Gender Issues at Work
The purpose of this activity is to acquaint participants with a variety of
gender issues that arise in the workplace and give them an opportunity
to discuss gender-related issues they are facing in their own
organizations. Included would be emotion in the workplace, power and
control, support, stereotypes, sexuality, prior experiences and familiar
roles (early “tape recordings”) and inclusion-exclusion issues.
30 minutes
Sample Lecture
Overhead transparency (OHT) 38.1
Handout 38.1 for each participant
1. Introduce topic by displaying OHT 38.1 and distributing Handout
38.1. Go over the various points and provide examples or a brief
description of each issue. (See Sample Lecture and Trainer’s Notes.)
2. Divide participants into small groups of three to four and have each
group select a reporter. Ask participants to discuss the following
questions that you have already written on the flipchart. (Allow 15 to
20 minutes.)
a. What have you noticed in your own workplace about work
relationships between men and women?
b. Think about a situation that you had in dealing with the opposite
sex, one that you feel you handled extremely well. Describe what
happened. What about a situation that turned out negatively, or
in a way you did not expect? Describe that.
50 Activities for Diversity Training
c. In dealing with the opposite sex in the workplace, what are the
issues that concern you the most?
3. Reconvene in a large group. Ask each group reporter to summarize
the issues and situations discussed. Record the issues they were
most concerned about on the flipchart.
Explain that many of the issues recorded on the flipchart will be
addressed throughout the workshop. The issues in this handout
represent those most discussed in previous workshops.
Trainer’s Notes
Handout 38.1 and the Sample Lecture introduce gender-related issues
and also offer points for discussion. It seems that women with very
different work experiences and backgrounds still tend to agree on many
of these points. Men are often unaware of how strongly women feel.
OHT 38.1
Reproduced from 50 Activities for Diversity Training
by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers. HRD Press, 1994
Sample Lecture
Gender Issues in the Workplace
Early Tapes Recordings
It has only been in recent times that women have taken their place in
positions of authority in the workplace. Because there has been no
meaningful history of successful women in positions of power, very few
female role models exist. Consequently, both men and women fall back
on early social norms, and these, along with traditional family roles,
often influence behavior in the workplace; in other words, “early tape
recordings” are played.
Both men and women often fall into the traps of their earlier experiences
and, in the workplace, their behavior reflects the familiar roles of
parents, children, siblings, or peers. Relationships based on old patterns
of behavior are usually inappropriate in the workplace and often create
problems because of differences in expectations by each group.
Sexuality is something that we can’t just leave at home. When there is
strong attraction between two people of the opposite sex, sexuality
becomes an issue of great concern. The concept of neutrality and
fairness may suddenly disappear. People behave differently and their
goals may change, often making others around them uncomfortable.
People normally spend the largest part of their waking hours at work and
consequently there is less time to socialize in other settings. More people
are looking at the workplace as a means to an increased social life.
Thus, the workplace has taken on a changed role in the relationship
between some men and women.
Emotion in the Workplace
Men and women have been socialized to express emotion in different
ways. For example, it is acceptable for men to show anger and
frustration, but when women express the same emotions, the behavior is
perceived differently.
Another example is that women are more accustomed to expressing
certain emotions by crying, while men have generally been taught to hide
such emotional expressions. Men often say they are uncomfortable in
dealing with a situation that involves a crying woman. This kind of
discomfort may become an issue if a male supervisor has to give negative
feedback to a female employee. The supervisor, in some instances, would
prefer not to deal with the situation if it results in tears.
Reproduced from 50 Activities for Diversity Training
by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers. HRD Press, 1994

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