Gender and stereotypes in management

Written on July 11, 2006 by Max Oliva in Corporate Responsibility, Diversity

Celia de Anca.jpg
Celia de Anca, Director of the Centre for Diversity in Global Management, Instituto de Empresa
“You women are so ….”. Regardless of the adjective that follows, a large number of women find this type of comments extremely annoying. We are annoyed because we like to be considered as unique individuals. While we have no wish to deny that gender forms an important part of our being, it is annoying that it can form the basis for a stereotyped opinion of our character or our professional capacity.
Nevertheless, women – generically speaking- come up against barriers in the course of their career that make it difficult to gain promotion. The figures confirm this fact. In Spain we find that although women comprise 46% of the active population, only 3% form part of the boards of directors of the top 100 firms. This phenomenon is by no means limited to Spain, given that in the firms that comprise the FTSE 100 in the UK, where women make up 44% of the active population, only 5% of members of their management boards are women. Even in the US, which heads the tables with regard to women in management positions, a mere 12% of the boards of directors of the Fortune 500 companies are women.
The question is whether women themselves are rejecting senior management positions, or if positions of this kind require a certain profile that many women simply do not have. This profile tends to be that of a person who is direct, outgoing, sure of themselves, somewhat aggressive and, of course, not liable to fall pregnant. It would appear that the feminine prototype does not fit the paradigm of the ideal senior director. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that in a recent survey carried out by Catalysis on women and leadership in Europe, 66% of the 500 women interviewed believed that stereotypes and preconceptions of the role and ability of women in management are the main barriers faced by women in their careers, more so than commitment to the family (62%). Interestingly enough, only 34% of the men interviewed considered that stereotyping was an obstacle to a woman’s career advancement.
Thus we have the difficult task of speaking about gender problems without mentioning stereotypes.
We are all different because although we belong to a determinate culture and gender, which means that we share certain characteristics, both sets of features are shaped by our personality. The resulting whole gives us a singular understanding of our environment, of time and space and, therefore, a unique perception of our relations with others, our way of ordering and obeying, or how we plan our time. This kind of diversity can offer the company a comparative advantage, a different strategic vision, or a specific approach to a determinate market. It is not only a question of social responsibility, based on the idea that women play a pivotal role in the firm as workers, clients and shareholders and therefore it is only fair that they have the same opportunities. If existing diversity is worked to the firm’s advantage, it can bring significant benefits. In order to achieve this, diversity has to be properly managed, and in order to handle it well it is essential to understand the differences. It is not a question of eradicating archetypes, which exist for a reason, but rather to include them in order to understand that different ways of acting and being have their place at every level.
The feminine paradigm of management – that is not necessarily representative of all women and may apply to many men – presupposes a series of qualities that include intuition and sensitivity, qualities that can bring a great deal to general management of a firm, together with other type of qualities that may be in direct contrast but no less valid. The companies that enjoy success in the 21st century will be those that instead of asking if we are this or that, look at if what we are is valid if managed as a complementary element, and channelled toward the achievement of a common objective.


bhattathiri January 31, 2007 - 11:45 pm

Your website is beautiful, informative and Excellent.
Article by M.P. Bhattathiri, Retired Chief Technical Examiner , to The Govt. of Kerala. Humble request that it may be published in your website and magazine after editing if necessary
The American justice Dept. have recently approved the power of yoga and meditation vide a recent judgement in the American court.”Man Who Slapped Wife Sentenced to Yoga, It’s Anger Management, Says Judge.” First there was house arrest. Now there’s yoga. A judge ordered a man convicted of slapping his wife to take a yoga class as part of his one-year probation. “It’s part of anger management,” County Criminal Court at Law Judge Larry Standley said of the ancient Hindu philosophy of exercise and well-being. “For people who are into it, it really calms them down. ” Standley, a former prosecutor, said the case of James Lee Cross was unique. Cross, a 53-year-old car salesman from Tomball, explained that his wife was struggling with a substance abuse problem and that he struck her on New Year’s Eve during an argument about her drinking. “He was trying to get a hold of her because she has a problem,” Standley said after the court hearing. “I thought this would help him realize that he only has control over himself.” The sentence came as a surprise to Cross, who was told to enroll in a class and report back to Standley on his progress. “I’m not very familiar with it,” Cross said of yoga. “From what I understand, it may help in a couple ways, not only as far as mentally settling, but maybe a little weight loss.” Darla Magee, an instructor at Yoga Body Houston in River Oaks, said she would recommend that Cross take a basic yoga class emphasizing breathing and including a variety of postures — forward bends, back bends and twists. “Yoga can help us to get rid of many emotional issues we might have,” she said. “It’s a spiritual cleanse.” Prosecutor Lincoln Goodwin agreed to a sentence of probation without jail time because Cross had no significant criminal history http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2365341.
Yoga which is one of the greatest Indian co tribution to the world has got vast potential in all fields. In Tihar jail India Yoga is experimented among the inamtes and found successful. Their criminal mentality is changed. This study aimed at investigating the effect of Vipassana Meditation (VM) on Quality of Life (QOL), Subjective Well-Being (SWB), and Criminal Propensity (CP) among inmates of Tihar Jail, Delhi. To this effect the following hypotheses were formulated. 1. There will be a significant positive effect of VM on the QOL of inmates of Tihar jail. 2. VM will have a positive and significant effect on SWB of inmates. 3. Criminal propensity (CP) of inmates will decrease significantly after attending the VM course. 4. There will be significant difference in SWB and CP of experimental (Vipassana) group and control (non-Vipassana) group. 5. Male and female inmates will differ significantly in SWB and CP, as a result of VM. In the famous “Time” magazine the importance meditation and yoga, an ancient Indian system, is high-lighted that the ancient mind- and spirit-enhancing art is becoming increasingly popular and gaining medical legitimacy. It is a multi billion dollar business in US. In many Universities it is accepted as subject and included in the Syllabus. In the latest famous book “Inspire! What Great Leaders Do” written by Mr.Lance Secretan recently published by John Wiley and sons, the benefit of meditation is elaborately described for good corporate governance. By practising transcendental meditation, or TM, many people have got relief from back pain, neck pain, depression. The mind calms and quiets, . What thoughts you have during meditation become clearer, more focused. Anger, anxiety and worries give way to a peace. In the world exhorbitant medical expeneses one can definitely make use of meditation. Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Ravi Sankar are poplarising this. The Iyengar Yoga institute in US is famous.
In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna has inspired Arjuna to rise from his depression by preaching Gita in the battlefield and to rise from the depression to do his duties. In Holy Gita we can see, being hidden by the cosmic overview of any institution beset with myriad problems, not the least of which is its lack of moral probity, there is a groundswell of educated people seeking answers to deeply personal but universally asked questions. Chie Executives taking lessons from yoga, meditation and learning how to deal with human resources equations in an enlightened manner. Individuals from every walk of life can get ideas of how to be better human beings, more balanced and less stressed out.
Medical studies continue to show regular meditation working magic in reducing blood pressure and stress-related illnesses, including heart disease. Brain images show that regular meditation helps calm the most active sensory-assaulted parts of the brain. The ancient Hindu sage Patanjali who had mastered the secrets of the human mind has written a book “Yogasutra”.In this book we can see how super powers can be achieved by meditation. It has both cosmic relevance and cosmic resonance. In spite of its universal appeal, for most people total control of mind remains an elusive goal and daunting task. From time immemorial, there have been many attempts throughout the world to unlock the mysteries of the mind and to achieve total control over it through a variety of techniques. One of the most powerful of these techniques is meditation.
Many spiritual leaders, sages, saints, and holy people such asSri. Buddha, Sri Ramakrishna, Madam Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda have practised this. One of the ways to control physiological reactions to psychological stimuli is meditation, Yoga, Zen Buddhism etc. The scientists take Transcendental Meditation (TM) as the uniform technique, and base their observations on the study of the subjects engaged in this form of meditation. In summing up the results the scientists have come to conclusion that the effect of meditation is a “wakeful, hypo-metabolic state”. They have found that: 1) Yogis could slow both heart rate and rate of respiration, 2) Yogis could slow the rate of metabolism as confirmed by decreased oxygen consumption and carbon-di-oxide output. 3) Electro-Encephalo-Gram (EEG – recording of brain activity) in Yogis showed changes of calmness in the form of “alpha rhythm” during both eyes closed and eyes open recordings. 4) Th ir skin resistance to electric stimulation was increased (indicating increased tolerance to external stimuli). Our usual ‘defence-alarm’ reaction to emotional and physical stress is in the form of “fright, flight, and fight” mediated through over-secretion of certain neuro-transmitters and neuro-modulators, namely adrenaline and dopamine by way of stimulation of sympathetic nervous system. Under the influence of these chemicals and hormones, we reflexively become panicky or aggressive, our blood pressure rises. Thus stress and anxiety is the end result if we allow our natural age-old sympathetic reactions to act and to come to surface. We try to run away, become fearful, or fight the situation. But today these ‘defence-alarm’ reactions have no place in our lives. Rather, they should be replaced by more calm and serene reactions of equanimity and fearlessness. The need is to just ‘face the brute, and it will go away’. Such desirable reactions of non-aggression and peaceful attitude are generated by Y ga and meditation. EEG Studies on Yogis and The Zen Meditations: Yogis practising Raja-Yoga claim that during the state of samadhi they are oblivious to the internal and external stimuli, and they enjoy a calm ecstasy during that state. A study was undertaken to record the electrical activity of their brain during this state by means of a regular and useful test known as electroencephalography EEG. Physiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that the basis of conscious state of brain, among other things, is due to activation of “reticular system” in the brain-stem in response to internal and external stimuli. These stimuli bring about various changes during sleeping and wakeful states of the organism and these can be studied by EEG. The study was carried out on four subjects during the state of concentration and meditation. Effects of external stimuli, like a loud gong, strong light, thermal simulation, and vibrations were studied. The results were compiled and analyzed. It was observed that two Yogis could keep their hands immersed in extremely cold water for about 50 minutes (raised pain threshold). During state of meditation, all of them showed persistent “alpha activity” in their EEG with increased amplitude wave pattern, both during ‘eyes closed’ and ‘eyes open’ recording. It was observed that these alpha activities could not be blocked by various sensory stimuli during meditation. It was also observed that those, who had well-marked “alpha activity” in their resting EEG showed greater aptitude and zeal for maintaining the practice of Yoga. Similar observations and results were obtained when EEGs were recorded in persons adept in Zen Meditative technique. Can we say that only those persons who exhibit such recording of “alpha wave rhythm” in their EEG are fit for Yoga? and be designated as right candidates for meditation and Yoga practices? (Such experiments are indeed very few and the number of yogis examined is also very small. Therefore, scientifically and statistic lly these observations have only a tentative importance. Further research is definitely called for, albeit it will have its own limitations.) It is said that in the unknown period of Lord Jesus Christ , He was under meditation.
Ref. Yoga magazines
Newyork times
Time magazine

bhattathiri July 5, 2007 - 1:57 am

Thus, management is a process of aligning people and getting them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit – in search of excellence. Major functions of a manager are planning, organizing, leading and coordinating activities — they put different emphasis and suggest different natures of activities in the following four major functions..
The critical question in all managers’ minds is how to be effective in their job. The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad-Gita, which repeatedly proclaims that “you must try to manage yourself.” The reason is that unless a manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness, he or she will be merely a face in the crowd.

yoga teacher August 8, 2008 - 9:23 pm

I have to second yoga and the meditation as great relaxation agents. There are tons of health benefits to yoga anger management is just the tip of the iceberg.

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