Thursday, July 26, 2012

Interesting Article by the Harvard Business Review: Are Women Held Back by Colleagues' Wives?

I read a very interesting article by Lauren Stiller Rikleen in Harvard Business Review today that I want to discuss. Titled "Are Women Held Back by Colleagues' Wives?, this article discusses a recent study on how men's perceptions of women and women's roles correlate with whether their own wives work outside the home, and if so, the extent to which they do.
A group of researchers from several universities recently published a report on the attitudes and beliefs of employed men, which shows that those with wives who did not work outside the home or who worked part-time were more likely than those with wives who worked to: (1) have an unfavorable view about women in the workplace; (2)think workplaces run less smoothly with more women; (3) view workplaces with female leaders as less desirable; and (4) consider female candidates for promotion to be less qualified than comparable male colleagues.
What immediately sprang to my mind was this: What type of men and women enter into a marriage where partners play to traditional segregation of business and home? While Ian's and my marriage is evidence that even feminists can end up in a relationship where the female (mom) ends up staying home for some amount of time for one reason or another (though technically I'm working on my thesis... ), it is my feeling that many women who end up staying home with children, or work part time, do so because they hold more traditional views on gender roles within a marriage and family. Men that are looking for and marrying women who have expectations for staying at home with children (or not working as much as is expected of the man) more than likely have some gender stereotypes that hinder women from succeeding in a career environment.

I don't have access to the original study, so my thoughts may be repetitive of their conclusions and suggestions for further research, but I would like to see a follow up study that investigates the types of environments such men grow up in, in combination with what their do for a living, and how they view women in the workplace. My guess is such research would find that sexism in the workplace is more indicative of how men (and women) were raised and their general views of men's and women's roles, versus men's wives being the issue (as the title of the article might suggest).