Gender discrimination persists in 2021 as men and women collaborate.
Gender discrimination is illegal under federal law. It occurs when an employee is treated differently or unfairly based on their gender. Female academic internal medicine hospitalists routinely face gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, according to a study published in February 2021. Women frequently reported inappropriate touch, sexual remarks, gestures, and suggestive looks across 18 institutions surveyed. And, more than male physicians, female physicians reported that their gender had a negative effect on their career opportunities.
In a second scenario, the tenure and promotion committee gathered around the Dean of Education’s conference table to evaluate tenure and promotion dossiers. As they examined the credentials of a female faculty member, one of the male full professors remarked, “She’s an old maid.” “I’m curious as to why she’s never married?” Nobody spoke up, and the highly qualified faculty member was never informed about the discrimination that resulted in her being denied tenure and promotion. She was terminated from her position despite the fact that the prestigious university expressly prohibits gender discrimination.
According to new research, gender inequality persists for women who face fewer leadership opportunities in the workplace.
What is incorrect with this image? Federal law prohibits discrimination against women on the basis of their gender. Another recent study, published in February 2021, discovered that women who demonstrate promise early in their academic careers face fewer opportunities for leadership in the workplace. “Our research demonstrates the barriers that women, particularly mothers, face in the workplace,” said Jill Yavorsky, co-author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Discrimination Against Pregnant Women in the Workplace Has a Negative Effect On The Mother’s And Baby’s Health
Discriminatory Workplace Practices
The story of the young female doctor and professor is based on true events that occur on a regular basis in boardrooms, operating rooms, and university conference rooms across the country. Perhaps shocking, but true. Few would deny that we have made significant strides toward workplace equality, but we still have a long way to go before women are fully recognized for their contributions to the workforce on an equal footing with men. How does an organization develop a team when its members are marginalized and discredited due to their gender, race, or sexual orientation?
It is not uncommon for pregnant or nursing women to lose their jobs while on maternity leave (see my post on the subject here). A seminal Baylor University study discovered that pregnancy discrimination has a negative effect on the health of both the mother and the baby. Discrimination against pregnant women was associated with an increase in postpartum depressive symptoms in mothers, as well as lower birth weights, gestational ages, and doctor visits for infants. Another study discovered that female workers who are subjected to workplace sexual harassment are at an increased risk of suicide (see my post on workplace sexual harassment here).
Additionally, it is not uncommon for women to earn less money, receive fewer benefits, have fewer opportunities, or be passed over for jobs or promotions for which they are qualified. In the United States, gender discrimination is expressly prohibited under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Unfortunately, anti-discrimination laws do not always protect women from discriminatory practices, particularly subtle interactions or nuanced body mannerisms that indicate differential treatment. Even in 2021, gender bias continues to affect women, women of color, and transgender women.
According to a CareerBuilder survey, 72% of sexual discrimination victims remain silent out of fear of retaliation from their employers. So what should you do if your employer is discriminatory? You are not permitted to fire your boss. While you cannot take over and restructure the business, you can take a number of other actions:
Recognize your rights. Consult your company’s employee handbooks or policy manuals to ascertain its policy on gender discrimination.
Inform the person directly responsible for the discrimination or harassment of your concern in a firm manner, or notify your human resources officer, supervisor, or manager of the discrimination or harassment.
Maintain an event log. Take note of the date, location, and individuals involved. Write a detailed account of the event and how it impacted your ability to perform your job.
Never destroy any notes or objects that have been used to harass you. Keep them in a secure location.
If all else fails, contact an employment attorney.
Managers Can Take the Following Steps:
By taking the following steps, human resource officers and managers can provide employees with the support they need to address gender discrimination and harassment:
Establish a zero-tolerance policy for gender discrimination in the workplace.
Provide flexible scheduling to accommodate prenatal appointments and/or pregnancy-related medical conditions.
Maintain open communication channels and keep employees informed, particularly regarding work-family benefits and expectations leading up to leave/returning from leave.
Promote breastfeeding acceptance in the workplace.
Maintain an open line of communication with an employee regarding the type of assistance a discriminated employee may require.
Provide education to employees regarding their legal rights against discrimination and ensure that these rights are clearly stated in the company handbook.
Conduct onsite training sessions to educate employees about the effects of gender discrimination and how to prevent it.
If you are an organization’s leader, it is in your organization’s best interest to address the legal obligations you have regarding gender discrimination. If allowed to persist, the toxicity and dissatisfaction will have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line. Eventually, workplace performance deteriorates, and the organization’s integrity is jeopardized. By minimizing, concealing, or turning a blind eye, you effectively create a toxic work culture for all employees. The company becomes a revolving door for employees, making it more difficult to recruit and retain talented employees who can always find a more supportive and mentally healthy work environment that accommodates gender equality for all employees.