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Author Archives: Julie Kmec

A recent WSJ article by Kay Hymowitz (Why Women Make less than Men, April 26, 2012 ) reports that “most people have heard that full-time working American women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Yet these numbers don’t take into account the actual number of hours worked. And it turns out that women work fewer hours than men.” Hymowitz continues, citing Labor Department statistics indicating more than half (almost 55%) of workers who work more than 35 hours per week (what the department defines as full time work) are men and suggests that the sex wage gap is “to a considerable degree a gender-hours gap.”

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I have noticed there is little overlap between scholars studying organizations, occupations, and work and those studying environmental sociology.  Then I fortuitously received a paper in my email in-box from my WSU colleague, Gene Rosa, his graduate student Kyle Knight, and their collaborator, sociological economist Juliet Schor (the paper wasn’t intended for me, but an email address error landed it in my in-box!).  I read the paper with interest and think OOW members can benefit from knowing about it so we can build collaborations with environmental scholars and add more substance to the argument about the need for employers to redefine and redesign work. Read More

Last week the WSJ printed an article describing how CEOs around the world spend their time.  The article drew on data from a larger study, the Executive Time Use Project , and relied on reports of time use by CEO’s personal assistants.  The article indicates that assistants only tracked activities that lasted over 10 minutes in a single week selected by researchers.  That assistants, rather than the CEOs themselves, were keeping track of time use leads me to believe the reports are relatively accurate.  After all, the assistant probably does most of the scheduling of a CEOs day and CEOs are likely too busy to track data time or to agree to record their time use.

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Mt. Rainer Park in Washington was recently closed while the FBI investigated the fatal shooting of a park ranger and death of the gunman, probably from exposure.   I could write about an almost two-year old law allowing people to bring loaded weapons into national parks or the untimely death of a young park worker, but I think it is salient to focus on what the media have already called to our attention:  the alleged gunman is a veteran of the Iraqi war.  After serving in Iraq for two years, reports from those who knew him say he was depressed, aggressive, and most likely suffered from PTSD once back in the U.S.  Although I do not know if he was employed at the time of this tragedy, what occurred in Mt. Rainer should remind us of the economic plight of combat veterans.

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I recently read an article that I’m recommending to all of my colleagues and will adopt for my graduate seminar next year.  It’s Robin Ely and Debra E. Meyerson’s “An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: The Unlikely Case of Offshore Oil Platforms.”  It is methodologically exciting—they performed a case study of two offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico (before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) and analyzed case data of published work on men doing “dangerous” work (e.g., miners, wild land firefighters, military service).   It is also theoretically provocative—they theorize that organizations can “disrupt conventional masculinity’s masculine elements” (page 5).  Organizations, they conclude, have the capacity to change deeply rooted work cultures; namely, organizations can both “do” and “undo” gender at work.  In their case, an organization initiative on one of the oil rigs designed to increase safety, had the unexpected effect of allowing men to “de-masculinize” their behaviors—to openly admit and share responsibility for mistakes, to work for the collective, to express their feelings, and reduce the typical need to express “toughness” common among men doing dangerous work.    They actually found that the new organizational initiative reduced men’s need to compete or otherwise affirm their masculine credentials.

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