Modern civilized society is patriarchal. According to World Health Organization (WHO), gender is defined as socially formulated physiognomies of men and women coupled with roles and relationships of and between groups of men and women (n.d.). Gender equity, in its turn, is the practice of being fair to both genders (UNFPA, 2005). The term patriarchal means that men are afforded more opportunities than women. If it happens that they have the same opportunities career-wise, males will be compensated more for it even if it happens that the productivity level is the same (Webb, 2016). Though in previous years, organizations were averse to employing women and if they were hired, they did not get promoted as their male counterparts. Over the years, more females are smashing the glass ceiling that has been imposed upon them by virtue of their sex by going to school and getting into the workforce. Organizations have realized the benefit of having both women and men in the workforce, and they are reaping the fruits of their labor. Though the workplace is biased against women, a worker’s productivity is not tied to the worker's gender, but should be measured by the efficiency demonstrated.
Perception of Women as Being Less Productive
Sexism. Women have progressed into strong working individuals. However, in spite of this, or because of it, they are experiencing blatant sexism at work. Sexism has been described as discrimination due to gender (Napikoski, 2017). It mostly refers to the discrimination of women by virtue of them being female. According to Napikoski (2017), sexism can either be conscious or subconscious. At the workplace, it is often described as systemic sexism. What systemic sexism means is that it is unconscious sexism that has been perpetrated against women by the reinforcement of organizational norms, cultures, and structures. A study conducted by the Mckinsey and Company (2017) in conjunction with LeanIn.org group found that men are 30% more likely than females to be promoted from an entry-level job to a managerial position. The research provided the following figures. At the bottom level, there are 54% of men compared to only 46% of women, 63% of males occupy seats at the managerial level compared to only 37% of females, at the vice-president level 71% are men and 29% are women. At the chief operating levels, the numbers are also in favor of males with 89% of the positions being occupied by them in comparison to only 19% of females. The reasons for the disparity in numbers at every level of the organization were given as: women are being ignored at meetings with 74% of men given an opportunity to input in relation to only 68% of women. Females are given less challenging assignments; 68% of males were given challenging assignments in relation to 62% of women. 63% of men are asked for their thoughts when it comes to making important decisions in relation to only 56% of women. The numbers clearly show that there is an undercurrent of unconscious sexism in the workplace. This systemic sexism means that women do not get a chance to prove their worth and thus, their productivity is called into question when in fact the system is rigged against them.
Differences in biology. There is an inadvertent assumption amongst employers that women will eventually take a maternity leave. Due to this aspect, employers may fear to place females in work-intensive positions because when they go for the maternity leave, which means a loss in working hours which is assumed, it will lead to lower productivity for the company. According to the law firm Slater & Gordon (2014), 40% of executives prefer to employ a man in his 20s or 30s rather than a woman in the same age bracket for the fear of maternity leave. The managers surveyed claimed that they fear the costs that can be incurred by their businesses due to maternity leave. 500 managers were surveyed, and a third of them claimed that women were not the same when they came back from maternity leave. A female going on maternity leave has a ripple effect on a company. Case in point, when the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Meyer, announced that she was going for a maternity leave of two weeks, the shares of Yahoo plummeted by 1.99% (Khomami, 2015). When women return from maternity leave and are given flexible working hours, according to Topping, it cuts down on their opportunities and that their opinion is less valued (2015).
Women primarily take care of the home. That means that they have to look after the children, especially when they are very young. Productivity may be evaluated on the basis of the hours put in or the number of units put out in a manufacturing plant. Due to productivity being evaluated in such a manner, women may be construed as being less productive. Time and time again, females have had to ask for flexible working hours or have been forced by circumstances to transition to a part-time job. Thus, with such biological constraints upon women, their productivity can be called into question. However, productivity should not be measured by the number of hours worked, but with the efficiency demonstrated during the number hours that have been worked. That is why no matter whether it is a full-time job or a part-time job, an efficiency index should be employed to measure productivity. Consequently, the efficiency index established should not take into account the gender of the worker.
Gender Equity at Microsoft
Microsoft is one of the leading technology companies in the world together with Apple, Facebook, and Google. It is a key player in the technology sector, but like in many other areas, there are more men than women working in it. Though over the years more and more females have gotten into the sector, there is still a disparity in terms of opportunities afforded and the subsequent pay flowing from the opportunities that have been provided. Khanna (2013) found that the disparity between men and women in the technology sector does not start at the workplace, but in the universities, where more males than females are taking degrees that fall in line with technology such as computer science. According to a study by Lee & Stewart (2016), ONLY 25% of information technology jobs were held by women in the information technology sector. The study further stated that out of every twenty applicants for an IT job only one was a female.
Additionally, both men and women were more likely to hire a man to fill an IT position in the case that both parties have the same qualifications (Lee & Stewart, 2016). At Microsoft, the numbers reflected by Lee & Stewart happen to be the same. The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, admits that they do have a long way to go before they reach the gender equity that will eventually lead to gender equality (Hsu, 2017). Mr. Nadella then reiterated that he was setting out to create a system that would allow women to participate, to ask for a raise and to expect to be recognized for their work.
The objective of this study was to evaluate gender equity in the workplace and its ties to productivity and to evaluate how the working environment is biased against the working woman. The information presented above shows that the workplace is engineered to favor men. The findings reflected in the literature review show that women mostly occupy the lower ranks in the job sector. The findings also demonstrate that managers will pass over females who are of child bearing age. According to Webster (2014), as reflected in the literature review, women are biased against because of biological differences and thus this supports the data in the findings section of this paper. Additionally, Webster (2014) states that females are tasked with more work at home thereby affecting their productivity. This reference supports information that has been reflected in the findings section. The findings also show that at times women have to get part-time jobs because of the additional work at home. This information was reflected in the literature review by referencing Garnero, Kampelmann, & Rycx (2013), who found that because females have more extra work at home, they have to cut down on the time that is spent in the workplace.
The limitation of the project was that data found only showed gender inequity in relation to the working woman. There was no data to show how the workplace is rigged against the working man. Further study into how the working males face inequity in the work environment is encouraged. The strength of the project was that it uncovered the bias demonstrated towards women in the workplace not only by men but by their fellow women, too. The project showed how far the working environment is from achieving gender equity in relation to females and how the number of women reduces at higher levels of the corporate ladder.
Stratified sampling technique was employed in the study. The population was subdivided into three groups: women, men, and managers. Random sampling was then used to fill the 30 people per stratum quota. The methodology applied included both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitative methods were employed because the information provided by the respondents during the individual interviews was influenced by their experiences in the workplace and thus, was subjective. Quantitative techniques were applied when it came to reviewing secondary information in order to provide concrete figures and percentages as reflected in the findings section.
Personal interviews with participants from both the male and female sets were fruitful. They were very cooperative. However, the individual interviews with the managers were a bit rushed, since they tend to have a lot of things to do. Thus, there was little time to evaluate non-verbal cues. Analysis of secondary data went very well. The data was up to date and reflective of current market trends. If the project had to be done again a larger sample size would be chosen to better reflect the population and more time would be spent on interviewing the managers.
Companies should seek to diversify their workforce in favor of gender equity, which may later morph into gender equality.
A more diverse workforce means that there will be diversity in ideas and perspectives. It will lead to a better approach to solving problems which trump individual ability. Additionally, companies should seek to provide equal work load and opportunities that will lead to gender equity. For business entities dealing with products consumed by both sexes, the women hired would give perspective into the female psyche and thus, the firms would be able to adapt accordingly. This will definitely boost the productivity and eventually, the bottom line will improve. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer, have shown that women can be as productive as men.
Governments should also seek to address gender equity through setting up legislation that will ensure that the workplace gives fair opportunities for both men and women. Companies that promote gender equity could be encouraged with incentives such as grants, tax deductibles, and tax refunds.
Companies should seek to revamp their corporate cultures, structures, and norms in favor of gender equity.
Educative classes on systemic racism and being unconsciously biased against one gender should be carried out by business entities to better equip their people to embrace gender equity. Additionally, managers should be advised against not wanting to hire women of childbearing age. Such a bias reflects blatant sexism and if a pattern is established, it will open the company up to civil liability and thus, they can be sued for punitive damages by the aggrieved party.
Productivity evaluation sheets should be handed in by supervisors to their superiors every month if not every week. An unbiased third party may be brought in to ensure that there is no bias against a specific gender. Productivity should be measured by efficiency and not by the number of hours put in neither by the number of units of a product that have been produced. A productivity measuring index should be developed that will measure efficiency in relation to the number of hours worked. The efficiency index will not measure the hours put in, but the productivity showed even if the measured party put in only an hour of work. Companies should also seek to create flexible working schedules in favor of women that are transitioning from maternity leave back into the workplace.
Gender is not tied to productivity. When it comes to evaluating productivity, the quality of work that one, whether male or female, puts in should be the basis of evaluation, not the gender of the worker. There is a huge disparity when it comes to gender equity in the workplace. The good thing, however, is that the gender gap is decreasing, albeit slowly, and more and more women are getting into the workforce. Companies should note that with diversity and gender equity there will be better productivity than without gender equity.
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