The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

When Are Women Excluded? A Cross-National Investigation of the Role of Country and Workplace Patriarchal Closure and Egalitarian Policies and Practices

Friday, January 18, 2013: 10:30 AM
Marina 1 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
René Carapinha, PhD(ABD) MA(SW), Research and Program Manager / Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University and Boston College, Boston, MA
Purpose: Jobs are often the primary sources of income, security, challenge, and self-esteem, making them critical to total well-being. Social injustice and inequality manifests through forms of differential treatment at work, such as organizational exclusion (OE), and reduces the opportunities to fully participate and benefit from work. OE is the perception of being excluded from organizational processes, including information sharing and decision making at one’s place of employment. Employees from underrepresented and/or lower status groups are often most vulnerable. As a type of ostracism, OE impacts mental and physical health and also work-related outcomes, including job satisfaction, work engagement, and career advancement. Given the importance of gender equality to social justice and social development, gender based OE is particularly concerning. However, studies have not fully identified and explained the prevalence and reasons for gender differences in OE. This study describes and explains gender differences in OE across various workplaces in 11 countries. Of particular interest are workplace egalitarian policies and practices, and country and workplace patriarchal closure - the social conditions that disadvantage and devalue women in order to preserve male (masculine) advantage and dominance.

Method: The study was conducted using cross-sectional survey data collected by the Sloan Center on Aging and Work for the 2010/11 Generations of Talent study. The study sample is comprised of employees of multinational corporations in eleven countries, including Brazil, Botswana, China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom.  These countries vary in economic development, culture, and gender equality, making it possible to investigate the role of social context. OE was measured using items from Mor-Barak’s (2005) unidimensional perception of exclusion-inclusion scale. Gender differences in OE were assessed using random coefficient models of employees nested in workplace. Workplace and country impacts were examined by entering the factors sequentially into the model, and then assessing changes in the gender coefficient. Regression decomposition was used to determine the importance of each group of factors, including the workplace environment (workplace gender-role beliefs, organizational demography, work-family climate), organizational policies and practices (diversity training, diversity-inclusion policy, equality recruitment and advancement), and country gender equality.

Results: Controlling for personal, job, and human capital factors, females are more likely to experience greater OE compared to males. The gender difference, however, varies across workplaces. Gender differences are larger in workplace environments characterized by greater “patriarchal closure” as evidenced by more traditional workplace gender-role beliefs, greater male representation in management, and less accommodating work-family climates. Workplace equality policies and practices have a marginal effect on gender differences in OE. Gender differences are larger in countries with greater gender inequality in economic opportunities and participation.

Implications: Findings highlight the importance of workplace environments and country context in perpetuating exclusion of women in organizational processes. Organizational interventions aimed at changing the workplace environment, and public policies that promote gender equality in general, and in particular women’s participation and advancement in the labor force are needed. Suggestions for future research and social work practice in global environments are provided.