Breaking the Glass Ceiling, One Bias at a Time

Although working women are piling up educational credentials and experience, in far too many organizations they are still butting up against a glass ceiling. These invisible barriers to upward mobility can come in various forms: lack of mentoring of women, gender stereotyping, and views that men make more effective leaders. In the U.S., women holding the titles of chairman, CEO, COO, and executive vice president remain at about 7 percent of the population of executives.

While many possible causes of the glass ceiling have been studied, one overlooked area is managers’ perceptions of women’s work and family demands. Researchers Jenny M. Hoobler, Sandy J. Wayne, and Grace Lemmon (U of Illinois at Chicago) designed a study to test two ideas: whether managers view women as having more difficulty than men executing their work roles due to family responsibilities; and whether women, based on this perception, are less suitable for promotion. The study was based on a sample of 126 female subordinates and 52 male and female managers from one midwestern-U.S. division of a Fortune 100 transportation firm.

The result was conclusive: “Even though female employees actually reported slightly less family-work conflict than their male counterparts,” the researchers write in the Academy of Management Journal, “their managers still perceived them as having greater family-work conflict, a perception that had significant implications for women’s organizational advancement.” (These biases held for both male and female managers.) Because of these perceptions, managers rated women lower on job and organizational fit and performance.

“We have uncovered a critical dimension of the social role expectations that play a key role in the upward progress of female workers,” the researchers write. “Furthermore, we feel that such stereotyping is quite significant, with strong ramifications for people and organizations, given that these perceptions affect important managerial decisions.”

If these results are a true reflection of what is going on in organizations, there are a couple of practical implications.

One, to reduce or eliminate the impact of gender on managers’ perceptions of family-work conflict, managers must be made aware of their potential to stereotype. This is not simply a male-female issue. As the investigators note, “Male managers have been said to be gatekeepers of the upper echelons of management, yet we found that female managers held family-work conflict stereotypes about female subordinates as well.”

Two, women who participate in company-sponsored programs that assist employees with managing family-work conflict may be signaling to their managers that they need help balancing home and work domains. Given prevailing stereotypes, this would likely kill their opportunities to be promoted.

Reference:

Hoobler, Jenny M., Sandy J. Wayne, and Grace Lemmon. “Bosses’ perceptions of family-work conflict and women’s promotability: Glass ceiling effects.” Academy of Management Journal 52, No. 5 (2009): 939-957

The Gender Pay Gap In International Perspective

This lecture, delivered by Francine D. Blau, is a discussion of the gender pay gap in industrialized countries. It covers topics including key determinants such as wage structure, as well as trends, and public policy implications of wage inequalities between men and women.

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr. Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries.

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Disaggregating the Sexual Division of Labour: A Transatlantic Case Study

This paper explores the adequacy of several theories advanced to account for the sexual division of labour – neoclassical, dual labour market, marxist feminist, and technologically determined – by comparing the historical processes by which the gender segregation developed in the hosiery and knit goods industry in Canada and Britain in the period 1890 to 1950. It argues that the sexual division of labor is formed within the shifting mutuality and antipathy of gender relations and the relations of production so that theories of sexual segregation must integrate rather than isolate class and gender based processes.

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Job Evaluation: A Quest for Gender Neutrality

The long debated issue of gender bias in job evaluation systems has become even more important with the advent of pay equity legislation in Ontario. This statute requires the use of a gender-neutral job comparison system to identify and rectify wage discrimination in female-dominated jobs. Unfortunately, this legislation provides very little guidance as to what is meant by a gender-neutral job comparison system. This paper identifies the ingredients of a gender-neutral comparison system.

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Union Beliefs and Attitudes of Canadian Workers: An Econometric Analysis

This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association, held at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario on June 2-4, 1991.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the determinants of union beliefs and attitudes of workers in Canada, and to examine if attitudes towards unions differ systematically by gender, that is, whether men and women differ in their union beliefs and their disposition towards joining a union. Three indicators of union beliefs and attitudes are used in the study: 1) union membership status; 2) general belief that “unions are still needed to protect the interests of working people,” and 3) instrumentality perception that “workers benefit from the actions of unions.”

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Women’s Issues and Collective Bargaining

The purpose of this paper is to examine the bargaining agenda of selected major Canadian unions on women’s issues and the effectiveness of their efforts towards incorporating these issues into their collective agreements. The first section highlights the union agenda and the common provisions the unions have been pursuing at the collective bargaining table. The second section analyzes the frequency of the collective agreement clauses on women’s issues overall and of selected unions. The final section summarizes the finding and their implications. The Appendix provides a profile of labour organizations included in the study.

This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association at Kingston, Ontario, June 2-4, 1991.

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Who Makes the Decisions? Women’s Participation in Canadian Unions

The purpose of this report is to determine whether women are increasingly being involved in the decision-making process of Canadian unions. The scope of review of this report is restricted to public sector unions and one private sector union in the province of Ontario. A combination of methods were utilized in completing this study, including an overview of existing research, a review of statistical data, and an analysis of policy statements, convention resolutions and general union literature.

The results of this review indicate that labour organizations have paid significant and increasing attention to women’s issues over the past 15 to 20 years; union policies have encompassed aspects of women’s inequality within the union, in the workplace and in society. Many unions, particularly the central labour organizations, have adopted policies of internal affirmative action, they have increased the amount of education available to staff and union members on women’s issues, they have implemented policies providing child care services during union functions such as conventions and workshops, and they have provided regular coverage of women’s issues in membership publications.

While these progressive policies are a positive indication of the unions’ commitment to attaining women’s equality, they are not a guarantee of prolonged or significant increases in women’s participation in union decision-making activities. Labour organizations must be careful not to overestimate the effectiveness of their policies, and they must redouble their efforts to win the battle against discrimination within their hierarchies and structures. To this end, unions must ensure that their policies are fully implemented in practice. They must also continue to educate their staff and union members about the benefits of providing women with equal opportunities. The labour movement can only grow stronger through greater solidarity between its union sisters and brothers.

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Implementing Pay Equity in Ontario

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate issues in the implementation of pay equity, based on the experience of Ontario. The Ontario Act is considered as having the broadest scope of coverage of pay equity legislation, not only in Canada but in North America. This paper compares the Pay Equity Act of Ontario to other pieces of Canadian equal pay for work of equal value legislation, exploring the similarities and dissimilarities, highlighting the unique features and discussing the implications of various provisions.

A number of issues surround the implementation of pay equity legislation in Ontario. Based on information gathered from conferences, seminars, published documents and interviews with various employers, unions, advocacy groups, and the Pay Equity Commission, the issues discussed relate to the implementation process, the legislation, the role of the Pay Equity Commission, pay equity and collective bargaining and excluded women.

Despite the many issues and problems that the parties face in the implementation of pay equity, there have been a number of settlements that have been reached. Two of these success stories are summarized. As these and other cases are examined, the ability to settle in a timely manner can be attributed to several elements: earlier commencement, favourable labour-management relationships, favourable attitudes towards the premise of pay equity, and the choice of a gender-neutral comparison system. The general impact of pay equity legislation and negotiations have on labour-management relationships, inter-union relationships and intra-union relationships is also examined. This paper concludes with comments on whether Ontario’s equal pay for work of equal value legislation will work, that is, eliminate the portion of the wage gap that is attributed to the undervaluation of women’s work.

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Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

Research on the male-female wage differential in Canada has produced evidence of a substantial link between occupational segregation and low female earnings. Because most Canadian labour jurisdictions have enacted equal pay for equal work legislation, this component of the wage gap is unaffected. Consequently, programs which attempt to desegregate occupations and/or resolve pay inequities arising from occupational segregation are being debated.

A possible alternative, equal pay for work of equal value, is the subject matter of this paper. The purpose of the essay is to evaluate the principle and experience of equal pay for work of equal value at the Canadian federal level, to discover whether broader application is warranted.

Essential background information on the issue includes a review of relevant statistical and empirical data, the evolution of the concept in Canada and how the legislation is interpreted and applied by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Following this, an analysis of case results at the federal level is conducted. While an appraisal of the legislation must contain an examination of its direct impact, possible indirect effects should also be taken into consideration. As a result, various other factors enter into the evaluation.

In this paper, the following conclusions are offered: (1) evidence of implementation and enforcement problems have been observed at the federal level – they do not only exist in theory; (2) case results indicate that equal pay for work of equal value does not appear to be an effective method of reducing the male-female wage differential. However, when other factors are considered (i.e., educational tool, strengthen unions position on issue during bargaining, etc.) the legislation may be helpful to those trying to achieve improvement in this area; (3) due to potential adverse employment effects of equal value legislation, other public policies are realized (i.e., equal opportunity, affirmative action, etc.).

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The Seniority Principle: Is It Discriminatory?

The increasing public awareness of the inequality prevalent in the Canadian workplace has led to a state whereby employees are questioning the effects that employment rules and practices have on them as individuals, as well as members of a group. Seniority systems are one such employment practice which is under examination for a discriminatory effect on women and minorities in the labour force. This paper pursues the questionable effects of seniority systems by examining; the remedial powers at the disposal of each legal forum available to an employee to pursue a discrimination claim, the relevant Canadian jurisprudence on discrimination, and the American experience with discrimination claims based on seniority. This paper concludes with a proposal detailing an outline of an affirmative action plan tailored to fit the Canadian situation as it is exposed by the previous sections of the paper.

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