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Madison Schaefer

Professor Michelle Kusel

ELPS 325 001

March 25, 2019

The Problem

Growing up I always seemed to have a specific idea of a dream job I wanted, ranging

from things like a Broadway star to a pediatrician. When asked what I wanted to be when I

grew up, I never failed to have a specific answer and a reason for how this would allow me to

make a difference in the world. However, when asked this same question throughout my

college years, I have struggled to answer concretely until recently when I discovered the career

of Industrial Organizational (I/O) Psychology. A primary focus of this occupation involves

coaching, assessing and developing members of the workforce in their leadership skills. Being

that I have a great passion for leadership and helping people as well as interests in Psychology

and Business, I have found the career to be a perfect fit and believe that I can make an impact

through this occupation. One area of I/O that I have come to gather interest in is the

prevalence of women in leadership. In the internship I currently hold with a practicing I/O

Psychologist I have noticed a few things. First, the majority of the people my boss assesses are

male. Second, my boss has shared with me the many conflicting working relationships he has

had to coach people through simply due to the fact that there is a gender difference. Finally, in

my internship I have experienced what I perceive to be subconscious oppression due to my

female identity. These occurrences lead me to believe that gender equality is what matters.
Throughout my career I hope to continue to identify this issue in areas of my work and hope to

aid in facilitating change in the stigma surrounding women in leadership.

The reason for the lack of women in leadership stems from a long history of perceiving

men as the bread winners who directly led to the functioning of society externally in areas such

as economics, business and government whereas women were to stay home to care for the

children and keep the house. These general principles of the roles of men and women have

mainly remained the same through the many major developments of society. Continually

identifying men as the gender that “gets stuff done” and women as the gender that follows

orders, women have been done a great disservice in their ability to be perceived as capable and

impactful leaders. These ideas have built up social constructs in our society that both

consciously and subconsciously place men in the category of leader and not women. However,

times have begun to change. We have started to see women take on more leadership roles

throughout society and conversations about gender equality have become all the more present.

Although we still have a long way to go, the prospect of gender equality has become a lot more

promising due to women and men alike standing up for this issue. In my Leadership

Development Plan for ELPS 222, I addressed the importance of taking into account one’s own

social identities and those of others in order to lead in the most respectful way possible. I

believe that if, as a society, we put forth more effort to consider what it is like in someone

else’s shoes we would be better able to recognize gender inequality in our everyday lives and

adjust our perceptions to create a caring and empowering society for everyone.

My great passion for this problem stems from the mere fact that I identify as a woman.

In reflecting on my encounters with gender inequality, I mined my past in order to pinpoint why
this issue holds such weight in my head and heart. I have experienced, witnessed and heard

countless instances of the marginalization of females simply due to their gender. For instance,

my aunt has earned great success as a lawyer yet had to work twice as hard as the men around

her to get to where she is today. 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was mercilessly

ridiculed due to her “secret emails” however, I believe if the same situation had occurred with a

male, it would have been swept under the rug. I have been talked down to by male superiors

who I believe would have treated me differently if I aligned with their gender identity. I could

continue to list examples of the oppression of women however, that is not the full story.

Although women continue to be marginalized, many have proved their oppressors wrong by

being remarkable leaders in our society. Through my work as an I/O Psychologist I hope to

empower women and educate all on gender equality with the hope that one day women will

always be perceived as the incredible, strong and moving leaders they are.