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Training Termed 'Window Dressing'

November 10, 1985|JANICE MALL

Programs that companies typically offer to advance women in management--such as hiring affirmative action officers and providing management training for women--appear to be "only costly window dressing" to many of the women they serve, according to a survey of management level women conducted by the UC Berkeley School of Business.

The respondents, a group of well-educated, well-paid managerial and professional women recruited through Bay Area professional organizations, preferred substance over style, the researchers found. The women rated programs with direct economic impact, such as child care, fringe benefits, career placement for spouses of incoming managers and updated pension funding, as most helpful to women seeking management jobs. They said these programs were generally not offered.

They rated availability of a designated affirmative action officer and workshops, seminars and leadership training for women in management as low in importance. These programs were commonly offered by employers.

Programs such as affirmative action have been haphazard and reactive to public and governmental pressure and may cost business more than substantive programs, the researchers concluded. "Some of the costs may be alienation, low job satisfaction, poor decision making and high turnover. . . . Organizations will find it less costly to develop programs that meet the actual needs of women entering management ranks than to devote resources to programs that are irrelevant at best."

The authors of the study, published in California Management Review, are Karlene H. Roberts, professor and associate dean of Berkeley's Undergraduate School of Business, M. Frances Van Loo, associate professor of business, and two doctoral students in the field.

The researchers found that most of the respondents favored programs that facilitated the entry of more women into management over ones that advance women who are already there.

Other research in the field has found that when women constitute a small percentage of a firm's managerial staff, they are viewed as tokens and experience increased performance pressures and greater isolation and are more likely to find their behavior sexually stereotyped by others. "Token women" are also under pressure to prove their loyalty to the majority and to stand out as exceptions. In many cases, they do this by turning against other women.

The report concluded that programs such as training seminars, which may be important to women after they become managers, do not address the tokenism problem of women or the problem for the employers of recruiting new talent with management potential. Companies that wish to recruit well-qualified women and use their talents as managers (something companies will need to do to compete in a time of increasing shortage of capable management people, the authors said) would do better to offer the economic programs such as child care that permit greater participation of women in the labor force.

The Alliance of Women Veterans will observe National Women Veterans Recognition Week, which begins on Veterans Day, by giving awards to three people who helped to bring the contributions of women in the armed forces to public attention.

This is only the second annual Recognition Week, even though women have served in the military since 1942.

The proclamation of Women Veterans Week points out that women attached to combat units served in Europe, Africa, Egypt and the Pacific in World War II and in Korea and Vietnam, and received Distinguished Service Medals, Legions of Merit, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Some lost their lives. Yet, it was not until 1980 that the U.S. Census asked, for the first time, and learned that there were 1.1 million American women veterans. That figure has increased to 1.25 million--90,000 in Southern California. Even though they are qualified for the same veterans' entitlements as men who served, women have been largely invisible to the Veterans Administration, and only 1.8 % have used their entitlements.

Recipients of the 1985 Tri-Laureate awards will be Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), for his sponsorship of the 1984 and 1985 National Women Veterans Recognition Weeks, and George Schlatter of George Schlatter Productions, for a series of "Real People" documentary segments featuring women in the military and women veterans. A third award, to be announced, will go to a TV series drama for sensitive portrayal of women veterans. The awards will be presented at a reception 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro.

Information about the event and about the Alliance of Women Veterans is available from organization president Stacey Fletcher at (213) 931-6173.

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