Archive for the ‘demography’ Category
Sociologist and blogger Phil Cohen has an op-ed in the NY Times on gender inequality. Here’s a key clip:
The assumption of continuous progress has become so ingrained that critics now write as if the feminist steamroller has already reached its destination. The journalists Hanna Rosin (“The End of Men”) and Liza Mundy (“The Richer Sex”) proclaimed women’s impending dominance. The conservative authors Kay S. Hymowitz (“Manning Up”) and Christina Hoff Sommers (“The War Against Boys”) worried that feminist progress was undermining masculinity and steering men toward ruin.
But in fact, the movement toward equality stopped. The labor force hit 46 percent female in 1994, and it hasn’t changed much since. Women’s full-time annual earnings were 76 percent of men’s in 2001, and 77 percent in 2011. Although women do earn a majority of academic degrees, their specialties pay less, so that earnings even for women with doctorate degrees working full time are 77 percent of men’s. Attitudinal changes also stalled. In two decades there has been little change in the level of agreement with the statement, “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.”
After two steps forward, we were unprepared for the abrupt slowdown on the road to gender equality. We can make sense of the current predicament, however — and gain a better sense of how to resume our forward motion — if we can grasp the forces that drove the change in the first place.
Read the whole thing.
This post is the second in a blog forum about inequality and organizational theory (see part 1). Isabel Fernandez-Mateo of London Business School wrote the post, and Philip Cohen of the University of Maryland and the Family Inequality blog provided commentary.
Thank you Brayden, Bruce and Jerry for inviting me to participate in this conversation on inequality – a topic which I care deeply about. I would like to post a few thoughts about a type of inequality that I think a lot of other people are also concerned with: the scarcity of women in top jobs. The problem is clear, and the list of potential solutions is long – quotas, changes in firms’ performance evaluation systems, family friendly policies, etc. One could thus easily assume that by now we have a very good understanding of why the problem exists in the first place (i.e. how and why we lose women as we go up the hierarchy). I believe, however, that we are not even close. For starters, we may be looking in the wrong places.
For decades, our knowledge of careers and inequality has been closely linked to the study of internal labor markets: how firms allocate people to jobs. As a result, our explanations for why so few women get placed in top positions have mostly focused on the role of organizational practices, which create barriers for women in internal promotion. Roberto Fernandez makes this point in a couple of recent papers, where he reminds us that the metaphor of the “glass ceiling” is alive and well.
And yet we have some pretty good evidence that the traditional career model, in which the best route up is to be promoted within a single firm, is losing its dominance. Read the rest of this entry »
Institutional theorists have become obsessed with explaining sources of institutional change in organizations. During neoinstitutional theory’s rise to prominence, it was mostly a theory of stability and homogenization of society, but in the last decade or so more and more institutional scholars have started focusing on change dynamics. There are some obviously good reasons for this, including the purpose of making institutional theory a more useful tool. Theories of institutional change often try to find endogenous explanations, e.g., institutional contradictions, competition between institutional logics. Still most of these explanations, because they give primacy to higher-level processes, ignore what’s going on at the ground level or at least fail to take into account the processes whereby people change their beliefs, adapt values, and alter their identities to make room for a new institutional practice.
In our rush to generate endogenous explanations for institutional change, it seems that some of the obvious micro-level processes of institutional change have been ignored. This research completely ignores the people whose “hearts and minds” must change in order to actually create lasting institutional change, even though for a new routine to become institutionalized people have to put it into action and for a new policy to be seen as “legitimate” people have to be convinced of the policy’s appropriateness. Perhaps the lack of emphasis on these micro-dynamics is the result of methodological biases. Demographic analysis, public opinion research, and experimental methods are mostly outside the toolkit of most institutional theorists. And yet, there’s probably a lot we could get from these analyses.
One potentially very important mechanism of institutional change is cohort replacement. By that I mean the replacement of old guards of organizational members and leaders with newer cohorts who have different beliefs, opinions, and values. It’s strange, when you think about it, that institutional theorists haven’t considered in any serious way how cohort replacement affects organizational practices and policies, even though opinion research indicates that cohort differences explain significant variation in beliefs and attitudes. Cohort differences may often matter more than life stage differences in explaining political opinions and attitudes. Take the case of liberalizing beliefs about same sex marriage. One study indicates that about half of the growth in support for same sex marriage is the result of cohort replacement. Younger generations are simply more open to this practice than preceding generations. We can expect that in a couple of generations, same sex marriage will be legal everywhere due to cohort replacement.
How might cohort replacement explain organizational change? One way to examine this would be to look at how demographic differences across organizations explain openness to new policies/practices or rates of early adoption. Another fruitful path would be to explain how cohort replacement creates identity conflict in organizations, a potentially crucial source of friction underlying change. Cohorts, in this sense, could be conceptualized as the carriers of different identities and logics. A nice illustration of this type of research is Nancy Whittier’s 1997 ASR paper about micro-cohorts and the transformation of the feminist movement. Even though the paper is often cited as an important illustration of how collective identity matters in movements, I think it’s undervalued as a study of institutional change. Another potential line of investigation would be to examine the link between cohort replacement and selection processes at the field level-of-analysis. One of my students pointed out to me yesterday that Haveman’s and Rao’s 1997 AJS paper on the thrift industry relies to an extent on the imagery of cohort replacement to explain why certain forms of thrift were selected.
More generally speaking, there should be a stronger link between research on organizational demography (e.g., see Damon Phillips’s work on law firms; Heather Haveman on managerial tenure) and institutional theory. Obviously, rates of entry and exit of managers affect organizational processes. The question for institutional theory is, how do these demographic changes affect institutional stability and heterogeneity?
Q: Why are east Asian Americans (Chinese/Koreans) are more willing to adopt Western names than central Asians (e.g., Indians)?
Don’t you dare fall back on “culture” unless you can really lay out the mechanism.
There is quite a discussion going on about the shifting global demographics due to gender-selective abortion.
Here are some links for anyone interested (feel free to provide additional ones):
Mara Hvistendahl (2011). Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. PublicAffairs.
Valerie Hudson and Andrea Den Boer (2005). Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population. MIT Press.
Amartya Sen (2003). Missing women—revisited: Reduction in female mortality has been counterbalanced by sex selective abortions. British Medical Journal.
Hesketh & Ching. (2005). The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years. New England Journal of Medicine.
Hesketh & Ching. (2006). Abnormal Sex Ratios in Human Populations: Causes and Consequences. PNAS.
Christophe Guilmoto (2009). The Sex Ratio in Transition in Asia, Population and Development Review.
Wikipedia entry for sex-selective abortion.
Some back-and-forth between Ross Douthat and Mara Hvistendahl.
Ross Douthat, 160 million and counting.
Mara Hvistendahl, Blaming abortion for disappearing girls.
Ross Douthat, Patriarchy, Liberty and the 160 Million.