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Rationalistic epistemology holds that human knowledge exists before experience. Alluding to this theory, most people defined their gender orientation from what they had found in society even before they could understand what it meant to be male or female. Mead, a Symbolic Interactionism theorist, said that humans lacked an identity at their time of birth. However, society, in which people are born, dictates their development and gender inclinations. Thus, modern society is to a great extent gendered rather than gender-neutral. Moreover, society is stratified into the classes of wealth and sex. Families and organizations are male-dominated (Acker 139), where influence and prestige are the domain of men, where women are not allowed to be. Women tend to occupy less influential positions, and they are likely to find themselves at the lowest tier of the pyramid of hierarchies at the organizational level. In Karl Marx’s theories on classical capitalism, concepts of feminist standpoint theory have been postulated (Haraway 579). The Marxian theory of production obscures the role of women in the economic value production; thus, women are not featured as key production in his economic theory.
Today, the situation is no better. Women are not taken as key economic players by chauvinistic, male-dominated, and male-led organizational hierarchies. Some democracies are even partial on gender issues in labour and financial empowerment. The most vocal feminists have seen their efforts gain some vigour with the incorporation of gender mainstreaming subjects in the Millennium Development goals. Gender mainstreaming is a great proponent of gender and development that considers the issues of men and women, boys and girls in development strategies. Opponents object to gender equality calls in the voice of saying that the empowerment of a specific gender would mean that the other one is compromised and undermined. Apparently, the opponent’s position could be sensible because it would mean that a given gender will have to cede some ground a bit to allow the other one to gain a greater recognition and move to the higher tiers in hierarchal pyramids. Therefore, this paper aims at evaluating and analysing secondary information sources with a goal of criticizing standpoint theories on feminism and applying theoretical texts and information to the themes in everyday social observations.
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In her work “Situated Knowledge: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”, DonnaHaraway seeks to give the ideology that advises objectivity. Therefore, she developed a theory of situated knowledge (Haraway 576-577). She emphasizes that it is utterly unexpectable to develop an understanding to benefit the marginalized gender from the men’s perspective. She concedes that objectivity is a highly debatable issue, but she believes that “feminists have to forge a better explanation of the world. It goes beyond showing the radical historical make-up and mechanisms of construction for everything” (Haraway 578). Haraway is of the view that not only feminism but Marxism as well offers powerful tools for analysing the realms of objectivity within science. She argues that feminist empiricist and feminist standpoint theories are in unison with Marxist philosophy. Similar to Marxism, a vital aspect of feminist philosophy of science ought to be the formulation of plans for a better future – a new science that is beyond reproach.
Haraway cites the “problem” facing feminist philosophers as that of establishing means and ways on how they can generate an account of “radical historical make-up” of knowledge postulates and simultaneously maintain a vow to the “faithful explanations of a ‘real’ world” (579-580). Haraway refutes the idea that feminist philosophy of science is aimed at resulting in some relativism. She rejects the thought that the relativism it faces is a recipe for trouble (Haraway 580). Haraway holds that the solution to the conundrum facing feminist philosophy of science lies in acknowledging that feminist objectivity is just a “situated knowledge” (579). Initially, it appears that Haraway supports standpoint feminism. Nonetheless, she is critical of it.
Haraway questions how standpoint theorists assume varying standpoints that are no better than simple puppets of minority positions. In addition to that, she does not stand for “inferior” viewpoints as apparently, she has a better scope on the prejudices, inflicting science. Instead of suggesting that scientists assume minority opinions, she simply recommends that everybody recognizes that objectivity is about the bound location and situated knowledge for everyone. Individuals cannot surpass the understanding of their ill relations with their objects of study to assume an omniscient point. Instead, everyone has to “become liable for how they learn to see” (Haraway 582). She believes that feminist accounts of objectivity within science need a shrewd simple negotiation (Haraway, 588) The object of study must be taken just as much of an agent as the scientist, and the object can change and affect the scientist just as much as she can affect it.
The world is not a docile mass, waiting to be dismantled into comprehensible bits; as a result, scientists need to acknowledge that they are rooted in a conversation of a kind with their objects. This does not imply that relativism is king. Thus, Haraway strongly believes that a simple relativism will not help to sort the complicated interaction between the scientist and the world. However, recognizing the agency of the world means realizing that produce in a very short stint, it can different results than one might expect and realize that the draconian nature of scientific laws has no effect on how the world will conduct itself. In the end, Haraway argues against objectivity that would take away its permanence and one that resists cementing one particular group as having biased access to it.
At the same time, Joan Acker’s “Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations” offers another view regarding the issue. While addressing gender parity issues at the place of work, some sociologists have sourced a great deal of knowledge from Acker’s work. She postulates that gender disparities are firmly embedded in society due to their rooted structure in many organizations, and even when defining the term “job”, there is an implicit bias towards male workers (Acker 141). Employers have an affinity to hire the personnel with comparatively fewer out-of-the-workplace commitments and distractions as well as those who can completely give themselves to the service of the firm. This preference drives away a big number of female job seekers because there are plenty of chances that they have family responsibilities to bear; in other words, they are homemakers rather than a reliable human resource. As a result, in many employers’ views, an ideal, productive, and hireable worker in all senses is a man. Acker further points to five avenues that lead to gender prejudices in organizations. These processes are summarized as cultural symbols, the allocation of labour, workplace interactions and relations, personal identities, and importantly, organizational logic. Organizational logic took a centre stage in Acker’s original critique of gendered-structured organizations (Acker 141). Moreover, it is the mainstay of this literature review.
The idea of organizational logic attracts attention towards how ranks are reasoned, conceptualized, and legitimized in the places of work. Broadly, it covers the logical principles of work regulations and organization constitutions as well as penal codes, job descriptions, the amount of pay, cum work evaluations that order and guide bureaucratic organizations. Acker breaks down organizational logic as those lightly-taken policies and principles that the directorates and managements use to exercise justifiable control in the workplace. Workers abide by the stipulations because they see these guidelines as the ideal, “natural” or acceptable business norms, customs, and traditions of the workplace (Acker 143). While in the past, some sociologists considered the organizational logic to be the mainstay to the manifestation of class disparities, Acker’s successful findings identified it as the genesis of gender disparities too (Acker 145-146), even though it is apparent that there is gender neutrality, but it is rather makeshift and cosmetic. Acker claims:
Reasoned and technically advised, and indubitable gender balances, control principles are enshrined on gendered microstructures and hide a gender-based substructure . . . Whereby, men’s bodies occupy abstract jobs. Employment of such virtual systems the organization’s management continually and progressively brings to light the hidden gender presumptions and the marginalized, biased, partial women’s position. (154)
For example, organizations allegedly use logical guidelines to create job descriptions as well as set pay rates. However, Acker contends that managers usually rely on gender misconceptions and hearsay when performing these tasks (148), and the rationale is more often than not dependent on the qualities, linked to men and masculinity, and they become buffered and constant in organizational ranks. Based on organizational logic, issues of gender inequalities and imbalances become rooted in organizations and workplaces, and gender disparity at work ensues, becoming an unpleasant obstacle for women who seek employment in an organization. A great amount of research serves to justify and confirm Acker’s theory, but in the recent past, after the article had been published, the societal make-up altered greatly. Organizations experience downscaling, restructuring, computerizing, and globalizing in the name of work transformation, thus bringing significant overhaul in labour structures in the United States and the rest of the world.
Finally, the article by John R. McPherson and Lenny T. Mendonca “The Challenge of Hiring and Retaining Women: An Interview with the Head of HR at eBay” is based on the interview report between the panel, led by the authors, and Beth Axelrod, the senior vice president of HR at eBay at the time of interview. Axelrod is a Master’s Degree holder in Public and Private Management and he is a co-author of The War of Talent (2001) (McPherson and Mendonca). In the interview, Axelrod argues that the battle for the best workforce increases, and it is crucial that companies hire the best workers and have a very diverse workforce as the global market demands. She illiterates that women influence purchasing decisions and points that having women as key decision-makers helps bring a better customer base understanding (McPherson and Mendonca). Axelrod also puts it that the decision to hire or retain female personnel should be an initiative of the leadership and grassroot efforts, made to build women’s careers (McPherson and Mendonca). Women require advocacy and support, at the same time needing to network with other women as well as having free and fair systems and processes in place.
Comparing the situations over two decades ago and today, the labour sector is still plagued by similar situations. However, Axelrod is not dismayed by this, and she advises that organizations should get to the basics as this is where most companies go wrong. Organizations should know that once things go wrong, it is irreversible to first principles (McPherson and Mendonca). When asked about the processes that companies can put in place to retain women, Axelrod states that a good start would be having conditions, biased on merit (McPherson and Mendonca). Care should be taken when promoting, and impartial decisions on either gender are taken to ensure the promotion process do not get diverted. Women should not be overlooked in the promotion pipeline, and multiple standards should be commissioned during hiring as well as vigilance and discipline for the best pick on recruits must be maintained (McPherson and Mendonca).
As the interview progresses, Axelrod points to vital lessons for modern society on the issue of gender inequalities. Thus, corporations are charged with the responsibility to diversify their workforce and incentivize women into careers that are paralleled by men. Employee relations are also key, and similar treatment should be accorded to men and women alike so that women did not feel intimidated to make decisions, fearing their backfire on them (McPherson and Mendonca). Axelrod also underpins the need for employees to attach to the firm emotionally, which is inspirational and which offers a platform to care for one another; moreover, it is a connection builder between the manager and the employees (McPherson and Mendonca). Finally, Axelrod feels that it is necessary for people to feel free to talk about gender relate issues in the workplace (McPherson and Mendonca). She also expresses her desire for HR to attract sufficient business-minded career persons into HR. In other words, this should be a desirable career.
The engagement with the literature has provided some vital life lessons for current society. It is clear that sexism and feminism have been at the heart of socio-economic issues for many decades now (McPherson and Mendonca), while the situation has not changed for the better. Several factors could underpin the situation’s existence despite activism and calls for organizations to address the issues of gender inequalities in their place of work. The presently developed democracies have tried to enhance gender equality. Through the Millennium Development Goals, all the signatories, members of the UN charter, have been charged with the responsibility to ensure that gender parity is eliminated. However, the success of the targets stipulated is still dependent on the willingness of the states to implement the requisite reforms in good faith.
Over the years, women have been perceived as homemakers, but with gender mainstreaming and considering gender and development issues and needs of society, every gender occupies it niche that demands an equitable distribution of roles, responsibilities, jobs, and powers. As Haraway puts it, the scientists and defenders of scientific theories are chauvinistic (577); thus, they are not inclined into allowing women to occupy their societal niche. Very few women are viewed as spear headers of developments, innovations, and discovery. They have been wrongly construed by society as homemakers, and their careers are more artistic than they are scientific. However, there is a sudden awakening in most democracies, including the developing world. Women demand recognition from their male counterparts. The election of Theresa May as the British Prime Minister and the nomination of Hilary Clinton to for the US presidency only serve to show the inept reality of the awakening of the female gender.
However, the prestige and powerful positions in women’s hold are considerably low. As Acker put it, organizational logic is the big undoing for women in the labour market. The mechanisms that many organizations have put in place on hiring and retaining models shut many women out of the workplace. Most of these organizations are heralded by men. Thus, men tend to sabotage any efforts that women are likely to make to make a move to claim the leading positions, currently occupied by them, while many women are left in the least poorly paying job positions (Acker 141). Jobs, whether in the private or public sector, should be open to all. There is always an abstract job just like there is a concrete one in any organization; however, due to the disparity in gender, when the abstract jobs are made concrete, they only benefit the men who create them. Organizations are to blame for making an already bad phenomenon even worse.
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It is evident that male empiricism and source of knowledge have wrongly oriented society of today, thus creating a situation of gender disparity. For that, a young boy, who grows up with the freedom to play, get dirty, get hurt, and run away from reproach, will have to face a young girl, who is brought up in a condition that is almost contrasting to his, and both will become opposite characters. One of them will always feel that they are superior, and this will be the boy who grows up ethnocentric and becomes egotistic. This does not end with upbringing, continuing into marriage and the place of work. Males grow up with an attitude of superiority. This idea has been found in secondary sources, and the writers have conceptualized the issue of gender disparity. All writers try to push for better conditions for women. This is a good move and a well-informed one, but care should be taken not to make men and boys suffer or lose in the effort of affirmative action and gender mainstreaming. Everyone should get what they rightfully deserve in society, while gender disparity should not be the obstacle to a proper operation of organizations.