Recognizing Gender Bias in the Workplace: Part One of a Three Part Series

This is the first of a three part series about Gender Bias in the workplace. The first part is "Recognizing Gender Bias in the Workplace," the second is "The Impact of Gender Bias," and the third is "What You Can Do If You Experience Gender Bias."

It's 2017 and women have had the right to vote for nearly a century. Although the Equal Rights Amendment didn't become a part of the Constitution, women have been making enormous strides in the workplace; both in numbers and power. Income disparities and sexual harassment still garner news attention, but there are also more subtle forms of gender bias and discrimination. This post will name 20 common forms for gender bias women (both cis and trans) may experience in the workplace. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it is meant to call attention to some of the quieter forms of bias that, regardless of intent, can create an uncomfortable or even hostile office environment. 

1. Women in staff meetings are more likely to be interrupted or talked over.

2. Women are less likely than that male counterparts to be invited to after-work drinks by the boss.

3. Quiet women can be perceived as not having much to contribute, whereas quiet men are seen as evaluative and introspective. 

4. During group meetings, ideas raised by women are more frequently dismissed. Or if they are explored, sometimes they are attributed to a male. 

5. Women are expected to do office "housework" such as tidying up common spaces.

6. Women are disproportionately asked to do non-paid service-oriented work such as serve on committees or help plan events.

7. Women's clothing (sloppy, revealing, or "matronly" ) is evaluated and discussed. Women's weight and attractiveness are also judged.

8. Assertive women can be labeled "rude" or "bitchy" whereas men are not held to the same politeness standard and are more likely interpreted as being decisive and confident.

9. Men, more than women, are evaluated on their potential, rather than performance.

10. Women walking around large offices are often assumed to be support staff and asked to do administrative work.

11. It is often assumed that women with children prioritize family over work. The same assumption is not made for men.

12. Women are less likely to get the attention and credit for group projects, even if they do more of the work.

13. Women are expected to "go along with" the occasional sexist joke.

14. Women sometimes have to request (rather than just be offered) choice offices and locations.

15. During job interviews, women continue to be asked about their families or plans to start families.

16. Men, regardless of athletic ability, are more likely to be asked to join a company athletic team. This is an important internal networking opportunity.

17. Women who are pregnant or perceived as pregnant can be passed over for promotions.

18. When women raise HR issues, they are labeled "complainers," or not team players.

19. Women may get lower pay package offers because 1. the assumption is that they have a spouse or partner to help support them and 2. it is assumed they will not push for more.

20. Women are expected to be good listeners and provide emotional support to co-workers.

This list merely starts the dialogue about disparate treatment in the workplace. Look for the second part of this series: "The Impact of Gender Bias in the Workplace."