Gender discrimination has historically been the ugly duckling of modern management practice, despite most organizations’ progress in terms of equality and equity in the workplace. Due inhospitable nature of the practice in the workplace, it can take many different forms, but regardless of the form, it always results in unfair treatment of a client, employee, or job applicant because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, when handling cases involving unfair treatment based on a person’s sexual orientation or identity, workplace laws use the terms “gender” and “sex” interchangeably. In light of this, workplace situations in which a person is treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation, sexual identity, ethnicity, or race are all considered gender discrimination (Heilman & Caleo, 2018). It is important for management to communicate the organization’s policies regarding seniority, equity, and fair treatment to all staff members to avoid cases of gender discrimination in the workplace.
Instances of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
Sometimes it is very hard to determine whether gender discrimination has occurred in the workplace unless there are clear guidelines. For instance, guidelines with examples of scenarios showcasing gender discrimination can aid employees in avoiding unfair treatment at the workplace. Some instances of gender discrimination in the workplace are listed below;
- Applying strict standards or using harsh evaluation criteria to those who identify with a particular sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity.
Gender stereotyping has made it difficult for women to acquire certain types of predominantly masculine responsibilities. Therefore, women who intend to take such jobs often meet unbearable opposition from the hiring management team, who often tend to discourage women from taking traditional male jobs by all means necessary (Amis et al. 2018).
- Failing to hire a job applicant or an applicant but offering low pay due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In some cases, women will be offered masculine jobs but at low pay compared to their male counterparts. Such scenarios mostly occur because a larger percentage of people in the management team are male, and they do not believe females can perform masculine jobs like men. In some instances, the instance of management giving less qualified employees promotions while ignoring qualified persons due to their gender or sexual orientation is also a common gender disparity act that occurs in the modern workplace (Heilman & Caleo, 2018).
- Use of slur words, derogatory statements, insults, or hostile remarks on people of dissimilar gender or sexual orientation.
One of the recent instances of gender discrimination is Referring to persons of transgender with inappropriate pronouns or calling them by their dead names. Moreover, being abusive to people of the opposite gender in whatever capacity is also considered gender inequity in the workplace. Finally, Inappropriate sexual advancement, physical or verbal harassment, and unwelcome request for romantic favors are also instances of gender discrimination.
Even though not all instances of gender discrimination are overt or deliberate, their occurrence still requires justice. As a result, every employee must read and comprehend the policies that address gender discrimination. Amis et al. (2018) assert that workplace inequality has been a problem ever since the beginning of civilization, necessitating the creation of a well-thought-out plan to address it. Institutional leadership plays a crucial role in debunking issues concerning gender equality and workplace guidelines on discrimination. Regarding gender roles and representation, most institutional leadership structures do not reflect equality and equity. The gender disparity in women’s educational success over many years has led to the inequality seen in most organizations’ leadership structures, which is neither intentional nor planned. Women are frequently prohibited from enrolling in courses that are thought to be manufacturing-oriented for a very long time in the majority of communities throughout the world (Coffman, Exley, & Niederle, 2021). In most organizational leadership structures, there is no gender equality because it is discouraged for women to enroll in such courses. Therefore, policies that favor men could be to blame for the underrepresentation of women in the corporate world today, but historically women have been treated unfairly.
In determining the level and nature of discrimination in any given organization, the gender of the person in charge is a key factor. Most employees will be able to value women in high organizational positions compared to companies led by men in a scenario where women hold the top position. As a result, the presence of women in senior roles within an organization is more indicative of that company’s support for gender diversity than the absence of women in positions of authority (Bilan et al., 2020). Additionally, compared to male supervisors, female supervisors tend to provide their female employees with greater organizational support. Such tendencies largely depend on the supervisors’ uniqueness and adherence to gender equality. There are more instances of gender parity for women who report to male superiors; this is a blatant sign that women are more likely to face discrimination because of their gender in a workplace where men predominate.
Organizational hierarchies are also very important in determining the level of gender discrimination in a company. Due to its influence on how institutional structures are arranged and managed by the management, organizational hierarchy is a key factor in determining the prevalence of gender discrimination (Amis et al., 2018). For instance, the job ladder, governed by laws that specify how organizations are structured, is primarily divided according to gender roles and functionality. The fact that women in modern institutions tend to choose particular jobs contributes to the gender segregation enforced by the job ladder and is visible in many departments of most modern organizations. In contrast to how men typically predominate in masculine jobs, the jobs for which women are well-known are frequently less tedious and are viewed as feminine roles. As a result, finding mentors in their areas of interest is very difficult for both men and women who want to try careers dominated by the other gender (Heilman & Caleo, 2018). Organizational structures can therefore produce situations that institutionalize gender inequality within corporate culture and thus support discrimination.
Another important factor that has encouraged discrimination against men and women in the workplace today is gender stereotypes. In the modern workplace, some job roles are predominantly thought of as male, while others are considered female. This stereotypical view of gender roles has made it difficult for women to assume primarily male roles, while it has made it difficult for men to take traditionally female jobs (Heilman & Caleo, 2018). Moreover, most decision-makers in organizations also tend to assign male employees to masculine roles and female employees to feminine roles, which is another example of how gender stereotypes are used in the workplace. Therefore, the war against gender parity in the modern workplace is greatly hampered by the inconsistent application of job assignments through traditional stereotypes.
In most contemporary workplaces, women are frequently linked to lower-status roles while men are ranked higher. Since they go against ingrained societal norms, women who are assertive in pursuing high-status positions are frequently viewed as defiant and undesirable to their other workmates (Abosch & Rutka, 2018). Fascinatingly, women who succeed in fields where men predominately hold those positions are frequently praised for overcoming tremendous obstacles. Therefore, stereotyping is most desirable when men or women perform poorly in domains traditionally occupied by people of the other gender. However, when women step into roles that are predominately held by men and succeed, they are celebrated as heroes and inspire and guide other women to do the same. In light of the fact that gender stereotypes at work are not objective but rather subjective, organization leadership should find a way to disprove these gender stereotypes in contemporary workplaces.
Women are negatively impacted by gender discrimination in the workplace in terms of hiring, promotion, pay, and training. This complex issue has existed in the majority of modern organizations. Most contemporary organizations favor patriarchal structures in which men dominate and assume major duties, and women are relegated to subordinate positions. Additionally, most women in the workforce frequently face unrelenting stigmatization and are the targets of processes that stereotype them. While they do their best to combat stigmatization in workplaces with a male predominance, most organizations’ systems do not support their efforts. However, response options in major global corporations frequently limit women’s rights in the workplace while promoting patriarchal structures that support male dominance. Due to the delicate nature of the topic of gender discrimination at work, management involvement is required to make it easier to stigmatize and stereotype certain genders as unfit for certain job roles. Therefore, there is a greater need for processes and procedures to encourage management to promote more women into senior positions while also allowing men who want to fill female roles more urgently needed.
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Amis, J. M., Munir, K. A., Lawrence, T. B., Hirsch, P., & McGahan, A. (2018). Inequality, institutions and organizations. Organization Studies, 39(9), 1131-1152.
Bilan, Y., Mishchuk, H., Samoliuk, N., & Mishchuk, V. (2020). Gender discrimination and its links with compensations and benefits practices in enterprises. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 8(3), 189-203.
Coffman, K. B., Exley, C. L., & Niederle, M. (2021). The role of beliefs in driving gender discrimination. Management Science, 67(6), 3551-3569.
Heilman, M. E., & Caleo, S. (2018). Combatting gender discrimination: A lack of fit framework. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 21(5), 725-744.