From one of every three women participating in the labor force in 1950, to three of every five in 1998, it is projected that 48% of women will comprise the working population in 2008 (Heathfield). Given these statistics one may ask why, despite the radical change in number, women remain subordinate in most workplaces in terms of compensation and position. This may be answered in two ways – by looking into the acceptance of women into the working class and by assessing women’s attributes and attitudes towards work.
The Women’s International Center states that acceptable works for women in early 19th century were factory labor and domestic jobs while they were professionally limited to writing and teaching. In more recent times, the number of women with professions has not improved significantly. Two percent of all American lawyers and judges in 1930 are women. In 1989, this percentage grew to about 22 percent. Similarly, the proportion of women engineers grew from zero to 7.
5 percent in 1930 and 1989, respectively. This trend was likewise observed in the medical profession where women constituted about 5 percent of the total doctors in the United States in 1890 and 17 percent in 1980s (http://www.wic.
org/misc/history.htm).Meanwhile, women have a different motivation for work than men. Unlike men who are after financial compensation, Lyson states that women get more personal gratification by being original and creative, helping others, and interacting with people rather than inanimate things. Bridges adds that women get better satisfaction in terms of personal benefits such as enjoyment and fulfillment as well as pride and personal challenge (cited in Hill R.B., 1992,1996). These laid back attitudes towards work may be interpreted as passivity and lack of enthusiasm to succeed.
In addition, women seem to lack assertiveness that may project their inability to make and commit to bold decisions.Crystal L. Owen and William D.
Todor (1993) assert that the 60 percent increase in the number of women in top management positions over the past decade remains small. They enumerated the possible negative stereotypes which hinder working women from landing managerial positions. Namely, their domestic roles as house keepers take prior importance than their professional roles; that they work for supplemental income and can be done without; and that they are too emotional to take criticisms and lack aggressiveness.Furthermore, many sociologists and anthropologists state that various cultures have taught girls to adhere according to negative stereotypes (e.g. naturally more emotional, less decisive, less intelligent and less creative) thus keeping the idea that women are naturally inferior. However, research shows that women and men have the same range of emotional, intellectual and creative characteristics (World Book Encyclopedia, 1997).
The notion that women are incapable of high-risk positions because of their priorities and nature, among others, is a great obstacle in their struggle.Indeed, women are due for greater things than their history or nature may define. Though women centuries ago were a far cry from what they have become today, the fight for greater equality is far from over. More remains to be accomplished especially in their professional careers. There are attributes that only women possess that could compensate for men’s inadequacies.
Recognition of these may lead to complementary working relationships. Instead of viewing women as inferior, they should be seen as integral working partners.Presently, women’s participation in the social service sector is increasing. Karen K. Krist-Ashman (2008) states that 70 percent of women are now involved in human services organizations. They comprise more than 79 percent of social workers in the National Association of Social Workers. According to the www.
socialworkers.org:Women have played a vital role in the social work profession as pioneers and founders, practitioners, policy analysts, educators, theoreticians, researchers, and academicians. However, women also experience second-class status in a profession they are said to dominate. Research reveals a consistent pattern in which men in social work are paid more and obtain managerial positions in greater numbers and earlier than their female counterparts. This state of affairs is troubling in a profession where women comprise the majority of social workers and social work clients.
The “Women in the Social Work Profession” policy statement acknowledges the strengths of female social workers while carefully cataloguing inequities and showcasing the efforts the profession and its professional organizations have made toward realizing a vision of equality for women within the social work profession (http://www.socialworkers.org/resources/abstracts/abstracts/womenProf.asp8-5000117,00.html).Women on top as management executives, nevertheless, are not uncommon in some fields. In the Analysis of Current Population Survey Data where ten industries were subjected, women have good representation as managers in the sectors of communications, public administration, business and repair services, entertainment and recreation services and other professional services.
In fact, women outnumbered men managers in the field of professional medical services (Robertson, 2002 April 22)Still in the book of Krist-Ashman (2008), several points were presented why women should get better opportunities in the field of social service particularly in handling a managerial post. According to the book, women build on relationships with and among various communities and groups for information gathering, resource enhancement, and alliance formation for their organizations. Women also have a sense of social responsibility and empowerment and practices participatory decision making.She also suggested several ways to further enhance women’s roles in the workplace. These include: (a) conducting an assessment of the status of women within itself; (b) establishing a defined goal for each management unit; and (c) encouraging employee involvement in the diversity-enhancement process by establishing employee network groups composed of women or people with the same cultural background.
Considering the arguments stated above, one may conclude that women have the capacity to handle managerial positions. Because of their innate characteristics coupled with their constant struggle, they have greatly improved their place in the society and had effectively diminished the negative images of femininity. With this trend, it would not be startling to see women managers in the social service sector, a position they rightfully deserve.ReferencesPrinted Material(1997).Women’s Movement. In The World Book Encyclopedia. (Vol.
22, p. 293). United States of America: World book, Inc.
Electronic MaterialHeathfield S.M. (1978). Women and Work: Then, Now, and Predicting the Future for Women in the Workplace. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://humanresources.about.
com/od/worklifebalance/a/business_women.htmHill R.B.(1992,1996). Historical Context of the Work Ethic. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www.
coe.uga.edu/~rhill/workethic/hist.htmKrist-Ashman K. K.
(2008). Human Behavior, Communities,organizations,and Groups in the Macro Social Environment An Empowerment Approach. Retrieved March 1, 2008 from http://www.wadsworth.com/cgi- wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M20b&flag=student&product_isbn_issn= 9780495095149&discipline_number=4National Association for Social Workers.
Women in the Social Work Profession. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www.socialworkers.org/resources/abstracts/abstracts/womenProf.asp8-5000117,00.htmlOwen C.
L & Todor W. D. (March-Arpril,1993) Attitudes Toward Women As Managers: Still The Same – Few Women Hold Executive Positions – Women In Business. Business Horizons. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1038/is_n2_v36/ai_13815059Robertson R.
E. (April 22, 2002). Women in Management: Analysis of Current Population Survey Data. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www.
pdfWomen’s International Center. Women’s History in America. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www.wic.org/misc/history.htm