Building Inclusive IS&T Work Climates for Women and Men

Building Inclusive IS&T Work Climates for Women and Men

Valerie N. Streets (Old Dominion University, USA), Debra A. Major (Old Dominion University, USA) and Valerie J. Morganson (University of West Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch072
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Background

When inclusive climate exists in IS&T, all employees, regardless of gender, experience a sense of belonging, are able to fully participate in the organization, and have an equal opportunity for influence (Major, Davis, Sanchez-Hucles, Downey, & Germano, 2007). However, compared to men, women in IT are more likely to encounter a chilly climate. This is marked by an impersonal, individualistic, and non-collaborative environment. Specifically, the nature of IT work (e.g., long work hours that interfere with family responsibilities, little access to similar peers, preference for independent rather than team work, etc.) largely conflicts with feminine norms and is viewed as less amenable by women than by men (Roldan, Soe, & Yakura, 2004). Such a climate fosters feelings of isolation and intimidation and declines in self-confidence (Blickenstaff, 2005) and can contribute to a number of undesirable outcomes. Because overt workforce discrimination (e.g., harassment) on the basis of demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, race, etc.) is illegal and violates social norms in many countries, exclusion often occurs in more subtle ways. In this chapter we discuss subtle forms of discrimination. These sources of bias can act individually or in tandem to hinder women’s retention and upward mobility in IS&T fields (see Streets and Major, in press for a review).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Stereotype Threat: The anxiety that underrepresented group members experience about confirming or reinforcing a negative stereotype about their group; it leads to impaired performance.

Role Models: Individuals whose behavior or success is seen as an example to strive for by others.

Organizational Socialization: The means by which new employees develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to work effectively in a given organization.

Mentoring: A process by which a more experienced employee (a mentor) guides, advises, counsels and otherwise enhances the professional development of another employee (a protégé).

Ambivalent Sexism: Simultaneously holding negative (hostile sexism) and overtly positive (benevolent sexism) attitudes toward women.

Inclusive Climate: Workers’ perception of a workplace atmosphere where everyone has a sense of belonging, is invited to participate in decisions, and feels that their input matters.

Gender Stereotypes: Beliefs that men and women have innate and often divergent traits and abilities.

Chilly Climate: An organizational climate marked by differential treatment such that women are less valued and included.

Glass Ceiling: The condition in which men hold top-level positions and women are limited in their ability to move up due to barriers that are not readily apparent.

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