How Exclusive Work Climates Create Barriers for Women in IS&T

How Exclusive Work Climates Create Barriers for Women in IS&T

Katelyn R. Reynoldson (Old Dominion University, USA) and Debra A. Major (Old Dominion University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch295

Abstract

Exclusive climates are associated with negative outcomes such as feelings of anxiety. Furthermore, barriers may arise for women when they experience exclusive climates in the IS&T workplace. This chapter examines several barriers women may encounter, including stereotypes, stereotype threat, the motherhood penalty, work-family conflict, and mentoring. As women are underrepresented in IS&T, recommendations for future research include building more inclusive climates in IS&T workplaces for women and mitigating the obstacles women may face while working in the field.
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Background

While women’s participation rates in male dominated fields, such as medicine, law, or accounting, are increasing, women remain underrepresented in IS&T (Diekman, Clark, Johnston, Brown, & Steinberg, 2011; Walton et al., 2015). This shortage of women is not unique to the United States; in fact, many countries around the world encounter a similar dearth (Jackson, Hillard, & Schneider, 2014). Furthermore, women tend to leave STEM fields for other professions at high rates (Glass, Sassler, Levitte, & Michelmore, 2013).

Women are significantly underrepresented in higher-level managerial roles in the industry (Servon & Visser, 2011; Wentling & Thomas, 2009), stemming from a ‘glass ceiling,’ which women encounter when they have greater difficulty climbing the corporate ladder due to subtle barriers that are not as prevalent for men (Adya, 2008; Major & Morganson, 2009). Other barriers women may experience arise from the nature of IS&T work (i.e., long hours, travel, on-call status; Ahuja, 2002; Armstrong, Riemenschneider, Allen, & Reid, 2007) and the IST&T work climate (i.e., male dominated, exclusive; Wentling & Thomas, 2009). The IS&T climate can be “chilly” for women as they can feel out of place and less compatible with the stereotypically masculine environment of the field (Blickenstaff, 2005). As part of the male dominated climate in IS&T, women may experience exclusion from informal networks within the field, which negatively affects work opportunities, such as job placement and advancement (Adya, 2008) and self-confidence (Wentling & Thomas, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Glass Ceiling: Subtle barriers that exist to prevent women from rising to the top of the corporate ladder in the same way that men do.

Workplace Incivility: Low-intensity workplace behavior with ambiguous intent to be rude or discourteous that violates workplace norms of respect for others (i.e., condescending comments, exclusion from professional camaraderie; Miner et al., 2014 ).

Descriptive Gender Stereotypes: Beliefs about characteristics women do hold (i.e., women are nurturing and soft-spoken; Heilman, 2012 ).

Exclusive Climate: When organizational members do not feel equally welcome, respected and valued.

Stereotype Threat: When a negatively stereotyped group’s performance is hindered due to concern of confirming that stereotype.

Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes: Beliefs about characteristics women should hold (i.e., women should be nurturing and soft-spoken; Heilman, 2012 ).

Inclusive Climate: When organizational members feel equally welcome, respected and valued.

Backlash: Negative reaction against women whose behavior violates gender norms ( Amanatullah & Tinsley, 2013 ).

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