Discrimination, including gender discrimination, still persists in the American workplace as of 2013. While much progress has been made, women still earn less than men in typical jobs and get passed over for many for promotions when they have equal qualifications. Several factors contribute to the fact that discrimination still exists.
While many women have proven they can balance family and work, many managers still hold women's ability to get pregnant against them in some cases. In considering a promotion, a manager may factor in the potential that a female candidate could get pregnant at some point and miss extended periods of work. Men, just like women, do typically have the ability to take off up to three months of time off unpaid after the arrival of a baby thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, however, this doesn't seem to affect a man's potential for job promotion.
Personality Double Standards
An April 2010 article by personal branding expert and speaker Michelle Villalobos pointed out that workplace cultures still hold to a number of conventional double standards. Some women have become more assertive and active in organizations, especially as more women have taken on management positions, however, strong, vocal female leaders often struggle with negative viewpoints men, and some women, have toward them. These same assertive traits are viewed as strengths in men in management roles.
An April 2008 article on the Today Health website also indicated that the stereotype of men as the breadwinner and women as the household manager still persists in many cases. Even with many women working, women still perform the majority of household duties in nearly two-thirds of families, including cleaning and childcare. This perception that women don't "have" to work or don't "need" the income contributes to the persistence of the wage gap. Employers sometimes feel like they don't have to offer a women as much to get them to accept an offer or a promotion.
A simple, but very real driver of workplace discrimination is the very traditional views still held by many individual workers. Even in organizations that systemically promote non-discrimination and fairness, individuals at any level can discriminate. Those in management roles who discriminate have greater ability to influence work opportunities for female employees. Nearly 84 percent of sexual harassment reports in 2011 were made by women, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This shows that some work cultures still don't hold women in the same professional regard as men.
- National Women's Law Center: Sex Discrimination in the Workplace Persists, Despite iPhones
- MichelleVillalobos.com: The Double Standard At Work: Walking The Tightrope Between “Bimbo” and “Bitch”
- Choices Campus Blog: The Relationship Between Unequal Pay and Other Forms of Gender Discrimination
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Sexual Harassment Charges EEOC & FEPAs Combined: FY 1997 - FY 2011
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.