Discrimination against Women in the Workplace

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Various studies report that inequality still persists despite women making great milestones in the place of work (Bach, 2018). A recent survey conducted by Social Institutions and Gender Index (2018) shows that women discrimination in the United States is much higher when compared to discrimination against women in Australia, Colombia, regions of Eastern Europe, and Western Europe (Bach, 2018). The report by Social Institutions and Gender Index also highlighted the existing gender compensation differences in US, as well as the perseverance of an unconscious gender discrimination (Bach, 2018).

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These findings are attributed to female underrepresentation in the workplace. According to research, close to 42 percent of working women in US have reported experiencing discrimination on work due to their gender (Parker & Funk, 2017). This highlights the disparity in gender discrimination, simply observing the sheer size of reportings relative to harassment reports by men provide concrete evidence. In 2017, Pew Research Center undertook a survey to investigate women’s experiences with regards to discrimination at work; According to the Pew Research Center findings, women report a wide range of personal experiences, stretching all the way from receiving less pay than male colleagues for performing similar work to being denied the opportunity to take on crucial work assignments (Parker & Funk, 2017). More studies conducted among working adults show that females are almost twice (42% women compared to 22% males) as likely as males to report they have faced one or more of various forms of gender discrimination on the job (Gough & Noonan 2013).

While some countries including the United States has put into place anti-discrimination laws to curb cases of gender and sexual discrimination, societal roles, rules, and practices instruct and motivate men to devalue or value women (Wolfe, 2019). Women are constantly subjected to unfair behavior for instance being told “you run like a girl” has somehow become a common thing to say. But the question is where did the idea that women or girls some how do things “poorly” compared to boys or men. It is ridiculous that women who are competent and skilled may be left out of consideration in promotions because they are perceived to have a chance of getting pregnant (Wolfe, 2019). Nevertheless, a job may be given to a man who is less competent simply because he is a man. The most rampant form of gender discrimination encountered by women is pay or income inequality. 25% of employed women in US report they have been paid less compared to a male counterpart doing the same work (Parker & Funk, 2017). Research reveals that only 5% of working men report to have received less pay than a female colleague. As reported by the US Census Bureau, women earn 20% less than what men earn (Bach, 2018). In comparison to men, women are about four times (23% of working females versus 6% of employed males) more likely to report they have been handled in a manner that demonstrates that they are less skilled because of their gender (Parker & Funk, 2017).

Although pay gap is considered as the main form of gender discrimination, there are also notable gaps on other areas. 15 percent of employed women report they have earned little support from senior managers compared to a male who was performing similar task. In contrast, only 7% of employed males say to have experienced similar encounter. Working women are twice (10% of working women versus 5% men) as likely as men to report that they have not been shortlisted for the most valuable job assignments as result of their gender (Plickert & Sterling, 2017). Considering the arguments presented above, this paper hypothesized that women are more discriminated in the workplace because of their gender. Furthermore, the paper theorized that women are discriminated against in the workplace not because of their performance level, but because of the existing societal roles, norms and rules. In fact, some of females have made significant achievement in terms of education, management, leadership, and other aspects of life. Perhaps if we continue to shed light on the discrimination of women in the workplace eventually things will improve.

According to Gough and Noonan (2013), the belief that females are less dedicated and motivated in their careers is among the most cited explanations for ongoing women discrimination in work. Several researchers and scholars hold the view that stereotyped stigmas lead to women getting less challenging responsibilities than their male colleagues (Plickert & Sterling, 2017). The act of assigning less challenging tasks to women hinders career growth and development in females. Focusing on social roles and gender stereotypes, spreads discrimination into the workplace. Masculine customs demonstrated in the performance of high risk assignments and hard work still dictate many blue collar workplaces. The demand to demonstrate masculinity assumes a diverse form among workers (Thornton, 2016). In high-ranked occupations such as legal firms, the symbol of masculinity is propagated by professionals performing tasks for long hours to exhibit commitment in the place of work (Thornton, 2016).

Women, in particular mothers, encounter gender stereotypes concerning being less dedicated to their job, inability to meet a job assignment and underrated in their performance despite performing just as well as the opposite sex. According to the US labor force, an ideal employee is defined as a person who works weekly for 40 hours and overtime, has no or little to no time to bare and raise children, and is regularly available to the employer (Plickert & Sterling, 2017). Going by this definition alone is proof to conclude that women face difficulties in undertaking and meeting the expectations that are important to the firm. The notion that women are less committed to work may commence once women marry. This is in line with the supposition that women will get pregnant the moment they marry. Plickert and Sterling (2017) argue that when women come back from maternity leave, they start to experience differential treatment in the workplace. For example, the moment women return from family leave, their work commitment is questioned and they may be passed over for vital job promotions or assignments. Women are treated in a manner that assumes they have become less skilled because of giving birth.

Studies by Sloan (2012), and Budig and Hodges (2010) point out that it is presumed the moment women birth kids, they can no longer be dedicated to both job and family. Nonetheless, the researchers (Sloan (2012); and Budig and Hodges (2010) reveal that it is job experiences and not societal or gender obligations that determine dedication to a job. Taking into account the variations in insights of cultural “ideal job” requirements of mothers and fathers, females are not expected to be full time employees. Within the context of men, full-time job time tables and families are seen as compatible commitments (Sloan, 2012). On the other hand, an identical combination for females is considered as competing dedications (Sloan, 2012). Generally, the biased perceptions of performance and commitment promote women discrimination in the workplace.

Another explanation proposed for the persisting women discrimination in places of work is the differences by education. Among working females, the proportion of women reporting to have witnessed workplace sexual abuse is approximately the same across, educational, partisan, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds (Parker & Funk, 2017). However, research shows that the situation is much different when it comes to specific types of discrimination in the workplace. Research has identified significant variations among women that are deeply ingrained mostly in their education level (Sloan, 2012). Females with a University degree or higher education level report to experience discrimination within a scale that is at a considerably higher rates compared to females with lower education levels. 57% of employed women with postgraduate degree report they have faced some form of workplace gender discrimination (Parker & Funk, 2017). This number is relatively higher compared to 40% of women with bachelor’s degree and 39% of women who never completed college reporting similar experiences (Parker & Funk, 2017).

About 29% of women having postgraduate degree claim they have encountered recurrent discrimination on the job as result of their gender, in relation to 18% of women with bachelor’s degree and 12% of women with lower level of education (Parker & Funk, 2017). Likewise, 27% of employed women with postgraduate degree are more likely than their counterparts with lower levels of education (11% of women with bachelor’s degree and 13% of women with less education) to report they have received less backing from senior managers compared to a male performing the same job assignment (Parker & Funk, 2017). Studies have found that feeling alienated at work, as well as being passed over for work training or promotion closely follow the same pattern (Thornton, 2016).

From the perspective of wages, employed women with bachelor’s degree or higher education are much more probable compared to women with less education to report they have received being paid a lower wage than a man who did. Statistically, 30% of women with bachelor’s degree or more compared to about 21% of women with less education argue they have received less pay than a male in the same rank (Parker & Funk, 2017). Overall, research shows that women with greater family earnings are nearly equally probable to have faced one or more form of gender-oriented discrimination in the workplace (Parker & Funk, 2017).

Race and ethnicity have also been given as explanations for perpetuation of gender discrimination at work. An estimated 53% of working black women report they have encountered at least one form of gender discrimination in the workplace (Parker & Funk, 2017). In contrast, only 40% of White and 40% of Hispanic have said they have experienced gender discrimination at work (Parker & Funk, 2017). Studies reveal that 29% of employed black women compared with 9% of Hispanic and 8% of Whites have reported to have been passed over for most vital job tasks because of their gender (Parker & Funk, 2017).

In conclusion, women have made significant advances in terms of work experiences and education. In fact, some women have partaken in various industries that are male dominated and have emerged successful. However, recent studies show that women continue to experience different forms of gender discrimination in the workplace (Parker & Funk (2017); Gough & Noonan (2013)). Women are nearly three times more likely than men to claim they have encountered frequent small insults at job due to their gender orientation. Women have reported to have experienced various forms of gender discrimination including training opportunities, equal pay, and promotions (Parker & Funk, 2017). Societal norms, education levels, and ethnicity and race have been cited as some of the factors fueling women discrimination in the workplace (Thornton, 2016).


  1. Bach, N. (2018). American Women Face More Discrimination than Europeans, Report Finds. Accessed from http://fortune.com/2018/12/07/gender-discrimination-us-oecd-report/
  2. Budig, M. J., & Hodges, M. J. (2010). Differences in disadvantage: Variation in the motherhood penalty across white women’s earnings distribution. American Sociological Review, 75(5), 705-728.
  3. Gough, M., & Noonan, M. (2013). A review of the motherhood wage penalty in the United States. Sociology Compass, 7(4), 328-342.
  4. Parker, K., & Funk, C. (2017). Gender discrimination comes in many forms for today’s working women. Pew Research Center, December, 14.
  5. Plickert, G., & Sterling, J. (2017). Gender Still Matters: Effects of Workplace Discrimination on Employment Schedules of Young Professionals. Laws, 6(4), 28.
  6. Thornton, M. (2016). Work/life or work/work? Corporate legal practice in the twenty-first century. International journal of the legal profession, 23(1), 13-39.
  7. Wolfe, L. (2019). Corporations Sued for Gender Discrimination Against Women and Men. Accessed from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/gender-discrimination-against-women-and-men-3515719
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Discrimination Against Women in the Workplace. (2021, Feb 24). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/discrimination-against-women-in-the-workplace/