Women are in a position of power everywhere around the world. Be it running a country, flying a jet, or running a business, we are doing it all! As much as we adore financial independence and having our own identity, some struggles seem inevitable. Often a topic discussed among co-workers is the difference between men and women at work. While definitely, not all workplaces are the same, in most, women are treated differently than men intentionally or unintentionally.
Gender bias: What experts say about men and women at work?
A study was conducted in 2017 on a multinational firm to find out whether men and women are treated differently at work. The first thing that came to notice while collecting the data was that fewer women are employed in upper management. In the entry levels, there were 30% to 40% of women employed, the upper two-tier of the company had only 20% of women employed.
During the investigation, the research experts gave all employees sociometric badges so they could track in-person behaviour. Along with that they also collected the email communication and meeting schedules of the employees. After analyzing the data, they found that men and women portrayed the same behaviour in the office. Still, the difference in lack of senior-level opportunities and difference between the promotion rate between men and women existed.
Gender inequality prevails because of bias.
If both genders behaved in the same manner, why the difference? The difference was observed in the way men and women were treated. Gender inequality prevails because of bias. Bias is when two people are behaving in the same manner yet being treated differently. The problem is not in the action, but how those actions are perceived. There are several reasons why this gender bias exists. In the company, where the research was conducted, women tended to leave the company in the middle of their seniority, between four to ten years. The reasons are presumed to start a family or raise a kid. Michelle J. Budig, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, in his paper on ‘The Fatherhood Bonus and The Motherhood Penalty,’ concluded how men are perceived as responsible after becoming fathers, while women are deemed as being less committed to work.
What can we do?
While several companies run leadership programmes to uplift women and encourage them, the problem remains unsolved. Instead, companies should pay more attention to consciously reducing the gender bias amongst employees. A company should conduct research and treat gender bias as any other business problem. They should collect the data to uncover gender bias in their organization. After getting the data, they need to work on where exactly the women are facing bias and brainstorm steps to overcome it. Just how a woman’s marriage and pregnancy are celebrated, let’s celebrate their promotions and graduations too.