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Forum on Public Policy Online

Vol 2010 no. 5 (Posted December 2010)

Women and Careers || Laws || Early Childhood || Arts and Sciences

Women and Careers


Women’s Access to Higher Education Leadership: Cultural and Structural Barriers
Julia Ballenger, Professor, Stephen F. Austin State University

The Labor Force 2008 projections reflected that the rate of growth for women in the labor force will increase at a faster rate than that of men (Fullerton, 1999).  In 2008, the majority of employed women (39 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations (U.S. Department of Labor, 2008). Although women’s participation in the U. S. labor force has increased, and women occupy 44 percent of management jobs in American companies, top management ranks remain dominated by men (Powell, 1999; U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998).  Goodman, Fields, and Blum (2003) refer to the exclusion of women from top managerial positions as evidence of a glass ceiling. A glass ceiling is defined as “…those artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational biases that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organizations into managerial-level positions” (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991, p. 1).

This glass ceiling is evident in the supposedly progressive world of higher education.  While women have made significant inroads into the senior leadership of American higher education, parity for women presidents has yet to be reached. In 2006, the percentage of college presidents who were women represented 23 percent which more than doubled the 10 percent of women college presidents in 1986.  However, the rate of change has slowed since the late 1990s. These trends suggest that higher education institutions have been slow to expand opportunities for women to enter senior leadership (American Council on Education, 2007). This research focuses on the exclusionary practices and lack of access to higher education leadership for women. It is argued that attitudinal and organization biases against women in higher education tend to exclude women from upper-level leadership positions. Therefore, from a social justice perspective, the researcher will examine cultural and structural conditions and practices that create barriers to and opportunities for the advancement of women in higher education leadership.

Barriers To Women’s Progress: Psychology As Basis and Solution
Lorene S. Coward, Adjunct Instructor, Trident Technical College

Although opportunities have grown for women to actualize both socially and vocationally, women continue to experience barriers to complete success. The article examines the progress of women’s rights and the increase of opportunity women do now enjoy in the context of the discrimination which still exists against them. Current discrimination and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes by both masculine and feminine society are explored. The psychological aspect of the issue is examined at length. The ways in which psychological phenomena continue to oppress females are discussed, and the absence of certain socially nurtured psychological mentalities on the part of women as factors for motivation are also presented.
            Possible solutions to the complex problem are offered via recommendations to the educational community about academic courses and career guidance, both which have proved to diminish negative psychology. Finally, a review of legislation which has helped to battle discrimination is given and an invocation is made to all readers to emphasize the need for tougher legislation to law officials in order to more strongly battle lingering discriminatory incidents.

Inequity in the academy: A case study of factors influencing promotion and compensation in American universities
Lee Fox-Cardamone, Associate Professor, Psychology, Kent State University
Kathryn Wilson, Professor, Economics, Kent State University

The literature on higher education in the United States has maintained a place for the specific topic of discrimination against women in the American academy.  Institutional restrictions, invisible ceilings, hidden hierarchies—all of these have entered into the discussion surrounding both the failure of women to progress through the academic ranks in numbers consistent with those of their male colleagues, as well as the perceived disparities in salary between men and women at all academic ranks. 
            This paper utilizes a case study approach in exploring the progress of female academicians at a large, Midwestern university in terms of both salary parity and rates of promotion to senior academic ranks.  The salaries and rates of promotion for male and female academicians over the past 2 decades were examined for an analysis of trends across time.  In addition, a variety of factors were introduced into the analyses to aid in explaining existing  differences, both in terms of compensation and promotion rates.  If these factors reflect the state of American universities more generally, the pressing question to be addressed is whether existing differences between male and female academicians are due to entrenched institutional biases, or whether such differences reflect other, more societal, factors. 

The Female “Rite of Passage” in an American Department of English
Sara Munson Deats, Distinguished University Professor, Department of English, University of South Florida

In 1970, a freshly minted PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles and an Assistant Professor English, I came to the University of South Florida, an institution totally dominated by men, who held almost all the tenure-track positions and leadership posts. Only the Colleges of Nursing and Education promoted females to Chairs and Deans. Thirty-five years later, in 2005, a stellar year for women at the University of South Florida, USF presented a very different profile, boasting a female Chair of the English Department, a female Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a female Provost, a female President, and equal gender distribution among most of the tenure-track faculty and Full Professorships in the Humanities, including the Department of English. The English Department had even erased the notorious pay gap between female and male faculty.
            My article traces my progress and that of female colleagues in the English Department from marginalized advisors and teachers of Freshman Composition to leaders in the Department and University as a microcosm of the progress of women throughout the United States as delineated in Gail Collin’s respected book, When Everything Changed.  In my article, I shall ask not only “When did it change?” but “Why?,” “How?” and “Has it changed enough?” I shall also explore the strategies promoting this progress—many of which I helped to initiate and implement—with the goal of helping other Departments to achieve a permanent gender equality. In addition, I shall consider areas that have not changed enough and discuss possible solutions to continuing gender inequalities.

China’s Progress Toward Gender Equity: From Bound Feet to Boundless Possibilities
Linda Serra Hagedorn and Yi (Leaf) Zhang

Throughout the world, gender defines an omnipresent and personal identity.  Historically gender effects have ventured far beyond the biological aspects of reproduction and deep into societal constraints of action, appearance, freedom, and destiny.  Gender provides convenient labels, descriptions, and expectations.  Unfortunately history provides many examples where gender has been used as a tool of oppression. 
The history of the world’s most populous nation, China, provides a long and interesting tale of gendered outcomes.  We argue that across three generations China has progressed from the gendered atrocity of female footbinding to a somewhat genderless college admissions process.  The current generation of China’s young women is not only able to run on unfettered feet but also have unprecedented personal options, opportunities, and responsibilities denied to previous generations.  This study addresses generational change specifically through the eyes and perspectives of the contemporary women of China.  Our study focuses on three generations of women; each formed by very unique cultural and political situations within their natal country.  China’s contemporary young adult women, born between 1979 and 1985, are typically “only daughters” of a generation of one-child families resulting from China’s one-child family policy.  This unique generation has grown up without the competition of other siblings.  Their mothers grew up in much different era, shortly after the People’s Republic of China (1949) was established.  These women’s lives were affected by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).  On average, these women were born to large families with clear preferences for sons.  Finally, we extend back another generation to the grandmothers of our seed sample who typically were in the first generation of Chinese women to be free from footbinding. 
The manuscript begins with a description and history of three historical milestones; each relevant to one of the contemporary generations included in this study.  We then provide data showing the speed and direction of gendered outcomes.  Finally, we provide a qualitative oral history study of these three generations of women in China through interviews with the young adult women, their mothers, and their grandmothers.  The use of oral histories as primary sources has been promoted through several respected historical works (S. Wang 2006).

The Industrial Machine and the Exploitation of Women: The Case of Ciudad Juárez
Melinda Haley, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at El Paso,  

This paper will briefly describe how industrialization fostered by United States and European interests have historically impacted women throughout the developing world, and explicitly, how it has impacted the women of Ciudad Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua, México from 1993 to the present. Specifically, I will discuss how the construct and policies of neoliberalism, the conditions brought forth by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the industrialization of Juárez have impacted the economic, working, and sociocultural conditions of women.  Within this discussion, I will illustrate how the maquiladoras (factories) have circumvented Latina Méxican cultural and gender patterns, leaving these women vulnerable to unabated poverty, violence, and femicide. This paper will conclude with a discussion from a social justice perspective regarding suggestions of the interventions necessary to improve the conditions affecting these women.

“From la Malinche and Menchú to Modern-Day ‘Mayas’:  Women Forging Paths through the Maze of Higher Education”
Vickie A. Hall, Assistant Professor,  St. Petersburg College Clearwater, Florida
 “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.” Bulwer-Lytton recognized this strength years ago, and its truth continues to ring true in the works of authors: Tzvetan Todorov, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Rigoberta Menchú, and Deborah Tannen. Language is a centuries-old weapon wielded in the struggle against misogynistic societies due to its ability to empower traditionally marginalized women; such as, la Malinche and Rigoberta Menchú. Although these inspirational women made tremendous impacts on their worlds, the battle goes on, as gender differences in conversational styles continue to play a role in women’s ability to “break the glass ceiling” in the new millennium. This paper follows some of the paths carved by these women pioneers, whose knowledge and use of language, paved the way in providing a voice for women in higher education today, as well as, explores the persistent inequality that results from gender miscommunication.

Women In Academia: What Can Be Done To Help Women Achieve Tenure?
Barbara Mandleco, Professor, Brigham Young University College of Nursing

Women are not tenured at the same rate they are receiving PhDs, and less likely to be tenured when compared to their male counterparts.  Reasons women have difficulty achieving tenure include not discussing important information about an academic appointment with colleagues, working part time or as adjunct faculty, being involved in “pastoral or administrative” work, not having a realistic understanding of how important research is when untenured, and experiencing non academic issues. Interventions to alleviate this situation include departmental/campus policies before/during/after the woman is hired. Before being hired it is important to provide female faculty mentors to bright/capable women doctoral students and help them prepare for the academy by prioritizing scholarship over teaching and encouraging publications. During the hiring process it is useful to target women through advertising/recruiting at conferences, consider hiring current female doctoral students after completion of a post doctoral experience at another institution, and appointing women faculty as chair/members of search committees. After women are hired it is important to improve transparency/equitability/inclusivity of tenure guidelines, assist women create a plan of action related to tenure criteria and their own skills/abilities, provide formal/informal mentoring opportunities, improve the departmental/campus climate regarding female faculty and interaction with male colleagues, and adopt family friendly policies to better integrate family/work obligations by providing flexibility in when/where/how work is done, or offering job sharing or part time employment options.

Negotiating the Line Between Masculine and Feminine Rhetoric Within the Academy
Amy Nishimura, Assistant Professor of English, University of Hawai`i, West O`ahu
Teaching within institutions that prototypically privilege the social order of language is often problematic for both genders, especially because we tend to occupy masculine lines of rhetoric.  The “standards” that women adhere to are not always associated in the feminine construction, and when we question “standards,” the language base we utilize is rooted according to a patriarchal construction.  When Luce Irigaray and other feminist writers argued that we must find new ways of creating discourse, she called for a complex construct, one that challenges the social order; that is, Irigaray and others asked society to consider shades of discourse that recognize tolerance, empathy, compassion, and ambiguity.  This paper will illustrate how the masculine and feminine use language differently—in various forums, in negotiable lines between both sets of discourse.  

Some of the central questions this paper will examine include, how does the way we use language in an organized institution, in specific forums, differ based on the amount of perceived power/privilege we have?  How do male and female colleagues communicate differently yet along similar lines when it pertains to bureaucratic tasks within a University setting?  Women’s discourse, often misconstrued, is characterized along lines of pink-collar tasks, We metaphorically clear tables and manage tasks that others are unwilling to attend or wish to ignore.  More specifically, we aim to reconcile lines of communication within the institution and use compassionate rhetoric; as a result, those who use such rhetoric are perceived in negative connotations.  This work is often rendered invisible or marginalized in most work-place environments, but this paper will argue how these tasks benefit the University setting and how they might function differently in an idealized setting such as Hawai`i.

Career Stages of Executive Women: The Role of Self in Career Development
Katherine C. Powell, Professor, Florida Atlantic University

Self-concept, self-esteem and self-confidence play a variety of roles in the arena of career and academic development.  In the corporate environment, self-confidence is a key to overcoming internal and external barriers during the careers of executive women. The early career stages of executive women consist of a period of uncertainty and discovering, while they learn their new corporate environment.  During the latter career stages, executive women learn how to succeed in their position and how the corporate culture works.  Executive women attain more confidence as they learn about their new skills and become more effective leaders. 
     The leadership style of executive women tends to be more cooperative than the traditional hierarchical leadership style of men.  From a sociological perspective, the development of self depends upon the social context where one can derive a strong sense of self.  In the corporate arena, there are societal expectations that are different for men and women.  Being aware of their talents and building on accomplishments, executive women can increase their self-confidence and build a strong sense to achieve success in a diverse corporate environment.

Looking Through Shattered Glass: The Career Trajectories Of Carly Fiorina And Indra Nooyi
Sandra Wagner-Wright, Professor Emerita, History, University of Hawaii at Hilo

In 2005, Fortune Magazine published How Corporate America is Betraying Women.  The article’s focus was that although sex discrimination in the United States became illegal in 1965, women continued to experience significant salary and promotion differentials in corporate America.  A more common phrase for this inequity is “glass-ceiling,” defined as a generally insurmountable barrier to women seeking the chief executive’s office.  Some women, however, pierced the glass. Carly Fiorina became CEO of Hewlett-Packard 1999–2005.   In 2006, Indra Nooyi became Chief Executive at PepsiCo.  This paper outlines research on women’s management style and access to executive positions, traces the public career trajectories of Carly Fiorina and Indra Nooyi, and discusses whether their individual successes negate the “glass-ceiling” hypothesis, in which case, the issue may be less about access and more about women’s lifestyle choices.

The Evolution of Women's Roles within the University and the Workplace
Joyce G. Webb, Associate Professor of Communication, Shepherd University

On April 20, 2010, United States President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring National Equal Pay Day. In the proclamation it was recognized that despite years of progress in the workforce, women are still not paid as much as men. The proclamation states:
Throughout our Nation's history, extraordinary women have broken barriers to achieve their dreams and blazed trails so their daughters would not face similar obstacles. Despite decades of progress, pay inequity still hinders women and their families across our country. National Pay Day symbolizes the day when an American woman's earnings finally match what an average American man earned in the year. Today, we renew our commitment to end wage discrimination and celebrate the strength and vibrancy women add to our economy.
The proclamation emphasized, "Nearly half of all working Americans are women, yet they earn only about 80 cents for every dollar men earn. This gap increases among minority women and those with disabilities." While the proclamation is meant to be symbolic in nature, the research question, which must be asked, is: Will the status of women in the workforce improve? In order to provide analysis and an answer to the question, one must examine the history of women in the workforce, the plight of women in the university, and the effect of women's roles on society.


Williams Holistic Approach Model (WHAM): Sustainable University Leadership from the Perspective of a Woman Physicist
Elvira S. Williams, Professor of Physics; Founding Director of Nanotechnology Institute Initiative, Former Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Shaw University

University leadership from career and organizational viewpoints are discussed from the perspective of a woman physicist.    Laws of physics are used, through appropriate analogies, as templates for structuring useful life lessons on holistic WHAM leadership.   Interactive university skill sets and program policies based on holistic WHAM approaches are least likely to omit significant factors that could contribute to creation of great students as products—the main goal of university leadership.  The holistic WHAM life lessons presented rest upon Five Pillars of Support for Success (or simply Five Pillars).   The writer views these five Pillars as encompassing the basic aspects of life and living and defines them as follows: Spiritual (central and most important), Physical, Intellectual, Social, and Financial. The WHAM model is based on nurture in these five areas and demonstrates that the greater collaboration or unitedness in any given endeavor, the greater the yield.  Women are natural nurturers and should be considered for leadership roles.  Impediments to their progress and ways to help improve the numbers as they relate to women as leaders in the academy are explored.





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