Gender Discrimination at Walmart Essay

Gender Discrimination at Walmart Essay

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Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and private employer, has established a highly profitable business centered on a low-cost strategy that utilizes logistical efficiencies to create a competitive advantage. Yet, to maintain this low-cost strategy, Walmart has engaged in ethically questionable practices, including gender discrimination in promotion and pay. While the Supreme Court recently ruled against class certification of 1.5 million women in the Dukes v. Walmart case due to a lack of proof that Walmart operated under a “general policy of discrimination”, overwhelming evidence demonstrates that gender discrimination is a persistent problem rooted in the culture of Walmart, despite gender-neutral policies (Biskupic, 2011).

During the 1950’s and 60’s in northwest Arkansas, a surplus of unskilled labor existed due to “increasing mechanization of agricultural work”. Leveraging this pent up demand for employment, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, provided these agricultural men with prideful responsibilities as managers of his retail stores, while employing their wives and daughters as low wage clerks (Lichenstein, 2011). Forty to fifty years later, in an economy sagged by high unemployment, particularly among an unskilled, low educated workforce, the practice of promoting men to run stores while women are forced to settle for low wage labor remains prevalent at Walmart. In fact, statistical analysis from plaintiffs in the 2001 Dukes v. Walmart lawsuit showed that women comprised nearly 70% of hourly employees, but only 33% of management positions (Hymowitz, 2011). The overwhelming disparities between men and women in management relative to the proportion of those in hourly positions further cements the continual existence ...


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...three research paradigms. Psychological Bulletin, 137(4), 616-642. doi:10.1037/a0023557

Lichenstein, N. (2011) Wal-Mart’s Authoritarian Culture. New York Times

Lichenstein, N. (2007) Why Working at Walmart is Different Connecticut Law Review, Volume 39 Number 4, May 2007

Powell, G., Butterfield, D., and Bartol, K. (2008). Leader evaluations: A new female advantage? Gender in Management: An International Journal, 23, 156-174.

Rosette, A., & Tost, L. (2010). Agentic women and communal leadership: How role prescriptions confer advantage to top women leaders. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(2), 221-235. doi:10.1037/a0018204

Wal-Mart Class Website. (2011). “Declaration Summaries”. Retrieved from 22 Nov 2011 The official site for the women in the class action Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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