In today’s day and age, it seems anachronistic for men to consistently earn more than women across a variety of different professions. The mere fact that this trend still exists is indicative of the fact that there are still miles to go before gender inequality is completely eliminated from today’s workplace.
Gender Inequality: a Persisting Problem
Gender inequality is defined as a phenomenon where an individual is discriminated against or receives unequal treatment based on their gender. It is something which has emerged out of skewed perceptions and socially constructed roles for each gender.
In the workplace, it is common for most women to encounter some form of gender bias. This problem persists despite the fact that women have made numerous strides towards greater equality in the last fifty years. In addition, many companies also make pointed efforts to encourage diversity and equality. But none of that changes a simple fact that women still occupy lower paying positions and consistently earn less than their male counterparts.
Women continue to push through gender barriers and more and more of them are choosing careers in traditionally male dominated fields such as technology and engineering. And yet, for all of their efforts, women still get recognized and rewarded less than men. This gender bias is not only unfair; it’s ultimately detrimental to overall corporate performance as well.
What exactly is gender inequality?
When trying to identify gender inequality, it’s important to remember that a person must be treated unequally and unfairly based on their sex. This is as opposed to merely being treated differently.
Here’s an example to illustrate the difference: providing separate bathrooms in an office for males and females is an example of the two sexes being treated differently. When hiring decisions, or decisions related to promotion or continued employment are based on an employee’s gender, then they are being treated unequally and unfairly.
Some Reasons for the Disparity
Why is it that gender inequality is still a problem that many women have to deal with in today’s day and age? Here are a few reasons why gender bias’s still persist.
In order to advance in most businesses or careers, an employee is expected to put in long hours to demonstrate just how committed they are. The amount they’re willing to put in paints a picture of how ambitious they are. In some jobs, travelling is necessary and employees may even have to relocate to different locations either in the country or internationally.
For women, some of these things can be problematic. For instance, relocating might not be possible due to their spouse’s work. In addition, there is necessarily a limit to how much time some women can put in at work, especially if they have families which they need to take care of. Since women are still the primary caregivers in most families, the amount of time they can devote to their job may not be considered enough for them to get the same benefits as men.
Persisting gender bias
While it is true that outright discrimination against women in the workplace is no longer the norm, there are certain ‘second generation biases’ that still exist with respect to gender roles. First generation biases are those which result in intentional discrimination. On the other hand, second generation discrimination is defined as “powerful yet often invisible barriers to women’s advancement that arise from cultural beliefs about gender, as well as workplace structures, practices, and patterns of interactions that inadvertently favor men.”
Why strive for equality in the workplace?
For people who have never experienced gender inequality in the workplace, it might be challenging to understand why having equal rights in the workplace is important.
Having gender equality isn’t just an important issue for women; workplace gender equality is also directly related to the overall economic performance of corporations and in general, the whole country. Studies show that where there is greater workplace equality there is:
Better national economic growth
Increased national productivity
Stronger reputations for companies built upon fairness and equal rights
Increased inflow of highly qualified candidates for jobs
Better overall organizational performance in corporations
What gender equality in the workplace should look like
Ideally, in order to achieve gender equality in the workplace, companies should strive to provide broadly the same outcomes and privileges to both men and women.
Some of the features of this would include:
Equal pay for the jobs or roles which are the same
No barriers for women to participate fully in the workplace
No discrimination against women with regards to their family and caregiving responsibilities
Equal access to leadership positions
How to achieve gender equality in the workplace
For companies serious about improving gender equality in the workplace, here are a few things that can be done:
1. Diversify the training process
Training is essential at all levels of an organization for employees to become educated about the advantages of gender equality. This helps to reduce gender biases and stereotypes.
2. Foster all-inclusive work environments
Encourage women to enter fields which may have traditionally been male dominated and eliminate hostility in the workplace.
3. Encourage mentorships
Women in leadership roles can play a huge role in inspiring and recruiting other talented and driven women.
Gender inequality is a problem that many women still face in the workplace. The best way to eradicate this problem is to increase awareness about its existence in order to dispel any lingering gender biases which may exist. Once that is done, strides can be made towards offering women the same opportunities, salaries, and positions as their male counterparts.