For many years, women have faced challenges in the effort to rise to top positions in organisations. The number of women in boardrooms is too low compared with the number of men. As Ridgeway notes, gender discrimination has continued to dominate many organisation both public and private (1997, p.218).
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An invisible barrier exists (‘glass ceiling’) which prevents women from rising to these top levels in many organisations.
Though many policies have been developed over the past years to address the problem, the problem still persist thus demanding for more research to come up with a more practical solution to address the problem. This study presents a possible policy by the government that can be used to solve this problem.
Government regulation act
To address this problem, a government regulation Act can be enacted that will set a certain number of gender limit that would require organisations, both private and public, to have a certain minimum number of both men and women in their management positions.
This policy will require at least one third of each gender in each public and private office. As Cheung-Ling notes, it is only a government regulation, which can bring reforms in gender inequality (1992, p.89).
The policy may also require that the two top posts of any organisation not to be occupied by the people of the same gender.
The policy will ensure that there is equality between men and women and all the management positions in both public and private organisations are shared more equally between the two genders. The policy will be enforced and monitored by the government to ensure that it is followed by every organisation.
Addressing the problem
The problem of discriminating women in management position is mainly based on stereotypes that women cannot perform as men in the managerial positions.
According to Huffman, Cohen and Pearlman, the performance of women in managerial positions depends on the context and therefore, it should not be generalised (2010, p.255).
Women only occupy middle-level management positions either because they shy off ‘big’ posts or out of discriminatory practices in organizational culture (Wentling 2003, p.311).
Thus, enacting this policy will require organisations to abide to the requirement of the government when they are appointing people to occupy the top management positions. Promotions in these organisations will also consider gender equality to ensure that both genders are represented in the top positions.
Though there are several laws that have been enacted to address the past, they have not completely solved the problem. For example, the government of Australia enacted Sex Discrimination Act in1984 to address the problem; unfortunately, it solved it partially (Australian Human Rights Commission 2004).
Though the Act helped to minimise the cases of gender discrimination in organisations, it never addressed the issue of gender equality in the management positions.
The enactment of this proposed policy will not only address the issue of women discrimination in organisations, but also in the top management positions. The policy will require companies to appoint women to the top positions whether they want to do it or not.
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Limitation of the solution
The main limitation of this solution is that not many organisations will be willing to follow it, which will make it difficult for the government to implement the same. The policy will also require organisations to train and coach more women to take leadership positions, which may be costly to these organisations.
The implementation of this proposed government policy will require all the organisations to have more women in their managerial positions.
Setting the lower limit of both genders in the top positions will ensure women are well represented in all the organisations. However, the implementation of the policy may not be supported by many organisations due to the stereotypes that many managers have against women.
Australian Human Rights Commission, 2004. 1996 guidelines for special measures under the sex discrimination act 1984 [online].
Cheung-Ling, A., 1992. Women and Japanese management: discrimination and reform. New York: Rouge publishers.
Huffman, M., Cohen, P. & Pearlman, J., 2010. Engendering Change: Organizational Dynamics and Workplace Gender Desegregation, 1975-2005. Administrative Science Quarterly, 55(2), pp. 255-277.
Ridgeway, C.L., 1997. Interaction and conservation of gender inequality: considering employment. American sociological review, 62(2), pp. 218-233.
Wentling, R., 2003. The career development and aspirations of women in middle management – revisited. Women in Management Review, 18(6), pp.311–324.