I’m probably a little behind the times regarding catch-phrases, until recently I’d never heard of “Gender Fatigue.” Being the curious person that I am, I had to find out what gender fatigue was. The Internet is a beautiful thing. Where would I be without search engines? Probably blissfully unaware of nauseating terms like, “gender fatigue.” Have we stopped using the term “branding?” Note to self, must do a search on “branding.”
In a recent study by Elisabeth Kelan, Ph.D., from King’s College London “Gender Fatigue: The Ideological Dilemma of Gender Neutrality and Discrimination in Organizations,” published in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Science. Dr. Kelan found that workers acknowledge gender discrimination is possible in modern organizations, but at the same time maintain their workplaces to be gender neutral. Dr. Kelan notes, “Gender fatigue is caused by workers not acknowledging that bias against women occurs. The problem with gender fatigue is that it prohibits productive discussion regarding inequalities between men and women, making gender bias difficult to address. Future studies should explore what happens to gender fatigue over time and whether practical strategies can be developed to shape the way in which people in organizations speak about gender.” The study conducted in 2003-2004, included 26 men and women from two information communication technology (ICT) companies. To this, I say “whatever!” I have one or two friends in the ICT field and never have I been treated like a “stupid girl.” If Dr. Kelan had chosen the Automotive Industry, I might have viewed her study differently.
Women in the Labor Force: A Databook 2009 Edition published by The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites, that in 2008 women accounted for 51% of all persons employed in management, professional, and related occupations, somewhat more than their share of total employment at 47%. Further research from The World Economic Forum’s 2009 Gender Gap Report states, “No country in the world has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap.” But the report also states, “Out of the 115 countries covered in the report since 2006, more than two-thirds have posted gains in overall index scores, indicating that the world in general has made progress towards equality between men and women.”
If we look at statistics from the United States and the World Economic Forum, perhaps we should hold-off on using yet another label that divides the genders and focus our energies upon avenues to close the gender gap. It’s just a thought.