That women are paid less than men at work is not news. In the U.S., a gender pay gap is nearly ubiquitous. Even in Hollywood. We’ve figured out the gender pay gap is largely an artifact of women and men working in different jobs (and the jobs men work in simply pay more than the ones women work in). Yet when women and men work in similar jobs, men still tend to earn more than their female counterparts. What accounts for this difference?
The article discusses sociologist Michelle Budig‘s research showing that bias affecting fathers and mothers varies by income level: Men with high incomes see the largest pay increase for having children; mothers with low incomes experience the lowest relative earnings. The article also discusses sociologist Shelly J. Correll‘s finding that “employers rate fathers as the most desirable employees, followed by childless women, childless men and finally mothers.” In Correll’s words, “A lot of these effects really are very much due to a cultural bias against mothers.”
NOTE: I was on my way to Megan Tobias Neely’s dissertation proposal defense when I received Matt’s invitation to respond to this blog post. In a case of pure serendipity, Megan’s dissertation is an ethnographic study of hedge fund managers. I sent Megan the blog post and we recently sat down to discuss it.
CLW: Why did you decide to write your dissertation on hedge fund managers?
MTN: I was taking a course on the financial crisis in the public policy school. A lot of that research focuses on how deregulation and various political interests led to the financial crises. I realized that we can’t understand the crisis unless we understand how the workplace structures the way people make investments, and how, through their daily decisions at work, financial managers shape public policy.
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 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.
It’s an old question, really, but an important one — are managerial practices and work design responsible for the behavior of employees? Or does worker engagement and behavior come down to individual personalities, with responsibility thus resting primarily with workers? And what are the impacts on a firm’s financial success?
These questions received newfound attention with the publication of a study conducted by the Gallup organization, based on deceptively interesting survey data. Interesting, because they mirror critical concepts we sociologists of work use in our research. Deceptive, because the report stands as a textbook example of the kind of shallow reasoning that results when analysts proceed without concepts such as power, organizational design, and the normative climate fostered by management.
The report, titled “State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders ” uses data collected from individuals and their employers to show that a variety of factors that Gallup terms “employee engagement” enhance productivity, profitability and customer ratings while reducing accidents, theft, absenteeism, turnover and defects.
I could not resist adding my two cents to the outpouring of commentary on Yahoo’s new decision to ban telecommuting. Bottom line: a lot of people think the ban is a really bad idea, especially for working mothers and fathers. Jennifer Glass offers great insight about the ban on this blog. Only time will tell whether the telecommuting ban will increase innovation and quality at Yahoo. And actually, we might not be able to tell that at all; the media attention brought on by this announcement may be enough to increase Yahoo’s profits!
My take on the matter is slightly different: it’s about the scrutiny the public is placing on Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.