Introduction to Gender Inequalities in the Workplace
According to Massey (34), many people confuse gender with sex, which involves biological differences between a male and a female. Many societies and cultures in the world create distinctions between individuals based on gender. In many societies, men are superior to women (Burstein 342).
The distinction is displayed through the aggressiveness of men in the society. The fact that men are more aggressive than women has brought about gender inequalities in the society. As a result, inequalities have led to disparities with regard to social roles allocated to either gender.
In this analytical paper, the author briefly looks at organizational theory and how it affects employees. The author critically examines some of the factors associated with gender inequalities in the society. Special attention is given to gender inequalities in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East.
In addition, the author highlights some of the changes proposed to deal with the situation. The paper takes the form of a ‘personal case analysis’, which is based on the findings made in the case study conducted earlier. The events in the case study are interpreted and analyzed using a comprehensive ‘four- frame’ structure.
Organizational Theory: A Summary
In this personal case analysis, the author critically reviews the events in the case study, and how the events are related to organizational theory. To this end, the author interprets the events in the case study from the perspective of the organizational theory.
The theory complements the four- frame analysis carried out in the paper. As a result of this, it is important to provide a brief summary of this theory. The summary will give the reader an idea with regard to how the theory is tied to the events in the case study.
According to Burstein, “organization theory is (the) study (of) the benefits of identifying common themes (……) for the purpose of solving problems, maximizing efficiency and productivity…….(and) meeting the needs of stakeholders” (p. 45).
Organizational theory is subdivided into three categories. The three are individual, group, and organizational processes.
One of the issues addressed in the theory’s individual concept is motivation among individuals. To this end, the theory seeks to identify how and why individuals are motivated. It identifies the differences between the personality traits of different employees.
In addition, the theory’s individual concept seeks to define the roles that one is capable of effectively executing in the organization without creating ambiguities.
The second category of the theory touches on group processes. According to the provisions of the group processes category, the organization should create working groups for the employees. The employees will effectively communicate with each other within such groups.
In addition, the employees will effectively synchronize their actions with those of other employees for the benefit of the organization. Under group processes, the organization should come up with a leadership structure, where the leader has power over the subordinates.
In addition to this, the leader should have the ability and capacity to influence the subordinates, helping them to effectively execute the tasks assigned to them.
Under organization processes, the entity is expected to come up with a unique model. The model will differentiate the organization from the other entities operating in the market or in the same industry (Rania 15). To this end, the model defines the structure of the organization with respect to that of other organizations.
In addition, the model defines the division and flow of power in the organization. In most cases, organizations create their own culture, which is specific to its working environment.
As a result, employees co-exist peacefully with the management team. The two groups combine their efforts and work towards the achievement of the set goals.
The three concepts analyzed above impact significantly on the operations of the organization. To this end, the three concepts determine how gender is perceived in the organization. They are used in interpreting the events analyzed in the case study provided earlier.
Sources of Gender Inequality
The notion of superiority of one gender over the other has locked women out of leadership positions. The women are believed to perform better as assistants than as leaders. The belief is evident in Ms Haneen’s case.
Patriarchy, which is defined as the dominance of men in the society, is evident in many societies in the Middle East. It has negatively affected the participation of women in development processes. For example, very few women participate in such sectors as paid labor, education, and leadership compared to men.
Cultural and religious diversities have significantly altered the structural frame of many societies in the world today. The roles and responsibilities of women in the society find their meanings in culture and religion. Gender roles are inspired by cultural values, norms, and various cultural practices.
In most cases, the role of the woman in the society is limited to housework. As a result, the women who manage to secure formal employment are considered as lucky (Hurst 176). The women themselves consider this as double work, struggling to strike a balance between office work and domestic chores.
Religion has traditionally favored men over women. Men are regarded as the sole breadwinners in the family. As a result, women are discouraged from participating in labor related activities.
According to the teachings of Islam, women are supposed to conduct themselves as competent housewives. They are tasked with the responsibility of raising their children according to the teachings of the Quran (Wood 213).
Patriarchy has found its way into the work place. It is a fact that most women are highly qualified compared to men. In addition, some of them have vast experience in their field of expertise. In most cases, their performance is outstanding. An example of such a woman is Ms. Haneen.
In spite of this experience and qualifications, the women are not given the opportunity to work in managerial positions. The failure to promote women to higher leadership positions is associated with the structure of the society. In addition, the failure is associated with the views, beliefs, and opinions held by people in the society.
Political structures and opinions regarding what women symbolize in a society are also to blame for this failure. It has led to low self- esteem among women in the work place.
In addition, it has reduced the morale of women in the work place. The performance of women in the workplace declines as soon as they learn the ‘hard truth’ (Wood 129).
As a result of weakened economic growth in the 1990s, most employers preferred to hire men as opposed to women. The preference was buttressed by the notion that “men’s income is more important to their families” (World Bank 34).
On realizing this, women dropped out of the labor market. They dropped out of the market on realizing that their likelihood of getting hired was significantly reduced.
The United Nations Development Program (herein referred to as UNDP) has termed the ongoing gender inequalities in the Arab nations as a ‘significant obstacle to human development’ in that region (Rania 3).
Gender inequality negatively affects human development given that a significant number of women in the region are illiterate. In addition, very few women are engaged in formal employment. Illiteracy among women has negatively impacted on living conditions, leading to high rates of diseases and death in the country.
A Structural Frame
Just like any other organization, the KPMG’s major goal is to make profits from its operations. Another objective of the organization is to expand its market share.
In addition, the organization needs to subdue the competitors and emerge as the leader in the market in terms of tax consultancy, auditing, and ‘executive search and selection’ of employees.
The objectives of this organization will be achieved by getting the right people to work for the organization. For a very long time, female employees have shown their determination in achieving the set goals and objectives.
The female employees have proven this by effectively communicating with the managers and other stakeholders. In addition, the employees have proven their efficiency in using the available resources to meet the objectives of the organization. They relate well with their fellow employees.
As a result, they enhance the experiences of other people in the organization. The ability of women to achieve this in the workplace is vividly illustrated by Ms Haneen in the case study.
The women are capable of maintaining a formal relationship with their superiors and fellow workmates. They have proved their ability to diligently execute the tasks assigned to them by the managers. In most cases, they perform better than their male colleagues.
There are various reasons why KPMG have encouraged female employees to participate in the running of the organization. For example, the organization is an ‘equal employer’, treating men and women equally. 60% of employees in the organization are male, while 40% are female.
However, there are various aspects of gender discrimination evident in the organization. For example, the policies of the organization discourage women from holding top positions in the entity. The women can only rise to the level of assistant manager. It is a discriminatory policy by all measures.
In addition, the policy contradicts the reality considering that women are the most hardworking employees in the organization compared to men. The discrimination extends beyond the confines of KPMG. For example, only 10% of political leadership positions in Saudi Arabia are held by women (Rania 7).
The main reason for this is that women are regarded as ‘non-able leaders’ (Rania 7). In addition, it is feared that women cannot effectively command the respect and loyalty of their male counterparts due to the entrenched inequalities in the society.
Women are sexually harassed in the workplace. KPMG has failed to put in place effective channels to help these women in dealing with this form of abuse.
Cases of sexual harassment have increased in the recent past. However, only 40 percent of these cases are reported in Saudi Arabia (ILO 19). The lack of a proper reporting system has significantly led to an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases.
Disparity in salaries and remunerations is another significant issue in the organization. In spite of the fact that the laws provide for ‘equal pay for equal job’ to both men and women, the organization continues to pay men more than women.
According to Rania (12), the gap in salaries ranges from 54 to 90 percent in most Arabic countries. KPMG is one of the organizations in the country affected by this discrepancy.
Women are regarded as the pillars of the society. They are responsible for nurturing and socializing children in the society. They lay the foundation of the society through the family units.
Their responsibilities are anchored on the belief that women are homemakers. As a result, they are denied the opportunity to participate in any economic activity that will take them outside their homes.
Women who are bold enough to venture into formal employment are discouraged by the disparities in payment. The disparity has seen many women drop out of formal employment (Norton & Hoffman 272).
The failure to get promotions in the work place has significantly affected their morale. Measures should be put in place to encourage more women to join paid labor.
Some women lack the skills required to carry out certain tasks. The lack of skills is brought about by discriminations in the education sector.
Most communities in the Middle East believe that the role of the woman is to safeguard the wealth of her husband. As a result, many women do not attend school. As a result of this, men have ended up filling the gaps left by women in the labor market.
A Political Frame
In the Middle East, most politicians are men. Participation of women in politics is discouraged by the constitution. The main reason why women are discouraged from participating in politics is that they are regarded as inferior to men.
As a result, many people believe that women cannot lead or command men. The number of women in leadership positions is shrinking at a very high rate. The trend is evident in both public and private organizations in Saudi Arabia.
Women are unable to fight for their rights. It is one of the reasons why they are denied participation in leadership.
The World Bank notes that women are “barred from taking part in most of the social and economic events” (World Bank 13). The disparity has brought about social conflicts, especially when women stand up to fight for their rights.
Activists have piled pressure on the organization to include women in the management team. As a result, KPMG formulated policies to encourage the participation of women in the workplace. In most cases, there are very few managerial posts available in the organization.
The scarcity is one of the reasons given by the organization to justify their discriminatory policies. To appease the critics, women were offered assistant managerial posts in the organization.
A Symbolic Frame
Some corporations use women symbolically. For example, Emirates Airways employs female cabin crews to enhance the image of the organization (Hekman et al. 291).
However, other entities have failed to embrace the practice of altering their organizational structure to accommodate more female employees.
Female employees symbolize high quality services likely to meet the needs of the clients. As a result of this realization, many organizations have adopted a new formula in recruiting their staff.
In most cases, new recruits in organizations are composed of 40% females and 60% males. The policy was adopted by KPMG.
The restructuring in the organization is motivated by external pressure, including provisions in the labor laws. As a result of their likeable nature, women employees are engaged in the customer care departments, where they are expected to improve the relationship between the organization and the customers.
Gender Inequality in the Workplace: The Way Forward
Currently, gender inequality in the Middle East stands at 10 per cent compared to 18 per cent in the world (OECED 34). The statistics are low because women engage in unpaid labor. The observation calls for reforms in various sectors of the economy. The reforms should be geared towards exploiting this untapped labor force.
The Arab nations are regarded as fairly rich compared to other nations in the world as a result of their unexploited female labor force (World Bank 14).
Analysts argue that if this labor force is fully exploited, labor productivity in the region will significantly increase due to competition. In addition, the participation of women in paid labor will increase tax revenues for the government.
The organization, as well as the government, should review existing policies to address gender inequalities in the work place. Discriminative policies barring women from ascending to senior managerial positions should be repealed.
The aim is to boost the morale of female employees in the workplace. As a result, the organization will appoint managers based on their qualifications as opposed to gender. By combining experience and relevant qualifications, the performance of the organization will improve.
The observation is evident in the events that took place in the reported case study. Ms. Haneen should be given a managerial position considering that she has an unmatched experience in the Executive Search and Selection department. Her knowledge of the department’s operations will catapult it to greater heights.
Promoting Ms. Haneen is a milestone in the fight for gender equality in the organization. It will motivate other female employees, encouraging them to work hard in their respective departments.
It is possible to address gender inequality by introducing reforms in the education sector. The reforms are evident in the case study, as well as in the attending benefits.
The number of young females in the labor market has increased as a result of reforms introduced in the education sector. It is possible to achieve gender equality in the labor market if the government succeeds in sustaining this trend (Barzilai 3).
In addition, the government and the organization should address the conditions under which women operate. Some women work under deplorable conditions, something that has forced many of them to give up.
Adjusting the environment and providing other work related benefits will boost their morale. The benefits include, among others, maternity leave and medical cover.
Gender inequality is a major concern for many organizations in the society. It is evident when women are left out of the decision making process. It is a big problem in the Middle East. Various factors are associated with this phenomenon. They include beliefs in male dominance, as well as cultural and religious values.
Measures should be put in place to encourage women to take up leadership positions in the public and private sectors. Women should be encouraged to fight for their rights and support each other.
They should shift from their usual unpaid labor and venture into the paid labor market. As a result of this, the economy will expand and patriarchy will be effectively controlled.
Barzilai, Kirk 2011, Organizational Theory. Web.
Burstein, Paul. Equal Employment Opportunity: Labor Market Discrimination and Public Policy, Edison, NJ: Aldine Transaction, 2010. Print.
Hekman, David, et al. “An Examination of Whether and How Racial and Gender Biases Influence Customer Satisfaction.” Academy of Management Journal 28.4 (2009): 46. Print.
Hurst, Charles. Social Inequality, Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2007. Print.
ILO. Women in Labor Market: Measuring Progress and Identifying Challenge, Geneva: ILO, 2010. Print.
Massey, Douglas. Categorically Unequal: The Stratification System, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007. Print.
Norton, Ahmad, and A. Hoffman. A Framework for Addressing and Measuring Entrepreneurship, Paris: OECD, 2008. Print.
OECED 2008, Report on the Gender Initiative: Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship. PDF file. Web.
Rania, Mainn 2011, Gender Inequality is a Regional Issue. Web.
Wood, Julia. Gendered Lives, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2009. Print.
World Bank, 2011, Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere. PDF file. Web.