In the previous article about gender bias and balance, we explored how gender norms and attitudes are formed in childhood. In this article, we’ll discuss how those norms and attitudes have spilled into the workplace as we look at the current status of the female workforce in the U.S.
Some of the most telling information about gender bias and imbalance in corporate America comes from current statistics:
- Women hold only 26% of jobs in computer-related fields.
- Only 27.1% of working women are managers and leaders.
- 42% of women at work claim to have been discriminated against due to gender.
- 55% of women in senior roles have experienced sexual harassment.
- The pay gap between men and women is 20%.
- 48% of working women occupy entry-level roles.
- Work-life balance issues affect 72% of working women.
- For the past 20 years, the number of female engineers has increased a mere 2%.
Women have come a long way, baby, but they still have a way to go to achieve real workplace equality.
Interestingly, even in female-dominated industries like law, higher education, faith-based nonprofits, and healthcare, gender bias is still prevalent. Apparently, balance doesn’t always promote equality and the “add women and stir” approach isn’t enough (Harvard Business Review). In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that even in the abovementioned fields, women still encounter a host of biases, including (but not limited to):
- Constrained communication
- Feeling like they have to downplay their accomplishments and be discreet about exerting authority
- Lack of acknowledgement for their contributions
- Workplace harassment
- Salary inequality
- Attitudes about “styles” – men are forceful but women are hysterical when dealing with the same type of situation.
“Clearly,” the study authors assert, “Bias is built into the system and continues to operate even when more women than men are present.”
Men’s Views on Gender Bias
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how women feel about gender inequality in the workplace. However, understanding how men view it is another way to get to the root of the problem.
Gender bias is often unconscious on men’s part. When asked, 20% of men don’t believe gender inequality is a reality because they don’t perceive it in themselves. However, studies have found that many men unconsciously perceive women in positions of power as a threat to their masculinity and behave more assertively as a result, perhaps subconsciously.
Even more interesting is the fact that 28% of men believe women’s strides toward workplace equality have come at their expense. A male law partner at Duane Morris asserts that while women undeniably bear the brunt of workplace discrimination, the effort to turn the tables is resulting in negative repercussions for men because some employers are leaning too far in the other direction to avoid allegations of misconduct (SHRM).
The long and the short of this is that gender diversity and equality in the workplace is beneficial to all. In the next article, we will discuss ways to achieve this desirable state.