Gender inequality in the workplace is an umbrella term that includes several policies, mindsets, and attitudes that prevent women and minorities from succeeding at work. It also includes discrimination on the basis of how a certain gender is perceived, and it tends to be more subtle than some of the other negative policies and attitudes in a workplace.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at:
Some examples of gender inequality in the workplace
Tips on making a workplace safe for all genders
What are some examples of gender inequality in the workplace?
Gender inequality at work hinders career growth, promotes favoritism, and unjustly awards certain individuals at the expense of others. Here are five key reasons for gender inequality with some alarming statistics.
Burnout among women
Research indicates that women are more likely to feel burned out at work than men, especially those working in senior leadership positions, and have to deal with constant stress at work. This often leads to women switching from full-time to part-time or accepting lateral promotions in an organization as opposed to moving up the corporate ladder.
Barriers to promotion
When it comes to high-paying jobs, there’s clear discrimination that happens across several organizations. Typically, more men get promoted to senior leadership roles in an organization as compared to women.
The problem is even compounded at a senior management level. According to a 2022 McKinsey Report, 62% of C-suite positions in the United States were occupied by Caucasian men, 20% by Caucasian women, and only 4% by women of color.
Also, when it comes to hiring, most managers turn to their professional networks for recommendations. As a result, they end up hiring people from the same gender, race, and social status as them, which further perpetuates gender inequality in the workplace.
Attitudes towards mothers
Women with kids, as well as new mothers, are often less likely to receive a call from hiring managers, even if they have the same education and experience as men and women without any children.
This bias is due to a deep-rooted belief that women with children are likely to focus more on their families than work and are unable to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Such women are often wrongly assumed to be less focused and committed than their male counterparts and unable to commit to long working hours, especially at senior management levels.
Incidents of sexual harassment
Perhaps the biggest factor for gender inequality at work is sexual harassment. In most incidents of harassment, women are the victims. Soliciting sexual favors in exchange for promotion at work is one of the prime examples of gender inequality. After the #MeToo movement, many organizations have strived to implement strict laws against harassment in the workplace.
The gender pay gap has existed for a long time. According to statistics provided by the Pew Research Center, women earned an average of 82% of what their male counterparts earned in the United States in 2022. This gender pay gap hasn’t changed much since 2002 when it stood at 80%. Some of the reasons for uneven pay include glass ceilings, unequal access to education, gender-based discrimination, and general attitudes toward working women.
How do you address gender inequality issues in the workplace?
Gender inequality represents a serious issue as it hinders people from progressing in their careers. While organizations can do more to bridge this gap, so can you. If you’re working at an organization, here are a few things you can do to play your part in curbing gender inequality in the workplace.
Work on your own biases
As human beings, we’re all likely to have our own biases and prejudices against people, especially on the basis of their gender and ethnicity. However, you can make a conscious effort to remove any biases you have towards others so that your behavior is not perceived as discriminatory by others.
Check up on your colleagues
Stress and anxiety are common in workplaces. However, many times, people are likely to feel these negative emotions if they’re facing discrimination. If you’re working with a team of people, you should consider checking up on your colleagues every now and then. Ask them how they’re doing and if they need help with anything. If someone is feeling discriminated against, they’re likely to open up and share their feelings with you.
Call out instances of discrimination
If you see anyone at work facing discrimination because of their gender, speak up. Report the abuser to the human resources department and offer to serve as a witness in any disciplinary hearing. Talk to the victim, practice compassion, and offer assistance however you can. Remember, the #metoo movement started when one woman decided to speak up against discrimination, so every voice counts.
Become a mentor to women
If you have some experience in tackling or dismantling gender inequality at work, consider becoming a mentor to the women at your workplace. Educate them on identifying signs of discrimination and work with the senior management to devise policies against gender inequality. Your expertise can help save a lot of people from experiencing this type of discrimination at work.
Provide honest feedback
When you’re providing feedback to a team member or a subordinate, make sure to keep your personal biases aside. Offer constructive criticism on work-related responsibilities and provide solutions and recommendations for improvement. Similarly, if your organization has implemented some procedures in place to eliminate gender inequality, be honest when you’re providing feedback on those policies. Let your supervisors know what’s working and what isn’t.
Participate in DEI initiatives
In the wake of rising gender-based discrimination, many organizations are investing heavily in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. If your company has similar policies in place, you can participate and share your feedback on how these policies can be improved.
Work with an ERG
There are several employee resource groups (ERGs) that work closely with women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and marginalized groups. The purpose of these organizations is to create a safe and inclusive space for all people, irrespective of their gender. You can play your part in curbing gender inequality at the workplace by working closely with one of these groups and assisting them with their endeavors.
Gender inequality is one of the biggest challenges in the workplace as it restricts people from gaining employment and advancing in their careers due to their gender.
Over the past few years, several efforts have been made to eliminate gender inequality in the workplace. However, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.
You can play your part in keeping gender inequality at bay by becoming an ally to marginalized groups at work, reporting any discrimination incidents at work, and working on your personal biases against people.