Amidst the hustle and bustle of UC Berkeley students on a Tuesday afternoon, Leslie Salzinger sits in her office with a beautiful view of the Bay Area. If only she could actually enjoy the view – this professor has hundreds of e-mails, students, and colleagues to attend to on a daily basis. That, and, she is also in the middle of writing her second book! As a UC Berkeley Gender and Women’s Studies Professor, Salzinger specializes in the sociology of gender, gender and work, and also focuses her research on transnational processes and political economy. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Salzinger to explore what she had to say about the gender disparity in the work place.
To Salzinger, gender inequality has always been an issue. Her mother worked while she was growing up in New York and explained the gender divide “never seemed fair”. After getting her PhD from UC Berkeley, the mother herself has traveled to and from the east coast after teaching at Boston College and also University of Chicago over the last several years. Now teaching courses in Gender & Work, Sociology of Gender, and Gender and Political Economy at Cal, the professor is also authoring her second book after completing fieldwork in Mexico City and New York City, researching the male dominated gender roles in transnational banks.
“There is a mismatch between appropriate femininity and appropriate work place behavior”, said Salzinger when asked about women in the work place. She further explained to me that enacting “CEO” and “feminine” are two different personas and that it is difficult for women to embrace both and to be taken seriously. While the professor expressed to me that even though the legal structures for women in the work place have improved since the 60’s (i.e. removing the “specify gender” requirement when hiring), overall, gender assumptions have remained quite stable.
For the woman who calls herself “a big believer in radical movements”, Salzinger emphasizes that there is still “tons of sexism” in society. Let us hope one of these moments comes sooner rather than later.
For more information of Professor Leslie Salzinger, view her About Page on the UC Berkeley Website.