1 Whv So Slow? The Advancement of Women By Virginia Valian, Ph.D. Chapter 14: Remedies Sumnrary generated by Jaime Blandino Note: The concepts, research studieg and theories cited in the following outline represent a summary of Virginia's Valian's boo( (1998), Whv So Slow?. The Advancement of Women. The MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. The content of this outline is not intended to be portrayed as an original work. It is hoped that the summary will cqture the spirit and intention of the author, and to convey to the reader the importance of Valian's ideas as they are presented in her book. Introduction Virginia Valian's booh Why So Slow? The Advancement of Womeq is a scholarly and convincing explarntion of women's slow progress in the profesional world. Whether in business, law, medicine, or academia, women are not advancing at the same rate as men. They are not paid as well, they occupy less-powerful positions, and they are not as respected. In her boolg Valian attempts to explain why. She argues that we all have unarticulated, often subconscious ideas about gender that affect both our behavior and, perhaps even more importantly, our evaluations of one another. For instance, we think men are logical, women are social; men are competenf women are flaky. As a resul! men are consistently overrated and women underrated by coworkers, bosses--and themselves. The resulting advantages and disadvantages may be small, but they accrue over time to creatie large gaps in advancement. Valian's chapter on "Remedied' offen specific ways to nulli$r the negative professional consequences of gender schemas. She contends that the most common professional outcome of gender schemas is the underevaluation of women's performance. But before we can change this structure formally, we must take a look at both others' and our own behavior and become aware of the strong, but not always obvious, presence of gender schemas. I. ChallengingHypotheses To evaluate other people more accurately, we need to challenge our embedded assumptions about men ard women. Vatan suggests we do this in two ways: l. We can become aware of our biases by forming explicit explanations of the reasons why individuals succeed or fail. Why did X not get tenure? Why did the people at the meeting not discuss Y's suggestion? We can test whether we have the same answers for a woman ard a man. 2. We can conductthought experiments in which we switch the sexes. For example, corsiderhow we would evaluab someone who did not fulfill a reryonsibility in a timely marner - first thinking about a woman and then about a man. We might discover that we assume that the woman who did not complete the job on time was incompetent but that the man needed an assistanto cope with a job that was too big for one person. With both of these exanpleg the goal is to change our implicit hypotheses by becoming explicitly aware of them, to catch ourselves in the act of operating with thenl and then to
2 explicitly entertain evaluations that run counter to our hlpotheses. But because gender schemas are such fundamental wala of perceiving and understanding the socialworld, they resist change. II. Devoting More Time & Attention to Evaluations Valian cites studies in which it has been demonstated that our gender schemas and stereotypes are often automatic. In one experiment participants were shown fwo words in rapid succession; tlre first word named a frait, lke gentle, and the second was a name, l:*.e Albert or Alice. The task was to identifi the name as a female or male name. Participants recognized Alice as a female name faster when it was precededby gentle than when the fust word was confdent. The effects can, however, be altered, if participants are given more time and are told that words like gentle will often be paired with male names. Thus, participants can modify their reqponses if they have time to think and know that their usual expechtions will not apply. Wittr time and effo4 evaluators too can modify their expectations and judgments of people. III. Accountatrilitv If evaluators know that their judgments will be reviewed by an unbiased, higher authority, they are more likely to form accurate ones. Accountability is apt to encourage people to challenge their hypotheses about gender differences. fv. Increasing the Number of Women in a Candidate Pool The data suggest that women will be more fairly evaluated if they represent at least 25 percent of the group. That percantage of women not only reduces the availability of the female gender sclrcnra, but it also alters the perception of the job itsef. A job held by both males and females in reasonable numbers appears to be a human job rather than a male or female job. Seeing a variety of women in leadershipositions encourages people to see leadership not as a masculine tait but as a human fait. V. Learning to Reason Social schemas exacerbate reasoning effors. Valian lists three important reasoning errors that contribute to evaluators' mistakes in judgment. 1. Failure to appreciate covariatiorr. This enor is demonstrated in a study showing that women arc more likely than men to correcdy arlyze statistical information den'ronsfafing hiring bias against women (Sclraller, 1992).In this study, the effects of group categorization on statistical inference processing and the consequent effects of group stereotyping were examined and res.rlts indicated significant effecb of group categonzatron on subjects' judgements about gender and leadership ability and on their shategies of data integration and logical inference. The results support the hypothesis that group memben selectivety engage in statistical inference strategies as a means of j,rsti&urg in- group favoritism. 2. Blocking. A study showed that both males and females are unlikely to perceive causes that might genuinely contibute to a person's performance if a prior hypothesis * such as a gender schema - independently predicts that performance (Sanbonmatsu, Akimoto, & Gibson, 1994). 3. Illusory Correlation The third type of reasoning enor that helps create ard maintain negative evaluations of others is seeing a relation that does not exist between two distinctive and relatively in-frequent conditiorn. For example, women are linked with
3 mcompeterrce because both are seen relativety infrequently in the professions, and because infrequent, distinctive events are seen as causally related to each other (Hamilton & Gifford, 1976). W. Awareness Training A major component ofmany progiuns aimed at increasing diversity in the workplace is awareness taining, in which people are encouraged to explore together their nonconscious beliefs about gender, etlnic, and other differences. In the case of gender, Valian argues that awareness taining may be counterproductive. She argues that males' and females' gerder schernas are unconscious and that they are usually not even very aware of what those gender schemas are. Instead, what people need are welldocumented information about sex differences and evaluations of others, informafion based not on single exanples but on systematic observation and experimentation. Both males and females need to understand that they are likely to have such biases, and that they must work out procedures to protect themselves and others from bad judgments based on them. Insfitutional YIIi Po[fts & the Role of Committed Leaders Institutions can play a critical role in social equaliry. They can either hurt or help the advancernent of women. First effecdve training programs will he! evaluatcrs identify inaccuate judgments and ttre role that gender schemas play in those judgments. Most importantly, evaluators who understand that even small imbalances in treatrnent canadd up to large imbalances in outcome can then establish procedures to eliminate those imbalances. Second, in order for organizations to institute effective taining programs, they must have lea&n who are committed to increasing faimess. They can establish and publicize policies designed to increase faimess and they can legitimize and support the leadership of both men andwomen. Research on personal persuasiveness suggests several reasons that leaders are influential (Fiske & Taylor, l99l). The most important qualities in an effective leader/persuaderare credibility, ne utrality, ard knowledgeability. Once evaluators understand the effect that gender schemas have on performance evaluations, they can more readily appreciate the importance of developing and sticking to objective criteria for judging petformance. Leaders should work towards the development of explicit, valid criteria. One of the main problems is often that women don't know what the criteria are for advancement and so their evaluations tend to be poorer. \IIII. Equalizing the Accumulation of Advantage Each woman can leam about the steps she can take to modulate the effects of gender schemas. She can increase her chances ofbeing seen as competent and thereby increase her chances of being effective. Valian suggests a nwnber of stategies women can use to evade the negative consequences of gender schemas and accumulate advantage.
4 l. Be ll4rere Women Are Well-Represented. Women should hy to work in fields and organtzatrons where women are well represented If a woman is one of many, she is less Iikety to be perceived in terms of her sex and herjob is less likely to be perceived as a man's job. 2. Be Impersonal, Friendly, and Respectful. An impenonal but friendly speaking style that conveys respect for others' opinions can help a professional ofeither sex be perceived as a leader. An impersonal approach is particularly effective for wome4 because it makes them seem less feminine, ard femininity is inconpatible with cunpebnce and lea&rship. A woman who tempers her asserfiveness with a friendly, respectful manner can countenact some of the negative reactions and thereby maintain her leadership. 3. Build Power. Men are more likely than women to leam about power building methods from mentors and colleagues, but women must seek out such information. Power building actions should be pioneering or out of the ordinary, visible to others in the group, and relevant to current otganuational problems. For example, the less routinized the job, the more power potential it has. Moreover, a job with few or no predecessors has greater potential, because a new occupant has leeu,ay in defining the dinrersions of the job. 4. Seek Inforntation. Building power requires access to information about promotion possibilities, job openings, and other opportunities for advancement. Individual women must recti$ their informational powrf by seeking menforship. Specific, tangible infomration about performance criteria is essenfial for succes. If you don't know the criteria for getting where you want to be, how can you expect to get there? Women must seek the information out. 5. Beconte an Expert. People who are knowledgeable in some area make it easier for others to respecthenl especially if they convey the knowledge in a friendly way. Research shows that people will accept leaders whose power comes through expert knowledge (e.g., Dovidio, Ellyson, Hehnan, & Brown, 1988). 6. Get Endorsed by Legttimate Authority. A woman can increase her chances of advancement within an organizalion by obtaining the endorsement of a legitimate authority. The authority need not be an actual person. In academia, for example, endorsement can be gained by publishing a paper in a prestigious joumal or by recdving extemal funding for research Similar indirect forms of erdorsenpnt come from playing an active role in a profesiornl conference or serving on a govemment study cornmission. Negotiate, Bargain, Seek Advancement. It's hard to get what you want if you don't ask for it. Role-playing with a knowledgeable friend or mentor wi[ be good practice for the real thing. 8. Overconte lnternal Barriers to Efectiveness. Both women's beliefs about their abilities and women's attributional style can have negative colrequences. - First, if women underrate their abilities they may fail to afierd to the information that those abilities are necessary for success. Rather than trying harder, they may avoid acquiring a good understanding of the criteria for success.
5 - Second, women may underestimate how much time and effort are required to do well and may see ability and effort as inversely related If women routinely athrbute their successes to factors other than ability and effort (e.g., to luck), they may see the need for great effort as evidence of lack of ability. Therefore, women may put in less effort. However, genuine accomplishment demands time and perseverance - no mafier how capable one is. - Third, doubts about one's ability and doubts about how one's work will be received tend to disfact attention from the job at hand. Women may need to work longer hours not because they are less capable, but because their preoccupations can make them work less efficiartly. - Fourth, women may fail to see that each bit of advantage is useful ard is worth spending time to acquire. - Fifth, women should modify their perceptions about the causes of their successes and failures. Luck andother uncontrollable causes no doubt play a role in success, but those causes sliould not eclipse the importance of women's own abilities and efforts. When women fail, on the other hand, they need to analyze both their own possible confibutions and the role of extemal factors, such as the failure of evaluators to judge them properly.