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Too Big to Hire: Overweight Women Face Greater Employment Discrimination

Overweight women are 16 times more likely to be discriminated against in the workplace than males, according to a 2007 survey. In fact, studies have found that weight discrimination is the most common form of prejudice in the workplace, more so than sexual orientation, race or religion. This bias can lead to a loss of a talent and productivity for a business. A recent Southern Illinois University study involving 542 participants rated an average and overweight man and woman for hotel positions requiring different levels of guest interaction and physical work.  Findings showed it that the overweight woman was the most discriminated against by being chosen for a less visible job while the overweight male was rated more favorably. Solutions to this kind of discrimination include can be as easy as managerial training, the study suggests.

Contact Lynn Bartels, Associate Professor of Psychology, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, IL. Phone: 618-650-2569. Email:lbartel@siue.edu

Affirming One’s Gender in the Workplace: Wise or Risky?

There may be times when individuals in the workplace feel the need to decide whether to strategically emphasize and discuss their gender or avoid it and distance themselves from gender-related stereotypes in order to reduce potential interpersonal discrimination. A Michigan State University research project looked at student perceptions and reactions to male and female professors who affirm their gender identity in the classroom. The study found that females were observed engaging in more gender affirmation behaviors than males, most likely to increase feelings of in-group belonging and perhaps as a gender-related obligation to serve as role models. Males, not being as stigmatized as females, may be less obligated to affirm their gender. The researchers also found that women who affirmed their gender identity received more positive reactions from all students, even in male-dominated fields, which may be related to confirming gender-related stereotypes like warmth and friendliness. The researchers noted that as organizations become increasingly diverse, an understanding of social group identities like gender, race, and sexual orientation becomes extremely important for addressing discrimination and stigmatization in the workplace. Creating programs to encourage individuals to think about how their identity management choices affect professional relationships would be beneficial, the research suggests.

Contact: Mary Keegin, Student, Michigan State University. Phone: 616-502-8742. Email: marykeegin1@gmail.com

Age differences in coping with job loss

With the slow current economic recovery, older unemployed persons are finding it increasingly difficult to reenter the job market. A Colorado State University research study of the unemployed found that older participants had a harder time coping with job loss, experienced higher levels of discomfort, stress and negative feelings towards reemployment than their younger counterparts. Most participants over 50 felt discriminated against due to their age because they were assumed to be nearing retirement or perceived to lack computer skills instead of being valued for their years of experience. To reduce the traumatic experience that may follow job loss, organizations should give longer warnings and offer support groups to older workers, the study suggests.
Contact Erica Ermann, doctoral candidate, Colorado State University. Phone: 614-746-3400. Email: ericaermann@gmail.com

Managerial derailment: when political skill and perceived pro-social impact matter

Politically unskilled managers are more likely to be perceived as apt to derail, particularly when they believe their job has low positive impact on the well-being of others. That’s the finding of a Center for Creative Leadership study involving 312 managers enrolled in leadership development programs. The study tested whether political skill and perceived prosocial impact (the belief that their job benefits others) predicted likelihood of derailment as seen by four distinct rater sources: the manager, his or her boss, peers and direct reports. The study found that politically unskilled managers judged themselves as more likely to derail, and were seen as more likely to derail by their own boss, peers, and direct reports. Further, the study found that those managers who were less politically skilled and who perceived that their job did not have a positive impact on society were particularly likely to be perceived by their peers and direct reports as likely to derail.  This finding reinforces the importance of every member of an organization understanding the impact their work has on others, because people’s perceptions of how their work affects others impacts their own careers.

Contact: William Gentry, Senior Research Associate, Center for Creative Leadership. Phone: 336-286-4548. Email: gentryb@ccl.org

Disabled employees are not overly happy with their work experience

Are employees with disabilities as content with their job experience as non-disabled colleagues? The short answer is they are not all that contented. Although, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act made disabled persons a protected class and made employment discrimination based upon disabled status illegal, new research has found that many organizations still see the ADA as a compliance initiative rather than a business enhancement. Using data from 267,769 employed persons (3 percent of them disabled), the study found that employees with disabilities are more likely to be dissatisfied with their company and their job. A couple of reasons for this disconnect: overt discrimination such as pay differences and being passed over for promotion and less contact with managers and non-disabled co-workers. However, disabled employees working in teams felt more connected than those who worked by themselves, which suggested that more communication and interaction between disabled and non-disabled employees is more likely to result in less prejudice and greater acceptance. One surprising finding was that disabled employees were just as likely to achieve management status as non-disabled workers but were less satisfied with their work than non-disabled managers. The primary finding that disabled employees had more negative attitudes suggested they are not being targeted for intervention by organizations and remain a marginalized population.

For more information, contact Peter Rutigliano, Senior Consultant, Sirota Consulting. Phone: 914-922-2522. Email: pete@pervisum.com