Sexism refers to attitudes or behavior displayed to someone based on their sex or gender. Sexism is based on traditional beliefs, assumptions, and stereotypes about the role of men and women. Though many gender-based stereotypes have been broken in modern times, sexism at the workplace still prevails in both apparent and subtle ways.
In recent decades, there has been an upsurge of women joining the workforce in diverse fields. Despite taking up the same task in the same position as their male counterparts, women are not treated equally. Discrimination against female workers based on pay, career development, and selective behavior/attitude is common.
Survey on Sexism at Workplace
A survey conducted by Pew Research Centre collected the following findings:
- 42% of women in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender.
- One-in-four working women (25%) say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job; one-in-twenty working men (5%) say they have earned less than a female peer.
- Women are roughly four times as likely as men to say they have been treated as if they were not competent because of their gender (23% of employed women versus 6% of men), and they are about three times as likely as men to say they have experienced repeated small slights at work because of their gender (16% versus 5%).
- While 15% of working women say they have received less support from senior leaders than a man who was doing the same job, only 7% of working men report having a similar experience. One-in-ten working women say they have been passed over for the most important assignments because of their gender, compared with 5% of men.
Types of Sexism in Workplace
- 32.4% of the group who’d experienced gender discrimination said they feel people of the opposite gender got away with more at work
- 28.7% of those who’d experienced gender discrimination had been, in their view, overlooked for a promotion on the grounds of gender
- 26.5% of this group felt their work was not taken seriously because of their gender
- 24% believe they had attended interviews where they didn’t get the job on the grounds of gender
- 23.4% believe they’ve been unfairly dismissed on gender grounds
- 17.7% felt they’d been made redundant on the basis of gender
Source: SME Loans
Impacts of Sexism at Workplace
Mental Health: Sexism can directly hamper one’s mental health. The stress and frustration faced as a result can lead to increased levels of anxiety.
Hampers Self-esteem: Even though women are as capable as men, sexism can break women’s self-esteem. This hamper’s an employee’s work performance.
Employee Productivity: Sexism has psychological impacts on employees. It is very likely to affect an employee’s level of job satisfaction. This impacts employee’s performance levels.
Company Reputation: Gender equality is a fundamental right. It is illogical to discriminate against people on the basis of their sex or gender despite doing the same job as their counterparts. Gender equality is a sign of a fair and inclusive organization. Any instances of sexism can severely damage a company’s reputation.
Workplace Conflict: Everyone has a right to express their opinion. In a workplace, everyone should be given a fair chance to be heard regardless of their sex or gender. Sexist attitudes and behaviors can invite conflict among team members. And internal conflict based on sexism is unhealthy.
Sexual Harassment: When gone unchecked, sexism can turn into sexual harassment. Sexist attitudes like considering women as subdued and further going on to display sexual suggestive can turn out to be harassment.
How Can We Stop It?
Inclusive Workforce: Women should be given opportunities to represent themselves in higher positions in the corporate hierarchy.
Be Transparent: Employers should be transparent about performance evaluation and appraisals. Employees should be promoted on the basis of merit rather than their sex or gender. This boosts employee morale among all types of employees.
Teach About Biases: It should be brought to all employees’ notice about the nature of sexism at the workplace. Workshops can be conducted to educate about sexist biases and how to recognize them.
Open Platform: All employees should be given a fair chance to present their views. Sexism often exists in terms of discriminating opinions of women. So, there should be an open platform to express everyone’s point of view.
Work-life Balance: Female employees with children often struggle with a sexist system at the workplace. Programs like child support can be helpful. This boosts the productivity and loyalty of employees towards the organization.