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

By Sandhu, H. S.; Mehta, Ritu | Journal of Services Research, April 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

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


Sandhu, H. S., Mehta, Ritu, Journal of Services Research


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. People who perceive women as different from men often do not realise that they are guilty of discrimination. Discrimination also refers to providing individuals with fewer rewards or facilities than they legitimately deserve. It also refers to favoritism; providing more rewards or facilities than they legitimately deserve (Das, 1988).

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

For the past several years, there has been significant amount of research about discrimination in the workplace. The lesser participation of women in management positions, especially at the upper levels of management, is well documented in all the industrialised countries of the world (Alpern, 1993; Butterfield, 1994). Studies of female managers in United States have generally ruled out lesser skills, abilities, attitudes, and motivation as reasons for the slower career progression of women (Browne, 1997).

Research has documented the existence of discrimination against women in terms of the devaluation of their performance and unfavorable attribution to their work (Deaux, 1984) as well as its manifestation in selection, placement, salary fixation, and appraisal discussions in organisations (Bhatnagar, 1988). Women often receive lower levels of remuneration compared to men (Padmore and Spencer, 1986) and less often assigned prestigious and challenging work than men (Lott, 1985). Their gender is reported as a major obstacle to women's advancement in organisations (Martin et al. …

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