Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

By Walter D. Broadnax | Go to book overview

11
RACE, SEX, AND SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY IN FEDERAL WHITE-COLLAR EMPLOYMENT

Gregory B. Lewis University of Georgia

Are women and minorities as likely to supervise employees and to manage programs as are white males at the same levels in the federal bureaucracy? This study argues that they are not, based on analysis of a one percent sample of federal personnel records for 1982.

Samuel Krislov argues that in the late 1960s many top black bureaucrats in the federal government found more form than substance in their jobs, and that virtually all worried that they were filling the role of "Art Buchwald's Negro Ph.D. with an engineering background who speaks ten languages--to sit by the door to convince everyone of the egalitarian principle of the business office in which he is employed." 1 A great many black managers in the private sector seem to share this fear that they are "just being showcased." 2 Empirical research indicates that white males are much more likely to supervise subordinates than are women and minorities who appear to be similarly qualified. 3

Affirmative action helps raise more women and minorities into upper level positions, but other forces may keep them out of the more powerful positions at those levels. Based on an intensive study of one corporation, Kanter argued that managers place a high premium on easy communication because they face great uncertainty in their work. They prefer peers very similar to themselves because it

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Source: Public Administration Review 46 ( January/February 1986): 25-30.

-167-

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