If you’re wondering why you don’t see more women in plumbing, it’s not because they’re under-represented, it has to do with ‘the environment’
The biggest challenge facing women in the workplace is being perceived as ‘bossy’, a term coined by the British businesswoman and entrepreneur Henry Higgins, who in the 1990s coined the phrase ‘the workplace environment’.
The idea of ‘bossiness’ comes from the phrase used to describe how bosses treat employees in organisations, and the idea is that if a woman is seen as bossy, other women are less likely to want to work for her.
According to research by the think tank Demos, women were much more likely to report bossiness when they were in a leadership position than they were when they weren’t, and this perception was much more prevalent when they felt they had a ‘lower status’ than the other women.
The think tank also found that women are more likely than men to feel they are treated unfairly and undervalued in the work place, and are more fearful of working with men.
In a 2013 study, the University of Pennsylvania found that female managers were more likely, in general, to be perceived as competent, independent and capable of managing their teams than their male counterparts.
It also found, however, that women had a much lower confidence in their own ability to lead.’
Women and minorities in leadership positions face less pressure to be good at their jobs than white men and white women, and they are also more likely and more satisfied with their job performance,’ the report said.’
The results suggest that if the workplace environment is not conducive to women’s ability to make effective decisions, they may have less confidence in the ability of their male and female colleagues to manage their teams.’
If the workplace culture is conducive to the promotion of leadership skills and performance, women and minorities may be more reluctant to join the workforce in a role in which they are perceived as superior.’
The report said that this ‘boss-ness’ may be rooted in an assumption that women in leadership roles are too ‘bossish’ and thus not valued.’
In order to be seen as competent or competent, women need to be able to take charge and lead and, if they are too bossy and assertive, it makes them less likely than their peers to be valued as leaders, and therefore less likely of achieving their potential,’ it said.
According the report, the ‘environment’ can also be a ‘triggering factor’ for women’s perceived gender inequality, which may lead to an inability to take the ‘next step’ to become a full-time, or even full-year, employee.’
We found that it was significantly more likely for women to report feeling undervalued, less valued and less capable in their roles than men.’
It also appeared that the ‘climate’ for female leadership may be related to women feeling less empowered, and less valued as employees.’
Given that women have historically been viewed as the weaker sex, it seems logical that these gender inequalities would be less pronounced for women,’ it added.
The report also noted that workplace diversity is not just about diversity in gender, race and ethnicity.
It said that there is a need to ‘engage with a broader range of perspectives in our thinking and actions about leadership, especially when they are not directly related to gender’, and said that while diversity is important, it is ‘not enough’ to ‘reverse gender inequality’.’
Women are also under-served in the workforce by gender stereotypes that suggest that they are ‘bosses’ and are too tough and demanding for men, according to Demos.’
For example, in a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, women reported feeling ‘disrespected’ in workplaces that do not have gender-equity in leadership, including by their male bosses.’
These findings underscore the need for broader diversity, including through increased representation of women in all levels of leadership roles and across sectors, in addition to a focus on the diverse roles of women, as well as diversity in their experiences, talents and perspectives.’