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Social Status Of Women In Corporate America

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Social Status of Women in Corporate America

There is an inevitable intersection between corporate America and gender, and this relationship is the reason behind many issues of question regarding the low status of women. The common view maintains that women are of lower status than men and are kept in that position because of social construct. Thus, the established argument is based on the fact that the women are situated into an inescapable hole because their existing low social status keeps them from advancing. There are many theories that explain why and how the low status of women keeps them from upward mobility.

The basic foundation of the concept that the low status of women portray their inability to hold high positions is outlined by the ÐŽostructural modelÐŽ± presented by Herman Aguinis in his article, ÐŽoSocial Role Versus Structural Models of Gender and Influence Use in Organization: a Strong Inference Approach.ÐŽ± This model portrays the way in which ÐŽoinfluence use is dictated by organizational status, role, and degree of perceived powerÐŽ± (Aguinis, 1998). In other words, the position in which one is placed gives reason for that person to act a certain way. Women with a low status are put into a position of lower value and power, which basically causes them to behave in a way that is related to their position. Therefore, the model sets up the way in which women ÐŽouse indirect and weak forms of influence because they typically occupy low-status and less powerful organizational positions than menÐŽ± and these ÐŽolower positions provide them with fewer opportunities to use direct and strong forms of influenceÐŽ± (Aguinis, 1998). Women are then greatly affected by their status when trying to advance to higher positions because of this ÐŽostructureÐŽ± that exists. In a study done by Kollock (1985), it was shown that in homosexual relationships, the member a couple ÐŽorated as more powerful in shared decisions generally talked more and interrupted the partner more than the less powerful member did, regardless of sex or sex of partnerÐŽ± (Ridgeway, 1999). Therefore the idea that the structure and position in which one is placed determines the way a person behaves; in this case the lower status of a woman determines their submissive behavior.

Another theory describes the status-based assumptions that exist on the concepts is that men are more competent resulting in situations that enable men to be more influential than women. This is the ÐŽoexpectation states theoryÐŽ± which states that ÐŽoperformance expectations, shaped by gender status beliefs, create a power and prestige order among men and women in the settingÐŽ± (Ridgeway, 1999). The theory claims that because women have a lower status, people expect less from them, which result in women having less power and influence over people. In a group of mixed sex, men are more likely to ÐŽospeak upÐŽ¦make suggestionsÐŽ¦that others will respond positivelyÐŽ± and men are more likely to ÐŽobe selected leaderÐŽ± than a women (Ridgeway, 1999), while women are more likely to be ÐŽoless influentialÐŽo and thus cast into the ÐŽoreactive rather than the proactive roleÐŽ± (Ridgeway, 2001). Women are disadvantaged amongst men because women are not expected to act in a way that would be considered influential, which creates an obstacle even before any real conclusion about intelligence or competence can be made. Instead, the attentions of people are more focused on men because they are of higher status, and are expected to be more competent and intellectual.

Because of their lower status in comparison to men, women are viewed as incompetent and face legitimacy problems which give them no authority or power. In an article written by Henry A. Walker, he outlines the basis of ÐŽolegitimation theories,ÐŽ± which explains how problems with legitimacy can ÐŽomake it more difficult for women in positions of power to exercise directive power or dominance compared to men in equivalent positionsÐŽ± (Walker, 1986). Women are not readily given power because they do not hold proper legitimate authority according to their status in society. Instead, ÐŽoinstrumental and other ÐŽoleadership behaviorsÐŽ± are perceived as more legitimate for males because they are more socially higher in status and thus more competent (Walker, 1986). For example, when leaders behaved in a ÐŽodirective, autocratic styleÐŽ± women leaders with such characteristics were evaluated in ÐŽomore negativelyÐŽ± than men who behaved in the same manner (Ridgeway, 1999). In this manner, a womanЎЇs effort to give authority will create dislike and resistance by her peers. Thus, women are faced with challenging situations in which they are ignored and interrupted in the professional world. Also in accordance to this theory is the way in which women use more ÐŽotentative, deferential speech forms, especially with men,ÐŽ± which tend to make the speaker appear less convincing (Ridgeway, 1999). Since women are seen as illegitimate in handling authority, the way in which they talk is less dominant than their male peers, and this result in them being put down as less assertive in the information they are presenting, even to their intelligence. Instead of strongly holding their own ideas, women ÐŽolearn more supportive, less dominance orientated speech stylesÐŽ± (Ridgeway, 1999).

Since society have therefore restrained female in social status, it led us to be isolated and unfit to take a prominent position in corporate America. Men want to be congratulated with their success in regards to their work, while another woman who accomplished just the same amount of work, or maybe even more, is taken notice second. This is how America views a female who may be competing with another male to take the lead.

There are many ways in which society changed for the better in relation to the advancement of women, however, the hierarchical ranking of men at top is still disproportionably high in comparison with women and ÐŽothere is little doubt that women have not moved up the ranks in corporate AmericaÐŽ± (Marlow, 2003: 38). Thus, the picture that is clear in society today is that ÐŽothere are very few women in top leadership positionsÐŽ± (Marlow, 2003: 38). Opportunities for the promotion of women are still limited, and the low status of women is a never-ending scale of unbalance in work organizations and institutions, where women are situated at the bottom of the ladder. There many ways in which society keeps women from advancing and how it is linked to the supporting theories mentioned previously.

It is evident that society creates a barrier that disables women to achieve upward mobility in career, because the people around them simply will not let them move up. This



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