Essay on Gender and Workforce Diversity

6845 Words Oct 15th, 2010 28 Pages
Sex Roles, Vol. 45, Nos. 5/6, September 2001 ( C 2002)

Gender and Diversity in Organizations: Past, Present, and Future Directions
Audrey J. Murrell1
University of Pittsburgh

Erika Hayes James
University of Virginia

This introduction reviews some of the key issues that have been studied by researchers focused on gender and diversity in organizations. Issues such as discrimination, affirmative action, barriers to career advancement, and sexual harassment at work are discussed. Although the study of gender and diversity in organizations has expanded in the last decade, key areas of research are still underrepresented. Issues for future research in this area are discussed.

OVERVIEW The issues of gender and diversity in
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For example, work by Dobbins, Cardy, and Truxillo (1988) identifies discrimination in job assignments that lead to future promotions as the number one barrier for women, particularly African American women in management jobs. The concept of occupational gender segregation (Jacobs, 1989) describes the disproportionate overrepresentation of women and minorities in low-paying, low-status occupations compared to men and nonminorities. Clearly these differences

Gender and Diversity in Organizations: Past, Present, and Future Directions


decrease women and minorities’ earnings potential, career mobility, and access to leadership and decision-making positions within organizations (Goldin & Polacheck, 1987). In addition, discrimination by occupational type is more likely to exclude women and minorities from access to informal networks of information and support that can help in career advancement (Reskin & Hartmann, 1986; Roos & Reskin, 1984). Lastly, the disproportionate representation of women and minorities in low-status jobs puts them at greater risk of workplace discrimination, including sexual (and racial) harassment (Bergmann, 1986). Another area that has received a great deal of attention in work on the glass ceiling focuses on earnings disparities between men and women. Legislation of the 1960s drew considerable attention to discrimination at work as manifested in wage gaps and inequities in incentives and benefits. The notion of comparable

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