(last updated February 21, 2001)
NEW Women under-rate themselves in performance evaluations
Women managers are less likely to overestimate their performance than their male counterparts, tend to rate themselves lower than do men and lower than their own bosses rate them, and show greater self-awareness, according to a growing body of research cited in an article by Clive Fletcher in the Human Resource Management Journal (v.9 n.1 pp.39-46 1999).
Haihai Yuan, the author of Gender Differences in Self-Assessment and 360-Degree Feedback, suggests that this may be one reason why women are so poorly represented in upper management. He believes that 360-degree feedback mechanisms can be a useful way to counteract this problem, by giving a more realistic view of female managers' performance.
NEW Women want part-time work
A recent poll of 650 employed women across the US conducted by Opinion Research Corporation found that 82% percent of Midwestern working women are employed full time, as are 81% of Northeasterners, 78% of Southwesterners, 77% of Southerners and 74% of Californians. Yet, if given the choice, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Californian women would prefer to work part-time or vary their work hours. Fifty-three percent of Midwestern women, 52% of Northeastern women, 49% of Southwesterners and 48% of Southern women would prefer to work part-time or vary their hours.
Women in Top Management = Higher Share Prices
A new study by Professor Theresa Welbourne at the University of Michigan found that having women in senior management was associated with above average share prices, and higher valuations in IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). She studied 476 companies that went public in 1993, and found that they also did better in the long run, with above-average stock price increases in the three years after the IPO and better growth in earnings per share.
Career advancement not out of the grasp for part-timers
Flexible Work Arrangements III, a new Catalyst study which tracks 24 women who first used flexible work arrangements more than a decade ago finds that most of these women credit the availability of part-time work schedules during critical child-rearing years as the key to maintaining career momentum. All of the women now hold mid- and senior-level positions and more than half have earned promotions during the past decade.
While half continue to work part time schedules, half have returned to full-time work schedules. Most of the women in this study still work for the same company where they initiated flexible work arrangements a decade ago; they average 18 years in their organizations. All of the women hold mid- and senior-level positions with titles such as Vice President, Partner, and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel.
Catalyst has found in much of its research that without the ability to set their own pace and create their own career paths, companies are at risk of losing employees they want to keep. In a 1998 Catalyst study (Women Entrepreneurs), 51% of women said a desire for flexibility was the top reason they had left their employers. With men no longer at the margins of parenting, work/life balance is increasingly being seen as an "employee issue" and not just a "women's issue."
Work-Family Backlash: Begging the question, what's fair?
An article published in the March '99 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, points out some demographics that are not often heard. Author Mary Young notes that “a minority of US workers are parents and/or live with children.” Because of that, she challenges the assumption “that family … is the main force that pulls employees mentally, emotionally or physically away from the workforce.” Other interesting statistics cited:
The percentage of the US workforce who are married had dropped from 72% in 1970 to 59% by 1996.
The share of workers living with one or more children under age 18 had also dropped, from 53% in 1970 to 42% by 1996.
After 2005, according to Census Bureau projections, the most common households in the US will be occupied by a single person or a married couple without children.
She also cites a 1997 study of Baxter Healthcare Corporation employees that found that:
It was men aged 30 - 39 who were most likely to have searched for a job in hopes of reducing work-and-life conflicts.
While 44% of respondents did not have children, 88% agreed that work and personal life responsibilities sometimes conflicted with each other.
40% of those working an average of 40 - 45 hours per week said they were not comfortable with their work-life balance.
Child and elder care ranked 12th on a list of 13 choices for reducing work-life conflicts. The #1 response was being able to “work some days at home on a regular basis.”
Asked to name factors that limit their availability for work, they cited: personal limits on how many hours they were willing to put in, spouse's work, fitness, pursuit of education, a second job, and commuting, in addition to child and eldercare responsibilities.
Career Advancement for Part-time Professionals
An excellent academic study of reduced workload arrangements for managers and professionals by McGill professor Mary Dean Lee and Purdue University's Shelley MacDermid found that:
career advancement slowed but did not stop,
responsibility for subordinates was not a stumbling block (though this did depend on how independent the subordinates were),
support of the senior manager is essential; those who were supportive saw part-time as a way to avoid losing a star performer or to recruit talent,
new reduced-hours arrangements need trial periods and fine tuning with experience.
Continuous Learning -- NOT!
In a recent commentary, University of Alberta sociologist Graham Lowe, who directs workplace research for the Canadian Policy Research Network, notes that "There's a growing gap between the rhetoric and the practice of lifelong learning and skill development. Participation rates in workplace training programs and part-time post-secondary education programs actually declined the 1990s. Very few of the organizations that are committed to training have made the leap to a culture of continuous learning."
Have a look at his new book, "The Quality of Work: A People-Centred Agenda". He aims to shift the focus from the quantity of jobs created to the quality of work. He cites various interesting study results, including:
94% of Canadian workers surveyed in 1994 by Ekos Research Associates believed that it important to learn new skills throughout one's working life. And three-quarters expressed an interest in taking training over the next year or so. But only about 1/3 had actually received any formal training in the past year.
One quarter of workers claim that they don't use their skills or education on the job.
A 1997 survey in which Canadians were asked what they look for when deciding whether they are interested in a particular job found that salary and benefits were less important that personal growth and development. This has remained consistent in surveys done in the 1970s, `80s and `90s.
Perils of Part-time for Professionals
The workweek is getting longer for professionals and managers. Forty-five percent of American men and 25% of women are putting in at least 50 hours per week and commuting approximately four hours per week. And more than 80% of those working 50 hours a week said they would prefer shorter hours. However, part-time work is tough on professionals, noted researchers during a seminar on ``21st Century Solutions to Overwork.'' An American Bar Assn. study found that 43% of junior lawyers leave their jobs within three years--at least partly because they desire more family involvement, said Rosalind C. Barnett of Brandeis University. While many law firms offer shorter workweeks, working part-time is seen as ``an automatic career breaker,'' Barnett said. A study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington found that part-time work almost always involves enormous sacrifices of pay and benefits. Managers earning $800 a week for working full-time can earn as little as $200 to $300 for a 20-hour week. (From Business Week, March 6, 2000)
Turnover Rates - Do They Differ by Gender?
A 1999 study by professors Karen Korbiak and Hazel Rosin compared male vs. female turnover rates in four occupational groups: accountants, bankers, managers at a large utility company, and engineers. They found that, overall, there is little difference in turnover rates between men and women, but there are big differences in certain occupations. The highest turnover levels for both genders were in accounting (average turnover of 16.4% during the 20-month study period), followed by engineering(14.3%). Next highest were managers, at 6.3%, and the lowest rate was among the bankers, at 4%.
Accounting also showed the biggest difference between male and female turnover rates. During the study period 12.3% of the male accountants versus 21% of the female accountants quit. Banking showed the opposite: more men (5.4%) than women (2.2%) changed employers.