Monday, June 11, 2012

Marriage Matters In the Workplace

Via "Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace":

"...[W]e found that employed husbands in traditional and neo-traditional marriages, compared to those in modern marriages, tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with larger numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) find organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotion."
A traditional marriage was defined as a heterosexual marriage in which the man took on the breadwinning role and the woman took on the caregiver role. A neo-traditional marriage was defined as a heterosexual marriage in which both spouses worked, but the man was the primary wage-earner and the woman remained the primary caregiver.

These two types of marriage were contrasted with the egalitarian model that posits that gender is unrelated to which role a spouse centers, "such that men and women can aspire equally to both roles."

The authors of the above-cited paper contend that men in traditional and neo-traditional marriages represent a "pocket of resistance" to the gender revolution and partly explain the purported slowdown in women's occupational progress. They also argue that this resistance will not go away until the structure of these men's marriages change, "an exceedingly improbable event on a large scale."

Repeat. "An exceedingly improbably event on a large scale."

Note that claim, which is made in light of the ever-present "threat" that the legalization of same-sex marriage allegedly poses to traditional marriage.

On a not unrelated note, I also observed that, despite their explicit claims to the contrary, the authors seemed to go out of their way to absolve men in traditional/neo-traditional marriages of responsibility for women's occupational plateau. They write:

"Early on, we noted the gender attitudes and beliefs of men embedded in traditional and neo-traditional marriage likely are implicit. Thus, these men's attitudes and beliefs are not likely to be overtly hostile towards women in the workplace.... Therefore, we do not intend to, nor are we pointing a finger at those whom we have claimed constitute a pocket of resistance to the gender revolution." (Emphasis in original) 
I mean, really.

Let me summarize here:

New paper shows that men in traditional marriage think poorly of their female co-workers, that this male resistance partly explains the plateau in women's progress, and that this male resistance will never go away, but don't worry everyone, these men aren't, like, sexists or anything! Well, maybe they are, they just don't know that they're sexist. So can't we all just take a minute to calm down, stop '"pointing fingers," and think about the men here and how they might be feeling all accused about this? Geez, so unfair!


And therein I think we've also found part of the problem for why this male resistance is so resist-y, and so "exceedingly" improbable of going away. 

We continue to entitle men who hold sexist beliefs to think it's worse to be called sexist than it is for them to actually be sexist.
And so I note here, because it evidently needs to be stated directly and explicitly, that men can hurt women with sexism even if they don't intend to, even if they're usually nice, and even if they aren't aware that they even have sexist thoughts. 

In other words, don't be afraid to point that finger when it's appropriate to do so, folks. Naming what's happening, rather than tip-toeing on eggshells around the truth, is a critical first step in countering social injustice.


Desai, Sreedhari D., Chugh, Dolly and Brief, Arthur, Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace (March 12, 2012). 

Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog

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