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The Quest for Gender Balance: In the Workplace

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin Pichla
June 11, 2018

Today more than ever before it would be logical to believe that we are better positioned to achieve reasonable gender balance in the workplace. I believe this status has been attained via appropriate legal activity, greater public and private sector understanding of multiple issues involved, and the increased awareness of unacceptable employment-based situations (which receive public attention through a variety of social media outlets). But with ever-changing workplace dynamics and the speed of technological evolution, are we really in a position to proclaim that we have earned a “Gold Medal” in the quest for gender balance? Or is there still at least one more developmental road we need to build and travel to ensure sustainable gender balance in the workplace is achieved?

Well before we attempt to answer these questions about appropriate gender balance in the workplace, and possibly identify a critical missing developmental piece, it is first important to assess the high value benefits of gender balance. Let’s consider gender balance in terms of attaining the best products or services for your organization or business.

Think of the importance of gender balance in regard to:

  • Style
  • Input
  • Planning
  • Need Identification
  • Household Challenges

This list really can be endless.

Bottomline, the influence of gender balance is undeniable in generating company profit (or loss) statements and human service program effectiveness and efficiency.

Next, think about gender balance in the workplace when it comes to innovation, creativity and overall idea generation. Individually a male or female employee could draft up a design for the greatest new product or public service… but it would truly only be “half-ready.” My career experience is an example of the progressive impact of balanced gender opinions, suggestions and opportunities. Specifically, gender balance in my workplace routinely addressed:

  • Issues not seen at the onset
  • Customer priorities not prioritized in product/service designs
  • Gender-driven options critical to the success of an initiative.
  • Even greater innovation/idea generation.

Without a structured balance of involvement and development in new initiatives, the absence of one gender or the other created a weakened final outcome in every circumstance.

Now back to our quest!

We have now identified progress movements and the transformative impact obtained via gender balance in the workplace. Additionally, we have reviewed a brief testimony of examples that display a wide variety of positive influences a gender balanced workplace can have on products, services and innovation aspects for public/private sector future initiatives. So, what specifically do we need to do to maintain a strong emphasis on gender balance in our workplaces? I believe the answer is seated in our countries local school districts.

Today, I believe the upcoming workforce is “under-aware” of current and expanding job-based SKILL specifics. As a result, the gaps of women in certain employment fields and men in others could be improved with a greater focus, explanation, examples and understanding of the skills needed in multiple occupational areas. Think about it. Most often job and career discussions in early school classes center around job titles and qualifications for different positions. These approaches, although wonderful as part of the basic “world-of-work” orientation, unfortunately, often carry old gender stereotypes that students quite naturally carry forward. The evidence is in the development of resumes. Take a look at resumes of job applicants, co-workers, friends and even your own. Does the resume information talk about “what do you do,” or the skills that you could bring to a job?

The challenge…yes, the challenge of trying to convey to young minds the value of skills instead of only understanding what a fire fighter or teacher does will be difficult. And because we live in a “show-me-world”, explaining the skills involved in researching, analyzing, communicating, planning, counseling, managing, financing and/or leading in any job would require an extensively different approach. However, this alternative approach could offer a very significant contribution in establishing a long-term gender balance in the workplace strategy.

It is important to note that in today’s employment and training development profession, an employee’s skills… transferable skills… are one of the most critical aspects of employment/re-employment success. Given this high-level, across-the-board interest and value placed on job skills, consider the progressive impacts that could be realized from a gender balance perspective if facilitated at an early learning age. If at a local school district young people began to understand that everyone has skills, no matter their work history or training opportunities, their career track may lead to a greater variety of non-traditional choices.

Succeeding in The Quest For Gender Balance In The Workplace may be found at the very beginning of our educational system of building good habits and quality learning. With a quiet, subtle shift and prioritization of employment skills and their usage in differing occupations, we may enhance… achieve the gender balance we seek.


Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is the owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life, example-based learning. Email: [email protected], @TRIPLEIIITIME

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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