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Gender at Work

A Social Psychological Perspective


Melanie C. Steffens and Ma. Àngels Viladot

While many women receive equal education, such equality is nowhere in sight when it comes to women’s and men’s career success: men still earn significantly more than women and are more likely to be promoted. In this book, the authors offer a state of the art review of applied social-psychological research on gender at work, shedding light on all the different ways that work-related perceptions, attributions, outcomes, and the like differ for women and men. Focusing on domains (e.g., engineering) and positions (e.g., leadership) that are marked by women’s underrepresentation, the first part of the book looks at gender at work in terms of stereotypes, attitudes, and social roles, including parenthood, while the second part takes a social identity and communication perspective, exploring the situations in which men and women interact at work. Many chapters focus on applied questions, such as career choice, effects of role models, and sexual harassment at work. Theories and findings are applied to these topics, with conclusions and recommendations drawn throughout the book.
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Chapter 22. Conclusions


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Over the past decades, women have been gaining confidence, skills, and experience in the workplace. There is nothing, at the moment, preventing them to think that they cannot take the next step on the professional scale. However, statistics tell a very different story (see De Madariaga, 2013). What can they do to be included in that small minority of women who manage to reach the highest levels?

Women are urged to promote themselves and to follow courses of training, mentoring, and leadership to develop skills and confidence to apply for high-level jobs. Nowadays, there are many young women who have no problem applying for such jobs or promoting themselves.

In our opinion, telling women what to do and how to improve suggests that the reason they are not in top positions is because they are not suitable for those positions. It has also been said that the few women who have reached high levels deny help to other women and that this is partly the reason for the underrepresentation of women in positions of responsibility.

In our view, the only way in which the current scarcity of women in top positions can change is through the elimination of systemic and structural bias in policies and procedures that favor men (and specifically White men).

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