Gender in the Workplace: A Case Study Approach


Jacqueline DeLaat

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    To my aspiring professional daughters, Meghan and Michelle—with hopes for their “balancing acts” and for easing of the conflicts faced at work.


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    Attention to gender issues in the workplace heightened in the 1990s and has continued unabated in the new century, as men and women confront new challenges and difficulties in achieving gender equity and fair treatment at work. While sexual harassment has dominated recent public interest, other issues are also critical, such as the “glass ceiling” in advancement, sex stereotyping of certain categories of work, continual pay inequities between men and women, career development issues, and, perhaps most important, problems in balancing family needs with the structure and demands of the contemporary workplace. While most Americans accept the fairness of equal treatment for the genders in the workplace, few would argue that it has been achieved. At recent international gatherings, it has become apparent that the issues faced are worldwide, though their forms vary cross-culturally Further, the issues appear quite complex and intransigent, despite a number of public policies directed at workplace equality both in the United States and abroad.

    The purpose of the cases in this text is to raise awareness of the current forms that gender issues in the workplace are taking and to encourage active thinking about how these issues may be addressed on the personal, organizational, and public policy levels. Everyone who works or will soon work, male or female, can benefit from the exercise. While the majority of the issues are still faced far more often by women than by men, men do nonetheless encounter gender issues as well; further, men are often in a good position to affect them. Several of the cases in this collection involve men in very key roles and also introduce some ways in which they suffer from gender stereotypes and discrimination. The material should prove useful to students in a variety of college courses related to management, business, public administration, personnel management, public policy, and gender studies, and also to a wide variety of people already confronting the issues in the workforce.


    The author wishes to thank the Faculty Development Committee and the Provost of Marietta College, Dr. Sue DeWine, for critical support at several key points in the development of these cases and for numerous international opportunities to expand their scope. I am grateful as well to the Legal Education Fund of the American Bar Association for a supportive grant during the development of the first edition in the summer of 1997. The many professional women who have shared their stories also deserve credit for being the real “teachers” involved in this project, as do my students, who have provided valuable feedback over recent years. Finally, editor Al Bruckner has provided insight for the changes in the second edition.


    Faith Daniels, the NBC news correspondent, tells an interesting story about her first “real” job after college graduation. Having been treated fairly in every way as an undergraduate mass media major, she was an honors student, mentored by a very experienced faculty member, completed a prize internship in television, and entered the job market confidently. She interviewed for a news opening with a local television station and excitedly waited for the phone call to tell her she was hired. When the call came, however, the manager said, “Well, we're sorry but we don't think you would work out in news; however, we do have an opening for a ‘weather bunny’ and we think you'd be great at that!” “This was my first introduction to stereotyping of women at work,” Ms. Daniels later told a group of undergraduate women, “and it shows the kind of attitudes and behaviors you may run into.”

    Many successful working women have similar tales to tell. Younger people, however, seem to believe that gender discrimination and its causes are things of the past. While it is true that much progress toward work equity has been made in recent decades, there is substantial evidence that serious gender issues arise in many contemporary places of work around the world. This brief collection of cases is designed to help students and employees to understand what some of these issues are and to confront them in the “real life” situations presented in the case studies. Gender issues in the workplace are often subtle; they are often difficult to address, and it is often difficult to prepare students and workers to address them. Yet many can expect to be confronted with gender discrimination in the course of their careers.

    Most college undergraduates, male and female, believe that gender inequality has been “solved” through public policy—legislation and court decisions—but are quite unaware of what current law actually addresses, what practices in the workplace it prohibits, and how the legal system adjudicates issues of gender and work. In addition, individual organizations and professions present unique variations of these gender issues; this is why the cases here are set in a wide variety of organizations and in several countries, though many of the lessons are easily transferable among settings.

    Like Ms. Daniels, many young professionals seem totally unprepared for the gender issues they encounter. It is quite difficult for employees with very little work experience to develop individual strategies for coping with gender issues at work, should they be required to do so. Fuller understanding of these matters will greatly assist young professionals as they enter the workforce; such insights are also sought in many organizations and professional groups, through employee and management training programs addressing gender issues. This text presents a brief overview of gender issues in the workplace, along with one representative case study in the United States for each category of gender issues. The text's format and content are suitable for both undergraduate students and organizational development training in work settings.

    The settings of the cases also deserve some attention. This edition includes two new cases in international settings, one in Germany and one in China. These will be useful on two counts, first showing the commonality of many of the issues worldwide, and second, showing the impact of different cultures and public policies on the forms the issues may take. The international examples are valuable to U.S. students because many of them will either work abroad, supervise workers from other cultures, or both, during their careers. The cases are set in a wide variety of organizations and professions: business, law, medicine, academia, the U.S. military, the Chinese diplomatic corps. As with the international cases, looking at the ways in which various professional settings influence the same issues is very valuable. For one consideration, we know workers will work in many organizational settings during their careers. Second, any strategies for addressing gender issues need to be specific to the organization and the culture in order to succeed. Finally, several of the cases introduce ways in which men as well as women may suffer from gender discrimination, though the vast majority of such discrimination still affects women.


    The text begins with a brief exploration of the range and types of gender issues in the workplace, organized into five categories:

    • gender stereotypes about work (e.g., “women don't do lumber”)
    • gender discrimination in compensation, promotion, and benefits, e.g., the “glass ceiling”
    • career development and mentoring
    • balancing work and family responsibilities, e.g., child care, dual-career couples, pregnancy issues
    • sexual harassment issues

    Later in this introduction, I will define these five categories of issues and provide concrete examples of the issues in each category, chosen from a variety of current work environments. Relevant data and research on the issues will also be summarized, along with key definitions, and some illustrative examples and concepts. (The intent, however, is to provide a broad overview of these issues, useful in a variety of teaching settings, rather than an in-depth, specialized summary of the research, which is readily available elsewhere.) This material will familiarize students or trainees with the broad range of gender issues in the workplace and help bring order to the material by grouping issues in useful categories.

    Each of the seven chapters is a case study illustrating one particular category of gender issues. For example, Chapter 1 presents the case Half a Pie, or None? that focuses upon gender stereotyping of certain positions within an organization. The cases are all based upon real situations; several were drawn from federal court cases, while others were developed from in-depth personal interviews. The two international cases focus respectively on sex stereotyping of work and work and family balance; each follows the case representing this same issue in the United States. The Student Responses promote analysis and evaluation of information in the case, as well as presenting activities that may enhance learning from the case. (Instructor's Notes, providing additional background information useful in discussing the issues, are contained in an important companion volume.)

    I emphasize case studies here as an innovative teaching technique, well suited to the objectives of increasing awareness of how actual workers, both men and women, as well as the law and the legal system, address gender issues in the workplace. Both students and employees may have very little experience with gender issues, and the use of case studies provides an effective way of increasing their ability to apply what they learn. Without concrete application, the study of gender issues can seem remote indeed, especially to undergraduates. Traditional treatment of gender issues focuses upon both the theory of gender and data or evidence that gender discrimination occurs. While this work is very valuable, it tends to be rather theoretical. The use of some specific case studies, which engage learners more actively and directly in the issues, makes the gender content of many undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as training on gender within work organizations, much more concrete. Case studies can thus extend the experience and perspective of both students and employees who might not have encountered certain issues personally.

    The case studies included in the book are based on actual legal cases, nationally reported incidents, or personal interviews, but the names of all people and places and dialogue are fictitious.

    The development of cases involves researching the legal issues, choosing a good illustrative case, writing the case in a story or scenario format, and developing key objectives and questions for analysis. In some case studies, classroom simulations may be used to recreate the circumstances presented in the case and allow student responses. In all cases, discussion questions focused on the critical events in the case encourage the students to think about the gender, legal, and managerial issues in a concrete situation, thus greatly enhancing classroom or training site discussion and participation. Case studies place students directly “in the action,” by requiring problem solving and personally developed responses to the situations presented. For example, in a case about gender stereotyping of work, both supervisors and the individual being denied access to certain work have practical and legal options and responsibilities; the case includes activities that reflect both these perspectives on the work situation. Case studies thus help to promote lively, active learning environments, in which most people can learn more readily than in a more passive environment.

    The Conclusion is devoted to an examination of the connections between the five categories of gender issues explored in the cases. For example, sexual stereotyping of work often leads to inequities in compensation or promotion. The Conclusion highlights the importance of the organizational culture and how to change its treatment of gender issues. Students or trainees who complete all seven cases will be able to compare the differences between organizations and cultures that affect both the nature of a gender issue and how it might be most effectively addressed. Solutions that are feasible in an academic environment, for example, may not be effective in the military because of differences in the nature, values, and mission or goals of the organizations. And, obviously, what works in the United States may not work at all in China. Consider, next, a brief introduction to each of the five categories of gender issues in the workplace.

    Gender Stereotyping of Work

    Regarding certain types or categories of work as male and others as female constitutes gender stereotyping of work. Industrial sociologists, among others, have studied such patterns in the U.S. workforce over time, and U.S. Census data about the gender composition of various professions and jobs provide the data for such analyses. During the 1970s and 1980s, occupational sex segregation declined for the first time in the twentieth century (Reskin & Padavic, 2002, p. 73). A variety of social and legal, as well as economic, factors contributed to this decline, including passage and initial enforcement of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the emergence of the second women's movement of the century in the 1970s, and an increase in educational opportunities for women resulting from other federal policies such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires all educational institutions receiving federal money to treat men and women equally. As of the turn of the century the sex segregation index for jobs held stood at 52, compared to 62 in 1980 (Reskin & Padavic, 2002, p. 74). (In a perfectly integrated organization the index would be 0.) The numbers of women in many formerly male professions—notably law, medicine, government, and academia—have increased dramatically in this period. One of the most important contributing factors has been the greater similarity in the percentages of men and women graduating from college, in their college majors, and in their choices of postgraduate education. In 1960 38% of all college graduates were female, but the percentage has risen steadily since then and passed the 50% mark in the early 1980s. Only 3% of all professional degrees were granted to women in 1960, but by 1987 that percentage was 35% (Goldin, 1990). Half of current law school graduates are female (Catalyst, 2005b), and women have also caught up with men in medical education (Jacobs & Berkowitz, 2002). Special efforts to attract women to engineering and the sciences are also bearing fruit (National Council for Research on Women, 2001). Women and men are now equally likely to hold jobs in the management category of jobs (Powell & Graves, 2003).

    It is also clear that sex segregation persists in the workforce. The stark occupational data confirm that women and men are still segregated into distinct careers, despite the reduction in the overall amount of such segregation in the past few decades. The ten most common occupations for women, according to 2000 census data, were (in order): secretary; manager/administrator; cashier; supervisor or proprietor, salesperson; registered nurse; teacher, elementary; nurse's aide, orderly, attendant; bookkeeper; waitress; receptionist. For men, the list is as follows: salaried manager, administrator; supervisor or proprietor, salesperson; truck driver; janitor; carpenter; cook; computer systems analyst and scientist; sales representative; mining, manufacturing, and wholesale laborer, except construction; supervisor, production occupations (Reskin & Padavic, 2002, p. 66, calculated from 1998, 1999, and 2000 U.S. Current Population Survey data). It is also clear that the occupations dominated by women are less compensated and less valued than those dominated by men (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004a). The gain in women in management masks, as Powell and Graves note, the persistent low numbers of women in top management positions; this helps explain the 67/100 female/male pay ratio among managers (Powell & Graves, 2003, p. 30).

    As Reskin and Padavic so ably summarize, this segregation persists because of a variety of factors: the actions of employers, actions of male workers and actions of female workers, sex labeling of jobs, recruitment practices, and outdated assumptions all contribute to occupational segregation by gender (2002, pp. 74–95). While, as Goldin (1990) reports, most explicit rules prohibiting women from certain types of work, or requiring them to resign upon marriage, are now illegal, the impact of these earlier practices remains. It is also correct that if women's work has been characterized in one way, and men's work in another, few individuals may be willing to oppose that established pattern (p. 8).

    These social norms help perpetuate job segregation, even though it is illegal. Employers may discriminate intentionally or unintentionally, both of which, of course, violate Title VII. Recruitment practices, interviewing questions and techniques, and stereotypes of initial recruiters or gatekeepers can all operate to discriminate unfairly against one gender. Further, requirements or skill qualifications may be unfair and operate against women or men; at times one sex is provided with better training opportunities denied to the other, which is also an unfair practice. Employers' control of workplace rules and structure (such as location and hours of work or shift rotations) may also operate to discourage women or men from entering a certain type of work or from advancement.

    In addition to employers' actions, one gender of coworkers may create an atmosphere or workplace dynamic that effectively excludes the other. For example, men often fear the entry of women into their profession for a variety of reasons, including the new competition, a decline in the prestige of the work, the need to clean up workplace behavior or language, or the fear that women may not do their share (Reskin & Padavic, 2002, pp. 91–93). Some men thus feel they have a stake in keeping women out of their work and act on this feeling. Of course some of these actions may be illegal.

    Women, themselves, may contribute to their occupational segregation. To the extent that women do not pursue careers they obviously cannot develop them. While choices of men and women may “voluntarily” exclude them from a certain type of work, Reskin and Padavic's (2002) analysis—that such “free choice” is largely socially and organizationally determined—is compelling (p. 79). Recent work argues that in the current era it is not clear that women avoid seeking the same careers and the same job satisfactions that men do; the numbers of women in the permanent workforce, and research about them, indicate the changes from previous eras in this regard (Jacobs & Gerson, 2004; Jacobs & Madden, 2004). It is more likely that women modify their career objectives and choices because of a combination of socialization, role-conflict, and organizational and professional realities than from true free choice.

    In the case Half a Pie, or None issues of occupational segregation by gender are raised in the context of a highly trained, professional woman seeking career advancement to managerial levels. The case illustrates ways in which employer actions can lead to occupational segregation, in spite of the legal ban on such actions provided in Title VII. The actions of supervisors as well as coworkers, both male and female, are important in the case.

    In One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? gender stereotyping of work is much more blatant, in that several career options for women are matters of public policy in China.

    Gender Discrimination in Compensation, Promotion, and Benefits

    A second area of gender discrimination in the workforce is compensation and advancement. Government and private research has authoritatively documented the pay gap in earnings between men and women; in 1992 women earned about 74 cents for each dollar earned by men (Karsten, 1994, p. 53); in 2002 the figure was 76 cents on the dollar (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002, in Powell & Graves, 2003, p. 35). Part of the gap, of course, is related to the occupational segregation of women, and the corresponding lower pay rates for “women's jobs.” The improvement in women's salaries has been in part due to their entrance into formerly all-male professions.

    But there is also much discrepancy between the earnings of men and women even within the same occupation. Only about 7% of the gap, within certain occupations, can be accounted for by education and experience differences between men and women. In fact, the female/male (F/M) salary ratio for full-time workers in some highly educated and prestigious professions is as follows: 68% for physicians; 67% for managers; 75% for college and university professors; 69% for lawyers; 88% for registered nurses. Thus, “the depressing fact for women is that the higher the educational attainment, the lower the F/M ratio, a depressing thought for females,” (Powell & Graves, 2003, p. 30). This tends to discredit the pipeline theory, which has argued that women have not been “in the pipeline” long enough to gain the experience needed for top-level positions. (The larger number of women remaining in the workforce throughout their adult life also discredits the pipeline theory in the current context.)

    As in cases of occupational segregation, there is significant national policy against unequal pay and related practices, in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The act was passed as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; it stipulates that men and women must be compensated equally for jobs that are alike in content, that require similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions. The act covers incentives and employee benefits as well as wages. Women and men may be paid different rates for doing the same work only on the basis of a legitimate seniority or merit system. The act applies only to pay discrimination within the same job.

    The current movement toward comparable worth policies argues that the equal pay principle should extend to work of similar difficulty, even if the jobs, themselves, are different. Since men and women are not always found doing the exact same work in the same place, and so on, the comparable worth concept argues that equal pay should apply to equivalent work. The problem is determining comparability. Various methods of judging the difficulty, skill, and responsibility, among other factors, required in a job have been utilized to judge comparability. Despite its implementation by a number of state governments and private corporations, this movement is still controversial, whereas the basic equal pay policy—equal pay for the same work—is generally accepted.

    Even as women enter more lucrative fields, however—such as law, medicine, engineering, business—it is apparent that their advancement to the highest and best paid levels of these professions has been limited. Currently, for example, women hold only about 13% of the upper management positions in U.S. Fortune 500 corporations; at the very top of corporations, just 6% of CEO positions were held by women in 2000 (Catalyst, 2005a). Further, the pay gap is greater at the vice president level or above; women's salaries at this level are only 58% of their male peers' salaries (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004a). In government, as well, their advancement to top career positions has not been nearly commensurate with their numbers; by 1998, for example, women held 45% of federal jobs but just 22% of top management positions (Reskin & Padavic, 2002, p. 103).

    No definitive single explanation of the pay gap has been proposed; suggestions include organizational barriers to advancement, career interruptions, and women's desires to combine strong commitment to both work and family roles. The existence of artificial barriers to women's advancement in organizations has been termed the glass ceiling. In the Civil Rights Act of 1991 a federal glass ceiling commission was created, within the U.S. Department of Labor, to do systematic research on the extent of the glass ceiling problem, its apparent causes, and policies that might help remediate it. (Major recommendations of this commission before its expiration in 1996 are reported in Appendix B to Chapter 3.)

    In summary, the commission succeeded in documenting the existence of the glass ceiling and identifying the specific formal and informal barriers of which it is composed. The commission found, for example, that top managers assess male and female workers differently. Men are evaluated on perceived potential, but women are more often judged on past accomplishments (Karsten, 1994, p. 16). Further, in related research, only 8% of 201 CEOs of America's largest business firms (most of whom were male) said that women “lacked the aggressiveness” to be top managers, and only 5% said women needed to be more willing to relocate to progress in their careers, thus somewhat debunking two common explanations for women's failure to reach the highest corporate levels (Fisher, 1992).

    The case Did Attorney Evans Bump Her Head on the Glass Ceiling? deals with the judgments made about advancement or promotion of professionals—in this case, attorneys—and the complexity of these decisions. It delves into the internal operations of a law firm to examine the process for selecting full partners. Issues about both formal and informal factors that affect such decisions are relevant to the case. Students will judge whether the glass ceiling operated in this instance.

    Issues of advancement and compensation are very clearly related to each of the other four categories of gender-related workplace issues represented in this text. The interaction of compensation and advancement issues with occupational segregation or stereotyping has been mentioned; in the Conclusion attention will return to this interaction, as well as the connections of compensation and advancement issues with those of career development and balancing work and family commitments.

    Career Development and Mentoring

    An examination of career development grows logically out of the documentation of barriers to women's advancement. In attempting to break the glass ceiling, professions, work organizations, and individuals have turned to a more detailed look at the ways in which successful careers develop, the necessary ingredients of success in various professions and organizations, and gender differences in the opportunities for successful career development. The pipeline theory, previously mentioned, assumed that as women were present in careers for the requisite number of years they would naturally progress at rates similar to those of men in the same positions and holding the same general credentials. These, after all, are the basic tenets of equal treatment, and agreement that such opportunity is important formed the societal consensus in support of the equal treatment provisions of the civil-rights and equal-pay policies mentioned earlier. Forty-plus years after the passage of these policies, however, it is clear from the data previously cited that women are not progressing in rates similar to those of men, even when their basic qualifications and experience are similar (National Commission on Pay Equity, 1991).

    It is now common, as a result, for individual professions and occupational groups to analyze the career paths of successful leaders within their fields. Women in both law and medicine, for example, have undertaken systematic research into the reasons for their lack of equality— in both positions attained and overall compensation—with men in their profession. Similarly, women in academia have begun to study the reasons for both their lower numbers and the small percentage of positions they held at the highest levels, and a wide variety of studies of women in corporate America have documented the obstacles to women seeking top positions there. This type of attention, within a variety of organizations and professions, has highlighted the importance of career planning and mentoring for the professional advancement of both men and women. But it appears that women face some special difficulties in this regard.

    First, for many years women thought of their paid work in terms of jobs rather than careers. The woman in a two-earner family often considered herself, and was certainly considered by others, as the second income. Jobs were often held by women for short periods of time and were accepted or abandoned according to the immediate needs of her family and the degree of flexibility offered by her husband's employment. Of course, some women were the single earners for their families, even in earlier eras, but that was the exception rather than the rule. The previously mentioned employment trends of women in recent decades have altered this picture, however; many women are in the workforce permanently, they have higher degrees of education and experience, and they seek careers rather than jobs. Thus, they need the same career planning and career development experiences as men.

    Many young women are still reluctant to commit to long-term career planning and have difficulty finding assistance in such planning within their professions and work organizations. Men who are in supervisory or senior positions are more likely to offer to mentor young men than young women. There are often few, if any, senior women in organizations that might be available to mentor younger women. Young women are uncomfortable asking for mentoring from older men—and the men may be unwilling to offer mentoring— because of the possible connotations that might be placed on such relationships. Thus, young women are at a disadvantage in seeking mentoring relationships, which the Glass Ceiling Commission and others have determined to be critical to professional advancement.

    Medical Mentoring addresses these issues in the context of women developing careers in medicine. The case focuses on the recent experiences of women in medicine and reflects the personal views of a group of female physicians about these issues. Formal mentoring arises as an option in the case, and individuals discuss a number of mentoring models and difficulties with mentoring programs. Students will develop their own suggestions for mentoring in response to the case situation.

    Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities

    To all observers of modern gender roles in the United States, it is clear that the nature of families and the performance of family responsibilities have undergone dramatic change at the same time that the increases in women in the workforce have occurred. Among mothers of children under age 18, 78.1% worked by 2003 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004b). A substantial majority (62.5%) of women with children under the age of 6 years now works outside the home. In 1977 32% of mothers with children younger than 1 year were in the labor force (Goldin, 1990), but by 2003 the percentage had increased to 53.7% (Employment Policy Foundation, 2004). Further, many women are now single heads of household, charged with both child rearing and earning an income. Many families with children no longer have either parent available in the household during the day; as of 2003 66% of parents were in marriages where both parents worked (Catalyst, 2005c). Thus, many children are cared for by nonfamily members or grandparents, and many children are on their own after school. In addition, even within two-parent households, fathers and mothers are more apt to share family responsibilities that were once totally borne by the mothers.

    These changes have prompted many workers—male and female— to support changes in the workplace such as flextime, job sharing, working from home or telecommuting, on-site child care, family and parental leave, and other family support measures. Recent studies indicate that, in a more competitive employment market, some progressive employers are more than willing to provide many family services as perks of employment. In 2002, however, only 10% of large companies provided on-site child care (Symonds, 2002) and as of 2004 only 14% of all workers in private industry had access to employer assistance for either providing or locating child care. The larger the number of workers, the more likely the employer was to provide such services, but the overall picture is discouraging (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004b). Thus, many workers must still go it alone when it comes to balancing the demands of their work and the needs of their families. Hall (1990) found that, for example, 73% of mothers and 35% of fathers report “a lot of stress” in trying to mesh work and family roles, while 11% of the women (and none of the men) encountered “extreme” stress from this source. Recent work confirms that stress between work and family remains a major problem (Jacobs & Gerson, 2004).

    Further, a number of studies indicate that, in a majority of families with children in which both parents work outside the home, the mothers still feel more responsibility for child-care issues and provision than do fathers. Working from home, as well, introduces some complexity in the balancing of family and work responsibilities. In addition, household maintenance and errands appear to be, still, primarily the woman's responsibility in a majority of working families (Coltrane, 2004). According to one estimate, the total hours all women work in the workplace and in the household increased by 5% between 1959 and 1983, while those for men decreased by 9% (Goldin, 1990, p. 212). Fathers have, however, increased their time commitments in the home somewhat. In the late 1990s, coresident fathers were available to their children about three-fourths as much as the working mother, interacting on weekdays about two-thirds as often but more on weekends (Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2003). Fathers are assuming more family responsibilities; family concerns generally, however, still receive more time and physical and emotional attention from women than from men. In addition, the average woman still does about twice the amount of routine housework as the average man, so the persistence of gender roles in the family continues. Further, there is some indication that “changes in the elite professions (in sharing of family responsibilities) may be lagging behind change in the working class” (Coltrane, 2004).

    Government policy on these matters has focused primarily on the financial burdens of paying for child care. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 represents the only national public policy addressed to other family concerns of the employed; it provides for unpaid leave for a variety of family needs, and is included here as Appendix A to the Pregnant Professor case. The 1995 Welfare Reform Act continues a federal policy of providing some subsidized child care to lower-income families (it was due for reauthorization in the U.S. Congress in 2005 but was not addressed as scheduled), and tax law revisions in the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act extended some deductions to other families for child-related expenses. The needs of their children and, increasingly, of their elderly parents as well continue to be a major concern of working women and men in all types of professions and work situations. In most families, though, women continue to carry more of this responsibility (Coltrane, 2004). Balancing the needs of families and the demands of work, then, continues to be an important gender-related issue in the workplace.

    The case The Pregnant Professor raises some of these issues as they affect a dual-career couple in academia. The couple portrayed in the case takes an egalitarian approach to both family and professional issues and decisions. Issues of pregnancy-leave policies, career development in the context of high employer expectations, commuting marriage arrangements, and the stress of combining professional and young family responsibilities all emerge in this case. Students view these matters through the eyes of the couple experiencing them in the early years of their careers and marriage.

    Important work documents the fact that these work-family conflicts are international in scope. Consistent with earlier international studies, a 2000 study of men and women holding high positions in politics and private business in 27 nations clearly shows that “these leaders face the dilemma of combining a demanding career and family life” and that they manage it in a variety of ways (Vianello & Moore, 2000). Social and cultural contexts as well as public policies shape the experiences of these women and men. Both the international cases in this collection also raise issues of family roles; Kinder, Kirche, Küche: Working Mothers in Germany reveals a German businesswoman's dilemmas over parenting while pursuing a demanding managerial career, and in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, an aspiring Chinese diplomat has to consider family and marriage issues as well as formal barriers that complicate her career path. These cases also include significant differences in societal norms about families and different governmental responses to family needs.

    Sexual Harassment Issues

    The Anita Hill sexual harassment charges against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, as well as charges against the president and several other prominent leaders later in that decade, have focused attention upon issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. The development of organizational policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment is now commonplace, though the effectiveness of many of these policies remains to be demonstrated.

    The extent of harassment appears far more widespread than many initially believed, with close to half of American working women reporting in a variety of surveys that they have encountered some form of harassment at work. Surveys conducted in the 1970s and 1980s estimated that between 57% and 88% of employees had been harassed then (Ford & McLaughlin, 1988). In 1991 53% of 1,300 members of the National Association of Female Executives reported they or someone they knew had been harassed at work (Galen, Weber, & Cuneo, 1991). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported 13,176 complaints in 2004; 15.1% of these were filed by men, a percentage that increased steadily from 1992 on. The vast majority of claims complained of treatment by men. Examples abound. Since the turn of the century sexual harassment claims have been made by women in major financial firms, corporations, law firms, the media, the military academies, and the armed forces in Iraq. In one large national survey 47.7% of all women physicians reported having experienced gender-based harassment (defined as harassment related to being female in a traditionally male environment, without a sexual or physical component), and 36.9% reported sexual harassment (defined as harassment with a sexual or physical component) (Frank & Schiffman, 1998).

    It is believed that at least one-third of women in the United States experience some form of sexual harassment. In studies of sexual harassment in American companies, psychologist Louise Fitzgerald discovered that 40 to 60% of women in these companies experienced some form of harassing behavior. These studies, based on responses to Fitzgerald's renowned Sexual Experiences Questionnaire, have been used extensively in the most important sexual harassment litigation in the United States (Murray, 1998). In addition, the U.S. government reported that 44% of women employed by the federal government had experienced harassment from 1992 to 1994 (U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 1995). The first task in addressing this issue appears to be that of defining the types of harassment so that the behaviors become recognizable. Beyond that initial step, training and awareness programs are needed to reduce the incidence of harassment in the workplace. Strong commitment to a policy of no tolerance on the part of top management also appears to be an essential ingredient in efforts to reduce sexual harassment.

    Research suggests that most sexual harassment is committed by men against women, although the reverse is certainly possible, and same-sex harassment too has been declared illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. Harassment is also most often an issue of power, with harassers often holding organizational power or supervisory authority over those they harass. Harassment is defined thus: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment” (U.S. EEOC, 2004). The two types of harassment are quid pro quo harassment, which involves the provision or denial of favorable job conditions, pay raises, or promotions on the basis of acceptance or rejection of requests for sexual favors, and hostile environment sexual harassment, which occurs when verbal, physical, or graphic sexual displays are so pervasive that they interfere with work performance or cause an offensive or intimidating atmosphere in the workplace.

    Harassment is difficult to address because it usually requires the less powerful in a work organization to confront the more powerful. It is also often the case that a general atmosphere or culture in the organization exists in support of the harassing behaviors, especially those of the hostile environment variety and those involving less physical behavior. As more and more young workers devote much of their time to their careers, it is also possible that many more office romances are likely to develop. Distinguishing these mutual relationships and behaviors from the unwelcome sexual harassment activity can also be a complicated exercise in some instances. Finally, the legal definitions of sexual harassment, and who may be held accountable for it, are in flux and being developed by the courts case by case. This means that many employees and organizations are understandably unclear both about what behavior is unacceptable and about what organizations need to do to help reduce or eliminate it from the workplace.

    Sexual Harassment in the Military, the sexual harassment case in this collection, is based upon actual incidents that occurred from the mid-1990s to the mid-oughts. Revealed from the perspectives of both alleged victims of the harassment and military leaders attempting to eliminate it, the case illustrates the importance of the power relationship between harassers and their victims in perpetuating the harassment behaviors. The difficulty of creating effective protections and procedures for dealing with harassment is also clear in this case. Finally, the case documents the extent of harassment in the military over a period of years and asks students to confront the issue of how to change an organizational culture that has tolerated harassment to this extent.

    Effective Use of the Text

    This book envisions an active classroom or learning environment, in which both students and teachers are committed to exploring these gender issues up close and personal. From the student or trainee perspective, the best way to utilize the cases is to read them in advance of the group discussions and contemplate each of the questions or assignments in the Student Response section carefully. The most effective learning will occur when students are able to truly place themselves within the case and approach assignments and discussion of the issues from the perspective of those involved in the case. If the instructor suggests, some additional reading on topics related to the cases may also be useful in developing perspective.

    From the instructor or facilitator's point of view it is important to fully review the Instructor's Notes for each case, as they provide additional resources and information that will assist in the discussion of case issues. Epilogues to each case, also presented in the Instructor's Notes, reveal which course of action the actual principals in the case pursued and what occurred as a result. Some additional teaching suggestions and techniques are also offered in the Notes. Instructors should feel free, however, to adapt these suggested assignments to the particular class or training setting in which the cases are being used.

    Further, instructors and facilitators should try to maintain the position that there is no right answer to the problems or assignments posed in the cases, for, in fact, that is true. If we knew the right answer to balancing work and family, preventing sexual harassment, developing women's long-term careers, eliminating the glass ceiling, and so on, there would be no need for cases to explore the dilemmas these issues pose in the contemporary workplace. Rather, we could simply teach the solutions. As this discussion indicates, however, these gender issues in the workplace are more complex and varied than a single solution or approach encompasses. Meanwhile, scholars and practitioners in a wide variety of organizations are earnestly exploring alternative ways of addressing these problems. The cases' value, then, lies in the validity and complexity of the issues they pose and their power to engage students and instructors alike in exploring possible effective actions addressing these issues. A particular student's response, then, if well reasoned and based on the facts at hand, is just as likely to have merit as anyone else's. Instructors who can maintain that view and a general stance of openness about the questions that the cases raise make the most effective use of the text.

    Related Readings
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    Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §701 (1981). Retrieved August 22, 2006, at:
    Cockburn, C. (1991). In the way of women: Men's resistance to sex equality in organizations. Ithaca: New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.
    Coltrane, S. (2004, November). Elite careers and family commitment: It's (still) about gender. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 596, 214–220.
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    Ford, R., & McLaughlin, F. (1988, November/December). Sexual harassment at work. Business Horizons, 31(6), 14–19.
    Frank, B., & Schiffman, R. (1998, February 23). Prevalence and correlates of harassment among US women physicians. Internal Medicine, 158, 352–358.
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    Goldin, C. (1990). Understanding the gender gap: An economic history of American women. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Hall, D. (1990, winter). Balancing work life and home life: What can organizations do to help?Academy of Management Executive, 2, 213–223.
    Jacobs, J. A., & Berkowitz, R. (2002). Age and college completion: A life-history analysis of women aged 15–44. Sociology of Education, 75, 211–230.
    Jacobs, J. A., & Gerson, K. (2004). The time divide: Work, family and gender inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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    Karsten, M. F. (1994). Management and gender: Issues and attitudes. Westport, CT: Praeger.
    Moen, P., & Han, S. K. (2001). Gendered careers: A life-course perspective. In R.Hertz & N. L.Marshall (Eds.), Working families: The transformation of the American home. (42–57). Berkeley: University of California Press.
    Murray, B. (1998, August). Psychology's voice in sexual harassment law. American Psychological Association Monitor, 21, 58.
    National Commission on Pay Equity. (1991). After 28 years, equal pay for equal work still not achieved. Newsnotes, 12, 3.
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    Pleck, J. H., & Masciadrelli, B. P. (2003). Paternal involvement: Levels, sources and consequences. In M. E.Lam (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (
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    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2004b). Employee benefits survey. Percent of all workers with access to employer assistance for child care. Retrieved August 22, 2006, at:
    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2004). Statistics, sexual harassment. Retrieved August 22, 2006, at:
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    Vianello, M., & Moore, M. (2000). Gendering elites: Economic and political leadership in 27 industrialized societies. New York: Macmillan.
    Wax, A. (2004). Family-friendly workplace reform: The prospects for change. In J. A.Jacobs and J. F.Manning (Eds.), Mommies and daddies on the fast track [Special issue]. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science596, 36–61.
    Why the gap remains a chasm. (2004, June 14). BusinessWeek, p. 58.
  • Conclusion: Five Issues, or Maybe Just One?

    Betty Friedan, the founder of the National Organization for Women, who died in 2006, is widely credited with igniting the modern women's movement with the publication in 1963 of The Feminine Mystique. In discussing the “problem that has no name,” this early work defined the challenges of women at mid-twentieth century as they struggled for equality in several spheres and for the development of fulfilling lives of their own. Ms. Friedan (1997) more recently argued that America's current workplace problems seriously threaten the health of families and require a new paradigm of work and family life. Economic justice, rather than “narrow identity politics,” was the basis for continuing women's and men's progress toward equality in the 1990s, she argued, and for the just treatment of children in society, as well. The notions of work equity and gender reflected in these two works—more than 30 years apart—provide an illuminating backdrop to the gender and workplace issues raised here. In particular, the complex interconnections between issues of workplace equity and the nature of family life are becoming clear (Jacobs & Madden, 2004).

    The cases in this volume have each illustrated one area of gender concern in the contemporary workplace. In reality, however, the five sorts of issues covered are very intertwined and affect each other in a great many most significant ways. A brief review of the components of each situation in the cases will make this point clear.

    In Half a Pie, or None? Kirsten Andersen sought to advance her already successful professional life to the level of top management in a major corporation. She intended to do so by acquiring a specific set of new skills and experience, which she believed would then lead logically to top management positions. Her immediate problem, as described in the case, was a pervasive gender stereotyping of the specific position she sought. Her situation, however, reflects several other gender-related workplace issues. For example, her inability to move into an evaluator's position effectively blocked her advancement into the management level she sought; in this way she was encountering a glass ceiling within the organization. In addition, it appeared that she carried on her career-planning efforts entirely on her own; at no point did she seem to have effective mentoring. Her strongest organizational supporter, Mr. Green, seemed fairly ineffective when her crises developed, though she did continue to seek his advice. Finally, while there was certainly no overt sexual harassment in this case, it is possible that the strict stereotyping of work in the organization was related to other behaviors that might constitute a hostile environment.

    In One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? we can see sexual stereotyping in another culture, Chinese, since Jin Xiaoqin's original dreams of becoming a foreign service officer were denied to all women. In addition, though, issues related to family responsibilities, especially the provision of scarce benefits such as housing, also affected her career choices. Maintaining these secure benefits for herself continued to affect her choices, even when her family assumed a less prominent role in her life. Glass ceiling dynamics may also have been present, as her advancement in her academic post seemed to have come to a stop for lack of the foreign service experience that had been denied her.

    In the attorney's case, Meghan Evans, in her attempts to achieve a legal partnership, most obviously wrestled with the possible existence of a glass ceiling in her firm. But issues of career development and mentoring were also very relevant to Meghan's experience. The support of partners is clearly critical to achieving a legal partnership, and it is unclear whether Meghan had staunch supporters. No partners appeared in the case as active advisers to Meghan, possibly indicating a dearth of mentoring for her. The assignment of prominent legal cases is also a career development issue raised in her situation.

    Meghan is charged with the financial and emotional responsibility of her two children. While the case does not suggest that this family role complicated her legal work, it is certainly possible that it did. Problems in the firm related to taking childbirth leave, and on-call work demands, even for part-time and for male as well as female attorneys, suggest a culture not attuned to family concerns. The six-year time frame for achieving partnership might have conflicted with the responsibilities of parenting in a number of ways at certain ages of Meghan's children during that period, and their situations and needs. Potential sexual harassment is also included in Meghan's situation, in the references to offensive behavior of several attorneys in the firm. The attempt to change Meghan's area of legal expertise to family law may also indicate a problem of gender stereotyping within her firm. Thus, while Meghan's case is an interesting example of possible glass ceiling issues and their complexity, each of the other gender-related issues may also be present in her workplace environment and may affect her progress toward the partnership she seeks.

    The physicians in Medical Mentoring were also subject to a complex interplay of gender issues. The focus of their discussion was upon the need for early sponsorship into desirable specialties and positions and the difficulties they faced in acquiring this essential mentoring and assistance from senior physicians. They were also encountering issues related to compensation and advancement, however, as they debated at some length the reasons for their earnings being lower than those of male physicians and the difficulties of advancing into the top positions of medical school faculty and administration. Clearly, balancing family responsibilities with the demands of the practice of medicine was also difficult for many of these women. Sexual harassment, though not mentioned in this case, is present in the experiences of female medical students (Komaromy Bindman, Haber, & Sande, 1993). Again, the gender issues affecting these women doctors are complex and interconnected.

    Tim and Karen, the academic couple in The Pregnant Professor, also encountered a mix of gender issues in their early work and family experiences. The focus of their case was clearly upon the competing pressures they experienced from combining their chosen academic and policy careers with establishing a family. Karen also needed help, however, in defining (and redefining) her long-term career goals, and the availability of a mentor for even a brief period appeared important in helping her to revise her career goals. Her husband also made several career-planning readjustments in the period examined in the case, though it is unclear whether he received mentoring as an aid in that process. (It is interesting that their initial mentor in graduate school, an academic, presented their prospects in a most discouraging light, essentially telling them both that their careers and marriage were incompatible.) Research suggests that professors who are parents work fewer hours than nonparents and also express less job dissatisfaction. The authors of one study suggest that “parents [especially mothers] are less likely to put in these very long [60 hours per week] hours … [and] the tension between work and family does not end with young children or achieving tenure” (Jacobs, Madden, & Winslow, 2004, p. 127). There is also evidence, however, that many female faculty (about 40% at this writing) are childless, presumably in part because of the work expectations. Advancement issues also applied to Karen's situation as she struggled with the high expectations for faculty seeking tenure at Midwest University and the informal culture of her department toward “having a life” and commitment to work.

    In Germany, Carlotta's situation has both similarities to and differences from those faced by professionals in the United States who are parents. The public policies of the German government make a big difference in how mothers approach their professional choices, and German cultural attitudes toward women's roles also seem to be somewhat more traditional than is currently the case in the United States. It is clear, though, that here again there is more than one gender issue combining to affect women's careers. The German women in the case cite advancement difficulties as well as parenting issues. They also suggest some organizational barriers to advancement and possible stereotyping of the assignments women are given, particularly after they become mothers.

    Finally, Sexual Harassment in the Military, while graphically documenting the extent and nature of sexual harassment, also raises issues of career development and advancement as well as the need for a sort of mentoring. It is clear that the primary victims of the harassment in the case need someone in whom to confide (other than chain-of-command personnel), which is an indication of the need of a younger woman for the support and advice of a more senior one. The women in the case—whether at the academies or on active military duty—are also afraid of being excluded from advancement if they actively object to the harassment they experience. While family concerns are not raised in the case, it is certainly arguable that the structure of military careers and assignments is still quite difficult to combine with the role of wife and mother, especially if the individuals involved retain a more traditional definition of those roles.

    It is entirely possible, then, that a woman encountering sexual harassment in the military might also be affected by issues of career development and mentoring, promotion and compensation issues, balancing family roles with a military career, and possible gender stereotyping of potential assignments. Her choices about one of these issues—here, sexual harassment—could both affect and be affected by the others.

    Friedan's (1963) early phrase, “the problem that has no name,” became a shorthand expression of the issues of gender inequality in the 1960s and 1970s. While subsequent analysis and discussion of gender issues has become more precise and detailed, it is possible that lumping the issues together has some real validity. For, as seen in these few cases, the gender issues in the contemporary workplace are inextricably intertwined. Further, as Friedan (1997) would suggest, these issues affect the work and personal lives of men and, increasingly, their children as well (Jacobs & Madden, 2004). So perhaps, after all, it is one problem—albeit one with many facets—as Friedan argued.

    Organizational Culture

    The cases here point out another significant feature of gender issues in the workplace. The specific nature of a particular issue, the form it takes, and the options and means available for addressing it are different in different organizations and informal work cultures. This is even more apparent in many international settings, where cultures differ dramatically and constrain available and effective options in unique ways. Of special value in understanding how organizational culture develops, can be recognized, and changes is Edgar Schein's important work, Organizational Culture and Leadership (2004). His premises provide a basis for examining the importance of organizational culture in the gender-related workplace issues addressed here.

    Leaders in organizations, according to Schein, initially create the culture of those organizations. Subsequently, however, the culture is owned by the organization, and the culture helps create new leaders. When organizations experience major difficulties or adaptive problems, the leaders must step outside the prevailing culture to start the process of change. This process, if successful, redefines the part of the culture that is nonfunctional or problematic.

    Organizational culture is defined by Schein as containing the following elements: patterns of interaction, basic norms of behavior, the espoused values of the group, its formal philosophy, the rules of the game or ropes in the organization, the atmosphere or climate of work and the feelings related to that, shared meanings, and integrating symbols of the organization (Schein, 2004, pp. 12–13). A culture exists in an organization when a group has enough shared history to form a set of shared assumptions (p. 30). Schein also asserts that if leaders are not “conscious of the cultures in which they are embedded, those cultures will manage them” (p. 23).

    Much of what is readily observed in organizations, according to this analysis, is an organization's artifacts: that is, “the visible organizational structures and processes,” which include “its physical environment, language, technology and products, its style and the organizational processes into which such behavior is made routine” (Schein, 2004, p. 26). This part of an organization is easy to observe but difficult to interpret. In particular, Schein cautions against attempting to infer the meaning of artifacts, since one's own values inevitably are fed into such interpretations. Rather, Schein suggests that the effective analysis must get beyond the artifacts to two additional levels of culture.

    “Espoused values,” which are present through the expression of the values of leaders, and initially followed by others as a way to proceed, constitute the first of these additional levels of culture. If these espoused values become effective for the group, in enhancing their work and creating progress toward goals, then the values are transformed in “shared basic assumptions” (Schein, 2004, p. 30). When a solution to a problem works repeatedly, it comes to be taken for granted and is very hard to confront or change (p. 31).

    In time, people in the organization accept these values so thoroughly that they are no longer confronted, debated, or questioned. Like Thomas Kuhn's (1970) notion of “paradigm,” basic assumptions cause individuals to perceive reality so that it is congruent with the assumptions, even if doing so requires self-delusion. Basic assumptions thus become very difficult to change. It is only through leaders who can, at least temporarily, step outside the prevailing culture that new, innovative approaches can be suggested and tried. This brings us back, of course, to the initial step in organizational culture formation, that of leadership proposals.

    Because individuals and groups place a high value on stability, changing an organization's basic assumptions—which is the key to changing its culture—is a very long and difficult process. As Schein (2004) points out, “The most central issue … is how to get at the deeper levels of a culture, how to assess the functionality of the assumptions made at each level, and how to deal with the anxiety that is unleashed when those levels are challenged” (p. 37). Many other scholars as well have documented the importance of these basic concepts to the process of organizational change. Goldin (1990) in her analysis of women's economic progress, for example, writes that “change is often stymied by institutions, norms, stereotypes, expectations, and other factors that serve to impose the past on the present” (p. 9). Since the gender issues in the workplace examined here are clearly a result of the basic cultures of a variety of work organizations and professions, they highlight the importance of using these ideas to understand the problems at hand, their underlying causes, and potential means for accomplishing change.

    Although it is not possible to fully analyze the basic assumptions of each of the organizations included in the cases here, a brief reexamination of the organizations reinforces the importance of organizational culture to the gender issues raised. In Half a Pie there was clearly a basic assumption, at least on the part of a few top managers, that women are inappropriate candidates for the very demanding work of evaluators. The precise reasons for this stereotype were never clearly acknowledged by those who espoused it; nonetheless, since no women held this position, and women continued to be denied access to it, it seems clear that some underlying assumption must have been reinforcing the organizational artifact of denying women these positions. Mr. Green's reluctance, despite his personal support of Ms. Andersen, to confront his organization is further evidence that an important underlying value was influencing behavior on this matter.

    Students may have identified some possible means of attempting to affect the procedures and other artifacts of the culture that were blocking Ms. Andersen and other women from this work. Schein's (2004) contribution, however, would argue that, in addition to attacking the artifacts both within and outside the organization—through legal action, for instance—leaders committed to solving this problem in a more permanent way would have to challenge the prevailing assumption that is facilitating the behavior. In the case, no leader really appeared willing to take on this challenge, although the new CEO, near the end of the case, indicated that he might do so in the future.

    Thus, Mr. Green and Ms. Andersen, throughout the case, had a variety of choices about her situation; few of them would permanently affect the organization, however, unless basic assumptions in the culture were challenged at the same time. Nevertheless, individual actions remain important, since the cumulative impact of many individual challenges to the culture may, in time, provide ammunition for subsequent leaders to prove to others that the current assumptions are unworkable.

    In the Chinese case, less was known about the attitudes and behaviors of other actors in blocking women's access to foreign service careers. Because of the political climate of the time, however, and because the government imposed the rule, the commitment of very highly placed individuals, indeed, would have been necessary to change the prevailing attitudes and practices of the Chinese Foreign Service. It is not an accident, then, that Jin Xiaoqin did not challenge her situations in the way that Kirsten Andersen attempted to challenge hers. Using Schein's (2004) analysis, there was no commitment among the organizational leaders to try to change the existing organizational culture. This remained true throughout the several decades of experience spanned in Jin's career.

    Similarly, Meghan Evans's experience in seeking promotion to partner was fundamentally affected by the organizational culture in her law firm. The espoused values related to the evaluation of the work of associates were reflected in the evaluation process used by the firm and the comments of the various partners on Ms. Evans's work. Further, the firm espoused a thorough evaluation, standardized in form, and at least somewhat quantitative in nature, as its reflection of the value of fairness. The case also makes clear that the firm denied gender bias in both its operating procedures and its underlying assumptions.

    Not clear, however, is the place of the espoused value of legal analytical ability within the firm's value structure. Some of the partners believed that this ability was a sine qua non for partners, an absolute essential, while other data in the case, particularly some of the judgments about male associates, indicated that weakness in one legal area might perhaps be compensated for by strength in another. Ms. Evans's difficulty in establishing gender bias in her evaluation process, after the initial court ruling, reflected the complexity of analyzing the firm's underlying basic assumptions; it was unclear whether systematic gender bias was, as Ms. Evans claimed, a feature of the firm's organizational culture.

    In this case, the evaluation process used to select partners was a crucial artifact of the firm's culture, but, as Schein's (2004) model would suggest, the most essential part of the analysis involves determining the basic assumptions of the firm, which is not possible to do simply using the artifacts. The Epilogue's (see Instructor's Manual) allusion to the number of partners exiting the firm after the time frame of this case might suggest dissatisfaction with the firm's prevailing organizational culture, although the specific reasons for the unusual number of disaffections are not provided. The suggested analysis (in the Student Response) of the actions that partners and future associates might take, in an attempt to improve the organizational climate for women in the firm, once again suggests the importance of individual leaders in promoting change in the culture.

    Medical Mentoring describes situations of young women physicians that are a direct reflection of the current culture of the medical profession. The long hours worked in medical practices and the necessity of sponsorship by more senior physicians in the key specialties, in particular, reflect underlying assumptions about what makes a good medical practitioner. Another issue raised in the case, the slow rate of advancement of women on medical school faculties, is an important artifact of those institutions and how they determine advancement. It may or may not reflect underlying bias against women in leadership roles in medical schools.

    Of particular importance to the sponsorship issue raised in the case is the socialization process through which norms of a specialty are learned. The senior practitioners in the medical specialties serve as gatekeepers, effectively determining who gains admission to that specialty. Once accepted by a senior practitioner, then, the young physician learns much about that field of practice, makes important contacts, and so on, as a result of his or her mentoring. The individual values of these gatekeepers, then, effectively determine who enters the field and what they are taught about its practices. The women in the case, therefore, correctly determined that obtaining such sponsorship was vital to their success. The ultimate power to change the situation, however, clearly rests in the hands of the senior physicians. It is these individuals who would need to confront the prevailing norm of male dominance of the desired specialties, if the overall pattern is to be changed. Schein's (2004) emphasis upon the critical role of leaders in changing an organizational culture is thus very relevant to this case.

    The discussion of balancing family and professional demands in Medical Mentoring suggested that at least some of the satisfied women physicians in the case were successful because they created their own organizations (medical practices) in which they could then define their schedules, volume of work, and so on, by themselves or with a similarly minded partner. This is another option for circumventing a prevailing organizational culture—by creating a new organization. The founders, then, as Schein's (2004) work suggests, have the freedom to impose their own values on the new culture, at least at the outset. When these values prove effective for the organization—as in the case of one of the medical practices described in Medical Mentoring—they then become embedded in the organization as its basic assumptions. Thus, Dr. Marcia Birthright and her partner in medical practice appear content with their family-work balance because the two have defined the basic assumptions of the practice to be congruent with their individual values and needs. The increasing numbers of women founding their own businesses indicate the widespread adoption of this independent approach to work among U.S. women.

    The principals in The Pregnant Professor did not have the luxury of establishing their own organizational culture, however. Karen and Tim needed to find ways to adapt to work organizations that would be compatible with the needs of their marriage and their young child. As the case makes clear, both individuals encountered specific and difficult underlying assumptions in their employing organizations that complicated their lives considerably. For example, Midwest University, at least in Karen's academic department, espoused values of long, isolated periods of work, with professional output of publications very rigidly prescribed. The basic assumptions of Karen's department, according to her subsequent mentor, even conflicted with some of the values and practices being used in other parts of the same organization. This highlights the importance that the assumptions of one part of an organization may have, even if in apparent contradiction with the procedures and espoused values of the organization as a whole.

    Both Karen, at Worth College, and Tim, in his first faculty position in New York, found that the role of college teacher was more demanding and tiring than they had anticipated. Their socialization, in these two organizations, transmitted a set of values that required more work and energy than they previously realized. A variety of organizational procedures, particularly those related to the granting of tenure and pregnancy leave, embodied the underlying assumptions of the two educational institutions for which Karen worked. These procedures were important organizational artifacts in Karen's progress toward tenure and her personal desires for her family. It is clear that Midwest University subsequently responded to the needs of young professors in changing its tenure clock for professors adding children to their families. This change in artifact probably reflects a change in underlying assumptions as well.

    The heavy demands of Tim's employing organizations, particularly in terms of hours on the job site and resumption of work immediately after the birth of his child, indicated that those organizations were still rather inflexible about the needs and schedules of young families. The situation faced by these two young professionals is precisely the concern of Friedan (1997) when she argues that fundamental workplace and economic restructuring are needed for the benefit of American families and communities. More recent analyses confirm the continuation of these high work expectations within the professions, with obvious impact of time for parenting and other family roles and responsibilities (Folby, 2001; Goldin, 2004; Hochschild, 1997). Our German case suggests that a complex interaction of public and private policies may further complicate family-friendly reforms in the workplace. While public leaders in Germany enacted policies to benefit families and children, these very policies sometimes reinforced traditional attitudes within businesses and other work organizations. Schein's (2004) analysis of the necessity of leadership commitment to the success of any proposed change in an organizational culture is firmly supported by the experiences of Carlotta and other German mothers. Changing one set of espoused values in the country, that is, attempting to promote gender-free advancement opportunities, when individual leaders in private organizations are not similarly engaged in promoting the change, has proven somewhat futile. In addition, attempting to encourage both a higher birthrate and the employment of women, within a surrounding culture conflicted about women's roles, has produced numerous dilemmas.

    Of all the cases presented here, Sexual Harassment in the Military probably provides the most powerful illustration of the importance of organizational culture to gender issues and their improvement. The studies of harassment conducted by the military and the attention devoted to the issue by military leaders in the Army suggest that the espoused values of the military are definitely in opposition to the harassment described in the case. Yet the behavior has persisted. It is most likely that there are basic assumptions operating here—about the nature of effective military discipline and command, for example—that provide a protective cover for harassment, despite the attempts of leaders to stamp it out. Years of a male-dominated hierarchy, in which drill sergeants, senior cadets, and others in command are granted almost total authority, cannot be changed simply by espousing antiharassment values in official policy or even in well-designed training. Until vigorous leaders succeed in convincing military organizations that harassment is counterproductive and contrary to important basic values, the behavior is unlikely to be eliminated. In this regard, of course, the military is not unique; many contemporary organizations may reflect underlying assumptions that are tolerant of harassing behaviors.

    If organizational culture is slow to change, then what are the respective roles of public policy and individual action in combating gender discrimination in the workplace? The actions of government are important in at least two ways. First, government policy models the desirable values about gender equity and treatment, whether or not all organizations are actually conforming to these values. Thus, the Glass Ceiling Commission charged the federal government with the obligation of being a model employer in eliminating the glass ceiling in government agencies. In Germany, the Alliance for Business, a government-sponsored initiative to promote family-friendly policies, may not have succeeded initially but may provide a framework for later progress (Vogelheim, 2005). This symbolic role of government is critical.

    Second, government policy provides a basic framework of equity principles to which leaders in organizations and individual employees can appeal for remedy in a specific situation. It is important that Title VII exists; it provides the means of forcing organizations to at least change the artifacts of their culture—their formal procedures—to conform to the law. Of course, the law is only as effective as the willingness of individuals to appeal to it and the determination of government to enforce it. Many critics of equal employment law have effectively argued that lack of enforcement, for example, seriously weakens legal prohibitions against unequal pay, sexual harassment, and so on. In China, constitutional guarantees of gender equality do not seem universally implemented in the workplace. On the other hand, legal protection has undoubtedly assisted many courageous women, and their male supporters, to change the employment practices of many organizations in the past 30 years. (See, for example, Davis, 2005.)

    This raises the importance of the individual in promoting workplace fairness and developing effective means of addressing gender issues at work. If individuals who need policy change or enforcement are unwilling to ask for it, then it will not occur. If leaders in organizations recognize that a practice is unfair or ineffective, they must on occasion be willing to directly confront the organizational culture on that issue. While individual actions, even those of leaders, do not necessarily “fix” an organization, they cumulatively raise awareness of gender issues and provide individual compensation in many instances for illegal or unfair treatment. The lawsuits filed by Meghan Evans and Kirsten Andersen confront the court with actual workplace practices and situations; in adjudicating these cases the courts eventually arrive at a consensus about standards by which to judge these matters and effective means of enforcement.

    The case studies are messy. They do not resolve the gender issues neatly or in a universally popular fashion. The solutions to the problems presented are not clear and require not only careful analysis but also the acknowledgment that a variety of perspectives on the same situation may have merit. Thinking of the issues as global, which indeed they are, makes matters even more complex. If the cases have caused the reader to reflect on the nature of gender issues in the workplace and the multiple causes of these issues, as well as stimulated some creativity in possible approaches to the situations they present, then this short collection has succeeded.

    Related Readings
    Davis, M. F. (2005). Child care as a human right: A new perspective on an old debate. Women, Politics & Policy, 21(1–2), 173–180.
    Folby, N. (2001). The invisible heart: Economics and family values. New York: New Press.
    Friedan, B. (1963). The feminine mystique. New York: W. W. Norton.
    Friedan, B. (1997). Beyond gender: The new politics of work and family. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    Garland, S. (1991, September 2). Commentary: How to keep women managers on the corporate ladder. Business Week, p. 64.
    Goldin, C. (1990). Understanding the gender gap: An economic history of American women. New York: Oxford University Press.
    Goldin, C. (2004, November). The long road to the fast track: Career and family. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 596, 20–35.
    Hochschild, A. R. (1997). The time bind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Metropolitan Books.
    Jacobs, J. A., & Madden, J. F. (Eds.). (2004, November). Mommies and daddies on the fast track: Success of parents in demanding professions. [Special issue.] Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 596.
    Jacobs, J. A., Madden, J. F., & Winslow, S. E. (2004). Overworked faculty: Job stresses and family demands. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 596, 104–129.
    KomaromyM., Bindman, A. B., Haber, R. J., & Sande, M. A. (1993). Sexual harassment in medical training. New England Journal of Medicine, 328, 322–326.
    Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Schein, E. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (
    3rd ed.
    ). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Vogelheim, E. (2005). The alliance for jobs in Germany: The promise and failure of gender mainstreaming. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 21(1–2), 163–172.

    About the Author

    Jacqueline DeLaat is McCoy Professor of Political Science at Marietta College in Ohio. She also teaches online for the University of Maryland's University College. In addition, she has lectured in China and Brazil, and in 2003 she was selected for a Fulbright Teaching Award. Her educational background is in U.S. politics and she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in public administration. For more than twenty-five years she has taught political science in small liberal-arts institutions, with major teaching areas in public policy, public administration, U.S. politics and institutions, and women in politics and the workplace. She is known as an enthusiastic teacher, favoring active student projects and a dynamic classroom—including the frequent use of current event projects, case studies, and simulations.

    Prior to her teaching career, she worked in the Washington, D.C., area and held a variety of administrative posts in government and in quasi-governmental organizations. Her Washington experience has enhanced both her subsequent teaching and her research. She has also consulted with several colleges and universities, as well as private and governmental organizations, on gender issues.

    For the past decade, her professional agenda has focused on the development of teaching cases to prepare students and workers for gender issues in the contemporary workplace. Originally centered in the United States, the work has recently broadened to include case studies set in workplaces in other countries, including Brazil, China, and Germany. Her cases are frequently presented at international case study meetings and have won awards, including a special grant from the American Bar Association's Commission on Justice and Education. Within the political science community, she has presented on the pedagogy and development of case studies. In addition, she has presented at several international women's conferences and in 2005 conducted an interactive workshop on gender in the workplace at the first Women's Leadership Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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