The world is full of many different forms of discrimination. You see people judged based on their religion, race, gender, physical appearance, and so much more. Women are more often than not treated differently than men. This shows significant disadvantages for women in the workplace. Women get treated as less than men in most job related situations. However, it doesn’t stop there. Women are treated as less than men in almost every aspect of everyday life, because the truth is that women are different than men. In order to overcome discrimination against women, we must first become more educated on the true effects it has on women.
Women have been greatly discriminated against for a very long time. Never have women ever been treated as equal to men. This discrimination has become less noticed over time as females are now becoming much more successful, for example Oprah Winfrey. However, more successful women does not mean that it has gotten any easier for women in the workplace. They struggle with many different disadvantages due to gender. A study done by students attending both Georgia Southern University and Georgia Gwinnett College found the four main struggles women face in the workplace to be “(a) women lag behind men in salary and salary progression; (b) women’s rewards and work conditions (i.e., pay, autonomy, authority) are usually less favorable than men’s; (c) women tend to work in deadens jobs, resulting in a lesser likelihood of promotion; and (d) women are less likely than are men to exercise authority in the workplace”(Sipe, Johnson, & Fisher, 2009). Women are disadvantaged in so many forms in the workplace, it is a wonder that some have become so successful.
Discrimination that women face in the workplace remains under the radar so much that women themselves don’t believe they will face it in the future. Many women believe that is there is any form of gender based discrimination, that it won’t happen to them(Sipe et al., 2009). The students from Georgia Southern University and Georgia Gwinnett College conducted a survey based on how likely they believe men and women will face gender discrimination in the workplace. They separated the statistics based upon gender and race. Many of the findings surprisingly pointed towards the lack of gender based discrimination. “68.9% of students answered that they did not anticipate that they would face gender-specific biases or obstacles in the workplace”(Sipe et al., 2009). Other statistics showed that most students also believed that women in particular would not face any gender based discrimination in the workplace. However when separating upon gender, “approximately half of the female students anticipated that women would face gender bias in the workplace, whereas only one third of the male students anticipated this outcome for women”(Sipe et al., 2009). More females than males recognize that they will not be treated equally because they have already experienced this gender discrimination in one form or another while growing up. Men don’t see the advantages they have over when because they assume them to be there. People of other races then white also have a higher inclination to recognize these gender biases than white people. “More than half of of non-White students anticipated that women would face bias in the workplace, compared with slightly less than one third of White students” (Sipe et al., 2009). Much of the non-White students understanding most likely comes from the forms of discrimination that they already face. They experience even more than white women because they deal with what Tatum calls a “system of advantage based on race”(Tatum, 1997). The struggles that women face in the workplace can be compared to the system of advantages people of color face. For example, Tatum (1997) states “this system clearly operates to the advantage of Whites and to the disadvantage of people of color”(p. 126). Gender based discrimination could also be considered to be a system, only it operates to the advantage of men and the disadvantage of women. It also compares with the ignorance of the system. Many white people unknowingly benefit over people of color(Tatum, 1997). The same could be said about men over women. Most times men don’t realize that they are either being treated better than women, or treating women as if they are lesser than men.
The negative impact that gender discrimination has on women can be severe. Some women even change career paths order to reduce risk of discomfort in the workplace. Women who do experience gender bias at work can be effected in a few different ways. They may lose their passion in the job that was meant to be their vocation and lead to their happy life. They can lose the drive they had to do their job and show up to work. Also, they can experience extreme amounts of stress and anxiety. This stress and anxiety, when building up for too long, can have severe results. Similar to the ideas of Smith (2016) about a sense of community(p. 400). Smith (2016) also states that people who are involved in community life, live happier lives(p. 400). This compares to gender based discrimination because if women feel comfortable and accepted in their working environment, they are more likely to have a happy experience with their job and maybe even consider it a vocation like intended. If women feel unwelcome or if they are treated badly, they may fold into themselves and separate themselves further from the community they were attempting to be a part of. Smith (2016) describes this kind of behavior to be dangerous, and in extreme cases deadly(p. 400).
With so many people being unable to understand gender biases, education is the most reasonable first step to bringing an end to this discrimination. If you educate both females and males before they get into the workplace, maybe there will be less of a chance for discrimination to take place. Possibly college would be a good time to help young adults develop ideas of equality before entering the world on their own. A required course, similar to our own courses at AU such as Discover What Matters, could prove to be valuable in helping college students realize just what they may face in their careers. Not only should we be teaching equality, we should be teaching young women what to expect and how to react. If courses were offered to young women that helped them realize what they may face in their fields, and helping them react appropriately, may help their mental health from failing when faced with discrimination in the workplace. The courses should teach young women authority, assertiveness, and confidence in order to ensure they are not ignored and to give them power when their position calls for respect. Personally, I would take a course to prepare me for the possibility of gender bias in the workplace, because I anticipate it in my future.
Women face many forms of discrimination throughout their lives. One of the most unfair disadvantages lies within the workplace. Women are treated as less than men in many different ways including salary, treatment, opportunities, promotions, and much more. Education can help young adults learn about equality, and in turn help women get more out of life. Educating young adults to treat others as equal to them will help men realize the problem that they may not have noticed before. Also, educating women to stand up for themselves and be more confident will not only help their chances of better jobs, but will help their mental health in the long run.
- Sipe, S., Johnson, C. D., & Fisher, D. K. (2009). University Students’ Perceptions of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: Reality Versus Fiction.
- Journal of Education for Business, 84(6), 339. Retrieved from https:// library.aurora.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=f5h&AN=41891187&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Smith, E. E. (2016). Life on the island. In M. Parfitt, Writing in response (pp. 399-404). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
- Tatum, B. (1997). Defining racism. “Can we talk?” In P. S. Rothenberg, Race, Class, and Gender in the United States (pp. 123-130). New York: Worth Publishers.