HR Management & Compliance

Common Examples of Gender Bias in the Workplace

In a previous post, we discussed a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) case regarding a blatant form of gender discrimination in which a male softball coach at a Baltimore school was replaced—despite satisfactory performance—after being told that the school had “a preference for female leadership.”bias
This is a slam-dunk case for any employment lawyer, but gender discrimination is typically much more nuanced. To illustrate, we’ll cover 10 examples of workplace gender bias as outlined by author Jack Wallen.

1. Unequal Pay

This one is obvious. Equal work should get equal pay. If it doesn’t, there’s probably a red flag for bias.

2. Interview Questions

There is often bias against women who are viewed as “too family-oriented” to fully commit to a company, and some interviewers try to get an idea of a woman’s family situation or plans, for example.

3. Diminished Responsibilities

A company’s exempting—formally or informally—women from performing certain tasks, such as those involving heavy physical labor, despite their inclusion in the job description can come across as patronizing and a pretense for claiming women aren’t able to perform the essential duties of the job.

4. Restrooms

In male-dominated companies, it’s not uncommon for the women’s restroom to be neglected.5. Conversations
Certain male-dominated work environments are known for “shop talk,” and how a company treats this, especially with respect to its female employees, can create potential issues.

6. Glass Ceilings

This should also be a fairly obvious example. Men and women should have the same opportunities to climb the ladder, assuming equivalent aptitude, experience, and other qualifications.

7. Positional Bias

Are all of your receptionists female and all your maintenance personnel male? This would be an example of positional bias, whereby people are put in positions at least in part due to gender stereotypes.

8. Terminations

Terminations are often telling in terms of how gender issues are treated. Wallen gives the hypothetical examples of a woman being fired for complaining about sexual harassment and a man not being fired after violating policies around such harassment.

9. Outdated Views

Some companies adhere to outdated views of what is proper behavior, attire, etc., for men and women.

10. Sexual Harassment

Again, it’s mainly obvious what the author is referring to here, but policies and responses to sexual harassment can easily create bias in the workplace.
As we discussed yesterday, not every nuanced example of bias listed above will necessarily give rise to EEOC complaints, but each may make women uncomfortable in the workplace, which can cost a company valuable female talent.