Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Liz S. Clark

Abstract

Although blatant sexism persists in the workplace, there is a subtler type of sexism that is not often discussed. Some of the harmful outcomes that concern organization employees and leaders include decreased job satisfaction and morale, increased stress and turnover, damaged workplace relationships, barriers to career development for women, and decreased feelings of safety in law enforcement employees. Subtle sexism is often disguised as friendliness or chivalry, and therefore is difficult to detect, so it is often ignored or trivialized. The harms are cumulative and compound over time. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to gather data about how women experience subtle forms of sexism in the National Park Service (NPS) workplace.

Semistructured telephone interviews assisted with the gathering of data from 12 women employed by the NPS. Feminist theory and critical theory guided the research process. Moustakas’s phenomenological method was used as an approach to data analysis. The findings that emerged included: (a) impacts on workplace culture, (b) harmful effects on individuals, (c) coping with subtle sexism, (d) organizational impacts, and (e) organizational change. The study promotes positive social change by providing a more nuanced understanding of how women experience and perceive subtle sexism. The results could help organizations to find more effective ways of dealing with this type of sexist behavior and decrease the negative outcomes.

 
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