Does Gender Bias Occur Within The Workplace?

by Natasha Mughal

Unconscious gender bias occurs with both female and males; however it appears that the bias is considerably more negative for women then men.

When applied to workers having children, men may be viewed in the workplace in a positive manner and subsequently be seen as significantly more stable. As well as this, they are seen more capable as leaders and as a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, women may be seen in a less positive manner because they are more likely to take time off and work may shift in their list of priorities. Motherhood in general can be seen as a negative attribute for productivity in the workplace, where women’s chances of promotion are cut by 70% if she is a mother.

Women are also seen as suffering from ‘double whammy’ setbacks, as they do not only have to take time off to have children; but when they do eventually go back to work, they may no longer be able to obtain their role at the previous level of responsibility. Wages also become an issue and may drop by 5% for each year that the mother absent from her job. This may be the reason as to why women may consider children to create barriers. The Institute of Leadership and Management note that 20% of women considered that children created barriers to career progression against 7% of men.

This form of gender stereotyping is prevalent within certain job roles. For example, when picturing a surgeon, we may automatically think of the surgeon as being male and when picturing a nurse, we may automatically think of the nurse being female. Of course there are female surgeons and male nurses but the unconscious bias or preconceived connotations of these job roles are already embedded in many of our brains from a very young age; stemming from family, friends and within culture, which unconsciously affect us and mound our views.

A man can be seen as being capable of having both a high-powered career and family, whereas a woman may have to prioritise her career over family in order to reach the same level as a man, which may result in her not having her own family. Even if a woman obtains a job that is perceived as being masculine, she may not receive the same salary. However if a male obtains a job that is perceived as being feminine, then he may receive the same or higher level of pay but he may be ridiculed about the role. So although men may be in a better position then women within the workplace, they still face other forms of unconscious gender bias.

This begs the question as to what can be done to alter this unconscious gender bias and to finally make the genders balance. Something to ponder perhaps or let us know what you think should be done @NetworkHRJobs.

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