Gender and Power in the Workplace Essay

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Gender and Power in the Workplace

This essay is an analysis of contemporary issues associated with gender and power in the workplace; which will specifically include a discussion of gender relations, stereotyping, women’s identity, the structuring of formal and informal power, sources of inequality, and sexual harassment.

The concept of gender in relation to the division of labor in the workplace, and in relation to issues of power and control is an unfortunate, groundless stereotype. Suzanne Tallichet notes that the gendered division of workplace labor is rooted in flawed ideology of innate sex differences in traits and abilities, and operates through various control mechanisms. (Tallichet 1995: 698) These control mechanisms are
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The gender division of labor then, is not limited to the paid work force, but continues to the area of unpaid work at home.

Issues surrounding power inequalities in the workforce may be explained historically in terms of the arguments of socialist feminism. This ideology argues that since the control of material resources necessary for survival was largely outside the home historically, the location of women in the home became their source of dependence on men and their subordination to men. (Boyd 1997: 51) This argument appears to be more gender specific than other socialist theories such as Marxism, as it emphasizes that gender inequality reflects not only the type of economic system in place but also the power that men have within the household and the economy.

Monica Boyd (1997: 64) proposes that power inequality in the workplace between genders has been maintained through occupational segregation, because it is the occupations themselves which differ in the capacity that incumbents have to impose their will upon others. This assertion implies that in any workplace, that exists not only a technical division of labor, but also a gender based social division ensuring that there is an difference in power toward men. Boyd is able to back her claims by noting that Canadian women are employed in positions with fewer decision making jobs; women are more likely to supervise other women only; and although women have increased their presence in the workforce, this
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