Saturday, May, 17, 2014
By Joseph Sarkis
This summer the EurOMA(European operations management association) will be holding its summer school in Lisbon for young scholars and Ph.D. students on the topic of sustainability and supply chains.
Having received a listing of the participants (their sex identified in the listing), it seems that 30 participants are scheduled to attend. Interestingly, 23 of these participants, about 77%, are women. Most are from supply chain management and operations management fields.
Why is this gender imbalance interesting? Here is why.
Let us look at the overall gender distribution in the supply chain and operations management disciplines. To arrive at a quick, unscientific, evaluation of the distribution of males and females in operations and supply chain management, I went to Google Scholar. A keyword search under Google Scholar profiles for "supply chain management" and "operations management" yields a listing of scholars who have these terms as keywords. About 900 scholars had supply chain management as a keyword, while about 500 scholars had operations management as a keyword. Overall, about 10-20% (closer to 10%) of these scholars were women. This result is not unusual for these fields. Although the even smaller percentage of women scholars in these Google Scholar databases may be due to self-selection.
The summer school distribution may be due to the participants being younger scholars. On average, younger operations and supply management scholars may naturally have a higher representation of women. But these results from the summer school are clearly skewed toward women participants based on the Google Scholar numbers.
The term gender gap has been used in American politics to show which sex favored a certain American political party or the gender gap in wages. In politics it is well know that women supported the more liberal Democratic party while men tended to support the more conservative Republican party.
These gender gaps on environmental and sustainability issues are not new, but have evolved. Over 20 years ago a study showed that although women had greater environmental concerns, men were more likely to be activists. It may have taken these 20 years for women to have both greater environmental concerns and become more active as the research field has matured. There are also issues of education and the more educated genders show a greater dichotomy. Academic researchers are at the higher end of the education scale.
Recent books and papers have been written on this topic of gender differences on environmental sustainability concerns. And not surprisingly it is mostly women who are researching and writing on these gender concerns. This topic definitely requires additional research.
Currently, I am observing the gender gap in my specific research disciplines, which has been slowly evolving over the past quarter century I have been studying it.
Questions do arise.
What does this mean to our research areas? Given the political gender gap, will the gender gap in organizations and natural environment be considered a biased perspective as the field emerges? Given that men are still inordinately represented in the arenas of political and business leadership, how will they view the research? Is this happening across business disciplines? Should other business disciplines embrace organizations and natural environment topics to help build greater gender balance to previously imbalanced disciplines?
As a closing, see this thoughtful video that exemplifies, a bit, the gender gap from a masculinity perspective.