Masculinities Mondays: 21st April 2014

Doing the rounds this week are several fascinating articles and studies about women and men in the workforce:

* First up, a thought-provoking piece by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman about the differences in men and women’s confidence in the workplace. The authors make compelling points about what they call ‘the confidence gap’ between men and women. They argue, not only that men consistently overestimate their abilities and women underestimate theirs, but that this has a direct impact on the opportunities that they decide to take and, ultimately, their success. For example, HP found that their female employees applied for a promotion only when they met 100% of the job requirements whereas men applied when they felt they met just 60% of the qualifications. In addition to trying to unpack the possible causes of this gendered confidence gap, Kay and Shipman also touch on the point that an outspoken, confident woman in the workplace risks being labeled as a bitch, which may also hold women back from presenting themselves as confident. The article is well worth a read, as I can’t possibly summarise it all here.

* Opportunity Now and PwC also recently released the results of a UK-based study of 25,000 male and female participants on promoting equitable and effective gender equality measures within the workplace. The report (available in full here) explores how to make organisations work for both men and women, so that all staff are productive, engaged and fulfilled. In addition to concerning findings regarding harassment (52% of all female respondents had experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace and 12% had experienced sexual harassment), the study also reveals some interesting results about the impact of perceptions on women’s progression within organisations. Both women and men reported that they found the lifestyle of senior executives to be unappealing but female respondents were more likely to put off senior roles than men. Women and men also had different perceptions of the gender dynamics of their organisation: “Women see unfairness in pay and in access to career progression opportunities and feel that their organisational culture is male-dominated. Men do not recognise these barriers. When men, who hold the majority of senior leadership positions, can start to see the challenges women face, we will make progress.”

* And a TED Talk that’s actually from December last year but which just came onto my radar this week, by Maysoon Zayid – a female, Palestinan stand-up comedian with cerebral palsy. In this hilarious and poignant talk, Zayid discusses the multi-faceted discrimination she has faced in the performing arts/entertainment industry. Watch it here.

Have a good week, everyone!




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