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Gender, Generation, and Toxicity: The Implications for Academic Libraries of Gender and Generational Attitudes toward Competition and Workplace Behavior

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Title: Gender, Generation, and Toxicity: The Implications for Academic Libraries of Gender and Generational Attitudes toward Competition and Workplace Behavior


1
Gender, Generation, and Toxicity The
Implications for Academic Libraries of Gender and
Generational Attitudes toward Competition and
Workplace Behavior
  • Terrence Bennett, The College of New Jersey
  • Mollie Freier, Northern Michigan University
  • Ann Riley, University of Missouri

2
Introduction How We Started Thinking about
Gender, Generations, and Toxicity in Libraries
  • Ann Riley

3
Toxicity Defined
  • More than just difficult people and management
    situations
  • First used in late 1980s in business literature
    (Peter Frost)
  • An ongoing work situation that is painful,
    personally difficult and uncomfortable through a
    special combination of factors

4
Toxicity Defined
  • Hostile, unreasonable or emotionally distressing
    behavior with many causes
  • Temporary toxicity things happen, like illness
    and death, to upset situations
  • Inevitable toxicity Structures and people

5
Hypotheses and Results
  • Hypotheses
  • A serious problem in libraries
  • Seven main reasons
  • Worse in some functional
  • Test
  • A 2007 online survey yielded nearly 3,000
    responses
  • Findings
  • Widespread interest confirmed our first
    hypothesis
  • Results confirmed our second (the reasons)
  • Results did not confirm our third (differences)

6
How serious were/are the problems in the
workplace caused by this behavior?
7
People are leaving
8
Some startling revelations
  • I have found that working in a place with a
    majority of women can really result in picky,
    nasty behavior.
  • Problems experienced by older female librarians
    seem to stem from the hiring of younger, more
    'aggressive' females who bring to the workplace a
    sense of entitlement .

9
Comments about competition
  • A library staffed entirely with women can be
    very toxic infighting, back biting and lack of a
    sense of humor were issues that I experienced.
  • Women should unite instead of taking every
    chance to bring each other down.

10
Comments Women and power
  • Women with power issues (due to insecurity)
    cause 90 of the problem.
  • The library atmosphere can be pretty
    passive-aggressive maybe because of so many women
    and so few men!

11
More startling revelations
  • Library schools may attract people, mostly
    women, with personality problems and low levels
    of confidence and professionalism that lead to
    bad behavior
  • Women tend to target other women

12
And the comments that haunted us
  • I have, with great reluctance, come to the
    conclusion that people are right when they say,
    'This is what happens when a lot of women work
    together.
  • Women shouldn't work with other women

13
A new set of questions arose
  • How do gender issues affect workplace toxicity?
  • What is the impact on toxicity of
    intergenerational issues in the workplace?
  • How do gender issues interplay with generation
    issues in promoting (or preventing) workplace
    toxicity?

14
And then something changed
  • The new economic order made us shift our entire
    outlook
  • And we reconsidered our questions
  • Does the impact of economic distress on workplace
    toxicity override all other issues?

15
Revised questions
  • Are women disproportionately affected by library
    budget woes?
  • Do women managers have additional
    (gender-related) difficulties in handling budget
    issues? Is this because of different expectations
    from supervisees?

16
Revised questions (continued)
  • Do generational conflicts exacerbate the effects
    of a budget crisis?
  • Do economic issues re-define our consideration of
    the interplay between gender and generational
    issues?

17
The perils of old responses to new budget crises
  • The Who Moved My Cheese? approach is moldy!
  • Work leaner and smarter belittle me harder

18
How do budget pressures create toxicity?
  • Hiring freezes yield larger workloads
  • Atmosphere of competition for resources may
    dominate
  • Flexibility to address problems may decrease
  • All fear layoffs, furloughs, no raises, benefits
    cuts

19
What managers are saying
  • Were training new librarians on dealing with
    budget cuts.
  • I know I have to lay off people, but I cant
    tell them.
  • Its my chance to clear out deadwood.
  • Everyones gone berserk. We have to calm down.

20
The Pig Farmers Story
  • Told by a former university board member
  • Addresses the paradox Can we keep doing more
    with less? When do we stop?
  • People know, and get toxic

21
New pitfalls / new solutions?
  • Are rivalries / relationships shifting in a new
    game of Library Survivor?
  • Do former gender conflicts and generational
    misunderstandings diminish when we all jump into
    the same foxhole?
  • Are there new opportunities for creative leaders?

22
How Do Gender Issues Affect Workplace Toxicity?
  • Mary P. (Mollie) Freier

23
Librarians still tend to be women
  • 64 of librarians in ARL libraries in 2000 were
    women
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 83.2
    of librarians were women in 2007 (that includes
    school and public librarians)

24
How well do women work together?
  • Some scholarly titles
  • Catfight Women and Competition
  • Tripping the Prom Queen The Truth about Women
    and Rivalry
  • The Queen Bee Syndrome

25
Nature vs. Nurture
  • The Nurture Argument
  • Historically, women have not been socialized to
    compete effectively
  • Not comfortable competing they have been taught
    that being competitive is unladylike
  • In some situations, feminist women are
    uncomfortable competing against each other for
    philosophical reasons
  • Fear of becoming a Queen Bee

26
Nurture (continued)
  • Women supporting women
  • Women do not always have a great deal in common
  • In a sexist culture, it can be easy for women to
    become alienated from other women
  • Women have stereotypical expectations of other
    women
  • Competition can become personal

27
Nurture (continued)
  • Have Title IX and the resulting increase of women
    and girls competing in sports changed this
    situation?
  • Some studies say yes
  • Others dont see a difference

28
Nature results from selected studies
  • Stress reactions are different for women
  • Tend and befriend, not fight or flight
  • Social rejection rather than achievement
    rejection
  • Communication styles are different
  • Womens reaction to e-mail messages is very
    different to mens, depending on face-to-face
    interactions

29
Nature (continued)
  • Are men from Mars and women from Venus?
  • Or is that just a galactic myth?

30
Avoiding gender related toxicity
  • Recognize familiar patterns
  • Identify chronic, temporary, or inevitable toxic
    situations
  • Overcome stereotypes and patterned responses
  • Understand your role as colleague or manager

31
How Do Generational Issues Affect Workplace
Toxicity?
  • Terrence Bennett

32
Some more demographics
  • Librarians are aging rapidly from 1990 to 2000,
    the percentage of all librarians in the 45 age
    group increased from 46 to 63.
  • New librarians arent all young librarians while
    the number of MLS students nearly tripled from
    1983 to 2001, the number of students who were
    under age 30 decreased by 24.

33
The conventional wisdom
  • Baby boomers are
  • Trustworthy, Loyal
  • Helpful, Friendly
  • Courteous, Kind
  • Obedient, Cheerful
  • Thrifty, Brave
  • Clean and Reverent

34
More accepted truths
  • Gen-Xers are independent, computer savvy, and
    mistrustful of large bureaucracies
  • Gen-Xers are perceived as slackers not loyal
    likely to move from job to job

35
And we all know about
  • Generation Y Insert your favorite stereotype
    here
  • The Millennials (eeek!)
  • This years kindergarten class (theyre already
    plotting to take over your workplace)

36
A closer look at the conventional wisdom
  • A very influential source for our perceptions of
    Gen-X is the work of fiction titled Generation X
  • Many studies of generational characteristics are
    based on observations of children and teenagers
    who have been known to grow up and change
  • An analysis that attempts to tag an entire
    generation cant be flawless

37
Myth-busting results from selected studies
  • Several studies have tested the hypothesis that
    there is an observable difference between Boomers
    and Gen-X in their commitment to the workplace

38
More myth-busting studies
  • Other studies have tested commitment to teamwork

39
What are the implications for workplace toxicity?
  • There are creative and valid ways to handle
    intergenerational issues in the workplace
  • Embracing misleading stereotypes may impede real
    progress

40
Generations, gender and economic hard times
  • The gender issues in libraries create interesting
    approaches to the consideration of
    intergenerational issues
  • Economic concerns may provoke new types of
    workplace toxicities and new solutions

41
Case Studies How to Identify and Handle Toxic
Situations
  • Case I Pain with Payne
  • Case II Losses and Layoffs
  • Case III Food Fight in the Info Commons
  • Case IV Tyler Cuts Travel

42
Gender, Generation, and Toxicity The
Implications for Academic Libraries of Gender and
Generational Attitudes toward Competition and
Workplace Behavior
  • Terrence Bennett, The College of New Jersey
  • Mollie Freier, Northern Michigan University
  • Ann Riley, University of Missouri
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