Challenges for Women in the Employment Process - EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue

Challenges for Women in the Employment Process - EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue

May 18, 2015

Women throughout the world have to struggle against a number of gender stereotypes and unconscious biases in the employment process.

I've listed a number of the issues and themes which came out of an article written by Adam Grant and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg on 'Discrimination at Work':

  • Men are generally more confident and overstate their abilities while Women tend to be more competent but often understate their abilities. Often they have to provide more evidence of their competence during the employment process. 
  • Men are seen as natural leaders while this is not always the case for women, However, this has began to change as more women are employed in leadership roles. 
  • Men are perceived to help publicly while Women tend to primarily help behind the scenes. 
  • Women who are deemed to be 'too feminine' are often associated with being ineffective, which in turn sees them given more office 'housework'. Women who are deemed to be 'too masculine' are often associated with being aggressive, and unlikable and often face significant backlash. 
  • Career focused Women with children are often seen to be 'bad mothers'. 
  • If required to brag about their abilities to gain promotion Women are often disliked but respected if they do and liked but not respected if they don't. Damned if you do and damned if you don't really.
  • Men are seen to be more ambitious and results orientated than Women. If a man declines to help a colleague this is often explained away by his business. However, Women are seen to be more nurturing and communal. If a Woman declines to helps she is more often than not seen to be selfish.
  • Women are seen to get more emotionally exhausted than Men - they don't look after themselves and often busy their time with helping others. 

Here are a few other pressing themes that have come out of looking at the employment process:

  • In job advertisements, if you want to attract female candidates, steer clear of masculine-gendered words like “competitive,” “assertive,” and “ambitious”. It’s desirable to give those hiring blinded résumés. 
  • Senior men typically staff their teams with people they feel comfortable with, like themselves. 
  • It is also acknowledged that women are reluctant to negotiate salary and back themselves.
  • There is an assumption that mothers do not want 'stretch assignments" – on returning from maternity leave get fewer or poor-quality assignments. The result, of course, is that they resign.
  • Stepping up as a father also benefits men. 
    • Caring for children can make men more patient, empathetic and flexible and lower their rates of substance abuse. 
    • They are more satisfied with their jobs and better health generally. 
    • Relationships also benefit. 
  • With gender equality and diverse teams in business some men may fear that as women do better, they will do worse. 

The truth is that equality is good for men, too. If men want successful teams,the best step they can take is to bring on more women.

Studies reveal that women bring new knowledge, skills and networks to the table, take fewer unnecessary risks, and are more inclined to contribute in ways that make their teams and organizations better.

More profits mean more rewards and promotions to go around. The risk is in not including women.

EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue

Dr Blue is committed to progressing human rights and issues of equity, particularly those that affect equal employment opportunities.

Dr Blue also has a strong commitment to advancing the participation of women in society and is the Commission's lead on stopping violence against women.

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