Women “Never the Right Age” in Organizational Terms
June 29, 2012 11:44 am
On the heels of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic piece entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” a UK study from leading management experts at the universities of Leicester and Essex explored the concept of “adulting” — where people try to be seen as mature and capable. The study examined men and women at a London hedge fund, and found that the women had faced workplace-related issues at every stage of adult life, “from getting started in the company to keeping credibility among colleagues after giving birth.” Their male counterparts “suffered fewer dilemmas in juggling work and parenthood.”
Jo Brewis, Professor of Organisation and Consumption at the University of Leicester School of Management, and Dr. Kat Riach, Senior Lecturer in Management at Essex Business School at the University of Essex, began gathering evidence in the form of interviews and observations in late 2010. Research showed that despite the hedge fund proclaiming gender-blindness, there were vast gender differences in the organizational experience of “adulting.” One male employee stated: “Money doesn’t know you’re a woman. If you make a profit or you make a loss, the bottom line is all that matters . . . all that anyone takes any notice of.”
Female counterparts felt otherwise at every stage of their professional careers within the organization. Perhaps unsurprisingly, differences were felt (more?) acutely once women had children, as they felt it necessary to downplay “day-to-day parental duties as much as possible to prevent damage to their careers.” One woman went so far as to say she felt compelled to “act as though [she hadn't] had a baby and still do everything exactly the same, like [she had] a puppy at home.”
The paper was presented this Thursday at the 7th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference Gender, Work and Organization. The conference ends today, and inquiries regarding the study should contact Ather Mirza or Peter Thorley at the University of Essex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image from here