Gender Inequalities in the Workplace

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Although social and economic interactions among the genders are evolving, these great transformations don’t take away the fact that gender inequalities in American society and other places in the world still exist.

Glass Ceiling in the 21st Century

Success stories of the very few women cracking (only some breaking through) the glass ceiling or women defying societal norms by becoming a part of the working class are constantly making the headlines, but this can be deceiving because women still aren’t given a chance to reach their full potential in the workplace. According to (Stamarski et al. 2015), they have found that the workplace negatively breeds several forms of gender inequalities, that include: gender wage gap, the scarcity of women in leadership and a lengthened time or inability of women being promoted also known as the “glass ceiling”. Moreover, there’s always an underlying cause that contributes to discrimination of any kind. Who is contributing to these gender discriminations in the workplace and how can we rid of these prejudices?

Discrimination in HR Practices

As many know, Human Resources deals with rewards, evaluations, treatment, decision making etc. for employees. This is important to take note when talking about gender discrimination because according to (Stamarski et al. 2015), women are discriminated at three levels of human resource practices: HR policy, HR-related decision-making, and the enactment of HR policies and decisions. What the literature says about how organizations continue to discriminate personally and institutionally through HR policy is that they use biased criterion to evaluate job performance that purposely benefits/rewards men more than women. The example given was the idea of who’s putting in more hours and meeting face to face more often. Studies showed that women are more likely to ask for flexible hours due to having to tend to things at home (second shift) more than men. In so, they’re penalized more for not being at work as much as they should. What is being said about HR-decision making is that women are evaluated more negatively when being considered for “male-typed” positions and are less likely to be interviewed or called back (Stamarski et al. 2015). It also talks about how when women do receive leadership positions, they are held to higher standards of performance than men, and when they act as their male counterparts do (assertive, demanding etc.) they are deemed unlikeable and evaluated negatively. To me personally, this is truly a contradiction and a strategic way to oppress women because it’s only a lose-lose situation. When a man storms out of the room he isn’t labeled as crazy but passionate, but when a woman does the exact, she’s is stereotyped as crazy and not meeting organizational standards. Companies expect women to bottle up their feelings and stop being “so emotional”, but we’re disliked and scored lower for being assertive and masculine-like; that doesn’t make any sense to me. As far as HR enactment, studies showed that gender discriminations on a personal level occurred when female employees are given sexist messages by institutional decision makers and that “60% of gender harassment instances were perpetrated by their supervisor/manager or a person in a leadership role” (Stamarski et al. 2015). Again, women are denied promotions and faced with the sexist let downs of: “you’re not a good fit for the job (male-type position)” or in the case of newly/already pregnant women: “you would’ve gotten the promotion, but you got pregnant”. Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing and the fact that women are vilified and denied opportunities because of it is so callous. I also find it quite sad that these so-called macho/tough men were birthed from a woman themselves and don’t think about their own mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts. We should all be more compassionate and considerate of pregnant women and all women, who are wanting and willing to work or are fit for a promotion.

Societal/Cultural Norms

Not only are women faced with the workplace stereotypes of the “overly-emotional /difficult/pregnant woman” and prejudices, but they receive backlash from American culture in that it “promotes discrimination in the workplace by discouraging women from having higher success than their husbands or from focusing on career advancement rather than raising a family” (Croteau and Hoynes 2015:305). I could see this statement being highly relevant to women in the 1950s where the “good house wife/mother” was glorified and women were expected to have marriage and children as their initial goals and interest, but times have changed. For the longest, American culture has associated the idea of the independent/sexually liberated woman as morally forbidden and as for men having always associated them with higher status and getting away with everything else in between. Yet, I most certainly believe that a woman’s independence (who they are, things they do/wear, jobs held etc.) should be viewed through the same lens that society sees men.

Reduction of Further Gender Prejudices in the Workplace

As far as what can be done to reduce gender discrimination in the work place; (Stamarski et al. 2015) says that institutions should focus on a woman’s merit, skills, ability and include diversity-based criteria when hiring, evaluating, and promoting. Moreover, as for reducing work-family conflict (second shift), HR policies should formally lay out flexible work arrangements for women and offer child care, elderly care etc. to help women accumulate more hours and face to face time at work rather than penalize them. Lastly, studies have shown that holding a required diversity training to educate all employees about sexism and how society constructs gender roles helps reduce workplace discrimination.


  1. Croteau, David and William Hoynes. 2015. Experience Sociology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
  2. Stamarski, Cailin S. and Leanne S. Son Hing. 2015. “Gender Inequalities in the Workplace: the Effects of Organizational Structures, Processes, Practices, and Decision Makers’ Sexism.” Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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