Gender Stereotypes & Reaching The Top in the Workforce

In Chicana Feminist Thought, “A Chicana’s Message,” “El Movimiento and the Chicana,” and “Viva La Chicana and All Brave Women of La Causa” there’s an overwhelming sentiment from Chicana women that they did not feel fully supported by their men because of prevalent sexist attitudes especially, when they wanted to pursue their goals either personal or professional.  They shared an immense guilt when having to choose between their ambitions and serving their community either as wives, sisters, daughters, etc. These Chicana women expressed their disappointment and their desire to do more during the Chicano Movement, but if you fast-forward about 41 years later to learn about women today. Women are still dealing with similar struggles.

The majority of women face many obstacles in the workplace including and foremost women of color.  Although there have been many advancements, stereotypes and a lack of strong support affect women. Sheryl Sandberg, the current chief operating officer of Facebook, shared in “Why we have too few women leaders” her own experience as a businesswoman and advice in order, to get more women in the workplace.  The data she presents is meant to bring awareness that there’s need to be more changes made. Sandberg says that from 190 head of States only 9 are women, in Parliament only 13 are women and in the corporate sector it tops at 15% or 16% maximum which haven’t moved since 2002 because they have plateau. She says it’s tougher for women because they have harder choices to make. Women really feel pressured to pick between their personal fulfillment and professional success. However, she offers three pieces of advice for more women to “sit at the table, make your partner a real partner and don’t leave before you leave.” The first is about encouraging women to reach for promotions, to negotiate more, and to overcome feelings of inferiority. Feelings of doubt and insecurity are also a product of racial and gender oppression, which Chicana Women actively fought but was called “machismo” and racial hegemony in society. The second advice is also about the importance of making more progress in the home because women are still performing the “second shift” a term from Arlie Russell Hochschild which refers to the additional housework women have to perform on top of their jobs. Chicana women wanted to do more and to feel like partners with their Chicano brothers. One Chicana says, “nothing could be more truly Chicana than the Chicana who wants to be more than a wife, mother, housekeeper” (from Chicana Feminist Thought 80).  They did not want to be confined to the home neither because of their gender nor their race. The last piece of advice encourages women not to stop working or challenging themselves only because they want to start a family. Women should not slow down if they are thinking of one day getting married or having kids because men do worry about that neither should women. Women do not have to choose one or the other. That is why it is important for the equal division of work between men and women in the workplace and in the home. The point is not to stop looking for opportunities.

Furthermore in Advancing Latinas in the Workplace: What Managers Need to Know, a more current report on professional Latina women mentions that even though women represent over 50% of the total U.S. workforce in the U.S., Latinas remain virtually invisible in senior management positions at Fortune 500 Companies. The fact is that Latina women are not only fighting against the statistics, but they continue to struggle with traditional gender roles in the family and in their culture.  A Latina professional shares that “Non-minority women would ask me, ‘You cook when you go home?’ And I would say, ‘Yes, I’ve got kids.’ Of course I do; my mother cooked. That’s one of the differences between [other] people and [us]. Food is very important; family is very important” (Catalyst, 2003). This reflects a similar experience most Chicana women felt. Some would feel disloyal to their husband and family if they weren’t in the home serving. Those societal expectations still exist and will continue to if double standards exist too.  They need to be challenged for the sake of all women.

In a world full of struggles, that is why Chicana women wanted to create solidarity with all women and challenge society.  The fight is far from over because there are still changes to be made locally, nationally, and globally but it must first begin in the home.

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