It’s 2023 — The economy is still recovering from the pandemic, the labor market is working to bounce back, and women have officially overtaken men in the workforce. According to Pew research from the fall of 2022, women “account for more than half (50.7%) of the college-educated labor force in the United States.”
This means that in many sectors of the American workforce, you’re more likely to see a woman clocking in than a man—and yet, gender bias in the workplace is still a major problem.
According to research published this year, women on average make only 82% of what their male counterparts do. The same study also found that “when asked about the factors that may play a role in the gender wage gap, half of U.S. adults point to women being treated differently by employers as a major reason…”
But the negative effects of gender bias in the workplace don’t end there, which is why we’ve created a list of things women can do to combat workplace gender bias in their own jobs.
That said, women should not be the only ones bearing the brunt of this responsibility. Eradicating gender bias in the workplace must be a group effort — Which brings us to our first tip!
This advice pertains to everyone in the workplace, because anyone with even a little bit of power within a system, can have biases that affect the way they make decisions and treat others. These biases can be blatant, for example, having a boss who openly treats his female employees with less respect. But more often, in today’s climate, gender biases are subtle, and sometimes they go entirely undetected.
Here are two examples of unconscious gender bias in the hiring world that were reported on by Lean In – a group dedicated to promoting gender inclusion in the workplace.
Female candidates that listed “Parent-Teacher Association Coordinator” on their resumes, and who therefore were assumed to have children, were 79% less likely to be hired. If one of these candidates did get a call, she would be offered an average of $11,000 less in salary. (Reported in Lever, 2023)
By switching a female name to a male name on a job application, it was found that hiring managers were 60% more likely to say they would hire the applicant. (Lever, 2023)
Now, let’s think about what was going on in those hiring meetings. It’s unlikely that anyone in the room outwardly expressed gender bias. Very seldom will you hear a hiring manager actually say things like “I don’t hire mothers” or “I prefer hiring men”?Instead, these biases are usually unconscious. But regardless of the manager’s awareness, the result is the same—fewer women being hired. Unconscious biases can be just as, if not more, dangerous than conscious ones. This is why everyone needs to be hyper-aware and overly cautious when making decisions that pertain to hiring, promoting, giving raises, etc.
Gender biases are not the only way that some women are discriminated against in the workplace. In 2021, the US Census Bureau reported that for every dollar earned by White men, Hispanic/Latina women earned an estimated 58 cents, Black women earned 63 cents, and White women earned 79 cents.
Additionally, research published in 2022 by Lean In found that “LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities are more likely to experience demeaning and “other” microaggressions” at work.
Straight, able-bodied, white women make more money and experience less discrimination in the workplace. These privileges must be recognized and used to the advantage of others. Women in these positions have power and leverage that some of their female coworkers don’t, and they should use that power to benefit other women in the company whenever possible.
It’s time to break the taboo of talking about your salary.
Pay gaps and gender biases flourish in an environment where people are too afraid to talk about things like income. But information is key to winning the fight against workplace gender discrimination.
How are you going to know that your female coworker with a disability makes less than you if you never mention your salary? How are others going to learn about their own hiring biases if their preference for male applicants is never pointed out?Advocacy is the name of the game here—speak up for yourself, speak up for others, and be as transparent as possible, so that this problem stops getting swept under the rug.
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