studies The following information is being presented to help you decide whether or not you want to take part in a minimal risk research st udy. Please read this carefully. If you do not understand anything, ask the person in charge of the study. Title of Study: A Paradox of Diversity: Billions invested, but women still leave Principal Investigator: Rebekah Heppner Study Location(s): University of South Florida, College of Arts and Sciences You are being asked to participate because you held an executive-level position within a corporation but chose to leave it. General Information about the Research Study The purpose of this research study is to collect the storie s of executive women who have chosen to leave their positions and anal yze them for common themes and potential changes to the workplace that might have resu lted in their continuing their career paths. Plan of Study You will be interviewed in person and the interviews will be audio-taped. As many as five interview session of sixty to ninety mi nutes each may be needed. You will be asked to discuss your experiences in the workplace, the culture of the organizations in which you worked and your experience, if any, with diversity initiatives. Payment for Participation You will not be paid for your participation in this study. Benefits of Being a Part of this Research Study By taking part in this research st udy, you may aid in the development of recommendations that will help businesses to attract and retain women in their workplaces. This may increase opportunities for women to advance and improve the conditions in which they work.
224 Risks of Being a Part of this Research Study There are no known risks involved in be ing a part of this research study Confidentiality of Your Records Your privacy and research records will be ke pt confidential to the extent of the law. Authorized research personnel, employees of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the USF Institutional Review Bo ard, its staff and other individuals acting on behalf of USF may inspect the records from this research project. The results of this study may be published. However, you will be given a fictitious name and you will be referred to only by that name in both the notes related to your interview and any reports or publications that reference your intervie w. The tapes of interviews and transcripts, as well as this informed c onsent form, will be kept at the home of the principal investigator. Volunteering to Be Part of this Research Study Your decision to participate in this research study is completely voluntary. You are free to participate in this research st udy or to withdraw at any time. Questions and Contacts If you have any questions about this re search study, contac t the researcher, Rebekah Heppner at (813) 207-0639 or Susa n Greenbaum (her faculty advisor) at (813) 974-2668. If you have questions about your rights as a person who is taking part in a research study, you may contact the Division of Research Compliance of the University of South Fl orida at (813) 974-5638. Consent to Take Part in This Research Study By signing this form I agree that: I have fully read this informed consent form describing this research project. I have had the opportunity to question on e of the persons in charge of this research and have received satisfactory answers.
225 I understand that I am being asked to pa rticipate in research. I understand the risks and benefits, and I freely give my consent to participate in the research project outlined in this form, unde r the conditions indicated in it. I have been given a signed copy of this informed consent form, which is mine to keep. __________________________________________________ Signature of ParticipantPrinted Name of ParticipantDate Investigator Statement I have carefully explained to the subject the nature of the above research study. I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge th e subject signing this consent form understands the nature, demands, risks, and benefits involved in particip ating in this study. __________________________________________________ Signature of InvestigatorPrinted Name of InvestigatorDate Or authorized research investigator designated by the Principal Investigator
226 APPENDIX C History and Trends in the Workplace Diversity Movement Rebekah Heppner October 5, 2005 In the 1960s laws were passed that prohib ited employment discrimination on the basis of race or sex. Training was done then about these laws, and some early forms of Â“diversityÂ” training began to appear in th e 1970s and 1980s. However, the beginning the Â“diversity movementÂ” in business is generall y attributed to some demographic research commission by the Department of Labor. Th e research resulted in a 1987 report titled Â“Workforce 2000.Â” The report had a catchy name and an amazing statistic: in the year 2000 only 15% of new hires will be white males. ThatÂ’s not exactly what it said, but thatÂ’s what most people heard (some say there was a typo in the executive summary th at led them to this). It actually said that the net additions to the labor force would only comprise 15% white males. This is less dramatic but was still a surprising statis tic to people in 1987. It sp urred many companies to action; they didnÂ’t want to be unable to hire and retain the workers of the future. In addition, the Senate confirmation h earings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1990 led to a dramatic increase in complaints of sexual harassment, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 allowed for punitive damages in employment discrimination lawsuits. Lawyers were now much more interested in taking employment discrimination suits and the big settlements that seem rou tine today have become a serious financial threat to businesses. Demographic changes in the United Stat es are also beginning to appear more dramatically in the workpla ce. Although the predictions of Workforce 2000 were never realized, a new prediction is that there will be a white minority in the U.S. by 2050. Many business leaders re alize that just putting this dive rse group of people together will not result in an equitable and harmonious workplace. Through my research, I identified three diffe rent approaches to diversity that I have labeled Â“paradigms.Â” They seem to have evolved from one to the other over time. That is not to say that the first one is completely gone today, or that no one used any of the third at the beginning, but their prevalence has generally changed based on experience gained over the years. Paradigm One: The encounter group model A phenomenon of the 1960s was known as encounter groups. These were not about diversity, they were a form of group ther apy, a part of the pop psychology movement.
227 Historian Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn, who wrote one of the most critical books about the diversity movement, believes that because th e civil rights movement occurred at the same time that these encounter groups were popular, there was a Â“fateful coinciding of events,Â” which resulted in using some of the met hods of encounter groups in early diversity programs. In business, this was called sensitivity training. The emphasis was on individuals revealing feelings of frustra tion and personal experiences with discrimination in a group setting with co-workers. Researchers have been debating this model for years and most consider it ineffective. Others believe it le ads to (instead of preventing) litigation and heightens tensions in the workplace. At the very least, these methods need to be well facilitated. The problems that occurred we re generally tied to unqualified facilitators; companies often allowed their front-line managers to lead the sessions. Paradigm Two: Multiculturalism This paradigm is often described as Â“celebra ting differences,Â” and was in part a way to get away from the problems that were seen in the encounter group approach. Companies also began to believe they could increase profits by matching the diversity of their workforce with that of the customers. Diversity expert Taylor Cox wrote extensivel y on what he terms the Â“plural organizationÂ” versus the Â“multicultural organization.Â” By plural he meant that there were men and women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, and others in the workplace, but they were all required to assimilate to the same culture. By Â“multiculturalÂ” he meant companies that allow individuals to maintain their own culture and contribute to the success of the busin ess by bringing their unique views to the workplace. In this paradigm the definition of diversity also begins to broaden. Roosevelt Thomas, another scholar who has written extensively on diversity, suggested that the definition should include education, family background, as well as job function and personality differences. This was a big change from the original definition, which was basically the Â“protected classesÂ” as defined by the law (primarily race and sex). This paradigm also has its problems. Some of the training included Â“trait listsÂ” for different ethnic groups. An example would be when a Puerto Rican woman joins a staff and her manager just wants to know how to treat Puerto Rican women, as if they were all the same. These methods can easily perpetuate stereotypes, often even informing people of some they donÂ’t already hold. The idea that you need to Â“matchÂ” your work force with your customers or markets also tends to be extremely limiting. It often re sults in the clusteri ng of women and minority workers in certain divisions where what is considered (by management) to be their
228 Â“uniqueÂ” qualities can be put to use. These workers were not likely to get promoted from these divisions into positions of power in the organization. One last issue is that some of the technique s were just a little too easy. For example, having each month dedicated to a specif ic group, like WomenÂ’s History Month. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, leading diversity consultants have called it an activity trap or symbolic busywork. It al lows management to say they have addressed employee diversity without doing the real wo rk that is called for to create a more inclusive workplace. Paradigm 3: The Business Case for Diversity One of the outcomes of the multiculturalism paradigm was the introduction of the idea that there is Â“valueÂ” in diversity. That re sulted in the entire field turning to a more positive approach from the original negative, guilt based approaches, or one motivated by the fear of lawsuits. Even Taylor Cox did not intend multiculturalism to be limited to how you can match up employees with customers. He felt that diverse organizations are better at problem solving and more creativ e, leading to innovation because of the diversity of viewpoints present at the table. This concept of valuing diversity has led into what is called the Â“business case for diversity.Â” The first reference that I found to the business ca se was in a 1997 article in an academic journal for business management. The authors of that article felt that business could grow through diversity and added that diversity programs themselves (addressing diversity, not just having a diverse employees) result in enhanced leadership and reduced turnover, in addition to a reduction in discri mination complaints. The word Â“globalÂ” also starts appearing in the business literature at this time. As business becomes increasing international, the need to build effective relationships with people from other cultures motivates companies to undert ake diversity initiatives. Academics have tried to Â“proveÂ” the busine ss case with numbers, but the results have been mixed. Isolating these benefits, or qua ntifying the benefit of lawsuits avoided, is extremely difficult, if not impossible. C onsequently, business leaders are expected to consider this on faith, to believe it intuitivel y. Some researchers, however, have isolated the type of culture that must exist in an organization for it to realize the benefits of diversity. Harvard business school professor David Thomas led this research project. He describes the organizations that benefit from a diverse workplace as those that: Â“are not bureaucratic,Â” Â“are stimulating to the personal growth of employees,Â” Â“encourage openness, Â” and where Â“employees feel valued.Â” The primary requirement, though, is that the management believes in the benefits of diversity. Types of Training The business case is certainly the paradigm th at is the state of the art today, although elements of the first two paradigms are still in practice. Diversity initiatives today also
229 include more effective training and many other strategies that support the training. These include mentoring programs, networking gr oups, explicit review of policies and procedures to ensure inclusion and active recr uitment of a diverse workforce. Training is still the primary method employed, however, and most practitioners classify diversity training programs in two types: awareness and skill building. Awareness includes education on the laws and policies related to employment discrimination. It may also include in formation on the history and the impact of discrimination and the demographics to support it. Skill building is more experiential learning, ut ilizing role plays and case studies to allow participants to practice applying what they have learned to potential issues in the workplace. Communication and conflict resoluti ons are also an important part of the skills that are taught. All of the research and experts in the field have concluded that aw areness training alone is not enough, that skill build ing is critical. What we see actually in place in most companies, however, is almost exclusively aw areness. To train on skill building requires highly skilled facilitators who wo rk with these issues on a regular basis. If it is handled poorly, we end right back in the encounte r group paradigm, creating more problems than we prevent. This type of training also ta kes more time. The cost of using skilled facilitators as well as the cost of additional time away from work is the most likely reason that this type of training is not seen as often as more directiv e, awareness training.
About the Author Rebekah Heppner grew up on the south si de of Chicago during the turbulent sixties. She received a bachelorÂ’s degree in accounting from Oklahoma State University and began her professional career in busin ess with KPMG. She received her MBA from the University of Tampa and was an officer of Progressive Insurance Company in Austin, Texas. After her own decision to Â“opt-outÂ” of the corporate world, she owned a staffing business in Tampa. She is a graduate of Leadership Tampa and Leadership Tampa Bay and serves on the boards of the Centre for Women and the Tampa Bay Business Committee for the Arts. She has been an adj unct faculty member of the University of South Florida and Schiller International Univer sity. She is currently a consultant with not-for-profit organizations. Rebekah hopes to continue to work to increase gender and racial equity in business and in her community for many years to come.