Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Women's Perceptions of Organizational Culture, Work Attitudes, and Role-Modeling Behaviors

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Women's Perceptions of Organizational Culture, Work Attitudes, and Role-Modeling Behaviors

Article excerpt

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women in America currently occupy more than half the seats in the nation's college classrooms and earn more than half the MBAs (Gerald and Hussar, 2002). They comprise half the U.S. workforce and their numbers in traditionally male-dominated environments (such as manufacturing) are steadily growing. Yet they continue to be significantly underrepresented in the executive ranks of nearly every industry and enterprise in the nation. Only about ten percent of the senior managers in Fortune 500 companies are women, with less than four percent holding the "C-level" titles of CEO, CFO, and CO0 (Meyerson and Fletcher, 2000). Among top corporate earners, women number less than three percent (Meyerson and Fletcher, 2000). Overall, women continue to earn less than males (on average, 76 cents to the dollar; Caizza et al., 2004). Even after correcting for theories explaining these gaps--that women neglect to build their "human capital," that married women sacrifice their careers for their spouses', that women choose the "mommy track"--the fact remains, men still achieve greater extrinsic career success than women (Kirchmeyer, 2002; Stroh et al., 1992). What these researchers conclude is that organizations may create a climate in which subtle forms of discrimination still exist.

Various speculations exist for why this might be. For example, in a recent survey of men and women executives from Fortune 1000 companies, more than 46 percent cited stereotypes about women's roles and abilities, a lack of role models, a lack of mentoring, and an inhospitable corporate culture as explanations for the career advancement inequity between men and women (Wellington et al., 2003). These factors appear to create a condition we call the opportunity gap: the phenomenon that bars women from advancing in their careers at the same rate as men.

For women to advance, it is important for those few women at higher levels of management to engage in role-modeling behaviors (Wellington et al., 2003). Our study thus examined work-related correlates of two important role-modeling behaviors: mentoring junior colleagues and demonstrating citizenship behaviors. We tested a model proposing that those two role-modeling behaviors will be related to women's own career satisfaction and organizational commitment and their perceptions of organizational culture. Our article intends to contribute to the research on women's career advancement and mentoring.


Studies have identified mentoring and organizational citizenship behaviors as important workplace behaviors associated with career advancement. Vincent and Seymour (1995) found that mentors' careers are enhanced because proteges offer work assistance and serve as sounding boards for ideas. In fact, 97 percent of mentors reported that being a mentor helped their own careers. Likewise, research on organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), such as promoting the organization and helping co-workers improve work-group functioning, found that organizations reward OCB in terms of salary and promotion (e.g., Allen and Rush, 1998) and overall performance evaluations (e.g., Podsakoff et al., 2000). McManus and Russell (1997) noted that mentoring and OCB are conceptually similar in that both represent extra-role behaviors not mandated by organizational roles but are nonetheless rewarded by organizations. Yet these are distinct constructs in that mentoring involves more depth and focuses on behaviors intended to develop junior colleagues, whereas organizational citizenship focuses on specific behaviors directed toward individuals that benefit the work group or organization as a whole.

Mentoring Behaviors

Mentoring is a developmental relationship that occurs between senior and junior colleagues. Mentors provide both career and psychosocial development (Kram, 1983). Career mentoring includes sponsorship, exposure and visibility, coaching, protection, and providing challenging assignments. …

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