Help that hinders: Insidious processes maintaining gender inequality in the workplace

Elizabeth Stewart (2010). Help that hinders: Insidious processes maintaining gender inequality in the workplace Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Elizabeth Stewart
Thesis Title Help that hinders: Insidious processes maintaining gender inequality in the workplace
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Aarti Iyer
Total pages 87
Abstract/Summary The present research investigated a novel approach to understanding the unintended negative consequences of Equal Opportunity Policies on women beneficiaries. Research has shown that specific forms of help may insidiously promote group inequalities, resulting in negative affective outcomes for the recipient. Subsequently, these intergroup helping processes were investigated in relation to the implementation of EOPs in how they might negatively influence women in the workplace. Across two studies we measured women‟s negative affect, organisational attitudes and turnover intentions in response to a hypothetical scenario depicting workplace EOPs. We further investigated women‟s responses to these policies, in the context of Genuine or Patronising Management Practices. Two community samples of women (N = 159; N = 107 respectively) with prior work experience completed an online survey depicting two scenarios. The first described an organisation‟s EOP which embodied characteristics of either Autonomy Oriented or Dependence Oriented help. The second vignette described an instance of management practices whereby women were exposed to either praise and a promotion (Genuine) or praise with no promotion (Patronising). Consistent with hypotheses, results found that women who read about the Dependence Oriented EOP reported significantly more negative affect and less desirable organisational outcomes than did women who read about the Autonomy Oriented EOP. Also consistent with predictions, women who read about an instance of Patronising Management Practices reported significantly more negative affect and less desirable organisational outcomes. Study 2 further found that women‟s negative outcomes were not better accounted for by a stigma of incompetence effect, as identified in prior research (Heilman, Block & Lucas, 1992). No consistent interactions were revealed, suggesting that these two factors operate independently of one another on women‟s workplace experiences. These findings hold important implications for the Australian workforce, particularly in increasing the effectiveness of EOPs in assisting women progress into upper management.

 
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Created: Tue, 05 Apr 2011, 15:12:43 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology