ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — August 2003

In This Issue

Changing Attitudes and Accelerating Change
Coaching and Performance Reviews—Time for Some Changes
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality
Looking Toward the Future

In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life


AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
The Help Desk
News Bites
What’s Up?

Book Nook

August 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

News Bites
Information of interest from other publications related to quality, participation, change, and leadership

University of Michigan Study Helps Define Why Fewer Women Choose Math-Based Careers
A study by two University of Michigan researchers suggests that girls and boys who are confident in their math abilities tend to pick a science career based on their values more than on their skills.
The study found that both boys and girls who were people-oriented tended to choose college majors in the biological sciences—medicine, environmental sciences, or social sciences—rather than the mathematically based sciences, such as engineering, physics, or astronomy. It also found that math self-confidence, while stronger in boys than girls, played a much smaller role in the choice of college majors and careers than previously thought.

The study by Jacquelynne Eccles, a professor of psychology and women’s studies and a research scientist in the university’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) and Mina Vida, a research associate in IRWG, is based on a data set collected over 17 years as part of the Michigan Study of Adolescent Life Transitions (MSALT). MSALT followed some 1,700 southeastern Michigan students from sixth grade through college and beyond, looking at a wide variety of interests, motivation, and achievement-related self-concepts.

“Girls do tend to underestimate their math ability in high school even though their actual performance is just as good as that of the boys, but that’s not what pushes them away from mathematically based majors,” Eccles said. “There are two key factors in that decision: how much they believe in the ultimate utility of mathematics and how much they value working with and for people.”

Boys in the survey tended to rank the utility of mathematics more highly while girls placed a higher value on English. In addition, girls were more likely to be people-oriented. “Given this data, it’s not surprising that there are many more men than women in math-based majors and careers,” Eccles said. “Boys’ beliefs and values are pulling them toward those areas while girls’ are pushing them in other directions.”

Eccles points out that women are going into science, but they tend to concentrate on the life and social sciences. For instance, in 1997, 63% of psychologists and 42% of biologists were women, compared with 10% of physicists and astronomers and 9% of engineers. In 2002, women made up 43% of the incoming U-M Medical School class, but were just 14% of doctoral students in the College of Engineering.

Eccles and Vida’s research suggests that those who want to attract and retain more women in math-based academic programs and careers in industry need to develop different intervention programs for girls and young women. “It’s not enough to simply try to raise girls’ confidence levels,” Eccles said. “We need to develop interventions that will not only demonstrate the utility of mathematics, but also show how the mathematically based sciences do something concrete to help people.”

Brazil Announces National Quality Awards
PGQP, ASQ’s WorldPartner in Brazil presented awards to Aços Finos Piratini in the large enterprise category, Polietileno Industria e Comercio S.A. in mid-size enterprises, and Hospital Irmandade Santa Casa de Misericordia de Porto Alegre in the nonprofit organization category. Other finalists were two Dana Corporation divisions: Caraiba Metais S.A. and SECRAE/MG.

Lawmakers Urged to Agree on Medical Error Fixes
n June, patient safety experts urged Congress to break an impasse over medical errors legislation, saying that federal action was essential to forming a “culture of quality” at U.S. hospitals.
A bill creating a new system of nonprofit “patient safety organizations” to collect anonymous reports of hospital errors or “near-misses” overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House in March, but the measure has stalled in the Senate because of disagreements over whether such reports should be available to the public or should be immune from lawsuits.

Leaders from national patient safety groups pleaded with lawmakers to find agreement on the bill. They warned that U.S. hospitals have balked at substantially improving patient safety systems over the last few years.

A 1999 report from the federally funded Institute of Medicine estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year because of preventable medical errors. The report spurred Congress and several private groups to begin efforts to enhance safety practices at health care institutions.

Park Place Lexus Named 2003 Texas Award for Performance Excellence Recipient
The Quality Texas Foundation, administrator of Texas’ premier annual performance excellence award, announced that a luxury car dealership based in Plano is the exclusive recipient of the 2003 Texas Award for Performance Excellence. Park Place Lexus, founded in 1991, provides new and pre-owned automotive sales in addition to automotive service, parts sales, financing, and other services. Their mission is, “We will be the leader in the personal automotive industry by exceeding clients’ expectations in partnership with our members.”

Park Place Lexus is the seventh largest Lexus dealership in the nation. The organization’s core convictions include: produce results, act with integrity, personify quality, value and respect each other, and learn. The dealership’s success can be attributed to many performance excellence principles, including exceeding clients’ expectations, earning their trust, and developing long-term relationships.

In announcing the selection, Quality Texas Foundation board chairman Dale Crownover said, “The Quality Texas Foundation board congratulates Park Place Lexus and looks forward to the sharing of best practices.” Crownover also commended the organization and its leadership, stating, “Through persistence and a commitment to improving, the organization has accomplished its vision of achieving higher levels of performance excellence.”

Women More Concerned About Retirement
Women are more concerned than men about retirement security, partly because they have less confidence in investment portfolios and savings levels, according to a new industry survey.

The study—released in June 2003 by Prudential Financial in Newark, NJ—found that only 57% of the women polled were confident they could achieve their retirement goals, compared with 73% of the men. The survey was conducted in December 2002 with 359 men and women between the ages of 45 and 60 who were employed full time. They were selected by random-digit telephone dialing. The survey had a margin of error of five percentage points.

The survey also revealed that 47% of women worry about having to postpone retirement while only 32% of men share that concern. Additionally, women tend to be less satisfied than men with their current level of household savings.

“It’s a confidence issue, it’s a learning issue, but also, women are being faced with the demographic issue of living longer and having to prepare for that,” said Gail Farkas, vice president of agency distribution marketing for Prudential Financial.

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