By Edupliance | 11th July, 2016

According to a survey more than 68% of women agreed that gender bias exists in modern workplaces. Gender bias is not a new thing in corporate culture; women have been taking the hit in their careers ever since they stepped-out of just donning their household roles and decided to work in corporate arenas as well. In almost every workplace, there exists a huge gender disparity between female and male workers owing to male-dominated workplaces.

Shockingly, the number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 CEO list is just 22! Women leaders currently hold a dismal 4.4% of the total Fortune 500 CEO roles. This directly hints at workplace gender-discriminations owing to female workers taking longer to reach their career goals than their male counterparts.

What is Workplace Gender Bias?

Gender bias in the workplace can be witnessed in various degrees and forms. In traditional job roles, women have been noticed to be getting only clerical and low-paying jobs. Similarly, in today’s nontraditional job roles, most talented and qualified women are still being relegated to less-powerful administrative jobs even when they have the potential to outshine their male counterparts. The landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 abolished unequal pay to men and women, but gender discrimination still exists in the workplace even though there are laws that prohibit gender discrimination, for e.g. the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

What Is The Role Of Performance Reviews In Boosting Gender Bias?

Gender-biased performance reviews are one area which exhibit direct discrimination. Not only is it a misogynistic way of denying worthy job roles to talented female candidates, but also reflects upon the company’s workplace ethics as well.

Analyses of performance reviews by researchers reveal some startling facts:

  1. Managers tend to perceive female workers to exhibit better team-based skills, which is a major reason why men are being favored for leadership positions and women are put on a different career path.
  2. Women are given more critical and direct feedback. While men were being considered assertive and confident, women were being bossy and abrasive for the same behavior.
  3. Gender stereotypes also tend to favor males over females for roles with higher responsibilities owing to facts like family responsibilities (women can take maternity leave), recruitment practices (more men are recruited for jobs than women), gender perception (anti-feminism), etc.

How to Curb Gender Bias at your workplace?

If you suspect that you are being a target of gender discrimination or if you are being verbally or indirectly rebuked for your job-role, you can obtain redress in these ways:

  1. 360-degree reviews: Rather than having employees get their performance review only from their managers or direct supervisors, it is advisable to have a review system which incorporates reviews of the entire team as well. From personality traits, performance, outreach, etc. all parameters for success-measurement can be evaluated by multiple sources.
  2. Anonymity programs: Have a safe mechanism in place for gender-discriminated employees where they can give anonymous feedback to their managers and fight for their right. This will unintended biases in check and also promote better leadership in the workplace.
  3. File a complaint with your union or HR department: If you as an employee are facing unequal pay or gender bias, file a complaint with your human resources department or direct supervisor. To take matters further, file a discrimination complaint with your state or federal agency. Write down details about when such incidents of discrimination happened and corroborate them with evidence and support from other supportive employees. Emails, notes, etc. can help you substantiate your complaint.
  4. Past Feedback fact-checking: To boost more transparency in the review process, employees should be able to track and review past feedbacks against them to try and ascertain if any manager is gender-biased against them. Managers who are trying to block women employees from moving up in the company can be prosecuted for such misogyny.
  5. Workplace Audit: If you are an employer seeking to end gender bias at your workplace, you can order a workplace audit which will help you identify malicious internal practices that abet biased promotions and relegate women to low-level jobs. A compensation study will reveal pay inequalities and also ensure that all women are compensated fairly and equitably for comparable work in similar job roles.
  6. Education and Training: As an employer or HR manager, you can also launch new initiatives to recruit and retain more worthy women at management positions. Gender-related education and training programs can help raise employee awareness against gender issues that tend to hamper inter-office relationships. Encourage dialogue between employees of all genders.
  7. Gender Diversity Programs: To discourage sex discrimination in the workplace, you can also launch diversity programs that can help build interpersonal relationships and eliminate implicit biases. Try to eliminate the unequal representation of each sex and do not let any minority gender face discrimination. Promote gender diversity through recruitment and retention initiatives.

A performance review is a perfect weapon of choice for most male supervisors and HR managers to target their female workers and allege that they have been lack-luster, lazy and not up-to-the-mark in their job performance. In most cases, these reviews owe directly to mental exhaustion and attrition by female employees in a workplace – a perfect ploy by the male-dominated workplace to deny them their dues.

With the changes suggested above, even your workplace can boost upward mobility and career advancement for female employees. To boost these initiatives a commitment towards eliminating sex discrimination in the workplace is a must, and integrating fair practices in employee treatment and employee performance evaluations, regardless of gender is the first step towards achieving a workplace free from gender discrimination.