The (white) MBA students who think they are the real victims of sexism

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Few people believe that sexism has been eradicated from the workplace, but some clearly believe that we are looking for victims in the wrong place.

Male MBA students are much more likely to think sexism will hinder their careers than their classmates.

And this despite the men who hold the vast majority of leadership positions, even after the tremendous strides towards equality over the past half century.

And this sense of victimization is especially pronounced among white men, who are much more likely to believe they will be losers than MBA students of different ethnicities.

Men are seven times more numerous than women at the executive level and 17 to one among CEOs, with women running just 167 of the 3,000 largest companies in the United States. For every 100 men promoted to a director’s post, only 85 women are also promoted.

Yet despite this, there are men, and white men in particular, who believe they are the real victims of sexism.

Almost seven in ten men (69%) currently enrolled in MBA programs believe they will not be selected for managerial positions due to sexism.

This compares with just over half (51%) of women enrolled in MBA programs who believe sexism will affect their prospects for promotion, according to a survey for higher education analysts Intelligent.com.

White men are particularly inclined to believe that sexism will hold them back. Almost three-quarters (74%) of white MBA students believe that sexism will make it more difficult for them to obtain managerial positions, compared to just 50% of Asian men, 48% of blacks and 30 % of Hispanic / Latino men. on MBA programs.

With MBA students facing fierce competition for jobs and few senior management positions, sexism could be a practical scapegoat for those whose ascent is slower than they would like.

“These graduates are entering a very competitive field, and not all of them are going to make it to the top,” says Dr. Deb Geller, Education and Recruitment Consultant.

“It may be easier for men who aspire to these roles, but don’t believe they will get there, to blame something outside, rather than recognize that they may not personally have the qualifications to enter. to these positions. “

The perception of victimhood may also be a testament to the effectiveness of the narrative that men, and white men in particular, are attacked, when in reality everything that happens is just a correction of it. ‘long-term injustice.

“What we are seeing is that organizations are increasingly committed to eradicating sexism and promoting diversity as a core value,” says Geller.

“Past sexist behaviors that could have favored men in the job search are replaced by more neutral and objective search processes which lead to more diverse candidate pools and less reluctance to hire or promote women. qualified. What men perceive as sexism are really just fairer hiring and promotion processes. “

The survey also reveals a gap between an objective sense of justice and how it works in the field.

While 85% of men said it was “extremely” or “very” important that women were also represented in managerial positions, 65% said the reason men outnumbered women in leadership positions were. these roles was because men were more likely to have the necessary leadership roles. .

“Attitudes like this are an indication that while we can make progress, it is not particularly rapid progress,” Geller adds.

Just over half (55%) of men said that lack of work experience may be a factor in the underrepresentation of men, although men are more likely than women to think sexism made them more difficult to advance their career so far (49% to 41%).

Less than half (45%) of men said the shortage of women on boards was due to sexism and that women were discriminated against.

But these attitudes are not only held by men. Almost a third (32%) of female MBA students said men were more likely to have the leadership skills required for the C suite, and less than half (47%) said the disparity was due to sexism.

While there has been huge progress towards gender equality on the board, and more broadly in the workplace, these findings show that there is still some way to go to eliminate gender equality. idea that gender makes a difference in a person’s qualification for leadership.

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