Posted by: saramariafinley | March 22, 2013

This past weeks readings have been fascinating with regards to how men and women view each other and power. These were topics I had never sat down and thought about so being forced to consider them brought up a lot of thoughts and questions. The article that I had the greatest challenging realizing that it holds a lot of truth was the “Gender, Communication, and Social Influence: A developmental Perspective” by Linda L. Carli and Danuta Bukatko. The section where she discussed Social Role Theory was fascinating to me but accurate. When I read through that, there seemed to be two factors that often hinder a woman becoming successful in a stereotypical  male role. First, she has to be willing to go after a typically male job. Often, it is easier to stick in a more feminine role because a woman will not meet the backlash that she might find once seeking after the job a male often holds. And secondly, she has to be able to overcome the perception that she will not be successful in the role she holds because she is a female.


It’s interesting to think what women have done to overcome that perception in order to attempt to be accepted. A classic example but that has sad implications is Mulan. She does not feel like she can bring honor to her house by being a female so she wants to seek after becoming a soldier. However, for her to even be successful as a soldier, she must disguise herself as a man. Unfortunately this teaches young girls who watch Mulan that they will never be successful as a woman and must disguise themselves as a man in order to even be successful in a male dominated role.

Overall after reading the article, I ended up feeling a little frustrated and discouraged about women and perceptions about them and their success. When I finished the reading, I wanted to know what I could do to help change that perception of women but rather I felt like I was left hanging by the author. The facts staggered me and I could see how most of them were true, but it would have been more helpful and effective in my opinion if the author had explained ways that the reader could help change that perception of the success of women in male dominated roles or in the ways they communicate.


  1. I agree, the article did leave the reader’s hanging. However, maybe the author wants the readers to come up with their own answers on how women can be successful in ta ypical mans role. Another possibility is that the author has not yet found a solution to the problem. I think that only time will tell. In our day and age women have made significant progress yet still women have not overall reached a status where they can easily attain the same status as men in many areas. So I think the author props a challenge for their readers, “how can we as women find success in a man’s role?” I do not have the answer as of now but I can guarentee I will be looking for the answer.

  2. opps readers** typical** 🙂

  3. I thought what you said about Mulan to be interesting. Although that is one way to look at it, I more often hear from children that they find Mulan to be inspirational because of her obvious disregard for social laws. The timing and context of the movie was clearly defined as not in the present and therefore that may also contribute to her not being dressed feminine. She is later revealed to be a woman and still exalted for her brains. I feel that Mulan is a great example of an empowered woman even though she is not contextually allowed to be dressed as a woman. As far as women needing to overcome two pre-dispositioned perceptions about them in male-dominated fields, it is true but also can work in the reverse occasionally.

  4. I think the article should have been more concise and should not have left the audience hanging as well. However, I liked the article and thought that it was very insightful in the mindset and reasoning of women. One critique of the article is I wish that the authors would have included ways to help women overcome these obstacles. Mulan is a great example of how women overcome societal pressures. Overall, women have to learn how to be successful and to overcome obstacles with correct guidance.

  5. I also felt like the article left the readers hanging. Suggested solutions, even small, seemingly inconsequential ones, could lead to a woman or a man making a change in how women’s success is perceived in the workplace. It’s disheartening when the “greatest” minds working on female success can’t even come up with a hypothetical answer. Then all the readers are left to wonder, what can I do if all the greats didn’t even seem to try? But I don’t think women should lose hope. Great minds are constantly working on this problem, and that is what matters, even if they don’t share their work with the public in every book or article they write.

  6. An interesting twist on this article would have been to examine some iconic females that have courageously entered the male-dominated work place. Making the statement that women are less likely to go after male dominated fields is true and undeniable. And like Sara brought up, where are the solutions? If L. Carli and Danuta Bukatko made this statement but then analyzed, examined and interviewed women who have crossed this barrier, we might have some idea of an answer. Maybe these women weren’t afraid of “ambition” and “power,” and were able to identify a job that interested them and go for it anyway. Were these women that gained power and success within the guidelines of femininity? Or did they have to sacrifice some gender norms along the way.
    If L. Carli and Danuta Bukatko asked these questions and went into finding an answer, I would be curious to what they would have found.

  7. I think that relating Mulan to this topic of a woman in a man’s role is classic. Leadership should not be gendered, but we already know that. Woman have to overcompensate for being in a males role because they don’t want to seem incompetent and they also don’t want to be judged.
    I think that a good way to define the success of any leader, not just a woman, is to put it in context. If a woman is CEO of a company, the bread winner for her family, the sole caretaker of her children, and a single mom, I would define her as one of the most successful people because she can juggle so many aspects of life. If a man were doing the same thing I would say that he would be equally as successful. I think that the more a person can be good at, the more successful they are. If a man were only the CEO of a company, but didn’t care for his family, I would say that his wife might be the more successful one if she was running the household, however if the roles were switched, I would still consider them equally as successful. How we define a leaders success should not be a huge issue for long, but the underlying issue of gender stereotyping should be worked on first.

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