Scientific objectivity and the cool assessment of facts are the hallmarks of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. So, of course, stereotypes have no place in these research labs and university departments. Or so you might think. But, when evaluating identical resumes, scientists may be significantly less likely to agree to mentor, offer jobs, or recommend equal salaries to a candidate if the name at the top of the resume is Jennifer, rather than John.
Are sociologists too smug about the financial crash? Economics students in Manchester are revolting. In the wake of the global financial crisis and the inability of mainstream economics to spot, let alone explain, the crisis, economics students in the UK’s University of Manchester are demanding change to their curriculum. Read More
If you watch American popular culture and media, it is easy to come away with a rather depressing story about the lives and experiences of black men. News media tend to overrepresent black men as criminal, and movies like Paid in Full, State Property, and Get Rich or Die Trying do their part to portray black men as victims and/or survivors of an urban ghetto defined by violence, poverty, neglect, and drug use. At the other end of the spectrum, extremely visible, successful black men like Bill Cosby and Barack Obama suggest hard work, staying in school, and good behavior are surefire routes to success.
Both accounts offer a very two-dimensional picture of black men’s lives in the U.S. today. They give the impression that nearly all black men are facing the dire threats of un- or underemployment, failing schools, urban neglect, and jail time. Those who do not fit this categorization may seem to be on another end of a continuum—part of an extremely well off, highly visible minority who point to their own accomplishments as proof that properly channeled ambition leads to success. The story media and current research tell is usually that black men’s lives generally exist only on these two ends of a spectrum.
In my book No More Invisible Man: Race and Gender in Men’s Work, I try to draw attention to black men who do not fit either of these categorizations—everyday professional, middle class black men who work in white-collar jobs.
I recently talked with my colleague, Associate Professor of Sociology at Washington State University, Dr. Jennifer Schwartz about her April 2013 American Sociological Review collaboration with Darrell Steffensmeier and Michael Roche entitled “Gender and Twenty-First-Century Corporate Crime: Female Involvement and the Gender Gap in Enron-Era Corporate Frauds.”
The article is of particular interest to readers of this blog for its application of theories of work (e.g., homosocial reproduction, network theory, and theories of power at work) to explain the connection between gender and corporate malfeasance. This piece also tells us about gender differences in work styles and locations: women engage in less “big time” corporate fraud than do men, a fact that is NOT fully explained by their lower level corporate positions. The authors suggest male-dominated networks at the top of work organizations and informal barriers to women’s upward mobility may explain why men outpace women in corporate fraud.
by Erin A. Cech and Mary Blair-Loy
The widespread fascination with the TV series Mad Men is partly due to the stark contrast it draws between the postwar professional workforce portrayed in the series and the realities of that same workforce today. Although still largely male-dominated, professional occupations are no longer predominantly populated by men who serve as family breadwinners and have stay-at-home spouses. Women are in the workforce standing shoulder to shoulder with men as household earners and nearly half of couples with young children now juggle childcare responsibilities along with two careers. Despite a professional workforce demographic that is decidedly post-Mad Men, workplace arrangements and expectations of “ideal workers” in professions today could be ripped right out of a Mad Men script.
by Julie A. Kmec, Lindsey T. O’Connor, and Scott Schieman
President Obama’s State of the Union address last month recognized that working women—and men—should not face hardship for taking care of their family responsibilities.Recent research by sociologists,Julie A. Kmec, Lindsey Trimble O’Connor and Scott Schieman suggests that workplaces have a long way to go before realizing the President’s message. In new research, they find that working mothers perceive penalties—like feeling ignored and that they are given the worst tasks—when they adjust their work schedules after having children. They suggest that policies and practices that challenge societal assumptions about ideal work are a good starting place in attempts to realize President Obama’s call to give working parents a “break.”
While the first flight attendants were male and many early airlines had a ban on hiring women, flight attending would eventually become a quintessentially female occupation. Airline marketers exploited the presence of these female flight attendants. Based on my reading — especially Phil Tiemeyer‘s Plane Queer and Kathleen Barry’s history of flight attendants’ labor activism — there seem to have been three stages.
We–fellow Work in Progress Blogger Adia Harvey Wingfield and I–recently attended a summit centered on Redesigning and Redefining Work. This summit, organized by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, had lofty goals: to join academic researchers, government policy makers, members of the media, and company representatives to discuss, among other things, new ways to redesign the world of work so that workplaces can better align—for the long term—with the composition and needs of today’s workforce while at the same time allowing workers and businesses to flourish.
The summit focused, among other things, on how flexible work arrangements have the potential to change work environments in ways that produce greater gender equality. Presenters from corporate and academic sectors considered the ways that these programs have been implemented, barriers to implementation, successes, challenges, and benefits. The program offered a number of different perspectives on ways that flexible work arrangements can have multiple, expected, and possibly surprising benefits for workers and for corporations.
We wanted to share our personal observations of the summit, whose agenda can be found here, because we feel that sociologists of work should be keyed into the discussion of redesign. We also think the public should be aware of—and join in via commenting here—work redesign discussions happening in academic, workplace, and policy circles.
As the debate sparked by the New York Times’ Sept. 8th 2013 piece on gender equity at Harvard Business School (HBS) continues, HBS teaching cases still get distributed to students, HBS class sessions continue to be meet on a regular basis, and HBS faculty members still review their teaching notes before stepping into “the pit” (i.e., the center of the classroom).
My ethnography of faculty socialization at HBS emphasizes the above recurring campus activities rather than gender dynamics on campus. But even recurring activities can take on a gendered flavor.
New research by management scholars on workplace flirting is getting quite a bit of media attention. You might have rolled your eyes at the topic, thinking that nothing serious can be learned about the workplace by studying flirtatious women.
A study of flirting at work may reveal a lot about workplace gender inequality. In fact, the behavior may be telling of underlying problems that are not “sexual” in content.
First, the study (read a summary of the study here). The authors surveyed about 300 employed female attorneys in 38 Southeastern U.S. law firms. Female attorneys reported on, among other things: their strategic flirting (engaging in socio-sexual behaviors with the intent of attaining a desirable outcome); daily mistreatment (the frequency with which they were treated rudely, excluded from a work activity, or as not-smart or inferior); and the femininity or masculinity of their law firm (the extent to which their firm could be characterized by terms such as “assertiveness, forcefulness, and masculinity” versus “compassion, and warmth”).