course title Supplementary Notes:
Women and Paid Employment

Insights from Lotte Bailyn, Breaking the Mold: Women, Men, and Time in the New Corporate World (New York: Free Press, 1993). Emphasis on structural and organizational patterns of inequity that constrain individual choice: “The classic distinction between people who work to live and those who live to work is anchored in a notion of individual choice. But we now know that such choice is heavily constrained by relatively unquestioned organizational procedures. Both social and economic change have transformed this ‘choice’ into a dilemma that confronts employees at all points on the occupational scale and at various periods in their lives” (32).

  HOME (domestic sphere) PAID WORK (economic sphere)
FEMALES female responsibilities female performance
MALES male responsibilities male performance

The above table, adapted from p. 72, indicates areas that Bailyn claims have been traditionally considered separate spheres but which must be increasingly merged if true gender equity is to be achieved:

Two cultural divides—between the economic and domestic spheres and between male and female—define people’s position within the work-family system. . . . An equitable resolution of the present problems depends on a blurring of the distinctions in both of these divides, which should be possible since the divisions are cultural, not biological. Such a change would reduce gender distinctions by seeing them as individual differences, and it would weaken the association of influence and power with the occupational realm. In an ideal form, the work required in the two spheres would be seen as equally legitimate and equally valued, and as contributing equally to both the society and the individual’s sense of identity. But to say that change along these lines is possible is not to say that it is easy; it would require fundamental alterations in social and organizational practice. (122-23)

The following table illustrates Bailyn’s assessment of what kind of progress has been made in the United Stated, Great Britain, and Sweden in terms of merging these previously separate spheres (colors indicate where the blurring of distinctions is occurring):

FEMALES female responsibilities female performance
MALES male responsibilities male performance
FEMALES female responsibilities female performance
MALES male responsibilities male performance
FEMALES female responsibilities female performance
MALES male responsibilities male performance

The following table, adapted from p. 125, depicts Bailyn’s contention that new assumptions in the workplace will facilitate the process of moving toward gender equity:

OLD ASSUMPTIONS (constraining) NEW ASSUMPTIONS (facilitating)
continuous commitment to career/employer discontinuity, including some periods of lower commitment, particularly with young families
manage via input (based on control of employee in the workplace) accountability for results rather than time spent in the workplace (based on trust)
homogeneity in outlook and values learning from diversity in the workplace

Insights from Gender Power, Leadership, and Governance, ed. Georgia Duerst-Lahti and Rita Mae Kelly (Ann Arbor 1995) 1-37 and 67-92.

Leadership Traits and Styles in the Workplace

  • A businessman is aggressive; a businesswoman is pushy.
  • He is good on details; she’s picky.
  • He loses his temper because he’s so involved in his work; she’s bitchy.
  • He knows how to follow through; she doesn’t know when to quit.
  • He stands firm; she’s hard.
  • He’s a man of the world; she’s been around.
  • He isn’t afraid to say what he thinks; she’s mouthy.
  • He’s a stern taskmaster; she’s hard to work for.
  • He’s a man of action; she’s impulsive.
  • He’s a family man; she has too many outside distractions.
  • He tells it like it is; she’s too direct.
  • He makes things happen; she’s lucky.

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, They Don’t Get It, Do They? Communication in the Workplace—Closing the Gap between Women and Men (Boston 1995) 175.

Systemic Barriers in the Organization of Work and Careers That Contribute to the Glass Ceiling (both organizational structures and decision-making processes)

Communication Barriers:

See Reardon, 159-160:

The language habits of the generation of men currently leading major organizations were developed back when women were more clearly an out-group. There is a human tendency to treat members of out-groups as if they are all the same. . . . A second tendency is to derogate outsiders. . . . In most major organizations, women still constitute an out-group. Since women have not reached senior levels in large numbers, they have been unable to break down the tendency for men to treat them as an out-group and communicate with them in ways different from the ways they communicate with in-group males. While some men may purposely try to minimize the value of women with derogatory comments, sexual innuendo, and harassment, many slip into ways of communicating with women that are unsupportive merely because women are seen as an undifferentiated mass of out-group members. Thus male disparagement of women is considered more a function of out-group perceptions and language habits than of purposeful efforts to bring harm or insult.

May, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
Topics and Assignments