Despite the provocative headline that got you this far, I'm sure there's something to it.

So few women top executives exist that I'm sure there's some "boys club" reason behind it in the board rooms of major corporations where, not coincidentally, there are relatively few women.

But what about female line workers: the female clerks, saleswomen, scientists and engineers. Not the woman who aspires to being the CEO, but the woman who, like most men, just wants to earn a living.

I've often wondered about the statistics and have yet to find an answer to this question: are the statisticians comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges?

Here's what I mean: 

Most men are ready to travel or even relocate away from friends and family if it will improve their career opportunities. I strongly suspect that while many woman are also ready to improve their careers in this way, most women are not. 

I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs.

Add to this some of the disadvantages of women in the workplace such as, greater absenteeism (female health and family commitment reasons), more likely to be a smoker (less likely to give up a break in a crisis situation), and less likely to accept a career move if it means leaving office friends behind, and...

...I wonder what the stats about advancement opportunities and pay would look like if one compared the women who were more like men against their male counterparts.

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Unseen, there are some gross generalizations in your post that make it nearly unanswerable. To say that most men do x and most women do y...another way of saying it is that many do not do x or y. As a result, the best answer in a general sense is to treat everyone equally, regardless of sex.
It does not matter if you find that 80% of all men behave in some way, because you end up disrespecting the rights of the other 20%. This is obviously the same for women.

Well, gee, you just destroyed ALL critical thinking in just one post! If something might bother someone, don't say it. Doesn't leave much to say, does it?

Sorry for being a party pooper, It's just that your argument seems based upon a premise that looks misogynist or possibly classist to me. It makes 2 assumptions about future choices--that a woman is less likely to travel and more likely to take a traditional job. If you did an Venn diagram of that, your argument makes it feel that the two circles would completely overlap each other, but they do not. 

You go on to speak of disadvantages, the Venn diagram doesn't necessarily work in that instance, because there is no way to know whether all women suffer from the same 3 disadvantages you speak of

  • More absenteeism than male counterparts (that can be measured against men, but how do you define it amongst women)
  • More likely to be a smoker (I don't know where you get your information on that, but when I look at a google search, I find much that says the opposite
  • Women's tie to their friends and family make them less likely to move away ( a small distinction from one of your first two points.)

So looking at our Venn diagram with all this info (If I was more sophisticated I would post that), it's kind of a disjointed looking thing starting with all working women as the biggest circle, then putting inside that circles regarding their future choices (choice making the circles wholly undefined) and then dots of also undefined disassociated parameters. 

So I am just saying that your observation about the glass ceiling is unprovable using the information you added below it. I have seen you make loads of great arguments on these forums, this one seems less formidable.

I worked for an all Jewish company once, I was the first person they ever hired for the office outside of family and synagogue. I hit the glass ceiling at that company, going as far as possible without marrying a daughter or keeping kosher. My observation about glass ceilings is that they are company/division/location specific and not part of larger cultural issue anymore, although they probably used to be.

Here's a piece to help you make your argument, that black women have started to make more than black men a few years ago, so at least in those terms, your proposition holds water. 

The problem with many of your counter arguments is that you seem to assume I'm saying something about ALL women (in the sense of every woman) whereas I'm making generalizations I believe to be true about women as a statistical class. Your anecdotal counter observations don't disprove my theses any more than mine prove them. 

My question was about whether studies showing a glass ceiling, especially for line workers and not in the board room, was apples to apples or apples to oranges in terms of comparing women in similar positions with equally strong aspirations to move up in the corporate structure. That question remains unanswered. I suspect a lot of the studies, especially ones done by or supported by women's advocates don't make that distinction. But the distinction is important if one is going to draw some sort of general conclusion comparing men and women in terms of salary and advancement opportunities.

Let's take the three points you bulleted:

absenteeism—women tend to have more personal and family-related absent days. I don't have statistics, but I think anyone who's worked in an office has noticed this. Men, more than women, tend to avoid doctor visits. Women more than men tend to take on the responsibility for taking kids to the pediatrician. It may have to do with their being the second or sole income in their household, which is another story entirely—and one worth examining—but I think it's a fact that women as a statistical group are absent more than men.

smoking—men may outnumber women (I stand corrected), but just drive around and check out who's out on smoke break. Male smokers seem better able to resist taking the smoke break. This isn't surprising: if you google you will find that women find it more difficult than men to give up smoking. To me, that means a man is more likely to work through his break to help the company.

willingness to accept promotions—I'm an old guy and I've seen many times that a woman will turn down a promotion opportunity if it takes her far away from her parents in particular or her family in general. Or...if it conflicts with her husband's career. It simply doesn't make sense for the couple to force the husband to give up his $65K job and move with her if she's accepting a $45K job even if it makes sense for her considered on her own. Also, women form very tight bonds with coworkers and the social aspect of work is often so strong that they may turn down a job in a different company location, even if it's in the same city. Not always, but often enough that it probably affects statistics.

At any rate, I'm asking questions, not offering answers. 

I did give one anecdotal comment, followed by "My observation about glass ceilings is that they are company/division/location specific and not part of larger cultural issue anymore, although they probably used to be." And one based upon census data, both of which helped make your argument, not counter to your argument.

I think you make a good point about glass ceilings, but as I gather it from the site here, we try not to base things on fuzzy logic. The more hard facts we cite the better the argument is.

If a woman changed jobs from company A to company B in 1950, would her chances of advancing be good? I think that answer would be no. In 2012, if she did the same thing, I think that her chances are far greater for advancement than her 1950 counterpart.

But there is a requirement to change jobs/companies in that situation. Both the 1950 and the 2012 woman, once they hit a glass ceiling at a particular company are at the mercy of their bosses, Although the 2012 woman has more legal protections in place. The 1950 woman and the 2012 woman if they stayed at the same job would have an equal chance of advancement (meaning little or none) because it depends on the progressiveness/openness of the supervisor more than it depends on the woman herself. (excepting legal protections)

It simply doesn't make sense for the couple to force the husband to give up his $65K job and move with her if she's accepting a $45K job even if it makes sense for her considered on her own.


I actually recently had a conversation about this with my boyfriend.  In order to make changes in attitude, we need women to stay in the workforce and aspire (and fight) to climb those ladders.  Unfortunately, this often isn't practical when it comes to salary disparities.

Not the woman who aspires to being the CEO, but the woman who, like most men, just wants to earn a living.  

I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs.


When we make points like this, we still don't know what came first.  Do women lack this aspiration or head toward these careers because they want to or because it is the path of least resistance?  Maybe it's because that's what they were told they should their whole lives.  My friend's son just told her that only daddies work.  We foster and grow this bias from a very young age.  As Kir points out below this bias often goes unnoticed during offers or selection processes but it does exist.

I work in a highly female-saturated, non-corporate career.  It confuses me when I look around: 80% of my coworkers are women, but 80% of my professors and supervisors are men.

The changes that need to happen aren't as obvious as they used to be.  They need to happen on a societal level in terms of attitudes and choices, and that will take more awareness and many generations.

In order to make changes in attitude, we need women to stay in the workforce and aspire (and fight) to climb those ladders.  Unfortunately, this often isn't practical when it comes to salary disparities.

Kind of a vicious circle, isn't it?

When we make points like this, we still don't know what came first.  Do women lack this aspiration or head toward these careers because they want to or because it is the path of least resistance?  Maybe it's because that's what they were told they should their whole lives.  My friend's son just told her that only daddies work.  We foster and grow this bias from a very young age.  As Kir points out below this bias often goes unnoticed during offers or selection processes but it does exist.

Or maybe testosterone and estrogen are as potent as we think they are, and do create a basic level of male and female even without the help of social forces. Destiny that can be overcome, but to think huge numbers of men and women will resist it to the degree hormones are irrelevant is fantasyland thinking. Despite your anecdote about your friend's son, these roles or stereotypes go back into prehistory, with just a few exceptions.

In some professions (sales, PR, the military) drive takes a back seat to getting along and forming friendships with coworkers. Testosterone may give men an advantage there,

 

 

I disagree that these characteristics are sex-bound due to hormones, and I have not seen any solid science to support it.  

If none of us know, why not do our best to try and eliminate the bias and see what happens?  Why argue against more fair treatment?  Why not break the cycle?  What is there to lose?

What you're up against is the silly notion that most women and men actually LIKE sex-linked behavioral characteristics in everyday life. This can't help but spill over into the work place. Most of us want women to be women and men to be men. We don't want the sexes to only be different physically.

Most of us want women to be women and men to be men.

Yeah, sterotypes for the win! /sarcasm alert

I think I do get what you mean, but I find it hard to determine what role nature and nurture play in regards to behavior.

At the very least we should not rule out the possiblity that hormones do play a role.

Sex-linked behavioral characteristics?  I again question the evidence for this position.  Looking at history, there were many environmental pressures that may have shaped these so-called sex-linked behaviors.  Today, thanks to medical and structural advancements, many of those pressures no longer exist with the same force.  

Where does it say that most women and men LIKE to be stereotyped?  Who likes to live life the best they know how and be told that they're too masculine (if a woman) or too effeminate (if a man)?  I again disagree, but it's clear that we are pulling from very different anecdotal experience.  Even if your statement is true, I fail to see why personal preference is an argument to maintain the status quo for those who do not share that preference.

I, for one, have nothing against a man and a women choosing to take on more traditional roles, but I do have a problem when people argue that it is unnatural or wrong to do anything but.

Sex-linked behavioral characteristics? I again question the evidence for this position. Looking at history, there were many environmental pressures that may have shaped these so-called sex-linked behaviors. Today, thanks to medical and structural advancements, many of those pressures no longer exist with the same force.

A new analysis of a survey of 10,000 people found that each sex has firmly entrenched characteristics, with women showing more sensitivity, warmth and apprehension than men.

In contrast, emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance are more typically male characteristics, experts said.

Previous research has claimed that that average personality differences between men and women are small.

But the new analysis published in the Public Library of Science One journal revealed that each sex shares a distinct set of characteristics, with just 18 per cent of men having a typically "female" set of traits or vice versa...

(B)y estimating the average difference in men's and women's scores on each of the test's 15 different measures of personality, and comparing them against one another, researchers found that in fact the sexes shared less ground than previously thought.

...

The new paper "clearly rejects the idea that there are only minor differences between the personalities of men and women," researchers said.

The study could explain why certain professions, such as engineering, are dominated by a particular sex in spite of efforts by governments to promote equality, Dr Paul Irwing, of Manchester Business School, who co-authored the paper, said.

He added: "You find far fewer women in engineering and it is normally contended that you cannot explain this in individual differences, but that is on the assumption they are small and our study shows they are huge.

"People are self-selecting into careers that fit their personality characteristics – it is the complete opposite of what people have assumed for the past 100 years." (source)

Where does it say that most women and men LIKE to be stereotyped? Who likes to live life the best they know how and be told that they're too masculine (if a woman) or too effeminate (if a man)? I again disagree, but it's clear that we are pulling from very different anecdotal experience. Even if your statement is true, I fail to see why personal preference is an argument to maintain the status quo for those who do not share that preference.

Our notions of what a man and a woman are like are concepts, not stereotypes. "Stereotype" is just a judgmental and/or prejudicial term used in describing a concept one dislikes. You don't want women to be feminine or men masculine? You want us to be identical in every way except in our bodies? I don't think most women or men want that, and the afore-quoted study refutes that notion.

I, for one, have nothing against a man and a women choosing to take on more traditional roles, but I do have a problem when people argue that it is unnatural or wrong to do anything but.

At no point did I say or even imply it was wrong or even unnatural for people to deviate from the norm. People in the real world exist on a continuum. But the norm is the norm.

And men and women are really different.

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