Pages


"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." ~William James

Search This Blog

Loading...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SEX and Volunteer Management


Martin J Cowling continues to traverse the world bringing the message of advanced volunteer management to the Masses. I find it fascinating to see what his sessions bring up in various quarters. Martin recently presented at the 20th Annual Texas Volunteer management Conference. Martin hosted a one day "Advanced Workshop" before the conference itself and as his blog (the link is on this site) states these were the issues that emerged:

•how hungry people were for knowledge, training and tips
•the low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector
•the aging volunteer force
•rules and regulations regarding volunteering
•the new technologies and medias
•how few men are in the sector

All very interesting but I have to highlight some issues here and they are these:

“The low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector” and “how few men are in the sector”

Now, before I continue let me draw your attention to something Sue Hines, who blogs on volunteer management, said in a recent blog of hers (the link is on this site also)

“Women’s status, and their rights. Hmmm…. We’ve been a long time on this one. And we’ve been pushing for recognition and status for Management of Volunteers since around the time of the 1970s global wave of feminism. And when I go to meetings and conferences I can see one of the reasons why: the majority of people employed in this occupation are women. Which is no bad thing. Women’s multi-tasking skills, relationship-building, eye for detail as well as the big picture are great assets in managing volunteers.”

I could argue with you Sue here on how men can have these attributes as well but I don’t plan to start a gender war on Volunteer Management.

Rather I am interested in exploring the links between “The low status of volunteer management and managers in the sector” and “how few men are in the sector”

Is there a link here?

Lets have a look at what Reportageonline said in 2010

http://www.reportageonline.com/2010/04/why-women-earn-less-than-

“Anne Kennelly, Women’s Officer for the Public Service Association, says: “It wasn’t until the late sixties that women received equal pay for equal work. There were a lot of jobs that were considered women’s jobs or men’s jobs, and it was legal for women to be paid less than men doing the same work. [Many] jobs are still considered to be women’s jobs and the skills aren’t as highly valued… that tends to be the caring professions.
“If you’re going to blame anything, it’s the structure of how our workforce has risen over the years. There are structural inequities that need to be fixed.”

Tamara Plakalo, social trends analyst and former CEO of online think tank Open Forum, says: “Does it surprise you that most women work in ‘soft’, supporting roles, and are paid less than those who go out to hunt and are soldiers of the perpetual profit-chasing war?”

“Why? Because their view of the world is not supportive of perpetual wars, and the world (and the corporation) is a reflection of a system built around male evolutionary impulses.”

She says these impulses have structured the entire way our workplace functions, and occupational and industrial segregation are key factors of the pay gap between men and women. NATSEM’s report shows that men tend to work in environments that are 61 per cent male, while women’s work environments are 44 per cent male. The grouping of the genders in certain professions and industries is having the effect of dividing skills and labour along gender lines, further entrenching the pay gap.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that occupations associated with women or with stereotypically “female” skills and qualities (most often the caring, teaching, and communications fields) are seen to be less important and deserving of lower pay and respect than traditionally “masculine” roles. As more women enter a profession, there is a tendency to value and remunerate them less for their work.

Women’s choices are often held up as examples for why they are not earning as much as men. Female biology and fertility has been used to keep women in almost a separate working class from men. The reasons for this are hundredfold, according to the report: the undervaluation of women’s skills; women typically work fewer paid hours per week and fewer weeks per year than men; their employment is likely to be discontinuous, which is linked to shorter job tenure and therefore lower pay. The deterioration of human capital while women are out of the workforce can result in lower wages or promotions.”

Dare I suggest that Volunteer Management can take a lead in challenging this imbalance? Can we as a sector transcend these gender roles? It’s a big call and something we have not really looked at or investigated within the volunteerism sector.

Can we be a sector that unifies the sexes in demonstrating support for the importance of our roles?

Volunteer management is undervalued. And as a male Volunteer Manager I simply find the following to be disgraceful – “It has been repeatedly demonstrated that occupations associated with women or with stereotypically “female” skills and qualities (most often the caring, teaching, and communications fields) are seen to be less important and deserving of lower pay and respect than traditionally “masculine” roles.”

As a sector we need to go beyond the stereotypes. Yes, we need more men in Volunteer Management just as non profit and corporate boards need more women in leadership roles.

True, it is not unequal opportunity that is keeping men from volunteer management roles. But perhaps the perception that there is no career path, no security and no financial incentive.

Why can’t those exist and why can’t they be realistic targets and goals for both sexes.

Sure...my musings here might get a backlash from traditionalist or ultra feminist viewpoints. So be it.

Just remember though I am talking about volunteer management and we need to explore why guys are just not into it.

Adopt the view of “why would we need you in the first place” and we get nowhere.

Adopt the view of “we are worth more”

It’s a conversation that we need to have. It’s a conversation that our associations for volunteer management need to engage in. Where is the leadership on these challenging issues internationally?

Elephants are beautiful creatures. Let’s not ignore them when they appear in our rooms.

4 comments:

  1. I knew I'd get pinged on this one. Dammit. I fully and freely acknowledge that the skills of multi-tasking, relationship-building etc are not exclusive to women - though you would have to concede that current gender distribution in Management of Volunteers suggests more women have these skills than men. You have pointed out the societal forces that have contributed to shoring up 'women's' occupations. Yet male:female volunteering figures are pretty much on a par (in Australia and New Zealand anyway). So that's a good enough reason to encourage men into the occupation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, actually, it may be in how we look at this. Social services and cultural arts leaders of volunteers tend to be women, but what about the people who coordinate anything related to sports (all those male volunteer coaches), fire chiefs, emergency response leaders, etc. So our challenge is to show those folks that they are part of "volunteer management, too" -- and maybe the gender ratio will become more even.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Shindig

    "though you would have to concede that current gender distribution in Management of Volunteers suggests more women have these skills than men."

    No - I wouldnt draw that conclusion based on those facts at all.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comment Susan.

    While I take your point

    "but what about the people who coordinate anything related to sports (all those male volunteer coaches), fire chiefs, emergency response leaders, etc."

    I wonder why we dont see them at conferences, Retreats, workshops and training on volunteer management.

    ReplyDelete