For decades, women have made slow but steady progress breaking through the “glass ceiling” in the American workplace, attaining jobs in fields previously dominated by men. Now, men appear to be making inroads into jobs traditionally associated with women, such as nursing and teaching. They aren’t displacing female workers, but men often earn more and enjoy faster promotion schedules–a phenomenon known as the “glass escalator.” We explore the implications of this shift in the workplace with Howard Ross.


  • Howard Ross Author, "Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance" (Rowman & Littlefield); also Principal, Cook Ross
  • Caren Goldberg Assistant Professor, Kogod School of Business at American University


  • 13:06:43

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Howard Ross is here. Later in the broadcast when and how to observe the transit of Venus tomorrow evening in this area but first, you've heard of the glass ceiling, that invisible obstacle many women find it difficult or impossible to get around when climbing the ladder at work, but what about the glass escalator?

  • 13:07:24

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs more men enter fields typically dominated by women, taking so-called pink collar jobs, they tend to earn more and get promotions more quickly than their female colleagues. And thanks in part to the recession, men are training for and getting non-traditional jobs at a faster rate than ever before. So will this shift in gender politics at work continue? And what are the implications for both men and women?

  • 13:07:47

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIHere to help us sort it all out is Howard Ross. He's a diversity consultant and principal at Cook Ross. Howard, good to see you again.

  • 13:07:55

    MR. HOWARD ROSSHi, Kojo, it's good to be back.

  • 13:07:57

    NNAMDIAnd joining us by phone from Virginia is Caren Goldberg. She's a professor in the Department of Management at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Caren, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:08:07

    PROFESSOR CAREN GOLDBERGMy pleasure, thanks.

  • 13:08:09

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to join this conversation. You can also send email to Send us a tweet @kojoshow or simply go to our website,, and join the conversation there. Are you someone who is working a job dominated by one gender? Whether you're part of the minority or majority, we'd like to hear how it affects your work life. 800-433-8850. Howard, we know more women are in the workplace than ever before. How are workplaces, in general, handling that shift overall?

  • 13:08:42

    ROSSWell, it depends on the industry certainly. I mean, there are a lot of industries which are fully embracing it in certain ways and, you know, really bringing in people in large numbers and looking at changes that it requires in terms of the cultures of the organizations and how they run and all those kinds of things. And then, there are a lot of industries and professions in which it's very slow to come.

  • 13:09:06

    ROSSAnd you look at things like engineering, for example, where you still have relatively fewer women having access to positions and higher education where that's concerned and other fields as well. But I mean, if we look at medicine, if we look at the law, if we look at accounting, you know, these are all fields where now we either have reached or are reaching more than 50 percent of graduates from college are women in those fields. And so that radically alters what some organizations are looking at in terms of how they get talent and then how they keep it.

  • 13:09:38

    NNAMDIAnd now we're starting to see more men entering fields previously dominated by women. Caren Goldberg, why are we seeing this shift?

  • 13:09:45

    GOLDBERGWell, it's happened historically in certain fields. Nursing, for example, has always been largely female-dominated, but men have entered in very small percentages, usually less than 5 percent, similarly with teaching. As the recession has taken hold and people, both men and women, are finding themselves out of jobs, it's oftentimes an opportunity for people to explore other options that they hadn't previously considered.

  • 13:10:14

    GOLDBERGNursing, in particular, is a field which, despite the overall downturn in the economy, has, historically and probably will for quite some time, see a deficiency in the number of workers available so that would be a good opportunity for those who are out of a job to enter.

  • 13:10:35

    NNAMDIWell, it doesn't mean, it would appear, that men are necessarily displacing women. These same occupations accounted for almost two-thirds of women's job growth, but Howard, this gives us, I guess, another opportunity, another opening to look at whether it's the same for a man to enter a woman's field as what women have experienced vice versa.

  • 13:10:54

    ROSSOh yeah, I think it's a really interesting dynamic. I mean, I have my own experience, as you know, Kojo. I started my career 40 years ago as a teacher and I was working with very young children, 2 through 12 years old and very unusual in those days for a man to be working with children that age. In fact, I think the Washington Business Herald did a story on it or something because it was so rare.

  • 13:11:18

    ROSSBut I would go to these conferences where there would be 250 people and seven men. And it's an interesting dynamic because while on one hand, we've got the societal structure of male dominance, which is there as part of virtually everything we do, then we have particular professions which generally tend to be female dominant, as Caren was saying, nursing being an example of that. But that dominance, that sense of privilege and entitlement that comes from being a member of a dominant group, actually comes in even when you're a minority member of that particular group.

  • 13:11:49

    ROSSSo if you're a man, therefore, and you come into a profession that's predominately female, often people get treated differently. You may have a more sense of promise or you may have a sense of being seen as a leader more. You may have a sense of people having great comfort and so there's no rationality to some of this. It doesn't necessarily make sense on any rational basis, but it's a fact what happens.

  • 13:12:10

    NNAMDIAnd what Howard is talking about in part, Caren Goldberg, most of us are familiar with the idea of a glass ceiling, that invisible barrier many women run into as they try to rise through the ranks. But what's a glass escalator?

  • 13:12:26

    GOLDBERGWell a glass escalator refers to pretty much the phenomenon that Howard was just describing whereby men will enter predominately female-dominated fields and because they sort of stand out and because societal stereotypes surrounding men tend to be more aligned with our societal stereotypes of leadership, they tend to have a career trajectory that takes them to the top much more quickly and at greater proportions than women.

  • 13:12:56

    GOLDBERGSo we see, although they're such an incredibly small percentage of nurses who are male, if you look at the percentage of nursing administrators who are male, it's much greater than the 3 percent of the whole nursing population.

  • 13:13:10

    NNAMDISo if that is indeed what happens, what, therefore, could be the social benefits at all for more men entering professions previously dominated by women especially? Are there any social or economic benefits for women in this? Caren, you first.

  • 13:13:28

    GOLDBERGAh, sure, well, I think is what happens over time, we know that the stereotype of a job being a male-dominated job versus a female-dominated job, aside from the numbers, just the perception of it being a masculine or feminine job, largely is driven by the percentage of men and women who occupy those jobs. So as more men flock to fields like nursing, teaching, historically female-dominated occupations, what we'll likely see is, and it may happen in the future, but it will likely happen, the position will be then seen as less feminine and more gender-neutral.

  • 13:14:10

    NNAMDIAnd what could be the consequences of that, Howard?

  • 13:14:14

    ROSSWell, it's a...

  • 13:14:16

    NNAMDIOkay, you first, Caren.

  • 13:14:16

    GOLDBERGI'm sorry. The consequence of that is that it will no longer be the case that women are seen as less fitting for nursing administration positions. So the whole sort of stereotype of male versus female gets kind of mixed together, blended together, so that men won't necessarily stand out in any way, positive or negative, as the proportion of men and women tends to equal out a bit more.

  • 13:14:41

    NNAMDIAll unconscious bias all the times...

  • 13:14:43

    ROSSWell, exactly. And I think, Kojo, there are economic implications to this. I mean, if we think about most of the jobs that we're talking about that are predominately women's jobs, nursing, teaching, especially teaching of young children...

  • 13:14:56

    ROSSDental hygienist?

  • 13:14:59 hygienist, they generally tend to be jobs in which we look at and we say, why are we undervaluing these jobs economically? Why are we not paying these folks as much as they're seemingly valued? Certainly that's true in education. And I don't think there's any doubt that some of that is related to unconscious patterns of stereotyping that occur inside of our culture relative to financial need. And if we go back, you know, 50, 60, 70, 100 years to when a lot of these dynamics were created societally, usually those were jobs that women had that were either second jobs in the family or not considered to be prime breadwinner jobs.

  • 13:15:36

    ROSSAnd so often on a societal level, we put up with or tolerate the fact that people are making less money. I'm not saying it's correct that we did that, I'm just saying that it's real that we did that. And as a result of that, what ends up happening is you've got these jobs in which people work very hard at very important, significant jobs where they don't necessarily make a lot of money. And the question will be, as we get more gender mixing in some of these jobs, whether or not we'll continue to question some of those background assessments that we have about the value of these positions.

  • 13:16:05

    ROSSBut of course, the challenge is, as you said, is that most of this is unconscious and so until we bring this up to really look at it in a very real way we know that we still have, you know, roughly women earning about 80 percent what men do for the same jobs now so we still have that great disparity.

  • 13:16:21

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're talking with Howard Ross. He's a diversity consultant and principal at Cook Ross. Our topic today is men who are in so-called pink-collar jobs, professions generally dominated by women. Also joining us is Caren Goldberg, she's a professor in the Department of Management at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Let's talk with Kenneth in Woodbridge, Va. about his experience. Kenneth, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:16:45

    KENNETHYes, hi, Kojo. My name is Kenneth Ciello (sp?) and I'm an oncology nurse. I have oncology certification. I graduated with honors from Case Western Reserve University. It has been my experience that there is a lot of bias against males in nursing. Most people expect the nurse to be female therefore and a lot of females particularly don't want a male nurse, therefore it's always easier for the managers to hire females than males because they don't have a problem assigning patients that way because there is this bias against males.

  • 13:17:38

    NNAMDIYou have had patients object to you on the basis of being male?

  • 13:17:43

    KENNETHOh definitely. It's definitely a problem because when you think of what a male nurse -- what a nurse does, clean people's bottoms and stuff, you can understand why not only the patients, but their family members, do not want a male doing that, you know, other than -- and it is...

  • 13:18:04

    NNAMDIBut you said that you've been in the field for about 15 years.

  • 13:18:08

    KENNETHFifteen years, yes.

  • 13:18:08

    NNAMDIHow have you been able to progress? What has been your experience with being able to get ahead, despite the fact that some people don't want you to be their nurse?

  • 13:18:20

    KENNETHWell, I've been out of work for a year and a half, even though I graduated with honors from a top university and I have my oncology certification. But because I'm older and male, you know, people acknowledge that they've hired new graduates. They hire people who I know have less experience doing, you know, doing the type of nursing that I have done.

  • 13:18:52

    NNAMDIAnd you think that that, in your case, has to do with age discrimination or gender discrimination or a combination of the two?

  • 13:18:58

    KENNETHProbably a combination of both. But I think most males will acknowledge that there are some nurses who have felt -- and the percentage hasn't gone up in the last 15 years so this is a discussion that was happening 15 years ago, that there were going to be a flood of males. But a lot of women really resent males coming in.

  • 13:19:20

    NNAMDIOkay, allow me to have both Howard and Caren Goldberg address this because Kenneth raises a number of issues, pick at will.

  • 13:19:26

    ROSSWell, I think that there's -- I mean, there's some real complexity in this issue. I mean, one of the things that when Kenneth talks about sort of whether you'd call it discrimination or whatever that men often feel particularly about nursing, I mean, one of the things about nursing that's challenging is that any healthcare profession, anybody who is giving care to patients in a health care environment, is dealing with people who are traumatized by the very fact that they're there.

  • 13:19:52

    ROSSSo either you're dealing with the patient or a family member who has got a lot of stuff up because of the fact that their loved one or themselves is in this kind of a circumstance. And what we know is, is that those are the times when people react to their more visceral kinds of feelings about things. And the nature of these positions being seen as women's positions, means that any man who takes this position can be seen by some as feminized. And so the misogyny that's there underneath the surface towards women as being less than, then gets transferred to that man, what kind of man would take a nursing job, for example, in the mindset of some.

  • 13:20:29

    ROSSThere was -- what was that movie with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro? "Meet the...

  • 13:20:32

    NNAMDI"Meet the Parents."

  • 13:20:33

    ROSS"Meet the Parents," right, where he...

  • 13:20:34

    NNAMDIHe's a male nurse.

  • 13:20:35

    ROSS...he was a male nurse and, you know, it was a running -- you know, a whole running joke the whole time about that. And so one is then seen sometimes -- this is where the opposite reaction of the glass escalator that Caren was talking about, which is if you're in this job, there must be something a little bit off about you and obviously homophobia then comes into the question. Even if the person's not gay, the, you know, projections of that become part of it as well.

  • 13:20:59

    ROSSSo it's not as easy to say that a guy coming into this kind of a job automatically has an advantage. They're dealing with both of these perspectives. And it is one of the reasons I think that overtime one would think there's no reason why, for example, nursing shouldn't have become more gender neutral over a period of time. We certainly know that men can do that job. As Caren was saying, it's a job that there's always a need for people to come into, but these patters of gender stereotyping beneath the surface, or not even so far beneath the surface...

  • 13:21:30

    NNAMDIExactly right.

  • 13:21:30

    ROSS...are exactly what stopped this expansion from occurring.

  • 13:21:33

    NNAMDICaren Goldberg, this is one of those on-the-one-hand and then on-the-other situations. On the one hand, there is the reality of the glass escalator. On the other, there is the reality that Kenneth points out that a lot of people do not expect and feel a little uncomfortable by having a male nurse. What do you say?

  • 13:21:52

    GOLDBERGWell, I think the bottom line is that regardless of whether it's in a positive way or a negative way, when an individual is in the minority for his or her profession, they're going to stand out. And in many cases, they stand out in a positive way. And in many cases, they stand out in a negative way.

  • 13:22:09

    GOLDBERGAnd we see the similar phenomenon occurs for women who are in the minority in predominantly male jobs, that they either get shot way ahead because they're seen as, oh, they must not be like other women or they sort of get squashed because they're a woman and so they're still perceived as being feminine. And all of those characteristics we associate with being feminine are characteristics that our society hasn't embraced as jiving with our perception of what it takes to be a successful engineer.

  • 13:22:39

    GOLDBERGAnd we see a similar phenomenon in nursing. And I think Howard was spot-on in his comment that, yes, while on the one hand, they are seen as maybe matching with our perception of what a leader should be, what a manager should be. There's also a perception that a man who enters the female dominated job should have his masculinity questioned. That's the perception in society and that was the perception throughout the movie "Meet the Parents." And I commented on that in a recent...

  • 13:23:08

    NNAMDISure did.

  • 13:23:08 interview that I did. And I think that that plays a role. I mean, as a society, there is a fair bit of homophobia that plagues U.S. society.

  • 13:23:20

    NNAMDIAllow me to interrupt because a lot of people would like to address this issue. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take a short break and all of those of you who have called, stay on the line. We'll do our best to get to your calls. Kenneth, thank you for yours. If the lines are busy, go to our website,, and join the conversation there or shoot us a Tweet at kojoshow or email to I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:25:21

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with diversity consultant and principal at the firm Cook Ross, Howard Ross, about men in so called pink collar jobs, men in professions generally dominated by women. Also joining us is Caren Goldberg, professor in the department of management at the Kogod School of Business at American University. We heard about Kenneth's experience as a male nurse. Now let's listen to John in Arlington, Va. about his experience. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:25:47

    JOHNHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. Yeah, I just wanted to say that I started my professional career in information technology, which certainly at the time was a mostly male dominated profession. And then I decided to go back to school and get another degree and became a registered dietician, which is a very female dominated industry. And I've had a very positive experience with it. I haven't felt discriminated against. I wish there were more males in the profession because I'm usually surrounded by a team of 28 or so other women.

  • 13:26:26

    JOHNBut I have found it to be a very rewarding experience and welcome other men to pursue that as well, if they're so inclined.

  • 13:26:36

    NNAMDIWhy did you walk away from IT?

  • 13:26:38

    JOHNWell, it was mostly just I needed a new challenge. I was sick of working in an office environment. I was a consultant at the time and enjoyed working with people and wanted to go into healthcare. And I've always had a love for food science and biochemistry. So I figured I'd give it a shot and here I am four years later and I love it.

  • 13:26:58

    NNAMDIHow has your changing of profession affected your perception of the progress you're making in that profession?

  • 13:27:09

    JOHNWell, I think I've made very good progress. And it's hard for me to know whether or not that's because I'm older, if it's because I have now two degrees and I have -- I think the information technology -- I have a computer science degree as well and I think that that has helped me in an industry like healthcare, which is very behind in moving towards computerization. So I've leveraged those skills and I've leveraged my business skills, etcetera. So I think they've all been very helpful to me.

  • 13:27:42

    JOHNI find that if anything I didn't have the foundation of healthcare skills and background. It took me a little while to get used to working in a hospital environment but I've had nothing but a positive experience so far in my career. And I've been able to move up the ladder in a short period of time.

  • 13:28:04

    NNAMDICaren Goldberg, John talks about being able to move up the ladder in a short period of time. We obviously don't know the details of his situation but given his background does it sound like it -- if he could be a candidate for the glass escalator?

  • 13:28:20

    GOLDBERGWell, certainly it does. And I would say that nutrition is perhaps a little bit different than nursing or teaching because nursing and teaching -- I think one of the reasons why we have such a feminized stereotype of those fields is because they require what we consider as a society to be feminine characteristics which is nurturing. Whereas nutrition is less -- requires less of those traditionally female types of skills that occur with the stereotype of women.

  • 13:28:52

    GOLDBERGAnd I do think, you know, it's interesting as he was talking about his career trajectory looking quite positive largely -- or at least in part because of his computer background, what went through my mind was, which is a typically male skill, you know. So again I think a lot of the male characteristics that he possesses are among those things that help him career trajectory wise.

  • 13:29:17

    NNAMDIOkay. John, thank you very much for your call. Howard, what happens at work spills over, I guess, into people's home lives and vice versa. Is the fact that more men are taking on increased responsibilities at home and stronger parenting roles in your mind related to men entering professions generally previously dominated by women?

  • 13:29:39

    ROSSYeah, look I think that there's a complex web of influences that are going on here, some conscious and some unconscious. I mean, when we test -- when we use things like the Implicit Association Tests when we test how people feel about men or women being in the workplace, overwhelmingly people still on an unconscious level show that they have a tendency to associate men more positively in workplace environments in general. And the interesting thing about that is that the results of those tests are not dramatically different whether men or women are taking them.

  • 13:30:09

    ROSSIn other words those unconscious patterns of perception of belonging in the workplace are embedded in women as well. I mean, we see this with race as well. People internalize the stereotypes that are societally prevalent for them. And so these kinds of unconscious beliefs under the surface lead to behavioral dynamics. So for example, as a rule, women have a harder time making requests for higher income for salary increases, for raises than men do. Men are trained societally to go after what they want more, whereas women are often given the feedback that if they're too strong doing that that they're seen as too aggressive.

  • 13:30:47

    ROSSAnd so it's not appropriate. And so men often ask for higher raises. They ask for, excuse me, higher salaries or ask for raises and promotions and therefore get them in ways that women do. Secondly, the whole work-like balance issue which is still there for people who have families, even though we say and legally men can take time off for paternity leave in the same way that women can take time off for maternity leave. How they responded to and reacted to might be quite different. And once again, the internalized expectations that we have on women to take care of children at home are still there, whether or not we have externally a sense of equality as well.

  • 13:31:25

    ROSSAnd I could go on and on. There are a dozen different ways that these things play themselves out. And so even though on the surface, we may say that two people are coming into the same job and are going to be seen -- and should be seen the same way, underneath the surface all of these currents are there, which tend to have people react in subtle ways and therefore the discrepancy continues.

  • 13:31:43

    NNAMDIHere's John in Westminster, Md. John, your turn.

  • 13:31:48

    JOHNHi, Kojo. (unintelligible) . I graduated from nursing school in 1978 and at that time there were two guys in the program and 65 women. And I will say that through my career I think me being a male has given me more opportunities and options. My question is, as my daughter has just finished her freshman year at James Madison University in the engineering program, it's a male predominant field and I'm curious what the panel thinks about her possibilities being a female in a predominant male field.

  • 13:32:26

    NNAMDIWell, you'd be interested in this Tweet we got from Veronica, John. Veronica Tweeted us to say, "I work in civil engineering, which is male dominated. I don't have enough characters to discuss the affect on my work." And I certainly wish she had taken to a source other than Twitter because I would've liked to hear the details of it. But I'll throw that question to you, Caren Goldberg.

  • 13:32:51

    GOLDBERGWell, again, I think going back to this issue of being perceived as -- or standing out, and it sounds to me like she may be standing out in a very negative way, whereas the caller, his own experience is standing out in a very positive way. And the question is, well, what about his daughter. More likely than not, she will stand out in a negative way, at least in the short term.

  • 13:33:15

    GOLDBERGIn the long term, what happens is interestingly research has shown us that women who enter predominantly male fields, despite how they come in, overtime they tend to take on more characteristics that we associate with successful men, such as assertiveness as Howard was saying, assertiveness in asking for raises, so on and so forth. And it could be that their environment, you know, again, he had alluded to there's a huge web and we don't know what the influence -- the specific influence is. It could be that they're surrounded by men and they see how other people are getting ahead and they emulate those same behaviors.

  • 13:33:55

    GOLDBERGBut I would say the short term prospects are probably not that great in the long term because earlier you had asked the question about well, if men are entering these fields doesn't that bode poorly for women with regard to nursing for example. And the answer to that question is in the short term potentially to does bode poorly. In the long term, it probably bodes pretty well because again, it sort of neutralizes the gender stereotype of the profession.

  • 13:34:24

    GOLDBERGIn addition, what we see is over time -- you know, in the research we've looked at a variety of different professions -- as a profession becomes skewed more male the salary in that field tends to go up. As it becomes skewed more female the salary in that field tends to go down. And, Kojo, you had referenced women entering law and medicine. And again what we do see is the average pay in those jobs relative to other jobs has gone down.

  • 13:34:58

    GOLDBERGAnd a friend of mine had recently commented that it used to be you'd send your child to law school or medical school and their future was guaranteed to be bright. And that's really no longer the case. There are plenty of fields within medicine, for example, where the average salary is not six figures. So again, as women are entering more and more those professions, we're seeing the average wage relatively going down.

  • 13:35:26


  • 13:35:27

    ROSSHey, I want to touch on something, a point that Caren was making 'cause I think it's an important one, Kojo. And that is when you talk about looking at the successful women in predominantly male professions and how we see that they seem to embody more of the gender stereotypes associated -- behavioral stereotypes associated with men. And this is a phenomenon of self selection that begins to occur.

  • 13:35:47

    ROSSSo what happens is if we look at women who enter at an entry level basis, the people who tend to stick around are the people who either come in already with those patterns of behavior -- who knows, maybe they grew up in an environment where they had more, you know -- I know this one woman who I know particularly who's successful who would fit this picture grew up with three brothers. And, you know, she can cuss with the best of them and even smoke a cigar on occasion and, you know, that's an extreme.

  • 13:36:11

    ROSSBut the point is folks like that tend to be more successful. If I can fit the means, the cultural norms of the particular environment which are predominantly masculine, then I can fit in.

  • 13:36:21

    NNAMDIBecause John's daughter is going into a profession which is male dominated and she's going to be listening when she goes into work in the morning, the guys talking about the score in the football game last night and the basketball game last night.

  • 13:36:31

    ROSSYeah, and so here becomes the real hook about it and that is that as those women are more successful than women who don't embody those norms are -- there's less attention put on helping them be successful because after all, well she could be successful. Why can't you? It's obviously not a bad gender because she could be successful. Because we're not sophisticated enough to look at -- it's very much along the lines of what we used to see with race. And people would say, well Colin Powell was successful or President Obama got elected. Clearly we're post racial now, as if the fact that one or two people, or a minority of people, are successful means that those dynamics are not there.

  • 13:37:03

    ROSSSo it adds to the confusion that people feel, particularly when we're not willing to take a look at a more sophisticated way at it.

  • 13:37:10

    NNAMDIJohn, thank you very much for your call. On to Patricia in the metropolitan area. Patricia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi, Patricia. Are you there? I don't think Patricia's hearing me right now so let's try Sam in Alexandria, Va. Sam, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:37:29

    SAMGood afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I just want to make a real quick comment about perceptions of society and so on. A few years ago I believe maybe it was 60 Minutes or maybe 20/20. They were in front of a big conference they had, several hundred CEOs and managers -- high level managers inside of companies. And one or two asked them about the glass ceiling and started asking questions of who was willing to work late. Who was willing to work weekends? Who was willing to work, you know, long hours? Who was willing to put in the time?

  • 13:38:01

    SAMAnd the majority of the time it was almost every single man was putting his hand up. So, you know, again going back to the comments that your panelists have already been making about perception, the societal perception of male and women's genders are that women are supposed to be staying home with the children and so on, which doesn't give them the opportunity to put in a lot more time, which would give them more experience in which case get higher raises and more things of that sort.

  • 13:38:31

    SAMI just kinda wanted to throw that out there because, I mean, it was something that I'd seen a lot and I've actually seen in the working environment where it's expected that women actually are supposed to be going home at, you know, 5:00 in the afternoon, taking care of family, Whereas myself and other male counterparts are expected to sit there and finish up our projects and so on and work as late as it necessarily takes.

  • 13:38:57

    NNAMDIWell, that's interesting, Caren Goldberg, given the fact that women are on pace to earn more college degrees than men. How is that likely to affect this perception in the workplace?

  • 13:39:08

    GOLDBERGWell, I think a couple of forces are at work here. One is I think there's a difference between what organizations expect of women and what women are really willing to do. I remember coming across a study about -- probably about ten years ago that said that over three-quarters of organizations will not give overseas assignments to women because they assume that they will have an issue relating to expatriating their families. And as we're becoming more of a global community, overseas experience is becoming increasingly important for rising to the top.

  • 13:39:44

    GOLDBERGAlso in terms of the research, that's been done by economists where they actually factor out the effects of things like career interruptions and work, family responsibilities and so forth, that we still see -- even after those factors are accounted for we still see that women are rising to tops levels of organizations at a much slower rate than their male counterparts are.

  • 13:40:08

    GOLDBERGSo it's not that the women necessarily see those responsibilities as being their own, the family responsibilities. They may well have a partner with whom they can share those responsibilities. It's really more the organizational decision makers who are seeing them as an obstacle and consequently not providing the opportunities for them to overcome those perceived obstacles.

  • 13:40:31

    NNAMDIHoward, we're just about out of time, but some, not all, of these workplace changes are new enough that it's too early to tell whether they're a trend or an anomaly. Do you think this trend will continue?

  • 13:40:42

    ROSSWell, I think that we have a constant flow of society back and forth between, you know, we go back to Rosie the Riveter and all of a sudden, women came in and everybody thought that that was going to be in, you know...

  • 13:40:51


  • 13:40:52

    ROSS...that led to the '50s and '60s, you know. It certainly contributed to the women's movement. And then we had a sort of a flood back and a lot of women saying, no, no, maybe not. I don't want to do that, and certainly men contributing to that as well. And now with everybody looking for jobs wherever they can get them, we may be moving back in the other direction. I think it's gonna be something that we're probably gonna be dealing with for a long time, and there's gonna be a fluid process.

  • 13:41:15

    ROSSBut there's no question that the glass ceiling that was there in terms of women getting into some of these professions has been shattered pretty dramatically, if not at the level that they're in, certainly that they're in these professions, and once we look at some of these professions like the law for example, or medicine as we talked about earlier, it's hard to imagine going back to a time when there are only men in those professions.

  • 13:41:37

    NNAMDIHoward Ross. He's a diversity consultant and principal at Cook Ross, and once society continues to move ahead in this complex way, he'll still be here on this broadcast. Howard Ross, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 13:41:48

    ROSSThanks Kojo.

  • 13:41:49

    NNAMDICaren Goldberg is a professor in the department of management at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Caren Goldberg, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:41:56

    GOLDBERGMy pleasure. Thanks for having me.

  • 13:41:58

    NNAMDIWe've got to take a short break. When we come back, get your telescopes out. How and when to observe the transit of Venus. It takes place tomorrow evening just about 6:00 in this area. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Topics + Tags


comments powered by Disqus
Most Recent Shows