Business of Men

Why some men say women should not have a career


In the 34 years since the hit movie ‘9 to 5’ first screened, you’d think that attitudes towards working women would have changed. But a new US study has revealed that this is not the case; and that women still have to battle against attitudes that would like to remove them from the workplace.

The study, led by Professor Sredhari Desai, from the University of North Carolina’s business school, found “…that married men in “traditional” marriages…view women in their workplace unfavorably, are much less likely to take jobs at companies with female board members, and may even pass over female co-workers for promotions…”

The startling results seem to have been transmitted in some kind of time warp from the attitudes of the early 20th Century, when women had to fight to enter many fields ¾ and when they were expected (or compelled by law) to leave their jobs as soon as they married.Certainly, stay-at-home-mums should be applauded for the equally hard work they do.

But with today’s workforce being nearly 50 per cent women, the idea of removing them from their careers is not only outdated but impractical.

Desai’s six-year study evaluated responses to statements such as: women should not work; women should not have a career; a wife should help her husband’s career first; and it’s better for a man to work and a woman to tend to home.

The research team found that men with stay-at-home wives were much more likely to agree with the statements than those married to career women. The researchers also found that even if a single man had a more progressive mindset, once he entered into a traditional marriage his opinion of working women lowered over time.

But those outdated attitudes changed if the man married a working woman, the study found. “Once a man married a woman who worked, he was more likely to accept female co-workers,” the researchers said.

And statistics show that while change is slow, the corporate attitudes toward career women are steadily improving, with an increasingly trickle of female appointments to senior executive and board positions.

Women accounted for 22.0% of new appointments to ASX 200 boards in 2013. In the month of January 2014, women represent 50.0% of all new appointments to ASX 200 boards.

Such figures deserve applause, but those who think they signify the battle is over need only refer back to the Desai study to see how far we still have to go.

Women work hard, if not harder, and should be recognized for it.


About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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