Discrimination and inequality have been issues in the workplace since industrialization began in different times in different societies. The disparities affect the workplace environment, the working experience of the group being discriminated against, workplace policies, and the economic status of minority groups. Gender inequality has silenced women’s voices in the workplace and created an image of how a woman should behave in society. Economic disparity has led to cultural inequality in the workplace. The privileged group is in high-paying jobs, and the minorities are in low-paying jobs, further widening the gap in society. This paper discusses how various aspects in society and the workplace have led to inequality and its influence on work.
Gender roles in most cultures dictate that women are the caregivers and the household responsibilities are theirs, even though these gender roles are more emphasized in some cultures than others. In some cultures, women try to balance the work and household responsibilities of being mothers and wives. They end up supplying fewer working hours to their workplaces than men. The less work output increases the risk of women being forced to work in lower-quality jobs (World Bank, 2011). A good example is in Japan, where a woman, whether educated and working or not, is under social pressure to get married and have children. Women in Japanese households have a lot of responsibilities, such as creating family budgets making decisions on family lifestyles, on top of the expected responsibilities of childrearing and household maintenance (“The Cross-Cultural Perspective | Introduction to Sociology,” 2017).
Stereotypes and Expectations according to gender
Stereotypes exist that put women in some careers and men in others. Men are stereotyped to belong to careers that require strength, and women are stereotyped to belong to jobs that revolve around nurturing and sometimes beauty. These stereotypes are highlighted more in some cultures than others. Therefore, finding people in careers stereotyped to belong to the opposite gender are discriminated against or denied job opportunities. For example, a female foreperson can be denied a job opportunity in a construction site because foreperson positions are expected to be occupied by men. The majority of nurses are women across the globe (Boniol et al., 2019). In the US, 90.8% of hairdressers are women (Statista Research Department, 2022).
A common assumption in society about women is that they are emotional. Therefore, when a woman exhibits anger in the workplace, she is termed hysterical. However, when a man exhibits these attributes, no single person will call him hysterical. Outspoken women in the workplace who exhibit confidence and assertiveness are at a higher risk of being termed disruptive, aggressive, and frightening than men. Athene Donald at Cambridge is an example of an outspoken woman in the workplace. According to her testimony, some of her colleagues feel she is dangerous due to her character (Bostock, 2014).
In organizations where women are a minority, it is hard for their voices to be heard. In meetings where men are the majority, women have testified to not being given a chance to participate, men talking over them, and their input being credited to the man who talked over her. In such organizations, the probability of the leadership having a woman present is low. Therefore, the policies passed and decisions made end up being inconsiderate of women employees or gender discriminative. Men employees are also known for excluding women colleagues in their informal socialization. Wendy Pullan describes it as a ‘boys’ club,’ where her male colleagues exclude her in their banter (Bostock, 2014).
Power disparities based on culture – Economic inequality
Cultural minorities have high chances of living in low-income neighborhoods due to the effects of immigration and socioeconomic position. In these neighborhoods, there is high discrimination concerning race. This discrimination also spreads to the workplaces (Piekut, 2021). Those people who live in ghettos have limited educational and economic resources. A significant number do not complete their studies, limiting their qualifications for high-income job positions. Therefore, they end up in low-paying jobs such as janitorial positions and support staff. In the described situation, these people are distinctively from minority cultures. Therefore an organization in such an environment finds itself that the dominant culture is in leadership positions and high paying jobs, and the minority culture is in the low paying jobs. This depicts cultural inequality in the workplace.
Reduced employee engagement
Some organizations have cultures and policies that lead to gender inequality. In some organizations, women are paid less than men, take longer to be promoted and occupy fewer leadership positions. As a result, women acquire a lower socioeconomic status when compared to men. A contributing factor is the expected responsibilities of women. As the designated household caregivers and nurturers, their careers come second, or they are forced to put in fewer work hours. This leads to less pay, less promotion, and consequently, fewer leadership opportunities. As a result, the present women in the organization get frustrated, which affects the workplace environment. Tensions are high, possibly leading to disengaged employees (Bostock, 2014).
Discrimination usually occurs when a certain smaller group exhibits noticeable differences from the majority group. The workplace is a small segment of society where people of different gender, culture, economic status, and other aspects interact on a daily basis. The discrimination and equality experienced in the workplace represent the discrimination and equality taking place in society. Organizations should strive to diminish cultural, gender, and economic inequality by creating policies that ensure equal representation and opportunities for minority groups.
Boniol, M., Mcisaac, M., Xu, L., Wuliji, T., Diallo, K., & Campbell, J. (2019). Gender equity in the health workforce: Analysis of 104 countries Health Workforce Working paper 1. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/311314/WHO-HIS-HWF-Gender-WP1-2019.1-eng.pdf
Bostock, J. (2014). The meaning of success : insights from women at Cambridge Chapter 3 : Gender and its effect on working life. Retrieved from https://www.cam.ac.uk/women-at-cambridge/chapters-and-themes/chapter-3-gender-and-its-effect-on-working-life
Piekut, A. (2021). Re-Theorising Spatial Segregation: A European Perspective. The Urban Book Series, 13–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-74544-8_2
Statista Research Department. (2022, January 11). U.S.: hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by gender 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from Statista website: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1086926/share-hairdressers-hairstylists-cosmetologists-united-states-gender/#:~:text=Gender%20distribution%20of%20hairdressers%2C%20hairstylists%20and%20cosmetologists%20in%20the%20U.S.%202020&text=In%202020%2C%2090.8%20percent%20
The Cross-Cultural Perspective | Introduction to Sociology. (2017). Retrieved from Lumenlearning.com website: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/cochise-sociology-os/chapter/the-cross-cultural-perspective/
World Bank. (2011). Gender Differences in Employment and Why They Matter. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from GSDRC website: https://gsdrc.org/document-library/gender-differences-in-employment-and-why-they-matter/#:~:text=Women%20are%20more%20likely%20to