Gender Equality In The Workplace Statistics – Understand Yourself Better: The Big 5 Personality Test Learn how to use your natural strengths to determine your next steps and achieve your goals faster. Take the 5 minute quiz
Jump to section What does the fight against gender inequality look like today? Managers can take action to eliminate gender inequality in organizations Employees can take action to combat gender inequality True gender equality intersects The Equal Pay Day, a symbolic event designed to highlight wage inequality, fell on March 24 this year. This day shows how far into the year – 83 more days in 2021 – women have to work to be able to earn the same amount men earned the previous year. Gender inequality in the workplace is not limited to unequal wages either. Women, especially black women, LGBTQ+ women, and women of color, continue to face barriers to leadership positions and may face microaggressions — offensive statements or sensitive questions — related to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity. Leaders need to close the gender gap in career progression and eliminate inequality in the workplace. There are concrete ways to achieve this ideal — transparent pay, flexible work options, training opportunities for women and a focus on wellness and mental health. Employees can also play a role in ensuring gender equality on all fronts by becoming allies, speaking out against instances of discrimination and giving honest feedback to leaders. Before setting out some strategies to combat gender inequality, let’s take a look at how and when the first steps were taken. The fight against gender inequality began in the 19th century.In 1872, Belva Ann Lockwood, an attorney, persuaded the US Congress to pass a law guaranteeing equal pay for women employed as federal employees. Almost a century later, the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, legislating equal pay for men and women in all workplaces. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave women equal rights in all areas of employment and was amended in 1991 to allow women to sue employers for sexual harassment. Despite federal laws against gender discrimination and discrimination, it seeps into the workplace in unimaginable ways. Although some progress has been made, gender inequality persists today. Gender inequality in the workplace: what does it look like today? Gender discrimination in the workplace takes many forms — unequal pay, unequal promotion, incidents of sexual harassment and racism. Often, this presents itself in more subtle ways, such as fewer opportunities for women to become mothers and a higher incidence of burnout among women. Unequal Pay Equal pay for men and women is not yet a reality. In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned for the same job, and black and Latina women earned even less. This gender pay gap has persisted over the years, narrowing by just 8 cents over 25 years. There are multiple factors to blame, including “sticky floors” that result from traditional social norms that prevent women from choosing higher-paying roles and male-dominated industries, unequal access to education, and discrimination. Also, women, especially those who live intersectional realities such as transgender and immigrant women, fear negotiating pay and being penalized if they do. A recent study questioned this notion and found that women ask for a raise as often as men, but only get one 15% of the time compared to 20% when men ask. Barriers to Promotion There is a “broken spectrum” at the manager level: “For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.” This issue is compounded at the highest levels of leadership: Fewer female managers mean fewer candidates for promotion to department heads, directors, and C-suite positions. You can see this lack of representation as clear as day: 62% of C-suite positions are held by white men, compared to 20% by white women (13% held by men of color) and only 4% by women of color. Also, managers often identify candidates for employment opportunities by relying on their personal networks for recommendations, which typically consist of “people like them” (same gender, race, identity). This further perpetuates the imbalance of representation. Bias Against Mothers Mothers and women of childbearing age are less likely to receive callbacks from hiring managers, even when their resumes are similar to those of male applicants or childless women. This points to gender biases rooted in the “work/family narrative,” which views women through a caregiver/mother lens. The (false) conclusion is that their devotion to family and childcare makes them less committed and unable to put in long hours like their male counterparts, especially in high-level jobs. The “gender effect” of the pandemic has hit harder, driving nearly 2 million women, especially mothers with young children, to consider changing careers or leaving the workforce. More burnouts in women Research shows that more women than men, especially in higher positions, deal with constant stress in the work environment. The pandemic nearly doubled the burnout gap between men and women. This makes women more prone to accept “accommodation” such as part-time work or in-house roles that further derail their careers and contribute to gender inequality. Incidence of Sexual Harassment Thirty-five percent of women in the United States experience sexual harassment at some point in their careers: Sexuality is ignored in the workplace. Sexual harassment can also be a direct side effect of pay and promotion discrimination. After the #MeToo movement that started in October 2017, incidents of sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention have declined. But there has been a sharp rise in hostility toward women — a survey found that gender harassment (sexual comments and inappropriate stories from male colleagues) rose from 76% in 2016 to 92% in 2018. Racism Experiences Compared to white women, women of color and women with marginalized identities experience higher rates of disrespect and “othering” microaggressions such as questioning or interrupting. Women of color also lack active allies in the workplace. White employees consider themselves allies of women of color, but less than half actually take even basic steps like speaking out against bias or rallying for new opportunities for women of color. Often, this is because white “allys” and women of color have very different ideas about what is helpful. Steps managers can take to eliminate gender inequality in organizations According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, none of us will see gender equality in our lifetime. Before the pandemic, the report estimated it would take us 99.5 years to achieve gender parity. The Covid-19 pandemic has set us back an entire generation – the 2021 report says the gender gap won’t close for 135.6 years because it has hit women (especially mothers, black women and older women) harder than men. However, these predictions are based on the current state of gender inequality. We can start making a meaningful impact now to close the gap: 1. Educate employees about unconscious gender biases Everyone can have unconscious biases and prejudices about people or groups. Offer managers implicit bias training through the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to make them aware of this hidden bias against minorities so they can proactively avoid discriminatory behavior and make more informed decisions to promote gender equality. 2. Hire diverse interviewers and implement long shortlists to hire more women into top positions Research shows that an extended shortlist of candidates for open positions creates more gender diversity because it forces managers to think beyond the gender stereotypes associated with a role. Train human resource managers how to create such long shortlists during hiring, especially for male-dominated roles, so that more women are hired into top positions. Take steps to ensure interviewer diversity when reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. Research shows that women are more attracted to roles when they see that the interviewer is a woman. 3. Conduct an audit and make salaries transparent Conduct a company-wide audit to ensure that men and women in the same role are paid equally. Use the results to adjust salaries and close any gender wage gaps. In 2013, Buffer adopted full transparency and disclosed all salaries. As a result, their job applications rose from 1,263 in the 30 days before the announcement to 2,886 the following month, expanding the talent pool. 4. Give employees the flexibility to work when and where they work The pandemic has proven that remote work is equally, if not more, productive. Provide flexibility in when and where employees can work. For women, this flexibility in work hours can be a “significant enabler” of retention in the workforce as it allows them to maintain work-life balance. However, if your organization follows a hybrid model, beware of falling victim to presentism, where men who choose to go to the office may be more ‘visible’ in the workplace and therefore unequal.