Gender Discrimination and Social Identity

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Updated: Feb 19, 2021
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This paper demonstrates how discrimination is still a major problem in our society by referencing a recent news article about this topic, exploring the realistic conflict theory, and examining the social setting within the article. In the news article, “BBC Under Investigation for Suspected Pay Discrimination Against Women” by Emily Dixon (2019), it investigates gender discrimination found at a network company due to women being paid less than men when completing the same job. Discussing the realistic conflict theory helps explain why gender discrimination may have occurred in this event by people forming prejudices of a specific social group after they feel intimidated by them. When analyzing the article, it is also important to consider how the type of social environment engendered this discrimination as well. The purpose of this paper is to make people more aware of discrimination by researching this news article and exploring possible reasons as to why gender discrimination developed.

Discrimination is the mistreatment of others or a group of individuals on the basis of unfair prejudices against them. These groups of people can range based on their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. Stereotyping and prejudice are often connected with discrimination because they both involve having negative beliefs and feelings towards a certain social group (Branscombe & Baron, 2012). One major issue concerning stereotyping and discrimination that is still visible in society is gender inequality. Men used to have all the power and were considered superior or dominant over women due to social norms and culture. Although aspects concerning this topic have improved, gender discrimination is still a serious issue and can be seen when examining the news article “BBC Under Investigation for Suspected Pay Discrimination Against Women” by Emily Dixon (2019) published by Cable News Network (CNN). In order to discuss gender discrimination further, this paper will focus on the discrimination visible in the article mentioned, how it relates to the realistic conflict theory, and how the social environment it occurred in explains why this happened.

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In the article, it describes how there may have been gender inequality and discrimination present at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) located in London by women employees being paid less than men. Due to these accusations, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission has opened up an investigation to find out whether or not women are being paid less than men when performing the same job. After completing an examination, Dixon (2019) explained the commission suspected “that some women at the organization have not received equal pay for equal work” (para. 3). The commission researched all pay complaints filed on the company to determine if they were being unlawful with payment due to gender discrimination against women, and to see if BBC did anything to resolve this issue. When revealing this information, a BBC spokesperson apologized on the network’s behalf and assured their new pay structures will be fair to all of their staff members. Furthermore, the network explained they are understanding of why this investigation took place and believe it was time to update their pay arrangements based on significant reforms that have occurred. According to a former female employee, Carrie Gracie, women were paid at least 50% less than men who had the same titled position (Dixon, 2019).

A social psychological theory that could explain why prejudices of women may have influenced gender discrimination at BBC is the realistic conflict theory developed by psychologist Bobo. This theory suggests prejudices of a certain social group could be formed when people start to feel threatened or signs of competition arise. When people feel this way, they tend to create certain negative views of members in the group and see them more as enemies. Experiencing this type of pressure due to competition in the workplace could result in groups being formed against the opposing side. The men in charge of BBC could have felt this threat when seeing women grow and excel in the company, and viewed them more as competition. In order to keep the women from progressing upward towards management positions or their own jobs, the network limited their amount of pay and belittled them by ignoring their complaints submitted. Women tend to be paid less for doing the same job in all work environments, which could be the result of men feeling intimidated by their presence in the workplace and still wanting to be superior over them (Branscombe & Baron, 2012).

When analyzing this article, gender discrimination is revealed by men being paid at least 50% more than women working at the network when performing the same job. This type of discrimination is also an example of inequality and is connected with gender stereotyping. Although the article did not mention stereotyping occurring, the network showed signs of it by not updating the pay structure before the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission conducted their investigation knowing pay complaints were filed. An example of gender stereotyping that happens in the workplace and leads to discrimination is women being depicted as dependent and weak. According to psychologist Fiske, companies and organizations still often consider women as innocent and low in status based on prejudices embedded in our society. Women are still viewed as being supportive roles to men and not capable to handle leadership positions because they are overly emotional and sensitive. The article displays a clear example of recent gender discrimination happening in our society with the women of the BBC network being mistreated and getting paid unfairly (Baron & Branscombe, 2012).

Gender inequality has decreased over time but still exists due to prejudices and stereotypes rooted in our world. As a result of women being seen as dependent on men for the majority of time, these beliefs and feelings are still present today. Although this discrimination has improved and women have more rights now than ever before, there is still a barrier between genders due to gender roles persisting in society. Men and women are taught at a young age to act or behave in a certain way, and this results in prejudices being formed. Gender discrimination is still a major issue and could be found when reviewing the article “BBC Under Investigation for Suspected Pay Discrimination Against Women,” discussing the realistic conflict theory, and connecting the social environment to the event.


  1. Baron, R.A., and Branscombe, N.R., (2012). Social Psychology. (14th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
  2. Dixon, E. (2019, March 12). BBC under investigation for suspected pay discrimination against women. Retrieved April 25, 2019, from
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Gender Discrimination and Social Identity. (2021, Feb 19). Retrieved from