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Gender Bias in the Workplace

Despite the significant advancements and legal protections of recent years, gender discrimination is still a major problem in the workplace. Laws such as Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 were enacted to prevent gender bias, but issues including unequal pay and sexual harassment continue to harm women in industries across the country.

The issue is especially prevalent, and easy to overlook, in male-dominated industries, such as IT. Gender bias is a form of discrimination, and is therefore a prohibited practice in the workplace. Some forms of bias are obvious, while others may be harder to recognize. So how do you determine whether you’ve been a victim of gender bias in the workplace? In addition to protecting yourself from further discrimination, calling attention to gender bias helps other employees who may also be suffering.

Common Types of Gender Bias

A recent study revealed that most men think workplace gender bias is less of an issue than it actually is. More of a surprise, however, is the fact that both sexes tend to underestimate the amount of corporate discrimination, especially when it comes to women of color. The 2017 Women in the Workplace study, conducted by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co., shows that nearly half of men surveyed believe that women account for a well-represented portion of senior positions, even though only one in 10 of these positions is held by a female. One-third of women agree. Common types of gender bias include:

  • Unequal pay: Unequal pay based on gender is a form of sex discrimination, and it’s illegal. According to a Pew Research Center Study, women earned 83 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2015. A MA employment law attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace.
  • Interview questions: Studies show that women are often asked different questions than their male counterparts, such as do you have children, and do you intend to have children in the future. Neither of these questions belongs in a job interview, and men almost never get asked questions about family life.
  • Less responsibility: If a female employee of a delivery company offers to help a male employee lift heavy boxes, and the male employee responds by saying “No thanks, the men can do the heavy lifting, sweetheart,” this is a form of gender bias. This kind of subtle gender bias can often do the most damage because it’s rarely reported. As such, it sets the tone for the kind of behavior that is accepted in the workplace. When a male and female employee have the same job, they should have the same responsibilities.
  • Sexual harassment: In some cases, sexual harassment is blatantly obvious; a male superior might tell a female employee that she’ll lose her job if she doesn’t sleep with him. In most situations, however, sexual harassment is more subtle. A common example is when a male boss regularly makes inappropriate jokes and sexual innuendos around a female co-worker, even though it makes her uncomfortable. Sexual harassment in the workplace is never acceptable. A Boston employment law attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment.

And gender diversity is simply better for business. According to a 2015 McKinsey study, gender-diverse companies outperform homogenous organizations at a 15 percent higher rate.

“People need to believe that a more diverse company is a better company: More productive, more creative, more collaborative, more innovative and ultimately more profitable,” said Omer Molad, CEO and co-founder of Vervoe, an online hiring company. “The evidence of this is everywhere, and it’s compelling.”

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Employment Law Firm

If you believe that you are being discriminated against in the workplace, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of MA workers for more than 50 years. In 2017, gender bias in the workplace should be a thing of the past. But it’s not. If you are a victim of gender bias or any other type of discrimination, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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