The Daily Gamecock

'There is more talent that is available than what is reflected': Gender inequality remains in business world, at Darla Moore School of Business

The world of business is and historically has been a male-dominated industry. This is reflected within the Darla Moore School of Business.

From tenured faculty to undergraduate students, almost every population at Darla Moore has a majority of males. As research shows that sexism, beliefs of superiority and bias are still a common element in M.B.A. programs and the business industry, experts and industry professionals — such as the Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion for the Darla Moore School, Deborah Hazzard — said this is from bias and lack of diversity in leadership. 

At the Darla Moore School of Business, both the undergraduate and graduate program student bodies are approximately 60% male, with Ph.D. students being about 58% male. Additionally, approximately 75% of tenured faculty, 74% of tenure track faculty and more than 52% of professional track faculty members are male. 

A study of UCLA's Master of Business Administration program found a majority of male respondents felt their career had already been affected by sexism towards males, that sexism would keep them from advancing to C-Suite positions and that men think they outnumber females in C-suite positions because “men are more likely to have the necessary leadership qualities"needed for these positions than women are. 

Debra Geller is a higher education consultant and was previously a dean and faculty member at UCLA. She helped interpret the data collected in the study of UCLA's MBA program.

Geller said she feels that even though the prevalence of these ideas of male superiority and sexism are optimistically becoming less common — especially amongst younger demographics — beliefs of male discrimination in business are a symptom of men blaming external factors and mistaking intentionality in hiring practices as discrimination. 

This trend isn't localized — women are still greatly underrepresented in C-Suite positions and Fortune 500 companies. 

“At the end of the day, I believe that pretty much every organization is going to hire what they believe is the best person,” Geller said. “The fact that when we look at those statistics (the 2020 McKinsey reporting that 21% of C-Suite positions were held by women), we still have 79% of those [C-Suite] positions held by men, says that for most of the men, sexism isn't the reason they're not getting the position.” 

Hazzard said self-serving bias, confirmation bias and systematic bias are still large parts of why these ideas of male superiority and men feeling discriminated against, as well as the industry continuing to be primarily male, are continued today. 

Hazzard said “student recruitment and also faculty recruitment are inextricably linked,” when students see a lack of diversity they may think otherwise about enrolling at USC, and the same is true with faculty. She said this is a major reason why beliefs of discrimination and male-dominated demographics are still prevalent. 

"When we don't see people, particularly women or women of color, or whatever people of color, then we assume somehow, that it must be true. They're not capable of going into these positions and succeeding," Hazzard said. 

USC's business school has a priority in the university’s enrollment strategy to favor out-of-state admissions. This poses a challenge to create a more representative student body because students from diverse backgrounds tend to come from in-state, Hazzard said. 

Out-of-state students have comprised about 60% of the admitted class from 2019 to 2021. 

Several initiatives and programs have been created to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion with the goal of being intentional in recruiting more underrepresented populations, Hazzard said. 

Hazzard has started projects like the “Courageous Conversation Series,” which is a series of formal conversations among faculty to address prejudices and biases. 

Other projects include the Intercultural Development Inventory Project, which is a pilot project to train and assess engagement across characteristics, as well as two task forces called the Faculty Diversity Task Force and the Inclusion and Diversity task force. 

Hazzard also encouraged and initiated certifications and training through programs and courses like Management 408 — an elective “diversity and inclusion” course — and the "Inclusive Leadership Certificate," the "Executive Ed Program" and the "Inclusive Excellence" training for our student organizations. 

“There is more talent that is available than what is reflected here, which means that we can be doing more to leverage that talent,” Hazzard said. “I think when we realize that bringing those people in (underrepresented faculty members) ... We will see more students of those underrepresented backgrounds coming as well because they see themselves. They see an opportunity to excel and thrive.”

For women in South Carolina, the wage gap, debt and unemployment have remained significant in the past few years amidst the pandemic, according to 2020 research from WREN.

Courtney Thomas, the director of communications for the South Carolina Women's Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN), said she was not surprised that UCLA men reported feeling discriminated against. Thomas said she sees those perspectives regularly in her career field, often through less direct ways. 

WREN does extensive research and surveys, sometimes with the Darla Moore School of Business, and it views the gender wage gap as what sexism has manifested itself as in the current workplace. 

As of 2019, "the median annual wage of U.S. men was 20.2% more than that of women, and these wage gaps have persisted into 2021. In South Carolina, the gender wage gap is larger than the national average, with women earning 73.4 cents for every dollar that men earn," according to an economic analysis of labor trends from WREN. 

This falls in line with 2019 census data that says women are more highly educated than men and encompass 51.49% of the total population of South Carolina. 

Unemployment and job recovery related to the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately affected women, according to WREN. 

"In South Carolina, three of the largest sectors that fit these criteria and thus were hardest hit are Healthcare, Education, and Accommodation & Food Service ... The majority of the employment base in each of these sectors is comprised of women," the 2021 WREN economic analysis of labor trends from SC WREN.

Management, business and financial occupations are 53.7% male and men account for 51.2% of the civilian employed population over the age of 16, according to census data for 2019. 

Equality is a problem at almost every scale, as the pandemic magnifies these issues, according to WREN data.


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