Women remain remarkably underrepresented in the partner ranks in professional service firms—as lawyers, accountants, and consultants—despite having gained parity with men at the associate level long ago.
This stalled advancement is surprising in light of companies’ efforts to improve the situation, often by means of well-intentioned work-life accommodation policies. Time and again, however, researchers document how taking accommodations has the unintended effect of derailing women’s careers. Yet these remain the go-to solutions, and women’s careers continue to languish.
Does gender diversity
make an organization more productive?
Some say yes,
suggesting that gender diversity could lead to more innovative thinking and
signal to stakeholders that an organization is well run. Others say no,
pointing to group research showing that demographic diversity could lead to
conflict and reduce team solidarity.
But while past
research has been conflicting,
most have looked at this question only within a single country or industry.
This oversight got me thinking: could social context play a role? Social norms
and regulatory context could affect people’s approaches to and attitudes toward
diversity, which might, in turn, influence diversity’s organizational impact
Disabled people continue to be underrepresented in employment and to experience unequal career opportunities when they are employed. (While in the U.S., it is more common to use the term ‘people with disabilities’, we follow the U.K. tradition of using the term ‘disabled people’, which is used to particularly highlight the social origin of disability and the role of societal barriers in causing people with impairments to become disabled.)
This problem has many different causes, including employers’ and co-workers’ stereotypes, different forms of discrimination, the way jobs are designed, and the lack of access to reasonable accommodations. In an article recently published in Organization, we focus on another element that can contribute to the disadvantaged labour market position of disabled employees: the disabling role of organizational spaces.
It is common knowledge that disabled people have a tough time at work throughout the developed world. In Britain, in theory, the law (Equality Act 2010) protects disabled people against discrimination in employment, but in practice it is a different story. Yes, a British disabled person can take a case to an Employment Tribunal and sue the employer for discrimination, but if they do they are likely to lose. Looking at over 750 judgments in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017, we found that less than a ﬁfth of all cases that went to the first stage (a preliminary hearing) were successful. At the final stage (a full hearing) a claimant is almost three times more likely to fail than to succeed.
Our research explores why this occurs and we found several reasons. First, many judges make restrictive judicial decisions, for instance on the time period necessary to bring a claim (3 months). Woe betide the person who waits more than three months from when he/she experienced discrimination! Judges can extend the time limit where it is ‘just and equitable to do so’, but in practice they rarely do, choosing not to exercise their discretion.
In the UK, only one in six tech professionals are women. In the US, women’s representation is higher at one in four. How do technically-skilled women working in tech think women in their industry are regarded, and how does it affect how they as women behave at work? Qualitative interviews with 57 UK-based female tech professionals from range of organizations suggest that the “gender structure” in tech influences how female tech professionals experience their careers.
A gender structure is an enduring pattern of
how men and women relate to each other within a social system. As with any
social structure, a gender structure consists of norms that guide behaviour. These
norms can be detrimental to how women experience their jobs, and so some push
back against them. The gender structure in tech includes a pervasive belief that
women are less suited to tech work. Male colleagues communicate this belief in
subtle ways, which influence how women behave and think of themselves as women
within the industry.
Even though pay differences between men and women have declined in past decades, evidence suggests men continue to receive greater pay raises than women for the same performance.
In a recent study, I investigate
whether these biases in annual merit raises disappear when supervisors get to
know new employees over time.
I found that no matter how long employees work with their
company, gender pay gaps widen with each additional year employees stay.
Balancing work and life outside of work can be difficult in modern societies. Work-family imbalance especially pertains to women in the labor market, because they are often responsible for childcare and housework besides working their jobs.
In a recent study, we examine how different work arrangements that play a role in reconciling work and family life relate to jobs’ gender composition. We scrutinize whether women specifically choose jobs with work arrangements that correspond with women’s preference for reconciling work and family life, or whether more and more women entering jobs shifts the work arrangements in these jobs towards women’s preferences.
Our results show that women increasingly enter jobs that offer more part-time work and work from home, and avoid jobs with more weekend work. We do not find that working women can shift the work arrangements in their jobs toward a better balance of work and family life.
Just a few decades ago, it was rare for young children to attend a preschool of any kind. The majority of children of this age were cared for in their homes by their parents, usually their mothers. Fast forward to today, and a majority of young children attend some kind of preschool.
Certainly, many preschools in the contemporary United States are private, but cities like New York and states like Oklahoma have made tuition-free public preschool universally available to all families. The United States still invests less in preschools than most other advanced democracies. However, as public preschool programs have been rolled out in state after state, US investment in preschool is now more similar to what we see in other countries than is investment in childcare for younger children.
The important role of these investments in public preschool for inequalities in children’s learning and development is well-documented. In a recent study, I set out to better understand the implications of the rise in children’s preschool attendance for the work lives of their parents, focusing on the very simple outcome of whether parents with children of this age participate in the labor market.
Why do the children of highly educated parents so often turn
out highly educated themselves? Is this inheritance largely a social affair,
that the welfare state can compensate for by levelling the playing field? Or is
educational attainment “mostly in the genes” and thereby beyond the
influence of policy levers?
Historically, sociologists have tended to favor social explanations.
At the same time we have often shied
away from competing perspectives (with
important exceptions). Recently, that has begun to change. Understanding the
links between genetics and the social environment in generating social
inequalities is increasingly a concern for social scientists.
The way housework is organized has changed significantly over time. We have witnessed a proliferation of platforms and private agencies that provide consumers with occasional cleaners or live-in domestic workers. But what are the experiences of these diverse workers and do they share common interests and struggles?
In the context of globalizing neoliberal policies, documenting experiences of labor organizing and autonomous initiatives is more important than ever for emancipatory politics. In global care chains, the logistics around the mobility, placement and regulation of domestic workers are increasingly mediated through private-sector brokers.
In a recently published article, we compare emerging infrastructures for the regulation of domestic work in Belgium and Lebanon and analyze subversive attempts to organize within these infrastructures. Our case studies illustrate how the commodification and logistification of domestic labor pose new challenges for organizing.