Gender aspect is missing…

I am currently grading exam papers and just finalised reading through the answers to the first question: “Management is defined in terms of a thinking approach not a feeling approach. Discuss!” Honestly, I feel a bit devastated from reading what my students wrote. In fact I scribbled “Gender aspect is missing” as my comment to the majority of the answers.

Almost all of my students discussed this question in terms of whether it is more efficient for managers pursuing either a thinking (e.g. logical, rational) or a feeling (e.g. emotional, intuitive) approach. Some argued that managers (especially nowadays) need to address their own and others feelings in order to be successful. Furthermore, others wrote that management defined in Fayol’s terms, i.e. planning, organising, motivating and coordinating, neglects to address the emotional component of management and the emotional skills that successful managers should posses. After all, managers are also humans and therefore they are emotional as well (even if emotions come second to rationality). The vast majority of the students concluded that successful managers should be both rational and emotional, depending on the context.

Having devoted a considerable amount of time in the class discussing the circumstance that management historically and socially is defined in masculine terms (e.g. managers as the captains of the industry, who systematically and logically steer the ship through rough waters by making rational decisions) and showing that this understanding contributes to establish and maintain gender inequality in the workplace, I was quite disappointed reading the above answers. Regarding the feedback that I received from my students in the class, I actually thought that I was rather successful demonstrating that the so-called thinking approach represents the masculine understanding of management, which dominates much of the literature, whereas the so-called feeling approach refers to a feminine understanding of management, which is often marginalised. Therefore, for the examination I used a statement from one of my slides, a slide portraying the results of Parcheta et al. (2013). Gender Inequality in the Workforce: A Human Resource Management Quandary. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 4(3), pp. 240-248. I thought using this particular statement would make it easy for my students to understand what I am up to. Unfortunately however, it did not generate the outcome that I expected.


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