Women once had no place in the corporate world. Over time, they have made their way into the workforce, but still face centuries of male privilege. The civil rights laws have made it illegal for women to be discriminated against at work on the basis of their gender, but discrimination still occurs frequently, sometimes in a subtle way.
For every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 80.5 cents, according to data from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau. It found that women’s median annual earnings are $10,086 less than that of men’s. Women between the ages of 25 and 34 earned slightly more, around 90 percent of what men earned.
Numerous tests were conducted on this subject to demonstrate the income disparities between men and women. In one study, participants were given a resume to study. Half of the resumes had a woman’s name on them, while the other half had a man’s name, the rest of the resume being identical. The participants were then asked the salary they would suggest for the owner of the resume. The study revealed that participants consistently suggested higher wages for the man’s resume than the woman’s.
Another study looked at real-world transactions on the online selling platform eBay. For identical brand new items, buyers were willing to pay men sellers about 20 percent more than women sellers. Even with all variable factors controlled, such as the seller’s reputation, item description and images, the disparity in prices was still 19 percent. For set value gift cards, buyers were still willing to pay 6.9 percent more to men than women. While nobody probably went out thinking that they wanted to pay more to a man seller than a woman for the same item, the unconscious bias still exists in many people.
In a different type of study, auditioning musicians played behind a curtain so that the judges would not know their gender. It was found that a woman’s chances of making it to the final round increased by 33 percent compared to if the judges knew her gender.
Men in high positions are usually respected and listened to, but women in high positions do not receive the same treatment. Instead, others in the workplace may assume that the woman was promoted because of her looks, or that she might have exchanged sexual favors for her promotion.
Even if a company practices a no-discrimination policy, giving men and women equal jobs, pay and benefits, women are still more likely to encounter untenable behavior in the workplace due to their gender. Sexual jokes and objectifying comments are often directed towards women workers, with men claiming that they were “just teasing”. While a single jokes may seem to do no harm, subjecting a person to these comments on a daily basis falls under harassment.
Additionally, women are often abused by their colleagues, co-workers or superiors. Some may molest them or force them into sexual acts, while others may require them to perform sexual favors in order for advancement.
When the #MeToo movement went viral on social media, it exposed many men who had taken advantage of women and sexually abused them. One example was the Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, who had more than 80 allegations made against him by women, including celebrities. He was fired from his production company and sentenced to 23 years in jail.
It is worth nothing that although men are the perpetrators and women are the victims in the majority of cases, not only men are responsible for sexual harassment, and not only women are victims of it. Women are just as likely to sexually harass someone and men are just as likely to become victims.
Although federal laws protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace, some companies may have a loose policy that does not take sexual harassment seriously. In some cases, women were fired from their jobs after bringing up cases of sexual harassment to their managers. AJ Vandermeyden, a female engineer at the luxury car manufacturer Tesla, accused Tesla of ignoring her complaints of sexual harassment and getting less pay than her male counterparts. She was then fired for her complaints. Making her case public, Vandermeyden claimed she was taunted and catcalled by male colleagues and that Tesla failed to address her complaints about the harassment, unequal pay and discrimination.
A woman may work as hard as a man and do as good a job as he does, but regardless of her skills, qualifications or experience, she would be promoted at a slower rate than her male counterpart and may hold a different job title from him.
In some cases, women are not promoted at all to senior positions, despite fulfilling all the requirements and being the most qualified for the position. This is often referred to as the proverbial “glass ceiling”, an unwritten code that prevents women from holding certain positions that would put them in a higher rank than men. Unfortunately, this is often due to bias and people’s attitudes towards women in the workplace – some men may find it outrageous that they would have to report to a woman and take orders from her.
While explicit glass ceilings have mostly been shattered, promotional bias still exists to some extent. In 1990, there were just six women out of 500 CEOs featured on Fortune 500’s list. In 2017, the number of women rose to 32 – definitely a good increase, but not enough considering the rest of the 468 CEOs on the list are men, leaving women to a measly seven percent of the CEO population.
Women are often asked at job interviews if they have children or are planning to. It is a count of discrimination if having children has nothing to do with how well a woman can perform the job she is applying for.
However, women are still asked these questions because employers hire based on the possibility of maternity leave. If a woman has a child and needs to take paid maternity leave, the company would potentially be losing money and manpower. Additionally, most people may implicitly associate women with family and children, leading employers to think that a man may be a better fit for a job than a woman with the exact same qualifications simply because the woman may choose to put her family first.
When women do get pregnant, they are sometimes fired from their jobs or forced to take unpaid leave. Employers may believe that a woman who has a child is less committed to her career, or that she cannot be a good mother and a good employee at the same time.