Gender bias directed towards women has been an issue for hundreds of years. In the workplace, gender discrimination has been a known issue since women began working outside of the home. Women who have tried to build successful careers have had to deal with less opportunity for advancement, lower wages, and unfair perceptions that they are not as competent as their male peers. While movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter demonstrate that the younger generations are unwilling to allow discrimination and prejudice to continue thriving in the U.S., workplace gender discrimination against women is still very common. The employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler regularly handle gender discrimination claims in the workplace and know that much more needs to be done to end it. A recent study helps to illustrate the extensiveness of gender bias in the workplace towards women.
Study about gender discrimination in the workplace
In a study that was published in the journal Science Advances in 2020, researchers from the University of Exeter looked at the prevalence of workplace gender discrimination in the field of veterinary medicine, which was chosen because it has much more female representation than it did in the past. While only 5% of veterinarians were women in 1960, the researchers reported that roughly half of all veterinarians today are women. Many people think that gender discrimination decreases in fields when the proportion of female employees increase. However, that is not what the researchers found. Instead, they found that gender discrimination not only continues to be a problem in the workplace but that it continues to be an issue because of managers and supervisors who do not believe that it remains a problem.
In the study, the researchers gave two groups of managers identical descriptions of two potential employees, including one man and one woman. Many of the managers gave the man a rating of greater competency than the woman. On average, they recommended a starting salary for the man that was 8% than what they recommended offering the woman.
A majority of the managers who gave the woman a lower rating also stated that they do not believe that gender discrimination is still an issue in the workplace. By contrast, managers who did state that gender bias continues to be an issue recommended equal pay for both the hypothetical male and female employees.
The researchers indicated that managers who do not believe that gender bias is a problem are likelier to engage in discriminatory behavior against female employees. They stated that identifying managers and professions that continue to treat women unequally might be easier by identifying those who deny the continued existence of gender bias in modern workplaces.
Of the managers who were surveyed, 66% of those who agreed that gender bias is no longer a problem in workplaces in 2020 were men. However, female managers who also agreed that gender bias was no longer a problem exhibited the same degree of bias towards the hypothetical woman employee as their male peers.
The difference in recommended starting pay for the male vs. the female employee by the managers who did not believe that gender bias is an issue was $3,206. The pay gap closely matched the actual pay gap that exists in veterinary medicine between men and women.
The study was broken down into two parts. During the first part, the managers were asked about the biases they had experienced while working on the job concerning their genders. Women were much likelier than men to report dealing with gender discrimination and also were less likely to be acknowledged for their expertise, hard work, and accomplishments.
The second part was the study in which the managers were asked to evaluate the hypothetical male and female employees with identical past accomplishments. Out of the surveyed managers, 44% reported that gender bias continues to be a problem in their workplaces and profession. Forty-two percent said that it is no longer an issue, and 14% said that they were unsure whether or not it was still an issue. Even when a manager only slightly agreed that gender bias is no longer an issue, he or she still showed prejudice against the prospective female employee and recommended a lower salary for her than the male.
The managers who evaluated the female employee as being less competent than the hypothetical male employee were also less likely to recommend for her to pursue advancement or to give her more responsibilities. This finding demonstrates that pervasive gender bias in the workplace can also limit women’s ability to advance in their careers.
Get help from Swartz Swidler
If you have been subjected to unfair gender discrimination in the workplace, you may have legal rights to pursue compensation. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their gender in hiring, pay, promotions, training opportunities, bonuses, demotions, and termination decisions. If you believe that you have been denied job benefits based on your gender or have learned that you are being paid less than a male coworker with the same job, you should call the employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler at (856) 685-7420 to learn about your legal options and rights.