Still climbing after all these years

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A study done at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte  indicates the glass ceiling is alive and well.

The researchers looked at the 1% at the top of the income pyramid and found that women are still woefully behind men in earnings. The top 1% of American households rreceive nearly a quarter of all U.S. income. Women’s income alone accounts for 1% status in only 5 % of those households (i.e., .0005 of U.S. households). Women’s contribution is necessary to achieve the 1% status in household income in 15% of the elite families (.0015 of households). To qualify for top 1% household status, the authors of the study calculate that a household must bring in $845,000 in total income in 2016 dollars.

Beyond the cash itself, the scarcity of women at the top incomes means less political, economic, and social power and influence.

Importantly, the study also indicates that the gender gap in personally earning this level of income has not narrowed since the mid- to late-1990s. This means that women’s progress on this issue has stalled and women are no closer to earning elite-level income today than they were two decades ago.

Previous studies of the glass ceiling looked at women in terms or CEO or leadership positions. This study shows that the glass ceiling effect extends even to self-employment. Although women who are self-employed or highly educated are doing better, they are still lagging behind men in income. Most women who attain 1% status still do so via marriage.

Disheartening, isn’t it?

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Maybe it’s not who you know but how many

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A recent study about women in leadership positions caught my eye. According to researchers at Notre Dame and Northwestern, women who communicate regularly with a small circle of other women are two and a half times more likely to hold such position.

For men, the larger the social network, regardless of gender, the better the chances for a high ranking job. And women who have a network similar to this are likely to be in a lower level job.

Reading between the lines, this seems to imply that women who are introverted are more likely to be leaders. Conversely, men who are extroverted, those with lots of contacts, are the ones who rise to high levels.

As an introvert, I find this study encouraging. Where do you fall on the introvert/extrovert continuum? How do these results apply to you?

 

Mind the gap

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News flash! The glass ceiling is alive and well. A researcher at University of Chicago Booth School of Business studied why that is still the case.

Professor Marianne Bertrand says although women are now earning more college degrees than men, they tend to choose jobs in lower paying fields.

Higher paying fields offer less flexibility and require more time commitment. Since women disproportionately care for children and the home, those fields are less appealing. And if women do by some chance take a job that pays more than their husband’s, that often leads to marital strife and divorce.

Finally, women are psychologically more risk averse than men. Competing for higher paying jobs and negotiating higher salaries entails taking risks.

Family friendly policies help with the flexibility issue but fail to address the pay gap.

Bertrand sums it up like this: an economy that does not fully tap into the leadership skills offered by women is necessarily inefficient.

As the economy continues to boom, will the glass ceiling finally crack?

Kiss your way to success

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Have you ever had a coworker who spends a lot of the workday kissing up to the boss? I know I have. If you think this kind of behavior is an American phenomenon, you’re mistaken. It seems Chinese workers do it too.

Anthony Klotz and Lawrence Houston, III, professors of management in the College of Business at Oregon State University,  studied 75 professionals in China about engaging in two “impression management techniques,” ingratiation and self-promotion. They define Ingratiation as flattery, conforming with the supervisor’s opinion and doing favors. Self-promotion includes taking credit for success, boasting about performance and highlighting connections to other important people.

The participants kept diaries for two weeks and also took a test measuring their political skill, the social abilities that help them effectively understand others at work, influence others in ways that enhance their own objectives and navigate social situations with confidence.

The researchers found that while kissing up is effective in the long run, in the short term it depletes self-control. The depleted employees were  then more likely to engage in workplace deviance such as incivility to a co-worker, skipping a meeting or surfing the internet rather than working. My interpretation: people who brown nose are also likely to be rude and do less work.

There was no evidence of a similar link between self-promotion and depletion. My interpretation: bragging doesn’t require self-control. In fact, the opposite is probably true.

The researchers also found that ingratiation was less depleting for employees with high levels of political skill. Those people didn’t engage in as much of the deviant behavior as their peers with less political savvy. My interpretation: people with innate political skills not only ingratiated upwards. They also ingratiatied sideways with peers.

The professors, bless their hearts, suggest that depleted workers might want to take a walk or have a snack to refresh themsleves instead of being rude to coworkers. Personally, I think people busily kissing up to supervisors don’t much care how they behave toward colleagues.

The good professors also suggest that leaders who have been kissed up to be aware of how this depletes those doing the kissing and offer positive reinforcement to un-deplete them. Huh? Maybe I’m missing something here, but this tells me that they regard kissing up as good behavior that should be rewarded.

What do you think?

 

 

Economic realities and #MeToo

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Last night, Anderson Cooper did a segment on 60 Minutes about Mario Batali and several women who accused him and his restaurant partner and friend of sexual harassment and abuse. As I continue to think about it this morning, a number of points stand out.

First, the women continued to work at the restaurant. They needed jobs. Some complained at the time of the incidents. Others didn’t. But they stayed.

I don’t know that much about the restaurant business, but it seems to be a male-dominated field. (Of course, what field isn’t?) These women were afraid they couldn’t find another job, afraid they would be black-balled so they would never find another job, or afraid that any job they found would be more of the same culture. These are economic realities.

Women still hold few CEO spots in the Fortune 500. How did they do it? Apparently, differently from the way men do. CNN Money reported on a study done by Oxford University of 151 male and female CEOs. Men rely on neworking and mentors. With few women in the ranks above them, these avenues are not available to women.

Female CEOs said success came when they invested in their own career development. Researchers identified three “self themes” — self-acceptance, self-development and self-management — common to the female leaders.

Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but these are facets of emotional intelligence that I write about in my latest book How to Stop #MeToo from Happening to You.

For the female CEOs, self-acceptance came when they first realized they had leadership potential. Self-development meant asking for more responsibility. Self-management included determining a leadership style that blended assertiveness with nurturing qualities still expected by others.

Will conditions change if more women get into positions of power in businesses? I hope so. I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers.

Coaching with compassion

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Dr. Richard Boyatzis is a big deal in organizational behavior circles. His official titles on his web page at Case Western Reserve University take up a full paragraph. He has written seven books and a slew of articles outlining his Intentional Change Theory. I first learned of his work through a MOOC entitled Conversations That Inspire: Coaching, Learning, Leadership, and Change.

Boyatzis projects great warmth, and his theory reflects his own personality. He  advocates fostering of what he calls positive emotional attractors. Simply put, this entails coaching with compassion instead of coaching for compliance. The leader, boss, or coach should not focus on the problem or try to fix the employee. They should help the employee envision an ideal future. Only through a shared vision is organizational change possible.

Negative emotional attractors have a longer shelf life in our memory. Boyatzis estimates it takes three positives to counteract one negative interaction. Negative emotions, of course, mean stress. Chronic stress increases cortisol which turns off the immune system and inhibits growth of new tissue in the body. Chronic stress constricts peripheral vision literally and figuratively. We’re not interested in seeing new ideas or new people. That inhibits change from occurring.

My problem with Boyatzis and the authors of best-selling leadership books in general is that in my long and exceedingly checkered work life, I have encountered maybe one or two bosses who through education or instinct seemed to practice this approach.

Is it me? Am I just a malcontent, or have I had incredible bad luck in bosses? I would love to hear from anyone who has worked for one of these supportive leaders.

 

 

Blaming the victim?

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A recent study about bullying caught my eye. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education from the University of Missouri College of Education, and Nicholas Gage, an assistant professor from the University of Florida, say that children with disabilities are bullied significantly more often than those without disabilities. This inequality in bullying continues over time. It peaks in third grade, subsides in middle school, and increases again in high school.

They conclude that the disabled students aren’t developing the social skills to defend themselves as they mature. They recommend that schools teach “appropriate response skills.”

Apparently, the conduct doesn’t end in school. When a relative of mine with a disability was bullied in the workplace, I did some research and blogged about it.

Of course, it is important for the disabled students to learn better communication and coping skills. But isn’t it even more important that the bullies are taught better behavior?

To be fair, Rose and Gage are in the field of special education and focusing on improving conditions for at risk children, not on the general school population. They do assert that social skills are no longer taught to anyone. Still, it seems to me another instance of blaming the victim.

What say you?