In the U.S., women represent an abysmally small number of Fortune 500 chief executive officers (CEOs) positions, and are generally absent from some of the highest status occupations and the highest echelons of leadership in almost every aspect of society. Scientific research has been brought to bear on this social problem, with the goal of building understanding, awareness, and change. In particular, psychological theory and evidence provide compelling documentation of the challenges that women encounter upon entering and navigating the workplace. The primary theoretical rationales used to explain gender disparities and challenges include social learning theory, social role theory, role congruity theory, lack of fit model, ambivalent sexism theory, and the stereotype content model. These theories emphasize the perceived misalignment between expectations of ideal workers or leaders and those of ideal women as a driver of workplace gender inequities that include women’s disadvantages in educational experiences, access to jobs and pay, leadership positions, sociobiological patterns, and caregiving demands. Workplace gender inequities in these areas can be remedied by implementing strategies for positive change such as empowering women, valuing feminine characteristics, creating equal opportunities, and changing workplace and societal cultures.
Karyssa Courey, Makai Ruffin, Mikki Hebl, Dillon Stewart, Meridith Townsend, Leilani Seged, Jordyn Williams, Cedric Patterson, Sara Mei, and Eden King
Dirk D. Steiner
Organizational justice refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness or unfairness of the treatment they receive in the organizations where they work. The ways authorities, such as supervisors and managers, make decisions and implement them are evaluated by employees in terms of their fairness. Other agents, such as coworkers and customers who interact with employees, also can generate judgments of fairness or unfairness at work. These fairness perceptions can be conceived according to four dimensions of organizational justice as well as in general terms. The four dimensions are distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational. Typically, distributive justice evaluates the equity of treatment, where people expect outcomes proportionate to their contributions. Workers also evaluate the fairness of procedures used to make decisions and the quality of their interpersonal relations with the various actors of the organization, including the information the actors communicate regarding decisions and the procedures followed to make them. When people perceive that they are treated fairly, positive consequences result for them and for their organizations. Thus, they tend to be more satisfied, evaluate their management more favorably, engage in more prosocial behaviors within their organizations, perform at higher levels, and remain in their employing organizations for longer periods. When people experience unfair treatment, negative consequences include stress and health-related concerns for employees, negative attitudes toward the organization, and counterproductive behaviors, such as theft, vandalism, or absenteeism. People react strongly to fair or unfair treatment for different reasons. They may believe that fair treatment will allow them to receive the rewards that they deserve, it may communicate that they are valued in a group, or fair treatment may be valued as an important and basic principle of human functioning. Research on organizational justice in 2020 focuses on understanding the mechanisms producing fairness judgments and their consequences and on the boundary conditions limiting the observed relations with their antecedents and outcomes.
Sharon Glazer and Catherine Kwantes
For the first half century of industrial, work, and organizational psychology’s (IWOP’s) existence, the role of culture has been ambiguous at best. Attention to culture in IWOP started to take form in the 1970s, and in the last 20 years culture has begun to be integrated into IWOP research more generally. This integration has led to explorations of culture in the workplace far beyond the initial focus on organizational management theories and practices to looking at cultures’ relationships with all aspects of organizational and employee experiences. Most cross-cultural studies in IWOP research clearly show the importance of understanding societal culture’s impact on organizations, institutions, work, and workers. Merely transferring existing theories and practices of IWOP to new contexts without a clear understanding of whether those theories and practices make sense across cultures is unlikely to be successful. Through globalization and the multiculturalization of workforces, employees are increasingly interacting with people of varying cultural backgrounds on a far more regular basis than in the past. This change has spurred attention to how culture has impacted theories, research, and practices in some key IWOP theoretical domains, including leadership; occupational safety, stress, and health; precarious and decent work; trust and trustworthiness; and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the multinational organization.
Allison R. Heid and Steven H. Zarit
Individuals are living longer than they ever have before with average life expectancy at birth estimated at 79 years of age in the United States. A greater proportion of individuals are living to advanced ages of 85 or more and the ratio of individuals 65 and over to individuals of younger age groups is shrinking. Disparities in life expectancy across genders and races are pronounced. Financial challenges of sustaining the older population are substantial in most developed and many developing countries. In the United States in particular, employer-based pension programs are diminishing. Furthermore, Social Security will begin taking in less money than it pays out as early as 2023, and the debate over its future in part entails discussions of equitable distribution of resources for the young in need and the old. Living longer is associated with a greater number of chronic health conditions—over two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries in the United States have two or more chronic health conditions that require complex self-management regimes partnered with informal and formal care services from family caregivers and institutional long-term services and supports. Caregiver burden and stress is high as are quality care deficiencies in residential long-term care settings. The balance of honoring individuals’ autonomous wishes and providing person-centered care that also addresses the practicalities of safety is an ever-present quandary. Furthermore, complex decisions regarding end-of-life care and treatments plague the medical and social realms, as more money is spent at the end of life than at any other point and individuals’ wishes for less invasive treatment are often not accommodated. Yet, despite these challenges of later life, a large percentage of older individuals are giving financial support, time, and energy to younger generations, who are increasingly strained by economic hardship, the pressures on dual earner parents, and the problems faced by single parenthood. Older individuals’ engagement in society and the help they provide others runs counter to stereotypes that render them helpless and lonely. Overall, the ethical challenges faced by society due to the aging of the population are considerable. Difficult decisions that must be addressed include the sustainability of programs, resources, and social justice in care, as well as how to marshal the resources, talents, and wisdom that older people provide.