The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

In the Office, Women Finish Last

Posted by caitlinate on December 15, 2008

This is probably the laziest post of all time but it seems pointless to rehash the article when AlterNet have already done it so well.

They have an article up titled In the Office, Nice Girls Finish Last about gender inequalities in the workplace. Sure it’s an American article that I imagine is taking all its data from studies conducted in the U.S. but it is pretty relevant to workplaces all across the Western world. As someone who finds herself constantly in debate with men about the lesser pay women face, the difficulties with advancement (being told generally that it is because women just don’t work hard enough and are too busy having babies) an article like this that looks at the more complex elements of the issue sure is great.

It doesn’t just mention the fact that:

Regardless of class, race, educational level and profession, women make less money than their male counterparts — an average of 77 cents on the dollar. Women make up 2.4 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (and get paid less than those peers), less than one-fifth of partners in law firms (minority women fare significantly worse, accounting for 2 percent of law partners), and continue to be significantly underrepresented in politics.

but also delves into the differing attitudes and behaviours of men and women in the workplace and how this affects the advancement of women. Not just the priorities of women but also the roles we are told we are meant to fit and how we negotiate these.

“We found that women typically are concerned about being seen as pushy and intrusive, and they may hesitate to ask for the raise, ask for a promotion or do anything that makes them stand out and appear to be boastful,” says Goodson.

In a culture that offers up sweet-voiced Disney princesses as role models for young girls, it’s hardly surprising that many women have trouble being aggressive in the pursuit of advancement or blustering about their achievements. According to career counselor Karyl Innis, who has seen this dynamic play out in her work, “you have to roll it all the way back to how little girls are brought up and often they’re told to work hard; they’re told nice girls don’t do this, little girls don’t do that. And largely they’re being told, ‘don’t put yourself out there, don’t brag.’ ”

Go read!

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2 Responses to “In the Office, Women Finish Last”

  1. Mel Campbell said

    Hmmm – Clem had a very different take on this research when she blogged about it back in August. I remember people insisting that they didn’t fit the ‘nice girl’ archetype Goodson mentions.

  2. caitlinate said

    I see it not so much as whether or not we fit the nice girl or the such stereotype but the roles women are forced to take on in the workplace and the fact that no matter what we do we’re damned. As the intro to the article says: “So do mean girls. Studies show that women’s contributions at work are less likely to be recognized than men’s, and it’s not for lack of ambition.”

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