Perceptions of Discrimination and Inequity among Professionals Working in Public Recreation Agencies: An Extension of an Earlier Study


  • Kimberly J. Shinew
  • Denise M. Anderson
  • Margaret L. Arnold


women, equity, gender, workplace, discrimination


One of the most important events in the American labor market in the twentieth century was the unprecedented entry of large numbers of women into the paid workforce (Gini, 1998). Women and minorities have forever changed the face of the U.S. worker. However, despite decade-long trends of women’s involvement both in leisure studies curricula and in the leisure profession, women remain underrepresented in administrative positions, particularly at the executive level. Building on an earlier study that focused on women and men in middle management positions (Arnold & Shinew, 1997; Shinew & Arnold, 1998), the purpose of this study was to examine workplace issues among women and men at three levels of management. More specifically, the study examined their perceptions of discrimination and inequity, preparedness, and aspirations for upper management. Greater insight may be obtained by examining women and men at three levels of management to determine if perceptions differ by managerial level. The findings of the study suggest that women at all three levels of management clearly perceived inequity and discriminatory practices within their public recreation agencies. Women at all managerial levels reported having fewer promotion opportunities than men, and felt that efforts made by the profession to promote women have been inadequate. Women at all management levels reported gender discrimination in terms of salary, and were more likely to report that they had seen a glass ceiling during their career. In general, men were more likely than women to feel prepared for upper management and desire another promotion during their career. The consistency of the study’s findings at the entry, middle, and executive management levels indicate that these are workplace issues that affect women at various management levels. Further, men’s perceptions of inequity and discrimination were quite different from women’s, indicating that these factors are much more salient issues for women. Several suggestions are provided to help policymakers, employers, and women crack the glass ceiling that continues to prevent female professionals from advancing to upper management positions in public recreation agencies.





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