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The underrepresentation of women in the professional science, engineering, and technology (SET) jobs was addressed in a recent study published in the June issue of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research by Shirley Braun and Rebecca A. Turner. The study was conducted through a series of interviews and surveys of middle managers who influence how employees are treated, developed, promoted and compensated. Braun and Turner examined these mangers intentions to hire, develop and promote women within SET positions.

The manager’s intentions to engage in women-friendly behaviors (WFBs) in the workplace was assessed and predicted from the theory of planned behavior. The first stage in this study was to interview middle managers in public SET organizations. This was to identify shared beliefs about norms, behaviors and a manager’s control over a situation. Managers were open and forthright about the benefits of developing women in the workplace as well as the anxieties of how effectively women SET professionals could be managed as they are seen as being “less flexible” and “more sensitive”. The responses from these interviews were gathered and placed within a survey that explored the theoretical factors of how beliefs and company practices may influence the amount of engagement middle managers have with WFBs. This survey was administered online to an additional 233 mangers from several professional and talent group sites.

From the information gathered, Bran and Turner found that female managers are more self-conscious of hiring, promoting and retaining women due to what others may think of them. They also found that attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and past behavior towards women within these industries where strong reasons for managers’ to engage in WFBs.  The study’s findings are a great resource for future hires, and training practices for SET companies. After a company establishes an understanding of their managers’ beliefs, attitudes and intentions with respect to SET women, programs for change can be developed in terms of hiring, promoting and retaining female employees.

*This posting is an adaptation on the study’s APA Press Release entitled The Best of Intentions: Predicating Managers’ Intentions to Hire, Develop, and Promote Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology Fields.

To read the full study:

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