Dealing With Workplace Discrimination As A Woman

Gender discrimination has come a long way since Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in 1792. Through each wave of feminism, women have fought for the right to be treated as equals in many different fields. In the modern day, the fight for equality is ever progressing, especially in the workplace.

The last 40 years have seen an almost continual rise in the number of women in employment. The working rate of women ages 24-54 is ‘up from 57% to a record high of 78% in 2017’.  However, just because there are some improvements, it does not by any means suggest that workplace equality has been achieved. As the UK’s Office for National Statistics describes this: ‘the gender pay gap among full-time employees stands at 8.9%, little changed from 2018, and a decline of only 0.6 percentage points since 2012’. Which shows that unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go. 

The list below details some ways to help women deal with workplace discrimination, a mission that everybody can get behind. 

1. Salary

A common gender discrimination occurrence is when decisions regarding salaries are made based on gender – this is commonly known as the wage gap and the discrepancy between male and female salaries is cited by some to be as high as 20%. This is a really tricky one to deal with, but experts have suggested that one possible way of personally reversing the wage gap is by being highly assertive when you ask for promotions. It can be really tough to make the case for a promotion as it involves reverting the ‘female’ character roles that Simone de Beauvoir attributed as being caused by a patriarchal society to favor men. These roles include modesty, humility and quietness, which conflict with the self-promotion that is required when making a case for one’s own salary increase. An awareness of this (and the empowered strength to defend your position) can often guide women to think about their true value and ask for a salary increase.

2. Don’t hesitate to stand up to discrimination 

If you see any discrimination in the workplace, you should adopt a zero-tolerance personal policy. Report anything unfair to HR and if their action isn’t strong enough to prevent discrimination in the future, consider your legal options. Firms like Schwartzapfel have a 24/7 hotline that can help you assess whether you have a position to pursue legal action, if you do then you should take it and set an example for the whole workplace. One of the most severe forms of gender discrimination at work is sexual harassment – remember, you are never alone if you experience this, and that you should report it. 

3. Identify the Glass Ceiling in your place of work

The glass ceiling is the term for the phenomenon that is best described as high-ranking positions being unavailable for women because male candidates are selected instead. Though this is a phenomenon largely routed in often subconscious biases (and hence a symptom of modern sexism as opposed to traditional sexism), collectivization can help to break the glass ceiling. Group together with other females in your work environment to try to identify where the glass ceiling is, and then write a letter to the CEO or other C-level employees to make it clear to them that a glass ceiling exists in their organization. #

The best case scenario could be that they were not aware of it, it was completely accidental and will be remedied, but if that’s not the response you get, you can publish the letter and create public pressure for the company to deal with the glass ceiling issues or face high levels of scrutiny from feminists outside the company environment.


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