On the face of it, Darnell, Inc. has a strong commitment to affirmative action. Five
years ago less than 1 percent of its professional and managerial staff were women. Now 8
percent are women. However, few of the women are in senior positions. Partly this is
because most of the women have less seniority than the vast majority of men. But it is
also because, until recently, there has been widespread skepticism at Darnell that women
are well suited for the responsibilities that attach to the more senior positions. This
may now be changing. Catherine Morris is one of the leading candidates for promotion to
Chief Engineer in Quality Control at Darnell.
Although they work in different areas of Darnell, Judy Hanson and Catherine Morris have
gotten to know one another rather well in the few months Judy has been with Darnell. Judy
likes Catherine very much, but she has serious doubts that Catherine is the right person
for the promotion. She does not think that Catherine has strong leadership qualities or
the kinds of organizational skills that will be needed. Furthermore, she is worried that
if Catherine fails at the job, this will only reinforce the prevailing skepticism at
Darnell about women's ability to handle senior position responsibilities. Rather than
being a mark of women's progress at Darnell, it will be, Judy fears, a setback--one which
will take its toll on other women at Darnell.
Questions for analysis:
a) What, if anything, should Judy do?
b) Suppose Judy overhears several male engineers talking about Catherine's possible
promotion. They remark that she will never be able to handle the job--and that this will
show once and for all how foolish, and potentially harmful, affirmative action in the
workplace is. What should she do?
c) Suppose, it is Tom Evans, not Judy, who overhears the conversation in b? What should
d) Suppose Tom and Judy overhear the conversation together.