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Qualitative Comparison of Black Women and Caucasian Women in Leadership Roles, Dissertation – Literature Example

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Dissertation - Literature

Literature Review

The purpose of this qualitative applied research project is to obtain the perspectives from professional African-American and Caucasian women regarding the challenges they encountered when attempting to attain executive roles in inpatient psychiatric hospital services.  One of the main objectives of this study is to gain a better understanding of the challenges face by African-American women and Caucasian women when attempting to attain executive roles.  The second objective of this paper is to uncover some potential underlying factors and obstacles resulting in the underrepresentation of African-American women in executive roles.  It is estimated that as much as one third of the total U.S. population is of minority descent, making it important for medical professionals and executive staff to understand that the perception of the causes for illness and disease varies by culture and these differences affect individual approaches to health care (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).  This literature review will examine the existing barriers to female progression to managerial positions in psychiatric hospitals, examine the historical implications of female promotion in various professional forums, challenges faced by both Caucasian and African-American women, and provide a summative conclusion regarding the hardships facing women attempting to break through the glass ceiling.

Historical Overview of African American Women in Leadership Roles

The term ‘glass ceiling’ is a commonly used term in professional forums that unofficially acknowledge the discriminatory barriers to advancement typically affecting women, but also relevant to others on the basis of age, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, and/or sex (WebFinance, Inc, 2013).  Although a theoretical concept, the ‘glass ceiling’ remains an intangible barrier that obstructs women from ascending within the hierarchy of corporate America due to implicit prejudice (Ulrich, 2010).  This invisible but real barrier subjectively allows visualization of the ultimate goal, which is the next stage or level of advancement, but presents an unbreakable barrier that disallows contact to a section of qualified and deserving employees (Smith & Joseph, 2010).  Although generally considered illegal, such discriminatory practices are prevalent in most countries (Dean, Mills-Strachan, Roberts, Carraher, & Cash, 2009).  The impression of many African-American or Caucasian female leadership professionals is that their employers do not address the inherent preferential treatment in their place of employ (Smith & Joseph, 2010).

Serving as another obstruction preceding the ‘glass ceiling’ is the ‘concrete ceiling’, which is very similar to the ‘glass ceiling’ in that it presents a barrier to ascension for African-American women based on attitudinal or organizational biases that obstruct qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management level positions (Roth & Coleman, 2008).  The ‘concrete ceiling’ not only restricts access to top-level positions but middle management positions as well, making it denser than the ‘glass ceiling’ and not as easily shattered (Smith & Joseph, 2010).

Challenges Affecting African American Women Compared to Caucasian Women

Although historically men dominated the medical field as a whole, shortages of personnel during war times spurned the saturation of female nurses to the point that there are so few male nurses today that it is considered a feminine profession (Roth & Coleman, 2008).  Gender stereotypes also play a significant role in the diversification of the medical profession, as nurses are depicted female 99% of the time, Caucasian 97% of the time, and childless 92% of the time and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 indicate that 68% of physicians are male while 90% of registered nurses (RNs) are female (Roth & Coleman, 2008; Ulrich, 2010).  Furthermore, there is a large fiscal disparity between Caucasian male managers and all other managerial staff such that Caucasian and African-American women earn a little over half of what their Caucasian male counterparts make at 59¢ and 58¢ per $1.00 earned by a male, respectively (Ulrich, 2010).  African-American women shared that neither gender nor race fully embraces or provides context for their experiences, rather it is the intersection of these ‘‘simultaneous and linked’’ social identities (Smith & Joseph, 2010).  Before affirmative action, many women were subjected to adverse working conditions created with the specific intent of discourage them from maintaining employment in their current position (Dean, Mills-Strachan, Roberts, Carraher, & Cash, 2009). They were also denied educational opportunities, paid lesser wages, and denied employment positions because of their gender and race (Ulrich, 2010).

Underrepresentation of African American Women in Administration

Although African-American and Caucasian women both experience significant challenges when attempting to attain executive roles in inpatient psychiatric hospital services, their experiences can often be widely different due to racial biases that supersede gender barriers. Despite the increase of women in the workplace, the glass ceiling still exists.  Researchers have identified four specific inequality criteria that indicate the existence of a ‘glass ceiling’ within professional settings, which include: (a) gender or racial difference not explicated by other job-related characteristics of the employee, (b) gender or racial difference that become greater at higher levels of leadership, (c) gender or racial inequality for higher level advancement opportunities, and (d) gender or racial inequality that continues progressively through an individual’s career (Smith & Joseph, 2010).  U.S. labor markets present social constructions of race and gender are also relative to economic stratification systems while intersectionalist research indicates that African-American and Caucasian females experience the workplace differently based on variables such as social class, education, occupation, and organizational setting in which they work (Smith & Joseph, 2010).  Extant research evidently supports that race and gender are socially constructed context dependent categories whose meaning is subject to change based on historical significance (Wolff, 2010).  Additionally, researchers argue that race and gender classifications change based on both local and historical circumstances  (Smith & Joseph, 2010).  Psychiatric hospitals that hire women and minorities in entry-level positions might fail to promote them at the same rate or to the same level as Caucasian men (Sweeney, 2009).

Recruitment and Promotion Problems of African American Women

Aversive racism is a modern form of discrimination carried out by individuals claiming to embrace egalitarian values and do not perceive themselves as prejudiced, but harbor unconscious negative feelings and beliefs about African-American people (Drake-Clark, 2009).  In any psychiatric hospitals, aversive racism exists because it functions in subtle manners that allow people to maintain their self-image as non-discriminatory (Dean, Mills-Strachan, Roberts, Carraher, & Cash, 2009).  For example, when dealing with cases in which African-American and Caucasian job candidates’ qualifications were equally good, both candidates were rated equivalently, but when the candidates’ job qualifications were moderate, Caucasian applicants received more advantageous selection decisions than African-American candidates (Drake-Clark, 2009).  Although race was not indicated as the direct deciding factor in the promotion decisions made, it indirectly prejudiced the promotion decisions through two job-relevant variables, which were employment in the hiring department, and number of years of full-time work experience (Ulrich, 2010).  Minority aspirants were significantly less likely to be employed in the hiring department than Caucasian applicants despite their having considerably more years of work experience (Sweeney, 2009).

Mentoring

Diversification has significant implications within the nursing profession due to the rapidly changing demographics of society and the patients and the lack of responsive changes within the nursing profession, as most members of the nursing profession continue to be of Caucasian descent (Sanner, 2010).  As global demographics shift towards increasing diversity, it is essential that this is mirrored in the field of nursing and that staff are able to provide culturally competent care by demonstrating cultural sensitivity (Sanner, 2010).  Diversity in nursing staff is especially important because it enables the nurses to provide culturally competent care and makes them more effective in establishing rapport with patients so that they can accurately assess, develop, and implement nursing interventions designed to meet patients’ needs (Lowe & Archibald, 2009).    As indicated by additional research, following a model for developing cultural competence should include cultural awareness, knowledge, skill, and desire and nursing staff should avoid stereotyping a patient based on appearances or assuming that they belong to a specific cultural or ethnic group on the basis of physiognomies such as outward appearance, race, country of origin, or stated religious preference (Sweeney, 2009).  This is accomplished through the removal of any barriers, perceived or real, preventing the increase of racial and ethnic minorities and an end to the heterogeneous nature of the age range, educational attainment, and ethnicity and race distributions of the nurses within the field (Barton & Swider, 2009; Wolff, 2010).

Similar to international trends, there are a disproportionate number of diploma-prepared registered nurses relative to baccalaureate-prepared nurses in U.S. psychiatric hospitals, which lends additional credence to the educational attribute (Wolff, 2010).  Amid increasing mobility, the recruitment of internationally educated nurses has contributed to greater ethnic or racial heterogeneity of the psychiatric nursing workforce (Roth & Coleman, 2008).  Furthermore, deficiency of access to baccalaureate nursing education is largely separate and unequal for our nation’s racial and ethnic minorities even though ethnic and racial minority nurses can offer unique leadership in the development of models of care for minority populations in psychiatric inpatient care (Barton & Swider, 2009).  The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2011) emphasizes the need to attract students from under-represented groups in psychiatric healthcare, specifically individuals from African American backgrounds, as nursing’s leaders have recognized a strong correlation between a culturally diverse nursing workforce and the ability to provide quality, culturally competent patient care.  The National League for Nursing (NLN) has determined that the advances in technology increase the need for diversification and preparing an ethnically and racially diverse workforce of faculty, researchers, as well as scholars to mentor future nurses and nurse educators (AACN, 2011).

Racism for African-American Women Compared to Caucasian Women

The theoretical principle of charity is the basis of the affirmative action plan in that the entire concept of using racial criteria to aid in selection violates the civil rights of the people excluded from the selective process and affirmative action seeks to eliminate these negative practices by exposing segregated communities, schools, workplaces, and various other settings to cultures they would not otherwise come into contact with.  Along with these theories, there are a multitude of philosophers that have contributed independently and collectively to each of these fields of theory.  The introduction of affirmative action legislation intends to offer extra opportunities to groups that have traditionally been oppressed as inadvertent compensation for the years of subjugation, with the objective stemming from the magnitude of opportunities these policies provide for the numerous parties that are subjected to bigotry and discrimination (Drake-Clark, 2009).  Affirmative action is also referred to as positive discrimination and is practiced in numerous countries worldwide (Dean, Mills-Strachan, Roberts, Carraher, & Cash, 2009).  Originally, affirmative action did not include any provisioning for blacks, women, the handicapped, or minorities because the concept was originally created for the benefit on non-unionized, Caucasian American males attempting to circumvent unfair practices  from their employers and the policy was initially known as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (or the Wagner Act) (Sweeney, 2009).

The policy was later converted to the affirmative action laws in the U. S. in order to create advancement opportunities for underprivileged minorities and allow them the same opportunities that are available to Caucasian Americans (Affirmative action, USA, 2009).  Affirmative action policies were introduced in the U.S. by President Lyndon B. Johnson under the Executive Order 11246 following the Civil Rights Movements in 1965 since no employers were hiring African-Americans and rejecting qualified individuals due to racial and various other biases, although desegregation was supposed to provide new opportunities for African-Americans (Drake-Clark, 2009).  Women and disabled persons are also intended to benefit from affirmative action policies and these policies are designed to provide equal opportunities for them in the workplace.

Description of the Study

By understanding, valuing, and incorporating the cultural differences of America’s diverse population and examining one’s own health-related values and beliefs, health care organizations, practitioners, and others can support a health care system that responds appropriately to, and directly serves the unique needs of populations whose cultures may be different from the prevailing culture (Wolff, 2010).  It is important for nurses to be educated on different cultures in order to provide culturally competent care to each patient.  Knowing the beliefs and practices of each culture is vital because nurses must be able to develop a plan of care to assist each individual patient according to their wishes.  Nursing professionals in psychiatric hospitals should value diversity, have the capacity for cultural self-assessment, be conscious of the dynamics that may occur through cultural interactions, have institutionalized cultural knowledge, and have developed adaptations of service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity, all of which should permeate the entire organization, including policies, procedures, and attitudes (Cultural diversity, 2008).  The remainder of this discourse will progress with a discussion of the research design and methodology that will be used in the conduct this research, followed by a presentation of the findings of the study.  Chapter 5 presents the summary of findings, conclusions, implications and recommendations of this study, which will be followed by the References citing the sources used in the study and the Appendices, which will contain interviews and the observation instrument.

References

Cultural diversity. (2008). Retrieved from Cultural Competency: http://www.culturediversity.org/cultcomp.htm

Affirmative action, USA. (2009). The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com/entry.do?pp=1&id=9082833

AACN. (2011, July 15). Fact Sheet: Enhancing Diversity in the Nursing Workforce. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from American Association of Colleges of Nursing: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/diversityFS.pdf

Barton, A., & Swider, S. (2009). Creating Diversity in a Baccalaureate Art and city branding Program: A Case Study. International Journal of Art and city branding Education Scholarship, 6(1), 1-14; Article 14. doi:10.2202/1548-923X.1700

Dean, A.-M., Mills-Strachan, Y., Roberts, A., Carraher, S., & Cash, R. (2009). Women and minorities in corporate America: An empirical examination. Allied Academies International Conference (pp. 2-6). Academy of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Proceedings 14.1.

Drake-Clark, D. (2009). Discrimination happens without effort: How black women human resources managers negotiate diversity issues in a corporation. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia.

Lowe, J., & Archibald, C. (2009, January-March). Cultural diversity: The intention of nursing. Nursing Forum, 44(1), 11-18.

Roth, J., & Coleman, C. (2008). Perceived and real barriers for men entering nursing: Implications for gender diversity. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 15(3), 148-152.

Sanner, S. (2010). The impact of cultural diversity forum on students’ openness to diversity. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 17(2), 56-61.

Smith, J. W., & Joseph, S. E. (2010). Workplace challenges in corporate America: differences in black and white. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 29(8), 743-765.

Sweeney, P. (2009, November). Attributes of diversity & inclusion. Financial Executive, 25(9), 18-21.

Ulrich, B. (2010, January). Medicine and society: Gender diversity and nurse-physician relationships. Virtual Mentor: American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 12(1), 41-45. Retrieved from http://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/2010/01/pdf/msoc1-1001.pdf

WebFinance, Inc. (2013). Glass ceiling. Retrieved from BusinessDictionary.com: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/glass-ceiling.html

Wolff, A. (2010). Beyond generational differences: a literature review of the impact of relational diversity on nurses’ attitudes and work. Journal of Nursing Management, 18, 948–969.

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