Listener Stories Of Inequity And Gender In The Workplace

(Damian Zaleski/ Unsplash)
(Damian Zaleski/ Unsplash)

Thursday On Point, we discussed what news of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi stepping down means for women in the workplace. With Nooyi's departure, there are now just 24 female CEOs among the S&P 500 companies, less than 5 percent.

As our guest Sheelah Kolhatkar, staff writer at The New Yorker, explained, "this is really disturbing when you look at it in the context of what's happened in other areas of our economy. Women have surged into the education system: They now earn 60 percent of undergraduate degrees, 60 percent of master's degrees, 40 percent of MBAs are now obtained by women. So there's a real disconnect."

Kolhatkar says part of this has to do with women being "weeded out" before they reach management levels in companies. And one reason for this weeding out is the disparity in expectations that women face.

"Once they begin having children, employers' perception of them changes considerably," says Christy Glass, professor of sociology at Utah State University. "I've talked to a lot of employers, and they say, 'Look, she's not as committed anymore. She's not as driven.' And while there's research to suggest that that's not true — that women's drive and competence doesn't change after they have children — employers' perception of them changes significantly."

We heard from listeners who wanted to share their experiences in and out of the workplace in relation to gender roles, family dynamics, abuses of power and more. Here's what they had to say:

Rebecca: "I'm 60 years old, and throughout my working life I haven't experienced a great deal of sexual harassment (beyond the usual obnoxious behavior), but I have been belittled, ignored, bullied, condescended to and treated with some of the most hostile contempt one can imagine, all at various levels from someone every day. This is how women can be 'weeded out' of the work force, and there's really not much recourse, because most men aren't aware, or would simply deny, that they're doing it.

Aline: "Everyone, including your program, only discusses women who want children.
Wake up to the fact that you are continuing the misconception that all women fit into a tight box. Men don't all want to be dads and nor do all women.

"I have endured years of mysogonistic acts and verbalizations by managers, all of whom were men. No one ever offered me a managerial position or even a step up."

Michael: "My wife is the primary "breadwinner" and I'm a "house husband" who does all the things that were traditionally considered 'woman's work' years ago. It is very difficult to explain this to people in my community, because culture expects men to be the primary bread winner and will look at 'house husbands' as being unemployed, whereas if my wife's and my roles were reversed, nobody would think twice about it."

Mike: "This problem won’t be solved until we start calling it by its name. We have begun to have an honest conversation about white privilege and white supremacy. Now, let’s start talking about male supremacy. There is no other way to describe the assumption that a female breadwinner would be expected to do most childcare and housework as well. The BEGINNING of this conversation is to call this problem what it is: deeply ingrained chauvinism and male supremacy."



More from On Point

Listen Live