Archive for the ‘Equality’ Category

Service of Performance Evaluations: Inequality for Women

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Photo: yourlifechoices.com.au

Words have always mattered, especially to those who make their livings writing, singing, reporting, performing in plays and films, giving speeches and the like. Today most are aware which words hurt or insult and use them with eyes wide open.

There is an area—performance evaluations–in which word choice unintentionally sends harmful or positive signals. The negative impact falls on women and their potential for leadership positions.

Photo: leanhealthcareerchance.com

I wasn’t surprised by the findings of two researcher/professor PhD’s and a PhD statistical consultant who studied the words most used for men and for women—4,000 of them–in 81,000 military performance evaluations. The Harvard Business Review published highlights of their findings.

For men the words were “analytical” as a positive and “arrogant” as a negative. For women, positive and negative words were “compassionate” and “inept” respectively. Any doubt which you’d hire if you were looking for a competent employee—an analytical or compassionate one? Which would you fire first if you had to choose between arrogance and ineptness?

David G. Smith, Judith E. Rosenstein and Margaret C. Nikolov explained why they chose the military as their hunting ground. “The top-down enforcement of equal employment opportunity policies, hierarchical organization by military rank and not social status characteristics, and recent total gender integration in all occupations are hallmarks of meritocratic organizations where we might expect less gender bias in performance evaluations.”

They found no differences in objective measures–grades, fitness scores or class standing.

Photo: helioshr.com

Back to the subjective measures, the focus of their conclusions. “Men were more often assigned attributes such as analytical, competent, athletic and dependable, women were more often assigned compassionate, enthusiastic, energetic and organized.” And to describe negative attributes “women were more often evaluated as inept, frivolous, gossip, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive, while men were more often evaluated as arrogant and irresponsible.”

The researchers’ wrote that their findings line up with others that also show that women often receive “vague feedback that is not connected to objectives or business outcomes, which is a disadvantage when women are competing for job opportunities, promotions, and rewards, and in terms of women’s professional growth and identity.” Female leaders are criticized for being “too bossy or aggressive” and yet advised that they should “be more confident and assertive.” Other research has shown that “when women are collaborative and communal, they are not perceived as competent—but when they emphasize their competence, they’re seen as cold and unlikable, in a classic ‘double bind.’”

The researchers wrote that when asked, most people think of men as leaders. Their study showed that “even in this era of talent management and diversity and inclusion initiatives, our formal feedback mechanisms are still suffering from the same biases, sending subtle messages to women that they aren’t ‘real leaders’— men are.”

Have you written performance evaluations using different terminology to describe men and women’s qualities and weaknesses? Have you run into this bias in performance evaluations about you or people you know? Do you know women who are analytical, competent, athletic and dependable—the positive words to describe men’s performances–or men who are compassionate, enthusiastic, energetic and organized, flattering words about women?

Photo: businessnewsdaily.com

David G. Smith, PhD, is a professor of sociology in the Department of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College. Judith E. Rosenstein, PhD, is a professor of sociology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy. Margaret C. Nikolov, PhD is an independent statistical consultant who previously taught at the United States Naval Academy.

 

Service of Equality: Free School Breakfast, Lunch and iPads

Monday, September 9th, 2013

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I want my taxes to cover the breakfast and lunch of children whose parents can’t afford to feed them. Currently in NYC, according to Stan Brooks on 1010 WINS radio, NY:  “The free meals are only available in a quarter of city schools, and only one-third of eligible students are eating them. On Wednesday [August 21], the City Council passed two resolutions by a vote of 42-2, asking the state legislature to take action.”

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported: “‘Currently, only 34 percent of New York City schoolchildren who qualify for free or reduced lunch eat breakfast at school. When compared with other big cities across the country, Newark, for example, at 87.2 percent or Houston at 79.1 percent, our performance in abysmal,’ City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) said at an education committee hearing on Wednesday.” Lamb quoted Levin as saying because we don’t spend it we return $50 million to Washington. He also wrote that NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn reported that: “Only about 28% of elementary school students, 15% of middle school students and 12% of high school students participate in the school breakfast program.”

healthy breakfastWhile Mayor Bloomberg thinks all the children should have a free breakfast, the Mayor is concerned about overfeeding the some 40 percent of obese NYC children. Wouldn’t this be an opportunity to teach the children about eating healthy food by serving it to them?

However, I think that the children whose parents can afford to pay for breakfast and lunch should do so.

kids using iPadsSimilarly, I have a bone to pick with politicians such as NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn who feel that every child in public school should be given an iPad. It’s happening in LA to help erase the divide between rich and poor. If it’s imperative for every child to own a tablet, there’s nothing wrong with a Nook or a Kindle both of which have access to email and apps, a savings of hundreds of dollars per child.

Should the adults who’d like a tablet and can’t afford even one of the cheaper ones pay taxes for kids to get the luxury version? Won’t there always be a colleague, team member, neighbor or relative who has more goodies than you? Is it up to the government to even up such inequities? Should we not spend tax money to teach kids so they can become the ones who can afford the equivalent of the iPad if they want one rather than giving them a fancy gadget and expect it to do the work?

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