Hello! I found this forum from a Google search,and from the FAQs I guess I can just post an essay here for feedback. Thanks in advance for your help, and let me know if I can provide more information.
Here is my paper, which I've done in MLA style. I wasn't sure how to get the paragraphs tabbed over in this forum; hopefully you can tell where the paragraphs start and end. Thank you for any feedback - grammatical, structural, or whatever.
Gendered Institutions Review
Institutions are full of employees who are male and female; masculine and feminine. In addition, organizations themselves can be considered gendered. Masculine organizations include crime-fighting, landscaping, management, military, construction - things that can be done alone, and encompass safety risks. Feminine organizations include nursing, designing, child care - things that are people related (In-class notes, June 24). Acker notes that people skills or human relation skills are more often found in feminine institutions, whereas money management skills are in masculine institutions (Acker 150). Are institutions determining gender? Is gender determining institutions? Is it reciprocal?
Historically, men have been viewed as having institutional advantages. Do men get a better education? Do men get paid more? Why does someone who builds a vehicle get paid more than someone who cares for a child? Are men given higher positions within institutions? Can it change? Should it change? Are men better leaders than women? Answering these questions is a tricky task - gendered organizations are deeply rooted in long-standing beliefs (Acker 154, Wood 211).
Men have, for the most part, dominated organizations. "Men are almost always in the highest positions of organizational power" (Acker 146). Not only have men been in positions of power, but masculine principles "dominate their authority structures" (Acker 143). While men are at the head of hierarchies, women get ignored. Research on organizations has focused on control and power. It has not looked at or asked women about gender. (Acker 141-142). Other organizational advantages men have include:
- Men are better at 3-dimensional spatial thought (Wood211).
- Men have better math and science abilities (Wood 211).
- Men can't bear children, and therefore are not looked down on for taking leaves from work (Wood 224).
- Men are encouraged to pursue science and math vocations (Wood 212).
- Men earn more money than women.
Although these advantages exist, there are also disadvantages in being male in an institution ? whether it is a religion, business, or educational institution. Men are disadvantaged in early years of education. The first few years of school consist largely of feminine surroundings. Boys are often frustrated as they adapt to this new environment. Later, in high school, boys are less successful academically, and they don't develop equal study skills, work habits, and personal discipline (Wood 209).
Of course, advantages and disadvantages exist for women in organizations also. Wood gives some statistics from research suggesting women are disadvantaged in education including: (Wood 207)
- Female students are given less attention than male students.
- Universities can be foreboding for women.
- American schools are biased against female students
It seems as though the U.S. considers child bearing an organizational disadvantage; "every industrialized nation except America provides generous parental and family leave policies" (Wood 240). Women are devalued in institutions because they are assumed to be domestic (Acker 152). Women are also disadvantaged because they have historically been discouraged from advanced study. In a world-wide study, 58 million females were found to be deprived of education, and only a few females in Africa finish elementary school (Wood 208-210). Women earn less money than men. Women with careers can be seen as marriage-wreckers. The divorce rate goes up for women who work (Noer 1).
Being a woman in an organization is not completely disadvantageous; there are benefits as well. Noer continues by acknowledging that if a marriage is happy to begin with, then a working woman might actually augment marital stability (Noer 2). Women receive more bachelor's, graduate, and professional degrees than men (Wood 211). Many perceive that women receive more scholarships, are frequently taken more seriously by teachers and professors, and are respected more in educational settings (In-class notes, June 26). There are also differences between cultures. Magnolia has more female than male students, and the teachers perceive the females as the top students. Many women in Turkey major in math (Wood 208-210).
Perhaps there is more involved than just gender. Wood brings up the fact that Chinese students (regardless of gender) do better than American students on math tests. African women are encouraged to be active, assertive, independent, and ambitious (Wood 212). Acker argues that along with gender and race, class plays a role as well. She maintains that class relations are reproduced in organizations, but it is reciprocal ? the organization influences class and gender, and class and gender influence the organization (Acker 154).
Proposed solutions to gendered differences within institutions include diversity training and affirmative action. If people are unaware of their behavior, they may not know that they are discriminating a certain group. Diversity training brings awareness to potentially offensive comments and behavior (Wood 251). Affirmative action deals with groups of people rather than individuals. Its goal is to augment representation of oppressed groups, such as women and minorities. Once affirmative action has identified a minority, it looks for qualified members within the minority group. A critique of affirmative action is that by helping minority groups, the once-dominate group ? white males ? becomes excluded, though studies have shown this critique to be false (Wood 246).
Another solution is to look at the language organizations use. Most research observes organizations as gender-neutral, though many organizational texts are written using the pronoun 'he." Authors expect their work to be gender neutral and include everyone, but with only the masculine present, it is difficult to study gender within institutions (Acker 142). For example, many people view entrepreneurship as a masculine role even though it is an option for both genders. Entrepreneurs have traits such as patient, leader, problem solver, creative, money conscious, and strategic ? characteristics often associated with masculinity (In-class notes June 24).
Do institutions influence gender or does gender influence institutions? They are reciprocal, perpetual, and continuous. Institutions were derived from individuals, and institutions publish values and roles, influencing individuals (In-class notes, July 3). Perhaps this is a continuous reciprocal pattern. Are women or men equal? Are they different? Should they be treated different? Are men or women smarter? Sally Forth sums it up well: "Women have certain strengths, men have others. They're hard to measure and even harder to compare" (Wood 213).
Wood discusses Sue Mercer who fought to be a part of the football team, and sued for $2 million (Wood 221). She also talks about a blind hiring process ? more females are hired than males in this process (Wood 223). Gender inequality clearly exists, and while I've experienced it in small ways, I don't feel that it has played a vital role in my identity. I think this is because of 2 things: First, times are changing. This is evidenced in the recent promotion of the first female 4-general in U.S. history. Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody was nominated June 2008 (First Female).
Second, I was raised in a competitive and confident environment. I was always told that I could do anything I wanted. I was also raised as a tomboy playing masculine sports, and being rewarded for masculine qualities. I worked in my dad's shop with him, and learned how to use all of his power tools. I never believed or even thought for a second that I couldn't or wouldn't be able to participate in 'masculine' activities such as wood shop or math classes. Wood mentions a long-standing idea that females naturally have less skill in math and sciences (Wood 211), but as far as I can remember, no one has ever questioned my actions ? or at least I haven't acknowledged it. I have always been proud of myself for knowing and performing both masculine and feminine genders, though I am sure there are many ways I could improve.
Valenti notes the importance of how we are brought up. She talks about how she was influenced by her mother and other mentors. Her past has led to data about her which she can't reject; it has become a part of her (Valenti 250). There were other females in my math and shop classes; perhaps this contributed to my perception that my institutional experiences have been equal.
A downfall of my competitive upbringing is that I am not very sympathetic to people who seem to whine about equality. I believe women and men are different, and that is okay; there can still be equality. Men and women won't have the exact same experiences, but life for each won't be radically different either. Wood's student Bailey declares how unfair it is that her boyfriend gets special treatment from his professors solely because he's a male, but I question her. Perhaps there is more involved than just each of their grades, and their dedication to education. Could it be simply that her boyfriend and the professor have something in common, or have similar goals? Could it be that he is better at communicating his ideas and his goals with his professors?
Wood defines effortless perfection as achieving beauty, fitness and intelligence without noticeable effort (Wood 218). Wood's student Kelley tells of how she avoids certain parts of campus so she doesn't have to hear the butt and boob comments by the construction workers and males attending the school. I feel sorry for her, but I think she could do something about her oppression. I don't wear make-up, I spend less time in the bathroom than my husband, but I get whistled at on the street. It doesn't bother me. I take it on myself to perceive it as a compliment. How we perceive the world becomes our world. I am by no means endorsing the behavior Kelley is talking about, but I think if she either changed her perspective or confronted them about it, she would experience less oppression. Wood states that it is up to our generation to face gender challenges in the workforce to make the future better. I hope I can always strive for a better future, but I don't think current institutions are in need of a complete overhaul.
Acker, Joan. Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. Oregon and Stockholm, Gender & Society, 1990.
"First female four-star U.S. Army general nominated." CNN.com/US, June 2008.
In-Class Notes. Gill, Rebecca. Comm 3070 Lectures. OSH Building, University of Utah, Summer 2008.
Noer, Michael. Careers and Marriage. Forbes.com, June 2008.
Valenti, Joann Myer. Women in God's Country: When Students are Elders, the President's a Prophet, and Everyone's a Saint. Journal of Media and Religion, Utah, 2004.
Wood, Julia T. Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, 7th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2007.