Unlocking The Female Employment Potential: Gender Aspect

Abstract

The participation of women in labor activity makes a significant contribution to unlocking the employment potential of the region and the country as a whole. At the same time, the traditional division of gender roles, which is typical for Russia, affects the position of women in the labor market. Although in modern Russian society, the family model is actually dominant, where a man is not the only bread winner in the family, and a woman continues to work after the birth of the children. However, despite the undeniable progress in the issue of integrating women into the labor market, it is too early to speak about the complete equality in distribution of work. The current situation shows that women, in comparison with men, are the most vulnerable social group. Women are more likely to be discriminated when they are employed and promoted. Modern scientists, for the most part, recognize that women have a high level of the employment potential. The authors conducted a study on the probability of unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions. The paper analyzes and identifies the main socially determined and personal gender stereotypes in the Russian labor market. It has been determined which factors, such as education, marital status, motherhood, social status of a husband, self-confidence have a positive or negative influence on unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions. In modern society, from a legal point of view, women have every opportunity to be successful professionals.

Keywords: Employment potentialwomengender stereotypeslabour marketdiscriminationfemale professional mentality

Introduction

Competition in the labor market places equally high demands on men and women. But the traditional division of gender roles, which is typical for Russia, affects the position of women in the labor market. Throughout the twentieth century, women's rights and opportunities for work were in conflict with established gender stereotypes. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation in 2017, the employment rate of women in the Russian Federation was 63.8%, and the proportion of women in the total number of employees was 53.8% (2017). In the Samara region, these figures were 64% and 49.8% respectively (according to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation for the Samara region). The relatively high figures indicate the actual predominance of the family model, where a man is not the only bread winner in the family, and a woman does not leave the labor market after the birth of the children. However, despite the undoubted progress in integrating women into the labor market, it is too early to speak about the complete equality in distribution of work. It is more difficult for women to climb the career ladder and take leadership positions, and this is due not so much to legislative and legal factors as to existing gender stereotypes. In modern society, from the point of view of legislative and legal factors, women have every opportunity to become successful professionals. But, nevertheless, the gender stereotypes prevalent in the Russian society in relation to the female professional activity occupy a strong position in the structure of the female professional mentality. For example, the analysis of the database of resumes showed that women are claiming lower wages than men. A woman expects to get a 29% lower wage than a man (35,000 rubles for men and 25,000 rubles for women) (Romanova, 2015). According to the report of the Global Wage Report for 2014-2015, prepared by the International Labor Organization (ILO), Russian women earn 30% less than men do.

Problem Statement

The global McKinsey Institute predicts that the consequence of combating global gender inequality will be an additional increase in world GDP by 11-26% by 2025 (Woetzel et al., 2015).

Russian and foreign studies consider similar gender issues. One of the central issues is discrimination of women in the labor market. According to Becker (1957), who was one of the first to draw attention to this problem, the nature of discrimination is in personal preferences of economic agents who refuse to work with women for various reasons. Becker's ideas were developed by Arrow (1972) and Spence (1973) and occupy a central place in the theory of “statistical discrimination”. This theory is based on incomplete information on the labor market.

American and European studies often refer to the phenomenon of the “glass ceiling” in a woman's career (Ridgeway, 2001, 2014; Korpi, Ferrarini, & Englund, 2013; Fernandez & Campero, 2017). The “glass ceiling” is the term of the American management to mark out a kind of discrimination, an invisible barrier that limits the career growth of women.

Russian scientists pay great attention to hidden discrimination. Mosakova (2016) argues that a woman throughout her life is discriminated against sex, age and place of residence. Because of hidden discrimination, there is horizontal and vertical segregation in the labor market (Ermakova, 2010). Division of men and women into groups of professions is characteristic for horizontal segregation. Vertical segregation is due to inequality in distribution of men and women in the service hierarchy. Bergman (1974) argued that as a result of professional segregation, there is a difference in wages in men and women. It arises from the excess supply of labor over demand in industries where traditionally there are more women. According to Blau (Blau & Kahn, 2017), if the employer accepts a woman for a low-paid position due to the lack of correspondence between professional training and the profile of the organization, she will most likely leave such work. The woman will continue her work activity if the employer offers to finance her professional training. Roshchin and Solntsev (2006) explain the existence of vertical segregation by the existence of gender roles, according to which women spend a lot of time doing household chores. Consequently, it is more difficult for them to concentrate on work.

The legislation of the Russian Federation prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all spheres of the life activity of society. The Constitution of the Russian Federation and a number of International Conventions ratified in Russia (Convention No. 100 on Equal Compensation for Work of Equal Value for Men and Women, Convention No. 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, ILO Convention No. 156 on Equal Treatment and Equal Opportunities for Working Men and Women, Workers with Family Responsibilities) guarantees the equality of human and civil rights and freedoms regardless of gender, race, nationality, etc.

Nevertheless, we can talk about the existence of discrimination directly. Indirect discrimination is closely linked to gender stereotypes. In the Russian labor market, due to the influence of certain stereotypes, an employer can treat a woman as a less useful workforce.

In the issues of discrimination research, the focus is on objective factors – accumulated period of work, marital status, parental status and number of children. Socially-determined gender stereotypes, first of all, are based on them. There are also sub-objective, personal stereotypes that do not allow a woman to have leadership positions. The study pays insufficient attention to them. These personal gender stereotypes are presented in the structure of the female professional mentality and encourage a woman to agree with them.

This study considers which socially-determined and personal gender stereotypes affect women's ability to fulfill their employment potential and take leadership positions.

Research Questions

The research questions are outlined taking into account the gap in the existing literature:

  • What socially-determined gender stereotypes influence the prospects for women to take leadership positions?

  • What personal factors in the structure of the female professional mentality affect the prospects for women to take leadership positions?

Purpose of the Study

The objectives of this study.

  • Analyse the existing socially-determined and personal gender stereotypes in the Russian labor market and identify the main of them.

  • Use probit analysis to determine the factors influencing unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions.

Research Methods

Development of hypotheses:

Education

The level of education of women is included in the set of indicators for calculating the index of gender development. Russia is included in the list of countries with a high level of gender development. The authors put forward the hypothesis that education has a significant positive influence on the prospect of a woman to take a leadership position.

Marital status

The marital status has a significant negative impact on the prospects for women to take leadership positions.

Housework

Household chores, which fall more heavily on the shoulders of women, have a significant negative impact on the prospects for women to take leadership positions.

Husband-leader

If a woman has a husband-leader, this fact has a significant positive impact on the prospect of a woman to take a leadership position.

Self-confidence

Self-confidence has a significant positive influence on the prospect of a woman to take a leadership position.

Findings

The female professional activity is the product of women's socialization, which has a long history of mastering and forming social, political, moral and ethical norms. The values of modern women are quite diverse and differentiated.

According to the Institute of Socio-Economic Development of Territories of RAS in 2013 (Shabunova, Popov, & Solovyova, 2017), 11% of women said that their rights could be infringed when getting a job; 5% - when quitting. At the same time, 30 and 39% of the respondents found it difficult to answer, respectively. In addition, 20% of respondents knew about such cases with other women, while, in their opinion, men do not encounter such situations at all.

The study of gender stereotypes, which actually become barriers to a woman seeking career growth, is an important task for researchers. A woman who wants professional self-realization may face the need to overcome gender stereotypes, behind the scenes existing in the labor market.

In the research of scientists Koch, D'mello, & Sackett, (2015), Kuhlmann et al. (2017), Sharapova, Borisov, & Sharapova (2017), Kazibekova (2016), Kulagina (2016) and Antipina (2016), gender stereotypes on the path of women seeking leadership positions are considered in sufficient detail. S.Yu. Roshchin studied the possibilities of a woman to take a leadership position and have at least 20 people subordinate, depending on demographic factors, meta residence, work experience (Roshchin and Solntsev, 2006).

The study identifying the most frequently encountered gender stereotypes, in fact, which are barriers to unlocking the labor employment potential in leadership positions, was conducted by the author in 2013 (Shtrikova, 2013). Barriers were divided by the author into socially-determined gender stereotypes and personal stereotypes of the female professional mentality.

Socially-determined stereotypes:

  • Traditional gender stereotypes about the role of women in society. The gender roles of women and men differ depending on the economy, politics, religion and other social factors in the life of the society of a particular country. Gender roles are changing over time. But still you can talk about some traditions of gender roles, which have been passed on for centuries from generation to generation. In the Russian society, the traditional gender roles of women are “Mother” and “Wife”.

  • Stereotype of real career progression. In the opinion of women, in practice of real labour relations mostly male candidates are promoted for leadership positions.

  • Competence-qualification stereotype - insufficient level of education, qualifications, competencies.

  • The stereotype of “double employment”. The term “double employment” reflects the fact that a woman, unlike a man, has a double burden - work and household duties. A woman, unlike a man, cannot fully devote herself to work, since the burden of caring for children and home comfort lies on her shoulders.

Personal stereotypes:

  • Lack of personal qualities, contributing and accompanying professional success. Such a stereotype can be explained by such reasons: as an underestimation of one's abilities, personal complexes and choice of an inappropriate field of activity.

  • The barrier of fear of failure. A woman is afraid that she will not succeed, and she will spend too many efforts, resources and time on work. Therefore, she does not even begin to make any efforts for career growth. Even the very idea how to build a career is very vague for her.

In general, socially-determined gender stereotypes, together with personal stereotypes of the female professional mentality, exert a complex influence on unlocking the female employment potential, reinforce and intensify each other's negative influence.

According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation in 2017, the proportion of women-leaders is 41% (2017). Moreover, this indicator shows an increased trend towards growth since 2007, when it was 32%. According to the Federal State Statistics Service in the Samara region in 2017, the proportion of women-leaders is 38%, men - 63% (2017). On average, the probability of having a leader status in men is 1.5 times greater than in women. The average age of women-leaders is 42.4 years old, and men-leaders - 41.2 years old.

To determine the factors that influence the probability of a woman to become a head of the team, the authors used the data of the Russian Monitoring of the Economic Situation and Health of the NRU-HSE (RLMS-HSE) for 2009-2016. The sample RLMS-HSE is representative for the Russian Federation as a whole. To determine the status of a leader, the authors took the indicator of belonging to the group “Managers (representatives) of government and management bodies of all levels, including heads of institutions, organizations and enterprises”.

The regression analysis (probit model) is used to assess the influence of various factors on the probability of unlocking the employment potential and becoming a leader. The dependent variable is the probability of becoming a leader. The explanatory variables are the characteristics of age, education, a number of family circumstances and health.

Table 1 -
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 ** - the significance of the values at the 5% level.

The probability of becoming a leader increases with aging. This is a consequence of the professional development of women, associated with the acquired work experience, additional education. This probability increases, but to a certain extent, since the dependence on the indicator “age in squared” is negative. If a woman has education, it in principle has a significant positive impact on career growth. Women participating in economic life generally have a higher level of education. Nevertheless, a high level of education does not completely solve the problem of unlocking the accumulated employment potential. It has been established that the marital status, as well as the parental status (having children from both age groups), does not have a significant impact on the possibility of becoming a leader. This fact allows concluding that family circumstances do not hamper the career growth of women. Although, employers and professional communities most often consider family circumstances as an obstacle to career growth. Regarding women, unlike men, the health factor does not significantly affect the possibility of becoming a leader.

The status of a husband-leader is one of variables. So, if a husband is a leader, then there is a significant probability that a woman herself will become a leader too. As for men, they do not have a similar dependence. It can be concluded that a husband-leader and his experience and support helps a woman overcome personal gender stereotypes. It is interesting that the ultimate contribution of having higher education is identical when having a husband-leader.

In order to test the impact of gender roles in the conditions of domestic life on the possibility of becoming a leader, the assessment was made taking into account household chores. The required data for 2010-2016 were obtained from the RLMS-HSE, which contains answers to questions about the time spent on different household chores. The RLMS-HSE data take into account only part of household chores. However, they do not reflect the general trend.

The study considers the time spent on household chores for leaders and non-leaders, for men and women. The time spent on them will be divided into two groups: the time for caring for the members of the family and the time for other household chores. The results obtained are presented in Table 02 .

The assessment according to the T-criterion shows that the existing difference is not accidental. Men-leaders spend more time on work than non-leaders, the time they spend on households is almost the same. Women, both leaders and non-leaders, have the same situation in terms of working time.

The time spent on household chores in women (leaders and non-leaders) and men (leaders and non-leaders) does not differ significantly. There are significant differences in the time spent on household chores in men-leaders and women-leaders in all indicators. Women spend twice as much time for caring for the members of the family as men. As for other types of household chores – they do them six times more than men! Women-leaders differ from women-non-leaders by the time spent on work, and the burden of household chores is the same for them. Consequently, home and family work does not prevent the achievement of the status of a leader.

The fact that women-leaders still have a significant workload in the household is supported by the results of probit analysis (Table 03 ). The time spent on household chores does not have a significant impact on the possibility of professional growth to the status of a leader. It is interesting that household chores have negative effects for men-leaders and their possibility of become leaders.

Table 2 -
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Table 3 -
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** - the significance of the values at the 5% level.

In order to test the influence of self-confidence on the possibility of becoming a leader, the RLMS-HSE received the answers to the question “It seems to me that I have few such qualities that are in demand in the current economic situation”. The question had four answers: “this is exactly about you”, “perhaps about you”, “it's not about you”, “it's definitely not about you”. The answers “it's definitely not about you” and “it's not about you” were considered in the work as answers of self-confident people with optimistic self-esteem. Note that, according to calculations, women have less self-confidence than men (Table 04 ). Thus, women are characterized by a lower self-esteem, which, undoubtedly, affects the desire to take the position of a leader. The leaders of both sexes have more confidence than do non-leaders. The difference in values ​​of the self-confidence index for men-leaders and non-leaders is 25, and the difference in values for women-leaders and non-leaders is 19. In addition, the confidence index for women is only at the level of 56.1%, in contrast to the index for men - 70.1%.

In accordance with the answers to the question about valuable qualities that the respondent has, the order variable was formed, which was included in the regression equation of the probability of becoming a leader (Table 06 ). The variable “self-confidence” in the equation with the lag, the indicator was calculated for round 7.1. Unambiguously, the self-confidence indicator is statistically significant and positively influences the probability of becoming a leader.

Thus, it can be said that a low level of self-confidence impedes unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions.

Table 4 -
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Taking into account self-confidence, there is no statistically significant influence of the status of a husband-leader in the calculations of the probability of becoming a leader. Suppose that if a woman has a husband-leader than it affects this woman’s confidence in her abilities. This assumption is confirmed by the data (Table 05 ). Therefore, the positive influence of a husband-leader, which was identified in the description of the variable “the probability of belonging to the group of “leaders”, can be related both to the growth of psychological self-confidence and to additional opportunities for establishing professional contacts due to husband’s resources.

Table 5 -
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Table 6 -
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** - the significance of the values at the 1% level.

Conclusion

The purpose of the study was to identify factors that affect unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions. The hypothesis that education has a significant positive impact on the prospects for women to take leadership positions has been confirmed.

The hypothesis and the fact that children have a significant negative impact on the prospects for women to take leadership positions have not been confirmed. Maternity does not hamper the career growth of women. Gender stereotypes existing on this account are not confirmed in real practice.

The hypothesis that domestic affairs, which are more heavily on the shoulders of women and have a significant negative impact on the prospects for women to take leadership positions, has not been confirmed. Women-leaders differ from women-non-leaders only by the time spent on work, and the burden of household chores is the same for them. Consequently, home and household chores do not prevent the achievement of the status of a leader.

The hypothesis about the positive influence of a husband-leader on the prospect of a woman to take a leadership position was confirmed. It can be concluded that a husband-leader and his experience and support helps a woman overcome personal gender stereotypes.

The hypothesis that self-confidence has a significant positive impact on the prospect of a woman to take a leadership position was confirmed.

Women achieve greater success when they have resources to overcome stereotypes existing in professional and social communities. These resources are supported by surrounding men, and in particular by a husband, in the development of those areas where starting capital is in demand in the form of knowledge.

The problem of unlocking the female employment potential in leadership positions is in differences in informal norms and rules for men and women in the whole society or within the framework of individual professional communities. The female employment potential in the form of education and work experience has already been accumulated to a large extent. The problem is overcoming existing gender stereotypes, which change much more slowly than the socio-economic situation. At the same time, it should be noted that the current situation is conditioned both by socially determined gender stereotypes on the part of employers and professional communities, and by personal stereotypes of the female professional mentality, which result in lower career claims.

The authors presented ways to overcome existing gender stereotypes.

  • Develop a strategic plan to create conditions for the most effective use of the female employment potential in the labour market.

  • Develop a comprehensive program that forms a positive image of women in the labour market. This image should emphasize a high level of professional knowledge, skills of women and success in achieving career goals (without using comparisons with men). Mass media, the film industry, social networks and the Internet space as a whole should be involved in the formation of this image.

  • Carry out periodic events, create a hotline and Internet consultations to inform women about their labour rights and opportunities and about the procedure for their violation.

Unlocking the female employment potential is possible only with the constructive participation of the state, business and society. At the state level, unlocking the female employment potential will contribute to an increase in economic growth and the development of innovations. At the business level, the refusal of discriminatory practices and the introduction of new forms of the female employment will increase labor productivity. At the community level, the replacement of stereotypes that impede unlocking the female employment potential, the stereotypes that will contribute to it, will lead to an improvement in the quality of life of Russians and reduce the level of social tension.

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Busygina, A., & Shtrikova*, D. (2019). Unlocking The Female Employment Potential: Gender Aspect. In & V. Mantulenko (Ed.), Global Challenges and Prospects of the Modern Economic Development, vol 57. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1042-1054). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.03.104