Using Psychographic Dimensions to Discriminate between Men and Women Executives: An Empirical Analysis

Article excerpt

Around the globe, there seems to be a male dominated managerial model in organisations. In spite of tremendous improvement in the status of women in society in the last several decades, most middle and top management positions are still held by men, even though qualified women exist to occupy them. Managing gender differences and expectations is an important issue in India. The present research has been designed to assess the strength of psychographic dimensions in discriminating between men and women executives in the banking organisations. Discriminant analysis is used for the purpose. Data has been collected from a sample of 187 executives (consisting of 100 men and 87 women). Results reveal that among the psychographic variables, equality of opportunities is the most important discriminating factor followed by other factors, viz., supportive organisational environment, managerial abilities, and gender stereotypes. Women perceive that male executives are getting promotions more rapidly than equally qualified female executives in their organisations. The results further reveal lack of appreciation for women's capabilities and sensitivity to gender issues. It is thus proposed that organisations could significantly benefit by harnessing the under utilised talent of their female employee pool and fostering an environment of respect, dignity and equity based on merit rather than on gender.

INTRODUCTION

The rapid industrialisation of the Indian economy, the spread of education together with changes in attitudes towards employment of women, delayed marriage, and government support of working women are factors that have enabled women to come out of their homes to work. To survive in the current business environment, firms operating in India are now looking for talented human resources (Budhwar and Boyne, 2004). At present, women in India comprise approximately 31 per cent of the official work force - both in rural and urban and formal as well as informal sectors (Budhwar et al., 2005). The participation labour force of women in has been steadily rising over the years. Since 1980-2001, it has increased by 4.8 per cent. However, their representation in administrative and managerial sectors has always been low.

There is an inherent discrimination against women in the Indian social structure. A woman is considered subordinate to a man. A boy is preferred to a girl. A Telugu saying is that "Bringing up a girl is like watering a plant in a neighbour's garden". Tennyson has echoed similar sentiments when he said, "A woman is a lesser man" (Gangrade, 1988).

Managing gender differences and expectations is an important issue in India. Women are still clustered in lower and to a lesser extent middlemanagement positions. A mixture of social, organisational and personal biases have contributed towards keeping the employment of women, including in managerial positions, at a lower level. Around the globe, there seems to be a male dominated managerial model in organisations. In spite of tremendous improvement in the status of women in society in the last several decades, most middle and top management positions are still held by men, even though qualified women exist to occupy them. Globally, women comprise around 10 per cent of the senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies (Chadha, 2002). In India, their presence is known to range between a high of 5.8 per cent (Kulkarni, 2002) to a low of roughly 3 per cent (Chadha, 2002; Mehra, 2002; Singh, 2003) of all administrative positions. Despite the apparent strides made by professional women in their respective fields, gender discrimination continues to persist at the workplace.

Discrimination can be viewed as differential treatment of people on the basis of ascribed social attributes such as gender and race rather than attributes such as ability and skill (Bhatnagar and Swamy, 1995). However, discrimination also occurs simply by treating women differently from men. …