Diane Bergeron, associate professor of organizational behavior, discussed her research on role expectations in the workplace and their impact on the professional advancement of women.
“I’m going to set the stage with some depressing statistics,” began Diane Bergeron, associate professor of organizational behavior at Weatherhead School of Management at the Cleveland Women in Science and Medicine Discussion Series in February. “But if you’re here, I think you already know these.” Bergeron clicked through a host of proof points outlining the current professional landscape for women. Only about 5% of CEOs in top companies are women. Fewer than 20% of corporate board seats go to women. Women are consistently underrepresented in higher levels of leadership across all sectors. And this is all despite the fact that almost 50% of management and professional occupations are held by women.
Bergeron served as the keynote speaker of the night, kicking off a panel discussion that included CEO and President of the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, curator at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Denise Su, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve, Dr. Cyrus Taylor, Operations Manager at Lubrizol, Dr. Ka-Pi Hoh and Executive Director of Hospice Operations at Kindred Hospice, Terri Wimms.
Bergeron went on to discuss the concept of the “organizational wife,” a role many women play in the workplace. “She is the one going out of her way to help colleagues with heavy workloads. She is skilled at passing along information to others, orienting new employees, sharing expertise, listening to personal problems, taking action to prevent dilemmas and voluntarily doing more than her job description requires,” said Bergeron. Bergeron finds that although these women do more than asked of them at work, they’re not rewarded with higher titles or additional pay. In fact, this above-and-beyond approach is expected of women because of the entrenched gender roles within society that qualify women as helpers.
This tangled concept and its implications was unraveled and discussed throughout the evening with the panelists bringing each of their unique perspectives and experiences to bare. This was the 3rd annual Cleveland Women in Science and Medicine Discussion and the topic was “Carefully Constructed Femininity: Women, Leadership and Untangling the Double Bind.”
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