Gendered politics in the workplace
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Gendered Politics in the Workplace What are workplace politics? Actions by individuals that attempt to push the agenda of a workplace in a direction that benefits some individuals/groups over others.

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  • What are workplace politics?

  • Actions by individuals that attempt to push the agenda of a workplace in a direction that benefits some individuals/groups over others.

  • Every workplace has politics. Politics become problematic when those in power use politics to discriminate against a group.


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Politics of Workplace Culture:

  • Informal workplace cultures can create politics such that some groups benefit over others. Two types of “political” workplace cultures that harm women are:

  • Tokenism

  • Comparable Worth Discrimination


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Job Sex Segregation and Politics

  • JSS leads to the negative ramifications of tokenism and comparable worth discrimination.

  • Because men and wo(men)/of color are usually in separate jobs:

    • When there are a few “tokens” in a job filled with dominants, the workplace culture makes it harder for tokens to succeed.

    • We learn to devalue the skills associated with oppressed groups and only value the skills associated with the oppressor groups (comparable worth discrimination)


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Politics of Workplace Culture: Tokenism

  • 1)Kanter argues numbers (in and of themselves) can create a political atmosphere that discriminates against white women and people of color

  • Skewed, Tilted, Balanced, Uniform


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  • Tokens “differ from people not in ability to do a task or in acceptance of work norms but only in terms of these secondary and informal assumptions.” Kanter, p. 280

  • “People can thus be in a token position even if they have not been placed there deliberately for display….It is sufficient to be in a place where others of that category are not usually found, to the first of one’s kind to enter a new group, or to represent a very different culture and set of interactional capacities to members of the numerically dominant category.” 280


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Token Status Causes: in acceptance of work norms but only in terms of these secondary and informal assumptions.” Kanter, p. 280

  • 1) Performance Pressures

    • Public performance

    • Extension of consequences

    • Attention to a Token’s Discrepant Characteristics

    • Fear of Retalitaion

      • RESPONSES BY TOKEN:

      • Overachievement

      • Invisibility


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Token Status Causes: in acceptance of work norms but only in terms of these secondary and informal assumptions.” Kanter, p. 280

  • 2) Boundary Heightening

  • Exaggeration of Dominant’s Culture

  • Interruptions as Reminders of “difference”

  • Overt Inhibition

  • Loyalty Tests

    • RESPONSES BY TOKENS:

    • Accept Isolation

    • Become Insider


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Token Status Causes: in acceptance of work norms but only in terms of these secondary and informal assumptions.” Kanter, p. 280

  • 3) Role Entrapment

  • Status Leveling

  • Stereotyped Role Induction

    • RESPONSES BY TOKENS:

    • Accept Roles

    • Isolate


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Comparable Worth in acceptance of work norms but only in terms of these secondary and informal assumptions.” Kanter, p. 280

  • Acker shows that the stated purpose of the job evaluation process (to evaluate male dominated and female dominated jobs and their skills) took secondary and sometimes tertiary purpose to upholding hierarchy and maintaining gender distinctions.


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Skills favored male dominated jobs, like managers. process. From deciding how to write the questionnairre which questions workers about their jobs, the relative weighting of factors, the definition of factors to the evaluation process itself.

  • For example, the know-how dimension is weighted heaviest with regards to points on the scale (60%) and you can only score high on this dimension if your job is a supervisory one.

  • Also, concepts like accountability tap into some skills already measured in know-how, thus managerial skills are being weighted more than once in different categories.

  • For instance, women are commonly responsible for people and not property, and these skills are not thought of as worthy of pay


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Rejected were skills in jobs dominated by female process. From deciding how to write the questionnairre which questions workers about their jobs, the relative weighting of factors, the definition of factors to the evaluation process itself.

  • With working conditions, all outside jobs were thought of as more hazardous then working inside.

  • factors as, role loading, having to perform multiple different tasks or time demands, do something by a deadline or having to work with frequent interruptions were not considered skills.


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Reproducing Hierarchy process. From deciding how to write the questionnairre which questions workers about their jobs, the relative weighting of factors, the definition of factors to the evaluation process itself.

  • The most important task was to ensure that managers deserved more pay, so their tasks were double or sometimes triple counted.

  • Despite this, jobs dominated by women that were evaluated similarly as jobs dominated by men were paid less.

  • Nothing changed because of politics!


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