Gender Roles in the Workplace essay

Gender equality and the socially constructed roles are rathercontroversial in the society. Most women and feminists believe thatwomen can play the roles of men. Others believe that the societycannot achieve full gender equality. Rosin indicates, “Man hasbeen the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for thefirst time in human history, that is changing” (4).Theworkplace is a prime example of the equality in the roles played bymen and women. The unconscious stereotypes that people have towardsboth genders have become a tradition in the workplace. Women haveincreasingly graduated with college degrees, and they have almostmatched the number of men competing for the available chances in thejob market. However, some roles have remained the domain of womenwith only a few men venturing into them.

Unlike in the 20th and early 21st century, when women earned lessthan men, the current work environment reflects high levels ofequality (Player). However, while equality has been the goal ofworkplace practices, the conditions exhibit inequality in the rolesperformed by women. For example, most of the secretaries, personalassistants and cateresses in offices are women. The workplacepractices emphasize that women perform better in some roles despitethem being non-biological.

According to Player, women play an instrumental task in choosing theroles they play in the workplace. The author argues that, while mostmen would have women as their personal assistants and secretaries,women too agree that they are more effective than men in thesepositions are. The hiring patterns confirm the trend. Playerarticulates that, “While men may seem to be the perpetrators ofinequalities in the workplace, women who hold influential positionsare no better” (Player). Women contribute to the perpetuatedstereotypes.

While writing for The Fiscal Times, Gannon concurs with Keith Merron,a senior associate at Barbara &amp Associates that thestereotypes that men and women bear are ideal for business (Gannon).The author notes that men are linear in thought, and they have anarrow way of processing their ideas. They have to, therefore, breakdown a problem into several components and address each at a time.Conversely, women have a holistic view of a problem. The authorconcurs with Player that “Both men and women have unconsciousgender stereotypes” (Gannon). The author indicates that women tendto excel in some areas and men in others.” The author’s argumentconfirms that the workplace cannot idealize equality to totality. Menand women cannot perform the same roles to produce similar outcomes.Pointing out that Keith is in a position of influence in theworkplace, the article shares a similar sentiment with Player’sidea that women too believe that they cannot perform the tasks asmen.

Wolf, however, holds a contrary opinion to the one articulated byPlayer. According to Wolf, the roles of men and women in theworkplace, especially, the ones associated with publicity have abasis in the beauty myth (Wolf 5). Women have been socialized tobelieve that they are more attractive than men are when it comes topublic relations. The appeal that people believe women to have earnedthem positions as secretaries and public relation managers. Wolfindicates, “Women have perfected the art of appealing in theworkplace and men have accepted that they cannot pay similar roles”(Wolf 5). The stereotype has become part of the workplace practices,and both men and women support it.

Wolf also argues that the number of women occupying influentialpositions is rapidly increasing. Since women are performing well justlike their male counterparts, holding onto the idea that they areonly good in some roles is stereotypical and misleading. Wolf holdsthat “Women have entered the high and middle levels of managementwithout disrupting the way that organizations operate” (Wolf 7).Wajcman concurs that the workplace stereotypes about women and menhave been cultivated to appear like a biological reality. Wajcmanagrees that the occupations are socially constructed even in theworkplace. Men and women can perform well in any role that does notrequire any biological attribute.

Wolf also observes that the workplace roles that men are believed tobe good at are culturally subjective. Therefore, believing that womenare good in some roles only portrays support for subjectivity.Player’s idea that women are good at only some roles is sharplycontrary to Wolf’s observation that, “The roles are particularlycritical to the workplace because workplace leaders perceive certainattributes associated with women to be inherent” (Wolf 8).Whengiven the right environment, men can also be productive in theseroles and equality in the workplace can become ideal.

In conclusion, the question of gender equality in the workplace iscritical to understand why some roles have been predominantlyassociated with women. Some people believe that the some of theoccupation including assistance and public relations are the domainof women. Others argue that it is a stereotype associated with women.Surprisingly, it appears that women have accepted the idea. Women ofinfluence in the workplaces are also fast to hire women in theseoccupations with the perception that they will perform better thanmen.


Gannon,Drew. How Men and Women Differ in the Workplace. TheFiscal Times,25 May 2012. Web. 9 May 2012.

Player, Abigail. Gender Equality: Why Women Are Still Held Back. TheGuardian, 6 December 2013. Web. 9 May 2012.

Rosin, Hanna. The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. New York:Penguin, 2012. Print.

Wajcman, Judy.Managing Like a Man: Women and Men in Corporate Management.New Jersey: John Wiley &amp Sons, 2013. Print.

Wolf, Naomi. Thebeauty myth: How Images of Beauty are used Against Women. Canada:Random House, 2013. Print.