This article documents the author’s opinion on gender biasness in modern society’s workplace with reference to five surveys conducted in the years 1977, 1992, 1997 and 2001. The author highlighted that the surveys results showed that women workers were more inclined to indicate the requirement for greater effort at work in order to achieve the same level of recognition or achievement as compared to their male counterparts.
The scientific method is a logical and commonsensical method of approach and comprises of the following 5 steps (Elements of Social Scientific Thinking, p.27):
1) The Identification of the variables to be studied 2) A hypothesis about the relation of one variable to another or to a situation 3) A reality test whereby changes in the variables are measured to see if the hypothesized relationship is evidenced 4) An evaluation in which the measured relationship between the variables is compared with the original hypothesis and generalizations about the findings are developed 5) Suggestions about the theoretical significance of the findings, factors involved in the test that may have distorted the results and other hypothesis that the inquiry brings to mind.
Based on the opinions expressed in the article, the research question is postulated to be “Do women have to work harder than men at the workplace?” From it, the possible hypothesis is formed: “Gender influences the perceived effort required at work to achieve similar results and recognition”.
Following the promulgation of the hypothesis, there are 3 variables identified: an independent variable, dependent variable and alternate variable. The independent variable is the gender of the worker, whether male or female; the dependent variable is the perceived effort required at work; and the alternate variable, which also influences the dependent variable, is the achievement of similar results and recognition.
In order to measure the variables, a survey was conducted on five separate occasions, (1979, 1992, 2 in 1997 and 2001) with the questions identical to the original survey in 1979 to obtain results that were comparable. An in-depth analysis of the two surveys conducted in 1997, namely the U.S. National Study of the Changing Workforce and the Skills Survey of the Employed British Workforce, was then undertaken. These surveys had a sample size of 3,500 and 2,500 people respectively and stratification was used to ensure proper representation of the workforce make-up.
Controls were also put in place to ensure that external factors such as family burden, job qualifications, responsibilities and mental & physical demands were taken into account when analyzing the results. According to the article, results of the surveys indicated that female workers (independent variable) comprised a significantly higher percentage who felt that their work required a high level of effort (dependent variable) as compared to their male counterparts.
The survey results showed that the gender of the worker (independent variable) was able to strongly influence the perceived effort required at work (dependent variable) indicating likely ordinal level correlation between the two. The survey results were also proven to be reliable through the replication of results across 5 separate surveys conducted on 5 separate occasions with different sets of people spread across 22 years. This highlights the significance of the relationship between the variables and points to the probability that the hypothesis is valid under certain conditions.
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Through the findings of the survey, it is clear that gender is a causal factor in the perceived effort required at work. And thus, the theory that women workers perceive that they require greater effort at work compared to their male counterparts to achieve the same level of recognition and achievement is supported.
It is interesting to note that the conduct of the first survey was during the period of the 2nd wave of feminism in western society (i.e. USA, UK). During that time, not only was gender equality in the workface a key issue, domestic violence, rape, choice of reproduction and other rights were also campaigned for. Particular to the 2 countries highlighted in the survey, 3 legislations were passed, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1964(USA), Equal Pay Act in 1970(UK) and the Sex discrimination Act in 1975(UK), to criminalize gender discrimination in the workforce. However, the findings from the survey indicates that some form of discrimination is still prevalent in the workforce even 20 to 30 years after the implementation of the legislations.
The article also hinted at the possible inequality in remuneration and promotion opportunities between the sexes as a result of the perceived biasness.
Some factors that may have distorted the results are:
1) Survey Bias. The survey questions or the person conducting the survey could have influenced the people into giving a answer that is not a true reflection of their thoughts. This could also explain why the results were able to be replicated on the 5 separate occasions.
2) Analyst Bias. The analyst of the survey results could possibility have a innate bias and thus skew the results according to the analyst opinion.
3) Sampling Error. While attempts were made to use stratification to ensure proper representation of the workforce. It is possible that with only 2500-3500 participants in a survey, a broad representation of the various workplace across the different industries with different management and culture could not be made.
4) Biological and physiological differences between men and women. Men are physically stronger than women. They have approximately 20-30% more strength and a higher lung capacity than women. This translate to their ability to carry out physically demanding work more easily as compared to their female counterparts. If the survey does include industries that are more labor intensive (such as farming or construction), it will skewed the survey results as woman would naturally feel that more effort is required to complete their work as compared to men. According to the American Physiological Association, women historically also report a higher level of stress as compared to men. This inherent higher stress level could also contribute to the perception that they require more effort at work as compared to their male counterparts.
5) Cultural Differences. The surveys were conducted only in westernized society and is not a true representation of all working women in the world.
Some other hypothesis that the inquiry brought to mind are:
1) Gender influences the remuneration of an individual given the same qualifications and job responsibilities. A study could be conducted to ascertain if there is any significant difference in pay between the sexes, given that their qualifications and job responsibilities are equal.
2) Religion influences the prevalence of gender discrimination. A comparison could be conducted to measure the prevalence of gender discrimination versus the religious ideology of the group to see if any co-relation exists.
3) Effectiveness of gender equality policy and legislation. A study could be conducted to ascertain whether the policies and legislations on gender equality are effective and its effect on gender discrimination in the workforce over the years.
4) Men generally have higher morale in their workplace as compare to Women. A survey could be conducted to determine if gender differences would impact the morale and happiness of a person at work.
5) Sexual orientation and identity influences employment discrimination. A study could be conducted to determine if sexual orientation or identity(LGBT versus heterosexual) would be a causal factor in employment discrimination
Martha Rampton. (n.d) The 3 waves of Feminism. Pacific University Magazine Fall 2008. Retrieved from http://www.pacificu.edu/magazine_archives/2008/fall/echoes/feminism.cfm
Kenneth Hoover, Todd Donovan. The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking, 10th edition.
American Physiological Association. (2011) Stress and Gender. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/gender.aspx
US Army Manual. (n.d) Physiological Difference between the sexes. Retrieved from http://library.enlisted.info/field-manuals/series-2/FM21_20/APPA.PDF
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