Women Organization Commitment: Role of the Second Career & Their Leadership Styles.

Date01 January 2019
AuthorRawat, Preeti S.

Introduction

The workplace gender gap in India is reinforced by the extremely low participation of women in the economy and low wages for those who work (136th ranking for estimated earned income).On average, 66 percent of women's work in India is unpaid, compared to 12 percent of men's. World Economic Forum (WEF) report 2017 (1)

Women in the workplace may face four issues: get-in, get-on, get-out and get-back to work. 'Opting out', which is a voluntary decision to discontinue one's career, is the result of various hurdles that women face at work and is one of the major causes for the dearth of women in corporate executive bodies. There were 4.4 lakh women in India who 'opted out' and want to return after a hiatus, as per The India Skills report 2014--Peoplestrong, CII, Wheebox. This is a huge pool of talented and skilled workforce that is underutilized. Professional women taking a career break and later facing difficulties in career re-entry is a significant problem in India. Women who are re-entering face career punishments even for short timeout periods; long time-out periods increase the risk of a downward move and reduce the chances of an upward move. The condition world over is not very promising either. The New York Times in 2003, mentioned a study at Harvard Business School that showed that out of the 93% of women who took career breaks and intended to get back to work, only 74% managed to do so and only 38% found fulltime work. Therefore organizations need to equip themselves with policies, initiatives and facilities that facilitate an easier transition for women who return to work after a career break. Organizations have started making efforts to rein the problem. Deloitte, for example, made efforts to retain women professionals and brought about a cultural change with focused initiatives for women in Deloitte. This led to a 7% drop in the firm's annual turnover rate, helped save USD 250 million in hiring and training and provided impetus to its huge growth in the industry (McCracken, 2000).

Another related issue is women and their leadership styles. Women account for 49.6 percent (World Bank, 2014) of the population and 39.6 percent of the labour force(World Bank, 2014), but their representation at more senior corporate levels is significantly negligible in comparison. While leadership is a key ingredient for corporate success, one must be seen as a leader for achieving more senior positions. For this, the person must have and must be seen to have the potential for leadership, irrespective of gender. Studies performed in recent years have shown that women face more obstacles than men when they try to occupy positions of responsibility in organizations (Bass, 1990). It has been observed that men usually tend to have a higher social status and hence a greater access to power and resources as compared to women and consequently are accorded greater privilege (Ridgeway, 1992). The present study focuses on two research questions. First, are organizations perceived as supportive to women who opt for second careers thus leading to organizational commitment from women? Second, does the leadership of women lead to their organization commitment? To address these question two independent studies were carried out. The study I focused on the issue of career break and experience of perceived organization support by women who joined back and their organization commitment as an outcome. Study II focused on leadership styles of women and their commitment to the workplace.

Women & Second Careers

The theoretical support for addressing the issue of the second career is few. The probable reason is that career counseling theories evolved at a time when the typical career client was young, male, white, able-bodied, publicly heterosexual, and ethnically homogenous individual population (Cook, Heppner& O'Brian, 2002). Some of the common assumptions about male population and work were that work was central to men and their identity, paid role was more important than other life roles like care of the family, and career development is progressive, rational and linear. According to Crozier (1999) and Cook et al. (2002), these assumptions about work did not address the challenges of women and career since women's career development is often non-linear, both complemented and frustrated by multiple-role fulfillment and shaped by the structure of opportunity.

Digging the issue a little deeper one realizes that the problem of the second career is a gendered problem and that gender is a multidimensional and multilevel phenomenon with many different facets (Korabik, 1999). These dimensions include intra-psychic aspects such as gender schemas and stereotypes, gender-role identity, and gender-role traits, attitudes, and values (Bem, 1993). They also include the manner in which men and women interact with one another (Deaux& Major, 1987) and the social roles they are expected to enact in a society (Eagly, 1987).

Research shows that women who interrupt their careers experience downward mobility in salary and status. This is a function of employer discontinuity; career redirection towards lower status, lower paid sectors of the economy and part-time work and skill obsolescence (Lovejoy & Pamela Stone, 2012). Many employers hold negative and stereotyped beliefs about married women or women with children (Hewlett, Luce, Shiller & Southwell, 2005).Therefore the second careers of women should be seen in the larger individual and environmental contexts and organizations need to mitigate the challenges and create avenues for women to join work again as second careers. This approach is also in line with Bronfenbrenner's ecological model (1979). Ecological interventions help in understanding and affirming women's life options, in managing multiple roles, in obtaining quality childcare, in creating healthy working environments, in improving access to role models and mentors, and equalizing salaries (Cook, et al, 2002).In this study, the organizational inclusion of women opting for second careers is measured through the construct of Perceived Organizational support (POS).

Perceived Organization Support

Perceived Organizational Support (POS) refers to employees' perception concerning the extent to which the organization values their contribution and cares about their well-being. POS has been found to have important consequences on employee performance and well-being.

Research on POS began with the observation that if managers are concerned with their employees' commitment to the organization, then employees are focused on the organization's...

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