How the difference in gender, influence career outcomes?

By Priya Chetty on December 12, 2019

There is substantial literature available on the association between gender and career outcomes which deduces that men participate more in labour work. Men put in more labour hours as compared to women. Women and men have displayed differences in educational and career choices. It is a global scenario that men dominate the top positions across industry vertices (Reskin and Bielby 2005). This article critically examines how the difference in gender influence career outcomes in the purview of the contemporary scenario of the social perspective of women empowerment and gender equality. It also discusses whether and to what degree the difference in gender influence the career outcomes in white-collar jobs.

Participation of women in the workforce

Gender and economic welfare are intimately related, and it is worth mentioning that there are wide-ranging biases associated with female employees in organizations. For instance, there is a noteworthy wage gap linked with gender which was studied by the European Commission in the European market. The study found that there is a notable extent of inequality when it comes to education and pays between male and female. Adult men earn 16.2% more than women, on an average (European Commission, 2013).

In spite of strenuous notice by researchers and practitioners and vital legislative landmarks regarding gender equality in recent times, gender-linked inequalities in careers carry on into the twenty-first century (Watt and Eccles, 2008). Over the past few decades, there has been a global upsurge of working women. Women are widening their career options and no longer are restricted to pre-dominantly female-oriented fields like education or nursing. Women are also marching into male-dominated careers like armed forces, police, medicine, banking, legal etc. (White and Rogers, 2000).

Factors affecting women’s participation in the workforce

Though with reformative social initiatives the gender differences observed in education and labour markets have been steadily diminishing. The influence of gender on career outcomes is subject to multiple factors like psychological, social and cultural. However, there is a lack of substantial supporting literature for it (Bertrand, 2011).

Employment has a constructive impact on women and their families. However, there are concerns and misunderstandings which women confront while pursuing their careers. Gender stereotyping is still ubiquitous. Men and women behave similarly at the workplace but yet are perceived to be different and fit for a different set of roles (Barnett and Hyde, 2001).

Women also feel stressed by the role of conflict in handling work and family balance. Women need to give time to family, house and children. Erratic work timings and job expectancies make it difficult for women to strike a balance between work and home. Thus, women unwillingly have to compromise at times with their career aspirations and adopt flexible schedules or part-time work arrangements or even take sabbaticals to raise children. Women are more likely to quit their jobs for the sake of family as compared to men due to the deep-seated notion that male members are the “breadwinners” (Houle, et al., 2012).

Another significant influence of gender on career outcomes is the “glass ceiling” which can be understood as the gender-biased compensation, especially at the top-level white-collar jobs. This is the most persuasive metaphor of modern times to highlight the disparity between men and women at work. It intends to express the implicit impediment that women face after attaining a particular position. Men are easily promoted up the organizational hierarchy while women have to face hurdles and resistance.

Researchers believe that gender and racial biasedness keeps getting intensified up the organizational levels (Yap and Konard, 2009). This has been established by empirical studies by Bagues and Esteve-Volart (2007) cited in Akpinar- Sposito (2012). They discovered an exceptionally low percentage of women in managerial positions in both the private and public sector of most developed countries.

Empirical evidence to show how the difference in gender influence career outcomes

Orser and Leck (2009) present evidence regarding gender differences as in how managers in organizations recognize success in regards to the difference of gender in career. Also, the prevalence of studies regarding women’s career experiences with reference to American samples from the high-tech industry. The study makes use of samples from public and service-based industries that have a historical track record of hiring more female employees. The study of Orser and Leck (2009) deals with the necessity for generalization by drawing a cross-sector of Canadian managers, executives, and CEOs.

Another study was undertaken by Gallivan and Benbunan-Finch (2007) on the influence of gender on career outcomes for social scientists. It was inconclusive but stated that evidence was more towards the fact that there exists a certain amount of bias when it came to hiring women as teachers in IS departments. The evidences of these studies commonly suggest that despite controlling the influences on career results, gender influences are found considerable on career results. This suggests that gender fairs the projecting influence of experience on reward, superiority, and supposed accomplishment. More importantly, the findings of the study make obvious that career development models ought to be positioned by organizations across industries and gender differences in career outcomes.


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