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Low Ratio Of Women İn Top Management Iı : Why There İs A Low Ratio Of Female Managers İn Top Managerial Positions?
MAKALE #4932 © Yazan Uzm.Psk.Mehtap HİSAR | Yayın Mayıs 2010 | 3,918 Okuyucu
Gender-role stereotypes and societal expectations from women have significant effects on attitudes towards women in managerial positions (Kabasakal 2004). It is expected from a woman to be a good mother and a wife as their actual responsibilities that are considered difficult to carry out successfully as a top manager. The negative attitudes towards women in top managerial positions appear in the non-supportive organizational conditions and processes, societal expectations and practices, stereotypical thoughts and beliefs regarding women’s managerial competencies which all contribute to low ratio of females’ representation in the top management levels discussed in the next sections. More specifically, as Aycan indicates, cultural norms regarding gender roles are the most important barrier for women in top management (2004). Moreover, difficulties that women encounter in the work place decrease their self-efficacy, desire for a higher managerial position and therefore their representation in top management (Aycan, 2004).
Non-supportive organizational practices and conditions
One of the reasons for such a low percentage is that the decision makers at today’s top management are mostly men who prefer to use gender based models and criteria in selection rather than objective qualifications such as experience or education (Powell 1999). There is a tendency to prefer a male applicant for a top managerial position which is much related with gender stereotypes (Rosen and Jerdee 1974; Breger 1992). In most cases, men prefer to hire a man rather than a woman even if he is less capable than the female applicant (Foschi, 1995).
Decision makers want to select an applicant who has the qualities that a managerial position requires. There is a strong belief that a manager must have the qualities such as assertiveness, decisive, achievement orientation and self-reliance which are mostly considered as male characteristics (Krueger 1980: cited in Wiggins and Carla 1991; Wirth 2004; Broverman et. al. 1972). Females are mostly considered as more feminine than men by being warm, affective, sensitive and upper level positions require more masculine characteristics (Fagenson 1990; Dipboye Fromkin and Wiback 1975; Powell and Butterfield 2003). They are believed to be good at listening and nurturing which cause for a base of social inequality since these characteristics are considered as less valuable and unproductive (Fagenson, 1990). Therefore, the sex of the applicant is considerably effective on the selection and compensation decisions of the decision makers in top management. During the recruitment and selection processes, there is a tendency to be placed the qualified women to the lower level positions (Wirth, 2004). ‘Attribution theory’ can give insights us about the aspects of discrimination in an organizational setting. It has been demonstrated that the sex influences how we are paid and promoted (Buchanan et. al. 2004). In short, men and women are approached differently based on the stereotypes and women are mostly considered as less favorable than their male colleagues in a work setting (Dipboye et. al. 1975).
Another possible factor for the low ratio of female representation in top management is that employees prefer to have a male supervisor rather than a female one. It is found that not only men but also women do not want to have a female supervisor (Wiggins et al 1991). More specifically, both men and women have an expectation that a male supervisor would be more successful in his job (Wiggins et al 1991). Furthermore, women are stereotyped in terms of their productivity and efficiency in their work. Organizations are in doubt whether it is worth to invest in female managers or not (Wiggins et al 1991).
One of the other important points is that a high status woman mostly considering other women in management as potential competitors has negative attitudes towards women in a senior position which is called “Queen Bee Syndrome” (Terborg et al, 1977). That is why; a high-status woman may have negative attitudes towards women just because she will be a danger for her career as being one of her competitors. In other words, women might also be themselves a factor for the low ratio of female representation in top managerial positions.
Despite the importance of the personal factors on the success of a manager such as education, skills and personality, the studies demonstrate that situational factors seem to be more influential on the women’s access to the top managerial positions and therefore on the small number of women in top management (Riger and Galligan 1980). More specifically, situational factors are more determining on the access and promotion of the women to a senior position than personal factors in top management. Most of time, promotion and remuneration were realized based on the societal or organizational factors rather than the motivation or job commitment (Devanna, 1984: cited in Wiggins et. al 1991). Therefore, the motivation and job commitment of female managers are often not taken into consideration while promotion and hiring decisions are taken for the senior managerial positions.
As it is stated before, there is a gap between the wages of two sexes which may also a possible reason for the low ratio of female managers since women may not consider worthy to be a top manager in terms of economical gain. There are some possible reasons for that gap such as seniority, age and education level differences between men and women, the need of women for flexible works because of the family responsibilities and gender inequalities in HRM practices (Wirth, 2004). Additionally, as it is same in most of the other countries in the world, there is a large gap between men and women’s wage in Turkey which means that women receive less income than men. Possible reasons can be determined for this case. One possible reason for such a gap is that majority of Turkish women mostly work in low paying jobs. Additionally, because of the glass ceiling phenomenon, women are mostly represented at the lower levels in the organizational hierarchy (Tan Ecevit Uşür, 2000).
Stereotypical thoughts regarding women’s managerial skills, capabilities and competencies
First of all, it is important to indicate that attitudes are resistant to change which means they are relatively stable. Even a person experiences a success of women; he still resists changing his attitudes because of his stereotypical thoughts regarding women’s managerial skills, capabilities and competences (Garland et al 1977). There are also powerful barriers found for women in terms of their career advancement such as negative assumptions and negative perceptions like being emotional, passive and sensitive, discrimination and mistrust towards their capabilities and competences (Wirth, 2004).More specifically, the attitudes towards women are based on the gender stereotypes such as being dependent, passive, subjective, limited in critical thinking, less secure, panic under pressure and lack of competitiveness (Wiggins et al 1991; Dempsey-Polan 1988: cited in Wiggins et al 1991; Broverman 1972). Unlike the female characteristics, male characteristics such as assertiveness, self-reliance and achievement orientation are all considered as the requirements of managerial positions (Wirth, 2004). This stereotypical thinking is also observed in Turkey (Sakalli- Ugurlu and Beydogan 2002). That is why;females are considered as devoted themselves to service rather than self-interest and therefore not compatible with the managerial positions (Bowman et. al 1965; Schein 1973: cited in Terborg Peters Ilgen and Smith 1977; Wiggins, 1991; Kabasakal et. al. 2004). All these unfair and prejudiced thoughts about female managers in top management are unconscious and basically caused by the lack of experience with women (Wiggins et al 1991).
One of the stereotypical thoughts about the women in top management is the source of female managers’ success. More specifically, both males and females have a tendency to make situational attributions for the success of women while they make more personal attributions for the success of men to the same level performance (Garland et al 1977, Wiggins et al 1991).
According to the ‘trait approach’, certain characteristics are important to be good leaders. It claims that some people can be better leaders than others because of their personal characteristics. Moreover, ‘Implicit Leadership Theories’ are about the beliefs and assumptions regarding the characteristics of effective leaders. It stresses the importance of possessing the relevant skills, traits and behaviors in order to be effective on other people (Yukl 2006). The stereotypical beliefs about the characteristics of two sexes are good examples for the Implicit Leadership theories. The beliefs that a managerial position requires masculine characteristics which are not common among females are totally stereotypical and subjective. Again, femininity is associated with passivity in Turkey which is a sign for the incompatibility with the managerial roles (Gürbüz, 1988: cited in Kabasakal et. al 2004). Because of that, women in Turkey are not considered as capable for top management just because of their feminine nature (Kabasakal et. al 2004).
Besides, men state that they feel uncomfortable with female supervisors (Wiggins et al 1971). A male employee’s feeling comfortable with a male supervisor is a good example for the Leadership-Member Exchange theory. According to the ‘Leadership-Member Exchange theory’, a favorable exchange relationship is more likely to occur when the subordinate is perceived as similar in the values, beliefs and attitudes (Yukl 2006). Additionally, the subordinates want to have supervisors who are in parallel in terms of their values and beliefs with their subordinates. Belonging to the same sex can be also considered as a source for similarity. ‘Homophily’ is a concept related with this theory which refers to the tendency that individuals form a relationship with the ones who are similar each other. This is very much related with the tendency for the male-favored decisions taken by men during the selection process and the preference for a male supervisor. This significantly makes it difficult to form a socially integrated and heterogeneous work environment (Yukl 2006).
According to Osmond and Martin (1975), despite the men’s greater negative attitudes towards women in general, they make less sex differentiation in social change. This means that while men are consistent in their thoughts about the stereotypical sex differentiation such as the family’s main responsibility is belonging to women; they make least amount of sex differentiation in social changes such as equal rights, payments and conditions in workplace. Most probably this inconsistency between their attitudes towards women in different spheres of life is taken root from their desires for their sisters, wives and daughters to obtain opportunities and to be treated fairly in their work life (Osmond and Martin 1975).
On the other hand, there are many empirical findings which demonstrate that all these attitudes towards women are stereotypical, inaccurate and do not reflect the reality. For instance, Dubno (1985) states that both men and women have necessary capabilities to be successful as managers. Similarly in one of the old study, Terborg, Peters, Ilgen and Smith (1977) indicate that women are similar with men in terms of the qualifications required by management such as problem solving, leadership, cooperation, competition, potential managerial capabilities. This finding is supported by another study conducted afterward which states that there is no significant difference between male and female managers in critical thinking, values, intelligence, verbal abilities and leadership style (Langpaap 1981: cited in Wiggins et al 1991). Moreover, Powell (1985) states that women emphasize on job success and importance of job for life satisfaction more than men. The other study conducted by Wiggins found that women are more committed and motivated because they succeed after overcoming many barriers which increase their job commitment and motivation (Wiggins et al 1991). In short, it is explicit that women must be considered as capable as their male counterparts for the managerial positions. They are similar with the male managers in terms of their capabilities, commitment and motivation towards their work.
The effects of gender-roles, societal expectations and practices
Cultural norms regarding gender roles are the most significant barrier for the women career advancement which are determined by the socio-cultural context (Aycan, 2004). Based on the traditional gender roles, the primary responsibility of a Turkish woman is considered as the family care rather than her career. Therefore, inequality with respect to gender roles makes it difficult for women to go further in their career because of their huge responsibilities at home (Aycan 2004).
The prevalent thought shared both by men and women in Turkey is that women are the ones whose basic roles are inside of their homes (Kabasakal et al 2004). Interestingly, Turkish women are more agree than men that women’s main responsibility is inside the home as being a good wife and a mother which may one of the reasons for the low ratio of women in top management in Turkey. Because of the intensive effort and time required for these crucial familial roles, they consider both being married and having children as important obstacles for their career development in Turkey (Kabasakal, 1998). There is no doubt that their perceptions are enforced by the general stereotypical thoughts regarding the basic role of Turkish women which are common in Turkish society. In other words, gender-role stereotypes and negative attitudes towards women in management in Turkey emerge as barriers for female managers by influencing the support they receive and women’s own perceptions. Additionally, it is found that successful female managers also consider family responsibilities important and try to prevent a negative effect of their career to fulfill them (Aycan 2004; Kabasakal et. al. 2004). Furthermore, Turkish women give more importance than men to have a good family life (Kagitcibasi 1986).
The situation is almost same in other countries. As Wiggins et. al. indicate that because of the loads of their familial responsibilities in addition to the occupational ones, many women may consciously not select a top managerial position (Wiggins et al 1991). This is much related with the preference of the marital status of women in top management. While the married women have a tendency to not go into to the top management as the ones being responsible from the home and child care, the women in top management are mostly single, either widowed or unmarried. Because they have to spend much more time than their male counterparts in order to be successful and accepted, they do not have time for a relationship. These women consider marriage as an obstacle to have a career draught with many familial obligations, housework and responsibility and a decision that they take related with their career (Wiggins et al 1991).
Turkey is a country which consists of both eastern traditional and western modern values which are both important in terms of understanding the Turkish women in work life. Before all else, it is meaningful to notice some facts about Turkey. Turkey was the first Islamic country which gives women the right to vote and to be voted in 1930s even much earlier than the Western countries. The reforms established by Atatürk emphasize the importance of secularization, modernization and westernization. Despite the reforms introduced in the early years of the Republic which provide equal treatment of women under the law with men, the daily practices did not reflect these structural changes simultaneously (Kagitcibasi 1986). There is still a duality between secularism and religiousness and the patriarchal Middle Eastern values in modern Turkish society (Kabasakal Aycan and Karakaş 2004). In other words, a conflict between Eastern and Western values is emerged in Turkey in terms of being traditional or modern. Kabasakal et. al. (2004:283) states that “Turkish society is simultaneously characterized by traditional versus modernity, religiousness versus secularism and eastern versus western values. These dynamics create role conflicts and identity crisis on the part of professional women”.
The collectivistic culture of Turkey also influences the condition of women in which no clear separation between the work life and private life is existed and the family tasks have superiority over professional tasks (Whiteoak et. al, 2006). As White et. al. (2006) indicate in their article referring to Hofstede that individuals in the individualistic culture prefer to act as individuals whereas individuals in the collectivistic culture prefer to emphasis on the groups that they belong. That is why, as a collectivistic culture, Turkish people pay more attention to their group roles, relationships and family responsibilities rather than their individualistic work tasks. This situation is more obvious for women in Turkey since their primary responsibility are traditionally considered as household and maternal duties (Aycan, 2004).
The socio-cultural factors have a mix influence on the career of Turkish women in management. More specifically, while some social factors support the improvement of women in top management, some of them serve as a barrier for their success (Aycan 2004). One of the cultural supportive factors is that Turkish women can rely on their family members such as their mother, sister or mother-in-law for childcare. If such a family support is not available for childcare, there is another option for an employed woman which is hiring a baby sitter. Because there is a large-scale migration from rural areas to urban ones has been occurred in Turkey, baby-sitters or cleaners are available coming from low SES who are ready to work for low salaries (Aycan 2004). In addition, because Turkish business life is relatively young and still in progress, it requires capable and well-educated applicants for the available managerial positions which is not easy to find because of the less competition in the top managerial positions (Aycan 2004). Moreover, paternalism is an important characteristic of Turkish organizational culture which implies a family-like atmosphere in the organizations. In a paternalistic organizational culture, superiors are concerned with the subordinates’ problems both related with their personal and professional lives and ready to understand and help them. This supports the female employees to realize both their work and family responsibilities (Aycan 2004). As Wirth (2001) indicates family-friendly policies such as flexible working hours and parental leave are important means for supporting women at work.
Despite all these supportive factors, the low number of women seniors in top management signs to the existence of a glass ceiling phenomenon (Kabasakal et. al., 2004). There are some socio-cultural factors which do not support the Turkish women in top management. For instance, male-dominated organizational culture can be considered as one of the non-supportive factor in Turkey. There is no doubt that male dominated organizational culture is a significant barrier for the success of women (Adler, 1993: cited in Aycan 2004). Favoring men as a kind of gender bias is common in Human Resource Management practices such as in recruitment, selection and training as a part of the organizational culture (Aycan, 2004). As Kagitcibasi (1986) indicates, low gender egalitarianism is common in Turkish culture. Therefore, a woman in Turkey who is career plan is to have a senior position in top management must be aware of the prejudice, discrimination in professional roles, stress and uncertainty that she most probably will face.
There is also a significant difference between male and female students in terms of their education preference. Gender roles are influential on Turkish girls’ preference of university education such as low concentration in engineering and high in arts (Tan, 1979: cited in Kabasakal et al 2004). It is obvious that this preference is very much related with the social expectations rooted from the gender role stereotypes regarding what a boy and a girl must know and how they behave (Kabasakal et. al., 2004). As Wirth (2001) indicates, the subjects such as engineering, physics and law are considered as male subjects while library, nursing and teaching are considered as female subjects which is called “Horizontal occupational segregation”. According to this segregation, men are more likely to be in more senior positions than women. Rather than the major chosen at the university education, the effect of the patriarchal values is also seen in other facets of education such as in the textbooks and the curriculum (Tan, 1979: cited in Kabasakal et al 2004). According to Esen and Bagli (2002) gender stereotypes are transferred to individuals starting from the early ages through textbooks. For example, in the textbooks, while men are shown in actions in work life, women are shown as being a mother or wife in their private life. All these support the stereotypical gender roles and social expectations from girls to have the feminine characteristics in order to be a good mother and wife in their further lives considered as characteristics which are not appropriate to be a good top manager.
Additionally, if a woman is married, her decisions and attitudes become mostly dependent on her husband’s attitudes towards her career. Educated women’s husbands are decisive on how much and to what extent their wives advance in terms of their careers (Arnott 1972; Avioli 1985; Sakalli-Ugurlu et. al 2002). According to the Secord and Beckman’s theory of interpersonal congruency, women feel psychological discomfort if there is incongruence between their self concepts, decisions and their husbands’ role preferences. Because they seek for the interpersonal congruency, they take their husbands’ attitudes towards their career alternatives into consideration (Yukl 2006).
The effects of difficulties that female managers face
“Glass-ceiling”is a phenomenon which is a barrier for women managers that they face for the access to the higher positions in top management. They have to prove their knowledge, capability and managerial skills more to the organization than their male counterparts (Wirth 2004). Because of that, while almost half of the workforce positions are filled by female employees, only a low percentage of senior management is formed by women. In other words, women face difficulties more in getting a position at the upper levels than the lower ones and therefore they are underrepresented in the senior levels in management (Wirth 2004; Powell 1999).
As Bell and Young (1986: cited in Wiggins et al 1991) indicate the actual capable female managers begin to consider themselves as being insufficient to succeed because of the negative attitudes towards them which is called as “Imposter Syndrome” (Wiggins et. al 1991). Self Efficacy theory indicates that maintaining high self esteem is essential in order to keep one’s motivation and performance in a high level. Additionally, recognition is important for the success, motivation and satisfaction of a top-manager as it is mentioned in Herzberg’s two factor theory (Yukl 2006). Therefore, the reason for an Imposter syndrome is clearer in the lights of the Self Efficacy theory and Herzberg’s two factor theory.
More specifically, the motivational theory called ‘Self-efficacy theory’ emphasizes the effects of one’s beliefs in her capabilities on her behavior. The employees with high self efficacy are more motivated and therefore performed better. Because of the negative attitudes, women managers can lose their self efficacy which affects both their motivation and performance (Spector 2006). According to ‘Herzberg’s two-factor theory’, the motivation comes from the nature of the work. The absence of the motivation factors such as achievement, recognition and responsibility may lead to the lack of job satisfaction. In the top managerial levels, recognition and responsibility are crucial for the top managers which are problematic for the female managers (Yukl 2006; Spector 2006). If the organization cannot eradicate the negative effects on its employees’ motivation and satisfaction, its productivity, performance and success will decrease.
According to the ‘Equity theory’, one wants to observe the concern of her organization about fairness and equality which is very effective on her motivation, job satisfaction and productivity. Pay satisfaction is influenced by how one’s salary compares with the others’ salaries within the same work area (Spector 2006). Therefore, with the support of Equity theory, it can be said that the wage difference between the two employees in the same job just because of the sex difference causes a tension in the one with lower wage which decreases her motivation for her job.
Another important fact is that women are lack of support, opportunities and informal career networks for learning unwritten rules of success (Wirth 2004).
Turkish female managers in Turkish corporate life also face the similar difficulties presented before during the selection for a top managerial position because of the tendency to favor a man in the selection process which is realized mostly by men. As it is in most of other countries especially in the non-western traditional cultures, women are subjected to many questions about their plans for their family life such as whether they are planning to have a child or not in a near future (Aycan 2004).One of the other similar difficulties that a woman manager in Turkish corporate life faces is reaching to the informal network within the organization. Additionally, as it is same in most of the other countries in the world, there is a large gap between men and women’s wage in Turkey which means that women receive less income than men (Aycan 2004).
In the traditional Turkish culture in terms of the gender role stereotypes where the first responsibility for a woman is considered as being a good wife and mother, Turkish women must learn to not feel guilty because of their career advancement decisions. Societal norms play a significant role as a basis for the difficulties of Turkish women in top management because they are influential on the husbands’ attitudes about their wives’ career decisions. Mostly, Turkish husbands neither share the familial responsibilities nor help to their wives because they do not want to be known as helpers at home to their wives (Aycan 2004). On the other hand, it is important for women managers to convince their partners to recognize and support their career plans. Moreover, they must get the support of their spouses for sharing the household responsibilities. Additionally, they must demonstrate their capabilities to the organization that they work (Aycan 2004).
Conclusion
As it is explained in the previous sections, women are underrepresented not only in Turkey but also in other countries. There are some explicit indicators for the inequality between males and females like earning difference for the same position. Moreover, non-supportive organizational practices, stereotypical thoughts regarding females’ managerial skills and competencies, gender role expectations and difficulties that they encounter in work life are all possible explanations for their low ratio in today’s work life. In the Turkish literature, the information regarding the attitudes towards women in top managerial positions are based on gender roles, stereotypes and cultural norms. In other words, the attitudes towards female managers have been examined by understanding the effects of an individual’s sex on his/her beliefs, perceptions and thoughts. This situation is almost same also in the researches conducted in different countries. That is why, what we know in the literature about the attitudes towards women in top managerial positions is mostly about the differences between the men’s and female’s attitudes. However, it is needed to know more about the possible variations in the attitudes towards female managers not only due to the sex, but also due to the other personal factors such as education level, marital status and age. This article gives an idea to the researchers for the future researches that there is a need for further studies which will figure out the effects of other personal factors rather than sex on the attitudes towards women in top management.

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