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Leading Occupations of Women

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 16, 2010In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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The Department of Labor's Women's Bureau released its list of the 20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women.  The data supports stereotypes such as "nursing is a woman's job" and "all secretaries are female."  There were some jobs, though, that I was surprised to learn are largely held by women, including customer-service representatives and accountants and auditors.  Here are the other 18 jobs and the percentage of each held by women, according to the DOL:

 

Secretaries and administrative assistants 

96.8       

Registered nurses

92.0      

Elementary and middle school teachers

81.9      

Cashiers

74.4

Nursing, psychiatric, and home-health aides

88.5

Retail salespersons

51.9

First-line supervisors/managers  of retail sales workers

44.1

Waiters and waitresses

71.6

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

89.8      

Customer service representatives

67.9

Childcare workers

95.1

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

92.3

Receptionists and information clerks

91.5

First-line supervisors/managers of office and admin support

71.3

Managers, all others

34.1

Accountants and auditors

61.8

Teacher assistants

91.6

Cooks

41.5

Office clerks, general

82.0

Personal and home care aides

85.2

See the original:

20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women Fact Sheet  at the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau website.

Should Women Shun Work-Life Balance Benefits?

Posted by Teresa A. CheekOn December 1, 2009In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Glass-ceiling research shows women continue to be harmed by gender stereotypes.  Managers continue to discriminate against female subordinates because they incorrectly perceive women as having greater conflicts between their family responsibilities and their work responsibilities than men, reports The Academy of Management Journal. Somewhat surprisingly, both male and female managers harbor this misperception.

The study, entitled "Bosses' Perceptions of Family-Work Conflict and Women's Promotability: Glass Ceiling Affects," was conducted by members of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Department of Managerial Studies. Lead author Jenny Hoobler commented that she expected that "[w]hat we're talking about ... is one of the subtle, entrenched forms of discrimination that make up the glass ceiling."

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The study cautions women about using company-sponsored programs such as on-site child care, flex time or paid parental leave, which are designed to assist employees with work-life balance. The problem is that managers may view use of such benefits as confirmation of women's greater susceptibility to work-family conflicts, and then view such women as less committed to the company and less promotable than their male counterparts who do not make use of such benefits.

The authors recommend that to reduce the potential that gender stereotyping will affect workplace decisions, companies should educate managers about their own possible biases and should be aware of and guard against allowing "biased perceptions of caregiving roles" to affect promotion decisions.

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn October 20, 2009In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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Maria Shriver is doing more than violating her state’s ban on cell phone use while driving these days. Perhaps her ambitious project is in part what compels her need to multi-task in the car (but please invest in a hands-free device, Maria, so the press can focus on your other admirable pursuits!).

As reported on Sloan’s Work and Family Network Blog, this week you will likely hear quite a bit in the media about a report being published by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress called A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. The goal of this undertaking has been to provide an in-depth look at the status of women in America from a number of different perspectives and across a wide range of sectors - healthcare, higher education, law, public service, policy, etc.male female red blue

The report notes that while women constitute 57% of new college graduates, and while women have made great strides in the workplace, they still contribute twice the number of hours to dependent care and domestic tasks as men do. This disconnect means that—like it or not—employers will need to take steps to allow accommodate work-family issues to allow women (and other caregivers) to succeed in the workplace. It’s not just altruism that mandates this, it’s the employer’s bottom line.

Although there is proposed legislation to address some of the concerns (including paid sick leave), currently such measures are left largely to the employer. Although the report is ambitious and contains admirable goals, now is a tough time to pursue them. As we’ve discussed here before, the current attitude (although misguided) among many employers is that employees are lucky to have jobs and the last thing they feel compelled to discuss is “work-life” issues that may allow their employees to better juggle their demands outside of work. Nevertheless, as women continue to grow in number and rank in the workplace, this issue is here to stay.

Women as Breadwinners

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn September 23, 2009In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Unemployment is painful for anyone who wants to work but is unable to locate a suitable position.  With the increases in unemployment finally starting to lessen, the aftermath of layoffs has come into focus.  The manufacturing and construction industries were two of the hardest hit by the recession, suffering higher job losses than other industries.  Because these two industries employ disproportionately large numbers of males, men have suffered an equally disproportionate number of job losses. 

Since December 2007, men were at the receiving end of more than 74% of cuts.  Women, on the other hand, hold nearly 50% of payroll jobs, making them less vulnerable to financially motivated layoffs.  In June 2009, a record 1.4 million men left the labor force, as compared to a near-record 1.2 million women. 

The highest unemployment rate for men since the Great Depression was 10.1% in 1982.  In June, that number reached 10%. Post-Great Depression, the record for women was in 1982, 9.3%. Currently, it’s 7.6% today.

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What is less easy to quantify is the impact this shift has had on workplace and home-life dynamics.  As more and more women find themselves in a position of the sole wage earner, societal attitudes inevitably will be affected in some way, even if it's not immediately noticeable.

Becky Beaupre Gillespie, of Good Enough Is the New Perfect, wrote a very insightful post detailing the struggle she and her husband have experienced in navigating their roles since he was let go from his job with a national law firm.  Her journey is surely one that many working women are experiencing across the country.  How it will impact the gender roles is yet to be seen.

A Turning Point for Women in the Legal Profession? Almost.

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn September 21, 2009In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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While in law school, I was defeated in the semi-final round of a moot court competition.  The reason for the loss?  My outfit. I'd worn a pantsuit and a female judge, who was a judge in real life, also, ridiculed the choice, telling me that no "real lawyer" would ever have worn pants to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, which was who we were "pretending" to argue before in the competition.  The harsh criticism came as a total shock to me and I've never forgotten it. 

Well, after these many years, I've finally been vindicated. In her first argument before the country's highest court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, former Dean of Harvard Law School, wore a navy blue pantsuit and light blue blouse. So it seems that my judge was wrong.  A woman would and, in fact, did wear pants before the Supreme Court after all.  Does this brazen fashion choice signify a coming of age for women in the legal profession?  bw sexual equality male female scales of justice

Well, almost.

It would have been a far more remarkable silent victory but for the fact that it wasn't silent at all.  Kagan's choice was all over the legal newsboards.  Above The Law ran a story detailing the choice and discussing the outfit at length. The fact that her clothing garnered so much attention lessened the potentially important impact of what was surely a high point in Kagan's legal legacy.  Had the media not found it so remarkable, Kagan's pantsuit choice may have been a much more significant symbol of how far women have come in our profession.  But, by spotlighting it as a key point of interest, the news stories just reminds us that our fashion choices do matter--at least to the interested public. 

Nonetheless, the fact that Kagan was not dissuaded in her selection by the media's interest does give me a great deal of satisfaction.  Would I follow Kagan's lead?  I'd like to think so but I dare not speculate.  After all, an attorney with Kagan's pedigree has plenty of reasons to be as confident as she was--she's got the legal acumen to back up any outfit she "dares" to wear. 

See also:

Gender Discrimination & Dress Codes. Who wears the skirt, I mean, pants in your office?

Are Women Attorneys Being Stricken by a Pantsuit Pandemic?

The Pantsuit Pandemic Part II

Resources for Research on Work-Life Balance & Flexible-Work Arrangements

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn August 4, 2009In: Family Responsibilities (FRD), Flextime, Telecommuting, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Thanks to everyone who attended the audio conference on Caregiver Discrimination, presented by Adria B. Martinelli and Margaret M. DiBianca.  As promised during the conference, we're posting some of the many resources that are available online where employers can locate specific information and research to use in pitching the idea of Flexible Workplace Arrangements.

 

Two of the Leading Work-Life Centers

Workplace Flexibility 2010, at the Georgetown University Law Center, has a virtual tremendous amount of helpful resources,including A Fact Sheet on Flexible Work Arrangements and Flexible Work Arrangements: The Overview Memo.

Another leader in the field of work-life balance is the Sloan Work and Family Institute.  Here, you'll find a treasure trove of detailed information about flexible work arrangements, including an extensive compilation of Workplace Flexibility Case Studies.

 

U.S. DOL

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has a good webpage on the topic of flexible workplace initiatives, where it links to several other great resources, including:

Article: "Incidence of Flexible Work Schedules Increases"
A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Monthly Labor Review article stating that from 1991 to 1997, the percentage of full-time wage and salary workers with flexible work schedules on their principal job increased from 15.1 percent to 27.6 percent. baby wearing headset

Article: "Flexible Schedules and Shift Work: Replacing the '9-To-5' Workday?"
Article from BLS' Monthly Labor Review Online.

Article: "Over One Quarter of Full-time Workers Have Flexible Schedules"
More information on flexible schedules.

Article: "Flexible Work Schedules: What Are We Trading Off to Get Them?"
More information on flexible schedules.

Article: "Executives most likely to have flexible work hours"
More information on flexible schedules.

Article: "Workers with Longer Workweeks Often Earn More Per Hour"
Article published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics stating that the weekly earnings of workers who work an extended workweek (between 45 and 99 hours) earn at least 32% more money than those who work a standard workweek (between 35 and 44 hours).

Index of BLS Reports on Workers on Flexible and Shift Schedules
A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the trend towards flexible work schedules.

 

10 More (Great) Resources

The Center for Companies that Care is a national, not-for-profit organization "dedicated to enhancing the well-being of employees and communities."

Center for Women's Business Research "is the go-to source on the trends, characteristics, achievements, and challenges of women business owners and their enterprises."

Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP), "undertakes research and works with employers to design, promote, and implement workplace policies that increase productivity and enhance personal/family well-being. CWLP is committed to promoting policies that enable individuals to realize their full potential across the divides of gender, race and class."

Corporate Voices for Working Families is a "non-profit corporate membership organization created to bring the private sector voice into the public dialogue on issues affecting working families."

The MIT Workplace Center is part of the MIT Sloan School of Management

Parenting in the Workplace Institute's  mission is "to promote, educate, and provide resources for successful implementation of parenting in the workplace structures nationally and worldwide."

Rutgers Center for Women and Work, is part of the School of Management and Labor Relations, and addresses "women's advancement in the workplace and conducts cutting-edge research on successful public and workplace policies."

WFC Resources formerly Work & Family Connection) has been working since 1984 "to help employers create a workplace that's both supportive and effective."

When Work Works "is a nationwide initiative to highlight the importance of workforce effectiveness and workplace flexibility as strategies to enhance businesses' competitive advantage in the global economy and yield positive business results."

Winning Workplaces is a not-for-profit providing consulting, training and information to "help small and midsize organizations create great workplaces."

 

And, of course, Delaware Employment Law Blog has bunches of resources, too.

See Previous posts on Alternative-Work Schedules, Flextime Initiatives, Telecommuting, and other Work-Life Balance issues.

Looking a Flexible-Schedule Gift Horse in the Mouth

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn March 20, 2009In: Alternative Work Schedules, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Flexible schedules is a topic of particular interest to me, in some part, because I am the grateful beneficiary of one.   I commend employers, including my own, who have made the enlightened and informed decision to offer this benefit.  It's a decision that I firmly believe will pay dividends in employee loyalty and ultimately save the employer money on hiring, retraining, etc.calendar and clock

Raising happy, healthy, adjusted children is the responsibility of our entire population, and the burden of doing so should not rest on the mother’s shoulders alone. However, the United States, unlike other industrialized nations, has little legislation to promote this ideal. Absent the FMLA, permitting new parents 12 weeks (unpaid) to bond with their children, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prevents employers from discriminating against women on the basis of their pregnancy, accommodations or benefits to assist new mothers in balancing their work and families are left largely to the employer’s discretion.

WorkLife Law has advocated aggressively and effectively on behalf of working mothers, suggesting litigation through existing statutes where possible to remedy inequities with respect to mothers in the workplace. In part due to their efforts, the EEOC issued its guidance on Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities , which helped to focus employers and EEOC investigators on subtle biases about the commitment of working mothers to their job responsibilities, that may result in actionable discrimination cases.

A recent “Employer Alert” from WorkLife Law, however, has taken it too far, suggesting the following:

Continue reading "Looking a Flexible-Schedule Gift Horse in the Mouth" »

50 Best Blogs on Wellness, Women's Interests, and Work-Life Balance

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn March 13, 2009In: Resources, Wellness, Health, and Safety, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Delaware Employment Law Blog is pleased to add the following 50 blogs to its "Best of" Blogroll.  The common premise among these blogs is the idea that well-rounded employees are happier employees and happier employees perform better for their employer, who, in turn, enjoys more success overall.  In other words--wellness and work-life balance are valuable principles, which should be considered high-ranking goals among employers.   man holding blog

Here's the list, alphabetically:

  1. About Working Moms
  2. Alliance for Work-Life Progress
  3. Business Week’s Working Parents Blog
  4. Chief Home Officer
  5. Corporate Voices
  6. Corporate Voices for Working Families
  7. Discovering Your Inner Samurai Blog
  8. FunnyBusiness
  9. Half Changed World
  10. How She Really Does It
  11. Hybrid Mom Insider
  12. Institute for Women’s Leadership
  13. Jugglezine
  14. Kathy Lingle's Work-Life Blog
  15. Moms Rising
  16. Motherlode
  17. Mothers Movement
  18. Newly Corporate
  19. On Balance
  20. Progressive States
  21. Sloan Network
  22. Sue Magazine
  23. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide
  24. The Juggle
  25. The Lattice Group
  26. The Women’s Initiative Blog
  27. The Work/Life Balancing Act
  28. The WorkLife Monitor
  29. Women for Hire
  30. Women on Business
  31. Women's Leadership Exchange Blog
  32. Women's Rights Employment Law Blog
  33. Work from Within
  34. Work+Life Fit, Inc
  35. Working Mother
  36. Work-Life and Human Capital Solutions
  37. WorkLife Law Blog
  38. World at Work
  39. YourOnRamp.com
  40. Christina's Considerations
  41. Corporate Wellness Quotes
  42. Employee Corporate Wellness Programs
  43. Employee Wellness USA
  44. Employee/Corporate Wellness Programs
  45. Meditation At Work Info
  46. My Meditation Coach: Improve your workforce!
  47. Wellergize
  48. Wellness Corporate Insights
  49. Wellness.com
  50. Workplace Wellness

International Women's Day 2009

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn March 9, 2009In: Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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International Women's Day (IWD), is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.  IWD was celebrated officially on Sunday, March 8, 2009, so this post is a day late but, in light of the worthiness of the topic, timely nonetheless.  Making it even more timely is the fact that March is "Women's History Month" in the U.S.

International Women's Day

To celebrate, many global organizations host internal events, as well as support external ones.  For example, Google changes its logo on its global search pages. 

Google

The International Women's Day website provides a free service to women around the world wanting to share and promote their IWD activity, videos, opinions and ideas.  The site offers the following summary as a backdrop for this important date:

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

Women Bullies In the Workplace

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn February 24, 2009In: Jerks at Work, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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Women who bully women at work is not a new topic on this blog.  A segment on Good Morning America today addressed the topic of female bullies from a different point of view.  The piece looked at the female target and how women tend to differ from men when subject to workplace bullying.  Some of the more interesting gender-specific perspective notes made in the piece included:jerks angry woman

  • Women are taught to be non-confrontational and this tendency to not fight back makes them especially vulnerable targets.
  • Women, more so than men, tend to take negative interactions personally, concluding that the attack was directed to them specifically, as opposed to directed towards the individual standing closest to the bully at that moment.
  • Women do not complain about an existing problem and, when they do, they aren't as persistent as maybe they should be. 

So, do women make better targets?  Or, are they just more vicious bullies

It's an interesting idea.  Women are better than men at bullying others and at being bullied by others.  Well, I suppose that there's something to be said for being better at something.  Ok, not really.  So why do women fall into both roles with ease?  Are we genetically predisposed to these opposable positions? 

Gary Namie, Ph.D, founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, offered the following tips to those being targeted by workplace bullies:

  • Get support from family and friends. Talking about the problem eases the burden and lowers the chances of stress-related illness.
  • See a doctor or a therapist, especially if you're having stress symptoms, such as sleeplessness and appetite loss.
  • Get witnesses to help you build a record of the bully's actions for a future complaint.
  • Confront the bully with the same toughness he or she showed you. This should be done with a single witness or as a group.

It's interesting to note some of the ways in which these suggestions would be particularly effective for female targets.  The first suggestion, for example, is a very gender-specific technique.  Research proves that women are biologically programmed to talk about their problems, whereas the male brain actually reacts to stress by reducing his desire, even restricting his ability, to "talk about it." 

Similarly, the tendency to garner group consensus prior to acting is a female-specific trait.  Males, on the other hand, tend not to seek group consensus before executing a decision.  This idea of "power in numbers" also is seen in the final suggestion, which encourages a victim to stand up to the bully--but to be supported by either a single witness or by a group. 

To read more about Jerks at Work, you may want to read these earlier posts:

New Conclusions on the Potential Costs of Workplace Bullying

Women Who Bully Women at Work

"My Boss Is Killing Me": Why this just may be true

Top 5 Lessons to Be Learned from the Jerk at Work

Workplace bullying

It's Friday and Your Boss Is a Total Tool

The Truth About Workplace Revenge

Laid Off and Pregnant

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn February 17, 2009In: Pregnancy (Title VII), Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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The Wall Street Journal recently posted an entry on its blog “The Juggle,” entitled Laid Off . . . And Pregnant,” describing the position of tens of thousands of pregnant women laid off in the current economy. As noted by the article, pregnant women are just as subject to any one else to being laid off for economic reasons, as long as they are not specifically targeted based on their pregnancy or assumptions about their future commitment to the job as new mothers. stick people family images

A woman laid off while pregnant, however, is in a uniquely difficult position. Legal prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination notwithstanding, women with a visible belly are not the most competitive job candidates. Most unemployed women “showing” their pregnancy assume (with good reason) that they will never get hired, and therefore remove themselves from the job market. Others hope to land a job offer before their appearance forces them to disclose their condition.

Although it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a candidate simply because of her pregnancy, the employer is likely to assume that the employee will be unable to work for at least some period in the near future. In addition, there remain societal assumptions about a new mother’s lack of focus on work (that the EEOC’s Guidance on Family Responsibility Discrimination (pdf) was designed to combat). Even if, subconsciously, one would anticipate most employers to reach the decision that another (non-pregnant) candidate was better suited for the position. It goes without saying that an expectant father who is laid off does not face the same hurdles.

We’ve come a long way, baby, but not that far.

There’s no easy answer to this issue. I’m sure there are plenty of expectant mothers crossing fingers and toes (if they can reach them) and hoping that they remain employed through the duration of their pregnancy.

Work-Life Balance Issues At Risk in the New Economy?

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn February 10, 2009In: Pregnancy (Title VII), Women In (and Out of) the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Work-life issues have taken center stage in the first month of the country’s new administration. President Obama’s campaign platform included a specific “Plan to Support Working Families and Women,” and just a few weeks ago Michelle Obama appointed Jocelyn Frye, general counsel of the National Partnership for Woman and Families, as her Policy Director. clip_image002

Many advocacy groups have high hopes that the protections of FMLA and/or Pregnancy Discrimination Act are eventually broadened. In the meantime, however, legal protection in the work-life balance area is limited. Unlike most other industrialized nations, pregnant workers in the United States are afforded no special protections, employers are required only to treat pregnant workers no worse than other temporarily disabled employees.

Pregnancy is not (absent unusual complicating conditions) a disability that must be “accommodated.” Federal law provides little in the way of benefits to pregnant employees to make it easier for them to have a baby and then go through a bonding period.

Continue reading "Work-Life Balance Issues At Risk in the New Economy?" »

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Has Been Signed Into Law

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 29, 2009In: Equal Pay, Gender (Title VII), Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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President Barack Obama this morning signed the first bill of his presidency, a piece of legislation known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act that makes it easier for workers to sue after discovering what they believe to be pay discrimination.  For a bit more detail about the potential ramifications of the new law, see Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Will Become First Pro-Labor Legislation of 2009, Equal Pay Becomes Front Runner as Lilly Ledbetter Act Takes Center Stage, Equal Pay: Fair Pay Restoration Act Voted Down in Senate, More Fodder for the Fair Pay Debate, or A New Day for Employers.

Work-Life Issues Spotlighted by Michelle Obama's Appointment of New Policy Director

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn January 21, 2009In: Newsworthy, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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President Obama’s commitment to work-family issues is a topic I've posted about previously.  I've also posted about the President's campaign platform on work-life and work-family issues.  I’ve wondered, however, given the many larger issues on the President’s plate, whether these matters would truly be a focus once he was in office. Michelle Obama has made it clear it is a focus of hers, even while her husband is tending to other matters. She solidified her commitment to the issue by her appointment, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, of fellow attorney and Harvard Law School classmate Jocelyn Frye, general counsel of the National Partnership for Women and Families, as her Policy Director. michelle obama work life balance

Obama’s naming of Frye last Friday suggests she’s preparing to take an activist stance on such policy issues as family leave and flexible scheduling. Frye has been a long-time advocate of expanding family leave and ending pregnancy discrimination.  

The National Partnership for Women and Families drafted and lobbied for the 1993 Family & Medical Leave Act, which entitles many workers to up to 12 weeks unpaid time off for family care and other reasons. Their “proposed agenda for the new administration,” posted on the Partnership’s Web site, includes a much-expanded FMLA, guaranteeing employees of companies with 15 or more workers access to seven paid sick days a year, and also for the federal government to provide incentives for the states to set up paid family-leave insurance plans. The brief also calls for equal access to family leave for part-time workers, income supports to allow working parents in poverty to care for new children at home, and federal policies to give workers more control over their schedules, including the right to refuse mandatory overtime.

Let’s hope that Michelle Obama’s commitment to the cause, and her appointment of Frye, result in some real developments on work-family issues!

Women Who Bully Women at Work

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 14, 2009In: Jerks at Work, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

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Bullying in the workplace has been a hot topic in the labor and employment world since 2007, when The Workplace Bullying Institute published a revealing survey on the topic. Since then, the subject of Jerks at Work has played a regular role in scholarly discussions about how employers can work to improve the working environment.  The attention, at least from legal scholars, has been focused on the overlap between unlawful harassment and the bullying epidemic.  So the theory goes, bullying conduct looks enough like harassing conduct that a jury could reasonably interpret the former as the latter. 

I speak frequently on the topic and, when making a case for the implementation and enforcement of anti-bullying policies, I explain it as a matter of simple business sense.  Happy people don't sue.  (Most of the time.)  But pissed-off people make great plaintiffs.  Pick on someone long enough and be mean enough and it's just a matter of time until the person reacts.  The reaction can come in a myriad of forms, all of which are adverse to the employer's interest.   Workplace violence is one possible response to bullying experienced by workers.  Legal action is another. 

This topic also comes up when I give general employment discrimination training or harassment-prevention training.  When discussing the legal elements of harassment, I tell attendees that the harassing conduct must be because of a protected class.  If a male supervisor terminates a female employee, this is not gender discrimination.  For gender discrimination to exist, the termination decision must have been made because of the employee's gender.  There is a principle in discrimination law that stands for the idea that, where the alleged discriminator is in the same protected class as the plaintiff-employee, it is less likely that discrimination occurred. 

At this point in the lecture, I laugh to myself because I know what comes next.  I give some examples of this principle at work.  If a worker alleges that he was not hired because of his age, the fact that the hiring manager was older than the candidate weighs against the candidate.  Similarly, if an employee complains that he was unlawfully terminated because of his race (Indian), the fact that the manager who made the decision to terminate also is of Indian origin will weigh in the employer's favor.  I go on to give another example involving an employee who is not promoted and files a charge of discrimination alleging gender discrimination.  Just as in the other examples, if the manager who made the promotion decision also is a woman, this fact will weigh against the employee's case.  I then say, "As any woman in this room will attest, this idea is ridiculous.  Women are treated the worst by other women."  All the women in the room laugh--the truth is funny. 

If she had been in the training session, Peggy Klaus of the N.Y. Times would have laughed, too.  In her recent article, A Sisterhood of Workplace Infighting, Klaus discusses the reality that exists among women at work. As she puts it, "we can be our own worst enemies at work."  She cites the Workplace Bullying Institute's study, which found that women bullies target other women 70% of the time, whereas male bullies are equal-opportunity abusers. 

Why is it that this dynamic is so true?  Why is it that women are most likely to pick on other women at work?  Although this certainly has been true for as long as women have had a seat at the table, I think that the tides have begun to turn and that women are comfortable enough in their seats so that they have no need to worry about someone kicking them out.