Gender and performance of company

The independent variables (IV) tested in this investigation were gender and how successful the company is seen to be. The dependant variables (DV) were how suitable the applicant is seen to be for the job, and if they considered it a good opportunity for them. This was in order to test the hypotheses: 1. A woman will be seen as more suitable for a risky leadership position than a man.

2. A man will be seen as more suitable for a non-risky leadership position than a woman. This experiment was conducted using first year psychology students in Exeter University which were selected by their attendance to a practical lesson. There were 79 participants in total, and these were divided into 4 conditions (male or female applicant with either the festival being either successful or unsuccessful).

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Neither hypothesis was proven statistically significant, although the trend for hypothesis 1 was in the predicted direction. Introduction Despite advances in equal opportunities for females in the work place, it has been proposed that subtle descrimination still takes place, with women being prevented from reaching high positions by an invisible barrier, termed as ‘the glass ceiling’ (Morrison, White & Van Velsor, 1987). Although studies by psychologists such as Davidson and Cooper (1992) have suggested that more women are being able to break past this, a new problem seems to have emerged: the glass cliff (Haslam and Ryan, 2005).

This refers to the opinion that if women are appointed to leadership positions, these are likley to be far more risky than those men are appointed to, leading to a much higher chance of failure. This failure has been interpreted by those such as Judge (2003) to be a direct result of the people in charge being women, as statistically it does appear that the majority of business failures do happen under female management. What is not taken into consideration here is that this could be because the female employees are appointed once the business is already in jeopardy, and that is the very reason a female is chosen for the position. This has many implications, as it means women are more likely to lose their job because of the companies failings and are likely to have more pressure and consequently stress imposed upon them.

It is therefore a very important area to study as if this discrimination is occuring, it needs to be supported enough by emprical evidence to justify investigation into the possible causes, hopefully leading to a way to combat this problem. In the study conducted by Haslam and Ryan (2005) on which this is based, the share prices of FTSE 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange were compaired, 19 of which female boardmembers had been appointed and 19 of which had not.

The share prices were compaired before and after the women had been appointed in the first condition in order to see if having a female boardmember affected the financial success and if females were appointed to companies which appeared financially insecure, using the other condition as a control group. It was found that the female boardmembers had been employed after a period of shaky company performance, whereas male boardmembers had been after a stretch of stable business, supporting the theory of ‘the glass cliff’.

The aim of this study is to further support this theory and investigate it using hyperthical sistuations to see if it only occurs in bussiness or if there is a general inclination to appoint women to risky leadership positions and men to stable ones. This will be investigated by presenting participants with a job position for a festival with either declining or increasing success and a applicant for the job who is either male or female, making these the independent variables. The dependant variables wil be how suitable the participants see the applicant as for the job and if they believe it to be a good opportunity for them. Based on the research gathered above, the following hypotheses were derrived:

1. A woman will be seen as more suitable for a risky leadership position than a man. 2. A man will be seen as more suitable for a non-risky leadership position than a woman. Method Participants The participants were first year psychology students in Exeter University and were selected by their attendance to a practical lesson and the conditions were randomly allocated. The participants were predominantly female and most were between the ages of 18 and 20.

Design The independent variables were gender and how successful the festival was (in order to indicate how risky the job would be). These were manipulated by information given to the participant on the first few pages of the questionnaire. The dependant variable was how suitable the participant felt the applicant was for the job, which was tested by a relevant question on the questionnaire.

Apparatus The participants were given a pack containing a CV, an advert for a job helping run a festival, a newspaper article and a questionnaire (see appendix). The CVs differed only in gender for the applicant and the newspaper article in one condition told of how successful the festival in the job advertisement was and in the other how unsuccessful it was. The questionnaire contained a total of eleven questions, two of which were relevant to the results being collected (asking whether the applicant is suitable for the position, whether it is a good opportunity for them with a manipulation check of whether the participant would recommend it to a friend) and one of which was to ensure the independent variable of the festival’s success had been manipulated correctly (asking whether the festival was doing well).

The other questions were randomly chosen to prevent demand characteristics caused by the participants guessing the aim of the study. They were required to answer each question on a scale from 1 (do not agree at all) to 7 (agree completely) to produce analysable, quantitative data for easier comparisons between conditions. Procedure The study took place in a practical room where outside noise would be kept to a minimum to prevent this being an extraneous variable.

The participants were asked to complete the questionnaire in their own time after reading the information and then the results were collected and analysed. Results The results from each of the three questions were collected separately. The first question asked whether the participant felt the applicant was suitable for the job, and the results collected are shown in the table and the graph below.

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