Managing Conflict in a Female Dominated Workplace

Today more companies have opened its doors for women workers than in the past twenty years. More women are having full-time jobs and even holding positions of power and influence in the corporate world. This reality might not have totally eliminated the “glass ceiling” concept, yet this suggests that the gender discrimination issue is slowly eliminated in the world of work.
Women have significantly impacted the corporate world. However, some studies suggest that in women-dominated workplace new challenges can emerge. This is because women interact differently and expect different things from their co-workers than men. Risk of unresolved conflict is also high as women have different approach to dealing with conflict than men.
Women’s approach to conflict is usually dictated and influenced by their role in the society, women’s tendency to be judgmental and subjective, and society’s expectations. The groundbreaking book of Phyllis Chesler “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” revealed that women have the tendency to deny that they are competitive, give more importance to relationship and belonging than succeeding, and expect nurture, support, and sympathy from other women. It further revealed women’s subjective perception of criticism and their tendency to judge harshly other women.

These behaviors of women are potential source of conflict and can make conflict resolution difficult. Tracy Douglass suggested ways to constructively deal with these behavior of women in the workplace to effectively deal with conflict among them. She said that the ability to recognize exclusionary behavior of women workers and evaluate criticism constructively, make a balance and objective response, making constructive statements that are focused on the problem and not on the person, communication skills, and personal awareness of one’s own behavior are important to be able to effectively manage women workers and also conflict in the workplace.
The article of Tracy Douglass presented only a grain of truth about working women and their behavior that can be a source of challenge and conflict in the workplace. The description sounded more of a social stereotyping than an objective analysis of the causes of conflict in a female dominated workplace and how to manage it. If the analysis presented is true then the percentage of women working will not increase.
The “ever-changing and expanding role of women in the management structure of the modern corporations” (Rue & Byars, 2000, p. 13) proves that companies recognize that women can be effective as men. It proves that women have successfully shown that they are capable of objectively dealing with personal and work issues, as well as achieving competence in their work.
Women may have inherent weaknesses but these can be eliminated or use constructively in the workplace given proper mentoring, training and other developmental programs. Nowadays an increasing number of people believe in equality of ability and opportunity of men and women, thus “more companies use mentoring programs to ensure that women gain skills and visibility needed to move into managerial positions” (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2000, p. 342).
The daycare center is not different from other working environment where training, mentoring and other developmental activities are applicable to enhance personal and professional skills of women employees. The daycare center director can turn the described handicap of women workers in dealing with conflict and co-women employees into a blessing because their nurturing, sympathetic and supportive behaviors are what children need from their care providers.
It is said that “hugs like water and food are vital to health and development of infants and children” (Cromie, 1998) and these too give children the sense of belongingness and safety.  The female staffs are generally capable of providing these to the children with warmth, sensitivity and affection so the children will have sound social development. Conflicts among women employees can be avoided if every challenge is taken as an opportunity to develop the employees and the team as a whole.
References
Cromie, W.J. (1998). Of hugs and hormones. Retrieved January 10, 2007
Noe, R.A., Hollenbeck, J.R., Gerhart, B. & Wright, P.M. (2000). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage (3rd ed.). Singapore: McGraw-Hill
Higher Education.
Rue, L.W. & Byars, L.L. (2000). Management: Skills and application (9th ed.). U.S.A.:
McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
 
 
 

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