Gender bias in the workplace is an insidious problem in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. While this type of bias is illegal, it exists in many workplaces. Because of the state and federal prohibitions against workplace gender discrimination, gender bias is often more subtle instead of overt. Here are some signs that might indicate gender bias exists in your workplace and tips for what to do about it from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
A Suggestion Made by a Female Employee is Not Acknowledged, But the Same Suggestion Made by a Man is Accepted.
In many cases, women who are employed in mid- or executive-level jobs find that the suggestions that they might make at meetings are not recognized. However, when a male coworker makes the same suggestion, he will be acknowledged and rewarded for the idea even though he was not the person who had the idea.
One way to handle this type of problem is to graciously call it out. For example, if a man receives credit for an idea a woman has previously suggested, the woman could clearly state that she had previously stated the same thing and that the man had simply agreed. The tone should emphasize collaboration and not be accusatory. Other people in the meeting can also point out that the idea originated from the woman.
Male Employees Working on Teams Receive More Promotions than Female Employees.
Another common area in which gender bias exists occurs when male team members receive more promotions than women for work completed by the team. When women work on teams, they tend to receive less credit than their male colleagues.
Women can counter this by taking initiative when working on teams and being willing to take credit on the team’s behalf. When women do this, they might be credited for their leadership skills. Female team members might need to speak up even if doing so is outside of their comfort zones.
Women Have to Constantly Prove Themselves.
One common issue for women in the workplace is that they tend to have to constantly prove their competence while male workers are given more wiggle room. Men are frequently judged based on their potential. Women are often instead judged based on the mistakes that they make rather than the quality of the work that they perform.
One way to counter this is for female employees to keep thorough documentation of their achievements in the workplace. Women can list the key metrics they have achieved and exceeded and keep all emails and notes of commendation. Keeping documentation of successes can be helpful when women ask for promotions or update their resumes. Doing so can also be helpful in a later discrimination or retaliation claim.
Women Are Either Respected and Disliked or Likeable and Not Respected.
Gender stereotypes of the expectations of women sometimes bleed into workplaces. Women might feel that if they are tough, they will also be disliked by their co-workers and others within the workplace. At the same time, women who are friendly might not gain the respect of their peers or their supervisors. Trying to find the balance between these things can be difficult.
Women can confront this problem by avoiding unnecessary apologies and not being afraid of showing empathy while also exuding confidence. Being warm when interacting with members of your team can also help. Women can praise people by name who have done something well and use humor. They should not apologize for their requests or ideas, however.
There Are Conflicts With Other Women in Leadership Roles.
In workplace cultures that are strongly gender-biased, few women might have leadership roles. In these types of situations, conflicts might arise between the small number of females employed within the company. This is because some women might feel that the company will only promote one or two women to upper management roles, and women who are already in positions of leadership might feel that they must constantly fight against potential competition from other female workers.
In this type of situation, a female employee might point out the female supervisor’s behavior as it relates to the different standards for men. The female employee might also ask about her performance and ask for how to improve. The lower-level employee should not be confrontational or defensive and should instead accept any feedback she receives. Being able to accept constructive criticism exhibits professionalism and can result in promotions over the long term.
Your Supervisor Questions How Committed You Will Be if or When You Have Children.
Some women work in companies in which their supervisors question them about their commitment to their careers if or when they have children. This type of bias is based on the stereotype that mothers cannot possibly work well outside of the home because of the need to raise their children. At the same time, men whose wives are expecting babies are not asked similar questions.
These types of questions can indicate gender discrimination. If you want to have children or are expecting, you should clearly state that you plan to return. If your company engages in retaliatory behavior because of your pregnancy, you should file a complaint with human resources and consider talking to an employment discrimination attorney about your rights.
Talk to the Experienced Gender Discrimination Attorneys at Swartz Swidler
Early signs of gender bias in the workplace can indicate that gender discrimination could become a real problem at your job. Gender discrimination can include many different types of actions, including pay inequity, failures to promote, favoring one gender over others, and more. If you believe that you have been the victim of gender discrimination in the workplace, you should talk to an experienced employment law attorney.
A lawyer at Swartz Swidler can review what has happened in your case and give you some ideas about what to do at your job to confront the problem. If the conduct rises to the level of discrimination, your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Call us today for a free consultation at (856) 685-7420.