has tremendous impact on compensation, reward, mobility prospects, and workplace culture.n Women who are relatively new to traditionally male-dominated work settings often attract more attention, are evaluated more extremely, are perceived as outsiders, receive less support, and are more likely to be viewed as a disruptive force in the workplace than male co-workers.o Similar consequences are seen in workplaces with skewed racial distributions.p

Strategies used to bring newcomers into a group influence how people express and manage tensions related to diversity, whether members of traditionally underrepresented groups feel respected and valued by their colleagues, and how people interpret the meaning of their sex or racial identity at work. These, in turn, have implications for how well the workgroup and its members function. There are three basic strategies employed by groups and organizations to incorporate people with different backgrounds and perspectives: acceptance, assimilation, or convergence.

Acceptance. That “essential differences”q exist between groups is hotly debated;r empirical research shows that acceptance of the differences hypothesis does not alter power imbalances and can often exacerbate outsider status.s


mL Zimmer (1988). Tokenism and women in the workplace: The limits of gender-neutral theory. Social Problems 35:64-77; Alderfer (1992). Changing race relations embedded in organizations: Report on a long-term project with the XYZ corporation. In ed. SE Jackson, Diversity in the Workplace: Human Resources Initiatives. New York: Guilford Press; SJ South, CM Bonjean, WT Markham, and J Corder (1982). Social structure and intergroup interaction: Men and women of the federal bureaucracy. American Sociological Review 47:587-599; AM Konrad, S Winter, and BA Gutek (1992). Diversity in work group sex composition: Implications for minority or minority members. In Research in the Sociology of Organizations, eds. PS Tolbert and SB Bacharach. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press; J Martin (2006). Gendered organizations: Scientists and engineers in universities and corporations. In Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


nB Gutek and B Morasch (1982). Sex ratios, sex-role spillover, and sexual harassment of women at work. Journal of Social Issues 38:55-74; P England (1992). Comparable Worth: Theories and Evidence. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.


oRM Kanter (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books; DF Izraeli (1983). Sex effects or structural effects: An empirical test of Kanter’s theory of proportions. Social Forces 62:153-165.


pTF Pettigrew and J Martin (1987). Shaping the organizational context for black American inclusion. Journal of Social Issues 43:41-78; PG Devine and AJ Elliott (1995). Are racial stereotypes really fading? The Princeton Trilogy revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21:1139-1150; G Wilson, I Sakura-Lemessy, and JP West (1999). Reaching for the top: Racial differences in mobility paths to upper-tier occupations. Work and Occupations 26:165-186.


qC Gilligan (1982). In a Different Voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; MF Belenkey, BM Clincy; NR Goldberger, and JM Tarule (1986). Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. New York: Basic Books; S Baron-Cohen (2002). The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain. New York: Basic Books.


rS Harding (1986). The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press; C Di Stefano (1990). Dilemmas of difference: Feminism, modernity, and postmodernism. In Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. LJ Nicholson, New York: Routledge.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement