Why is it important to reduce prejudice against working women?
Cecilia Ridgeway gives already a good explanation with the work “Gender, Status and Leadership”. Ridgeway dealt with the importance of “status beliefs” for women’s careers and concluded that these could be an obstacle for women who are seeking leadership. Why? Because gender is an institutionalized system and this gender system can be linked to hierarchy and leadership. For example, male gender stereotypes are assigned a higher level of competence than female gender stereotypes. Characteristics such as rationality, assertiveness and logical thinking are much more associated with male individuals than with females. Women, on the other hand, are assigned much more features such as supportive and collaborative. In the end, however, male stereotypes are associated with success in working life.
For example, if you ask for managerial qualifications, there is a great overlap with the male stereotypical attributes. Ridgeway also shows how status beliefs affect interactions and are thereby confirmed and reproduced. Status beliefs are widespread cultural beliefs and assumptions about the status and value differences between groups within a society. Men are regarded as a high status group, which is why they are given more competences and are more valued by society than women.
Thus, our status, our expectations and our behavior towards men and women, influence the classic role models. Men are given a greater self-confidence and a better self-esteem than women, for example, as a result of the status beliefs.
Ridgway calls this “self-fulfilling prophecy”. It is therefore much more difficult to break down gender stereotypes than to create equitable career paths for both sexes.
The KPMG study “Cracking the code” also dealt with gender stereotypes and disproved 10 myths about gender-specific differences in everyday work. The aim of the study was to find out which things women support in their careers and to what extent these things differ from the needs of male workers. In doing so, women should not adapt themselves to the male-dominating corporate culture, but the aim is to find ideas for organizations that decode the code of the gender diversity and thereby change the organizational culture. The results are particularly interesting for personnel development management. In the following three out of ten myths about women, the study dissolves:
– 1. Myth: Women do not aspire to leadership
Result: Women become more ambitious about senior leadership as their career progresses. Recommendation: Do not write women off too early. Their ambition grows with their experience. To keep the definition of excitement and success more open and to communicate with women about their career aspirations and needs.
– 2. Myth: Women lack the leadership qualities needed at the top.
Result: The majority of men and women’s leadership behaviour is the same. In addition, the study also found that qualities that were more common in men than in women were over-proportionally weighted for transport.
Recommendation: Check if any marginal differences in leadership behaviour are being reinforced. Organizations must re-evaluate their leadership criteria to assess a broad range of skills.
– 3. Myth: Childrearing stops women getting to the top.
Result: Childrearing slows women’s careers down only marginally. More significant promotion gaps emerge earlier on.
Recommendation: Provide career guidance tools to men and women in the early stages of their careers. Track individual career progression effectively. Organizations are designed to encourage women to see their careers in a broader context and not to regard the agreement between family and work as a deterrent. At the same time, however, organizations must also collect self-critical data and analyze how children affect the career advancement of women and men in order to counteract inequality.
Conclusion: Women often simply have a different career setting, they must recognize companies and work towards a change in corporate culture in order to recognize and guide long-term female leadership.