As I sat waiting for my latte, a woman asked if she could have the seat next to me. Me being the outgoing extrovert that I am, I started a conversation with her. I probed her about why she was at the café. She shared that she was just visiting the city because she was a pilot from out of state. She was spending her days off in our little city because of this where she landed. As we chatted, she shared details about her career with me. We discussed the different industries that women would be the least likely to work in. There is a lack of women in her career as well as other male-dominated career fields, like engineering for example. We delved into the different underlying issues that may contribute to this dilemma.
Often, throughout her career and during aviation school, she would be the only female in a room full of male colleagues. Aviation was not her first career choice. When she was a child, she wanted to be a veterinarian. In fact, she would have never considered it as a job for a girl. Like the aviation profession, the engineering office I provide administrative support to is male-dominated. In an office of 12 staff members, there are 2 females, and of the 5 engineers, 4 are male.
Growing up, we learned what careers society finds acceptable through unspoken hidden messages. Consequently, those messages continue to shape our decisions for the rest of our lives. Society classifies its members by their sex. A person is assigned stereotypical potential, personality traits, and preferences based on their biological sex. People make choices based upon what is acceptable to society. Society sends powerful messages about the expected dress, conduct, and tastes. As a result, it is normally easy to visually identify the other person’s sex. “By overstating biological sex differences, sex differentiation lends legitimacy to women’s and men’s concentration in different activities” (Padavic and Reskin, 2002).
Sex Segregation and Careers
A sexual division of labor also exists that distributes the sexes differently across work settings, and assigns to them different tasks. Typically, men specialize in and are primarily responsible for market work, while women specialize in and are primarily responsible for domestic work. Sociologists refer to this sexual division of labor in market work as sex segregation.
Sex segregation exists throughout society, and it reflects the lasting connections between an employees’ sex and their careers. The segregation of sex is the main tool propelling a women’s career outcomes. It affects her earnings, the amount of authority she possesses and her chances for promotion (Reskin & Beielby, 2005). The main evidence of sex segregation is the sexual division of labor.
Recently, the gender wage gap and a woman’s ability to advance professionally has been a common theme in the media. A person’s income and promotional opportunities are connected to what people believe is a suitable job for a woman or a man. Researchers from sociology and economic disciplines have studied the correlation between gender and career outcomes. Overall, they have found that men:
- Are more likely than women to belong to the labor force.
- Are more likely to serve as supervisor over women.
- Will work more hours per week, and more weeks per year then women will.
- Will work in different industries than women.
- Will earn more than women.
- Will hold positions that are more complex.
- Will dominate the top positions within their organization.
Do you have a Gender Bias?
Do you have a gender bias? How has gender associations impacted your perspective about what jobs are best suited for females, and which ones are best suited for males? Take the IAT Quiz to find out. The results might surprise you. I know I was surprised. I shared my results and the end.
What is the IAT?
The IAT measures bias. When doing an IAT you are asked to quickly sort words into categories that are on the left and right-hand side of the computer screen by pressing the “e” key if the word belongs to the category on the left and the “i” key if the word belongs to the category on the right. The IAT has five main parts.
How Does the IAT Work?
The Gender-Career IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., Female/Male and Career/Family). The main idea is that making a response is easier when closely related items share the same response key. We would say that one has an implicit association between Male and ‘Career’ relative to Female and ‘Career’ if they are faster to categorize words when Male and ‘Career’ share a response key relative to when Female and ‘Career’ share a response key.
Steps for completing the IAT Quiz
Step 1 – Click on this link https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html and you will be navigated to Project Implicit
Step 2 – Read the “Preliminary Information” and then click on the words “I wish to proceed”
Step 3 – On the ‘tests’ page click on the button with the words “Gender-Career IAT”
Step 4 – After your test come back here and let us know your results and what you think. Do you agree? Are you surprised by the results?
Here are my results!
Your data suggest a slight automatic association for Male with Career and Female with Family.
The sorting test you just took is called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). You categorized Female and Male names and words related to Career and Family.
Project Implicit. (n.d.). Preliminary Information. Retrieved from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
Reskin, B. F., & Beielby, D. D. (2005). A Sociological Perspective on Gender and Career Outcomes. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(1), 71-86. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/212091508?accountid=12085