Readers Weigh In On Gender In The Workplace

Is Traverse City a "sexist" town?

Forty percent of 294 respondents to a recent TCBN/The Ticker survey believe the area is "sexist," though only 26 percent believe it's more so than the rest of the country.

Forty-nine percent of women and 13 percent of

men agreed with this statement.

However, there are still abundant opportunities for women

to lead and exert influence, say the respondents – 74 percent who were women and 16 percent men – when asked about their experiences and challenges in the workplace.

The Influencers

Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents believe our region does not have enough women in positions of leadership or authority. They want to see more women in administrator/upper management positions across the board.

Whom do respondents believe are the most influential women and men?

Most Influential WOMEN in the Grand Traverse Region

1. Marsha Smith, Rotary Charities of Traverse City

2. Laura Oblinger, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

3. Connie Deneweth, Traverse City State Bank

4. Debbie McKeon, NorthSky Nonprofit Network

5. Elaine Wood, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments

Most Influential MEN in the Grand Traverse Region

1. Doug Luciani, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

2. Michael Estes, Traverse City Mayor

3. Michael Moore, Filmmaker

4. Ross Beiderman, Midwestern Broadcasting Co.

5. Derek Bailey, Former GT Band Tribal Chairman

The "Glass Ceiling"

When asked if they believed there is a glass ceiling preventing women from advancing beyond a certain management level within their organizations, 57 percent of women said there is a glass ceiling. Only 15 percent of area men agreed.

One female respondent said, "Responsibilities and opportunities are not given to me because I am a female, and those would advance me and build my resume!"

Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

The TCBN asked respondents if they have personally ever experienced gender discrimination (or other challenges based on gender) in the workplace.

Both men and women reported having experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. However, area women are three times more likely to report having been discriminated against in the workplace.

One female banking employee said, "Women managers work longer hours with lower pay and fewer perks." Another woman said she had been fired when reporting harassment in the workplace and that the male "harasser" kept his job. Another woman was fired for dating a male co-worker who retained his job because "he brought more profit to the company."

A female prosecutor reports there have been times when members of the public ask where the actual prosecutor is, expecting a male. "They assume that I must be his assistant," she said.

One man said he once worked for a "company that preferred and promoted women over men."

The Good Old Boys Network

The TCBN asked, "Is there a "good old boys" network in the Grand Traverse Region?"

– Eighty percent of women and 78 percent of men agreed that the "good old boys" network is/was exclusionary

– Fifty-two of women and 50 percent of men agreed that the good old boys made/make bad decisions

– A significant number of area men (39 percent) believe the "good old boys" are/were generally more effective at getting things done. Only eight percent of women agreed.

– Sixty-one percent of male survey respondents who agreed that there is/was a "good old boys" network say the network is actually open to women and refers more to an attitude than actual gender. Forty percent of women agree with this.

One respondent said: "The phrase needs changing from 'good old boys' to 'insider network.'" Another said, "I also think that there is, and always has been, a "good old girls" network in the region."

The Influencers

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe our region does not have enough women in positions of leadership or authority. They want to see more women in administrator/upper management positions across the board.

Whom do respondents believe are the most influential women and men?

Men only clubs…

extend membership?

It's traditional for the members of Augusta National Golf Club (traditionally an all-male club) to extend membership to the CEO of the lead sponsor of the Master's tournament. In 2012 they did not offer this membership to Ginni Rometty, the female CEO of IBM. The TCBN asked survey repondents what they thought of this move.

Two-thirds believe that Augusta should have extended membership to Rometty. A female reader under 34 said, "All male or all female is a thing of our grandparents' generation."

Another woman, however, blames IBM "because they knew the published policy of the club and yet chose to support it – undermining their own CEO in the process."

Not all respondents agree that the membership should have been extended. One male respondent remarked, "Why can't men have a 'men's only' club? Women have their own."

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