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Journal article summary

JOURNAL ARTICLE SUMMARY In the article Gender discourse in human resources that was published in SAGE journals Big Data & Society (2016), author Renyi Hong talks about gendered assumptions that prejudice women. He decided to use human resources as the example for this case because in this area is simple to demonstrate how feminine “soft skills” are seen as not good enough in comparison to masculine “hard numbers” in the world ruled by statistics. The History of human resources reflects very well how acceptance of natural ability attributed to woman affects on occupation and what skills woman can have. It is crucial to know how vast networks of patriarchal power dictate how value is represented in the corporate environment, notably within high hierarchy positions. The article starts with a general explanation of the main problem that explains the background and leads us further into the article. The author mentions The Equal Pay Act that was approved in 1963, this law was one of many laws whose purpose was to prevent oppression of woman in workplaces. But many years later we can see that there is still much work to do on this problem. Many women testify those female employees were often sexualised and spoken down to. If women were opposing such practice they were blamed for being humourless and having poor social skills. The fact that a lot of women is affected and telling similar stories is showing the ineffectiveness of the legal system to tackle discrimination of one gender in culture. In business and other worlds, many claims that they don’t look at gender at all when they employ workers. But if you look at different business and corporations you can see that they lean toward one gender. The women that are working in particularly man occupations tend to be lower in a hierarchy. And even if some men didn’t want to act like this toward women they almost must engage in such practice to fit in the male ideal. Men are still favourites for higher positions, but that’s slowly and constantly changing. But even if a woman gets higher position work she is confronted with more opposition from male colleagues and that’s not all. A woman is still expected to work domestic labour that is devalued. So why are there so many women in HR? Women are known to possess more “soft” skills. Human resource departments require the organization of the workforce, administrative duties and social aspects of the job like leadership, morale, promotions etc. These skills are viewed as being more feminine. On the other side, men are associated with “hard” skills that represent rational, analytical etc. skills. Gender is culturally split into the female and male side, this is related to social skills that in a patriarchal society is in favour of men especially at processing big data. Trough analysis there are two arguments for this. Firstly if we look into history we can see how gender was always attached to the profession. And this division of work on the base of gender caused that women could not take advantage of their skills that are different from skills that men possess. Secondly, in banking companies, there are mostly men that are focused on self-interest, rationality and results. That leads in results that in a patriarchy society refuse to understand the value that women and human resource divisions provide because this value often isn’t seen in direct statics. In western culture, women are seen as maternal subject and they are allowed to be more emotional and to express their emotions. On the other side, men are tasked to hide those emotions and act like strong, rational, self-interested individuals. With this is supported the conclusion that women are better in human resources because they have a strong natural asset at handling emotions. From an early start, elites want to get away from the feminine image of emotionality and care approach to HR. With the rise of computers and software, they started to make questioners that use algorithms and on the base of answers predict which people have the best potential to be a good worker. This sounds good on paper but in reality, there is a lot of flaws. In the survey, most CEOs answered that data about human capital are crucial for HR to develop bigger influence inside the organization. According to Hanna Rosin in post-industrial economy men aren’t as much important as before. Traits like social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus are more useful in present times, these traits are more typical for women. This comment reflects on post-feminism. Furthermore, in modern times, women have more opportunities but women are only allowed into the world of patriarchal capitalism if they obey norms like being: white, pleasant and that they don’t disrupt expectations of normal feminine behaviour. Even with more opportunities at job market they still don’t get recognition for domestic labour that continues to be invisible and devalued. Crawford says that women even if they currently aren’t better than men in analysing numbers or at hard skills they could have been better but socialisation in western culture made hard for girls to learn these skills. This is proof that gender can importantly shape the use of big data. If we deconstruct behaviour typical for each gender we can see that they act oppositional between them. Male is often seen as more aggressive, rational and objective. Meanwhile, the woman is passive, emotional and subjective. In patriarchy society, male traits are seen as more valuable. We can see this in a simple example like training waitresses and waiters. Waitresses are trained to smile and to be more polite to a guest. While waiters are required to be more serious. This is just one case of how culture reproduces and control gender and make learned behaviours to seem natural. The gender can’t is undone, gender is so deeply integrated with our consciences that is impossible to simply change it. The problem of undoing gender is that any acts outside the norm are seen as problematic and it’s socially unacceptable. Furthermore, there are studies which shows that females are penalised more if they act outside the box and are showing more male traits. Meanwhile, man is not punished socially as much even if they show more feminine traits. HR encountered problems with its gendered identity because of an odd position in a capitalist system. Usually, occupations related to feminine attributes has historically seen fewer successes in the capitalist world. To briefly understand the challenges that HR is facing today, it is fundamental to understand professions gendered history. The author took these arguments from well-established historian sources: Andrea Tone, Nikki Mandell Personal Journal. Furthermore, for more present times author turned to Jac Fitz-Enz, he searched his work trough databases. This history segments can be broken down in three parts. The welfare secretaries From 1890 to 1920 women can get a job in industries and are called welfare secretaries because they were expecting to work for the good welfare of the workers in factories. Firstly this started in height of industrialization. Because of the growth of the factories labour force started to increase and form unions. Conditions in these factories were harsh and there was a lot of negative things and negative thoughts in people. Corporate leaders saw this emerging problem and act with hiring women to build new bonds between capital leadrs and workforce. Women were not trained for this and were hired only because of their assumed traits like selfless, compassion etc. Those skills were needed to build a pleased corporate environment. Women weren’t given official position inside the company and were there to listen to unhappy men, advise them etc. Furthermore, women learned these skills and started to fight for position inside the company with the argument that their work has resulted in a much bigger profit for the leaders. But this attempt to use business dialect was not approved. The personnel manager From 1920 to 1940 finally found out how more efficient factories are because of welfare secretaries. Men took their position with an argument that men are better with a scientific approach to generate even more profit. Men in this profession were trained as a therapist and were able to recognize personal troubles or psychiatric disorders. Women enter the occupation again In 1940s WW2 brought large numbers of women into factories and rehire them as personal executives. But women weren’t fitting well into the male roles. Feminine traits were still enough to enter into the profession but on the other side, their negative female features like gossip weren’t desirable. Furthermore, knowledge and science were now important, particularly a bachelor degree in psychology or personnel administration was desired. But still, women were lower on positions than men. In Lynch article that was published in 1956 is explained that women are superb in comparison to men in bargaining situations with the union. Because women can use their body as a natural asset that would ease tensions and produce peace. If we look at the history of HR women always used their gender strategically to navigate through gender communication. Still, women had problems to convert into larger businesses, their ability to discourse had double-edged consequences. They had the edge from their soft skills but exactly this edge obstruct them cause capitalism valued male communications more. This problem started to show in 1970. Women started to dominate in HR profession since structure changes of businesses changed and more middle management positions were available to men that left HR. Since this occurrence women employees in HR surged from 30% into 71% in 1988. In 2007 this number was 70%. Quantification and Fitz-Enz After these changes, HR is again perceived as a soft profession. Nonetheless, the connection of feminine culture to profession had won women limited achievement. HR is now a profession where women can easier go up the corporate hierarchy cause there are not so many hurdles for them to overcome as on other corporate branches. But because this HR again started to be devalued in the corporate world. Hochscild (1983) says that emotional work is primarily performed by women and tends to be devalued as lacks the proof of being real. Jac Fitz-Enz is nicknamed as “father of human capital strategic analysis and measurement” (HCI, 2016). He originally wanted to be a banker but after his training, he was demoted into personnel department. This is where “second-class employees” were. He refused to be with failed people and started to gather data of workers in the personnel department to prove that they present profit. With that, he connects HR with finance departments. He hoped that the effort of HR can attain the same importance as finance. Fitz-Enz used the language of numbers because he wanted to draw the attention of finance departments. To do that HR must contribute directly to the company profits. Furthermore, this leads to the point where success at HR its dependant on mathematics and computer rather on human intelligence. He intercedes that every department in a company should generate profit. This is how Fitz-Enz sees HR, in one of his articles he claims that history is made suddenly and in big steps. This need to happen if HR wants to stay relevant. Even if Fitz-Enz never exclusive out women, but his style of communications suggests that quantitative shift in HR is a manned job. The main problem stays, women can be the same or even better at hard data science than men but women must face the challenge of convincing others in this capability. Fitz-Enz didn’t realise how gender is connected to the system of profession and sadly this opens possibilities for new gender inequalities. New systems tend to as predictive as it can be. And naturally this means computers and hard data, this the problem because supersede women strongest attributes that came with their gender. And as said before businesses world tends to prejudice women don’t have mathematics and computer science skills. In society, skills are biologically assumed. Males were believed to possess hard skills that are more economically valuable than soft skills that are possessed by females. It’s not a problem that women cant posses hard skills but that norms don’t allow them to. Because women who tried to thrive in men territory faced much greater problems then men they struggled to succeed in another area. The recent trend of big data and computer science move into the direction of more male workforce. Big data is perceived as providing more value for the companies so women skill set is again devalued. Big data offers great advantages but if we let the question of who can process this data unaddressed it can lead to discriminatory to women in HR and other fields.

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