Debate on Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

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Introduction

Some people argue that difference in the gender matters in the workplace and some others argue that the gender does not matter in the workplace. Those who argue that gender difference in the workplace is a matter of concern, have their own reasons to support their argument and same is the case with those who argue that gender difference does not matter. Though the world has developed a lot, discrimination is still taking place. The discrimination includes racial discrimination, age discrimination, and sex discrimination…etc.

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Among the various diversities within the organization, gender inequality is most commonly seen. Analysis of the gender and diversity in management within some organizations shows a great inequality in most of the countries. However, the form of inequality, discrimination can vary in individual workplace. When talking about the gender inequality at workplace, it shows that the discrimination is rising due to the rapid increase in the number of women taking employment.

Among the inequalities, one can find that there is inequality in career growth, and pay. There are different opinions regarding the pay and career growth. Some argue that there is glass ceiling, which refers to imaginary career barrier, which restricts a woman to represent the top position. In contrast to it, some argue that there is no such glass ceiling and today women lead higher positions. Regarding the pay scale, majority of the researchers are of the opinion that it is on the verge of extinction. Women have to face even sexual harassment in the workplace.

Workplace discrimination; some general information

Discrimination in the workplace was always a very important matter of discussion for the researchers. Discrimination in the workplace is common everywhere in the world. Mostly females are the victims of discrimination. The term discrimination can be defined as “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice.” (Noun, n.d.).

It is difficult to believe that, even in this developed age the world is facing serious discriminatory practices in the workplaces. Sometimes, the innocent employees are victimized to protect the interest of some parties. No employee is interested to be the victim of discriminatory actions by different parties. There exists discrimination in the workplace if “an employee suffers unfavorable or unfair treatment due to their race, religion, national origin, disabled or veteran status, or other legally protected characteristics.” (Understanding workplace discrimination, 2009).

Sometimes employees face discrimination due to difference in the race. This will affect the morale of the employees and sometimes force them to quit the job. In order to ensure the optimum use of the skills and knowledge of the employees the organization must ensure that employees are provided with a fair work environment where there is no scope for racial discrimination. In some other cases difference in the age may be the cause of discrimination. This includes showing indifference towards old aged workers. However, the mostly happening and commonly discussed form of discrimination is gender discrimination.

Gender discrimination in the workplace

Gender discrimination, especially in the workplace, is common everywhere in the world. Though it is argued that the world has developed in all the sense, the happenings like workplace discrimination still continues. It is surprising that, in some organizations which boast that they are equal opportunity providers, discrimination towards women can be seen. The people are living in a male dominated world. The women are always ill-treated by the society. There is some belief that women cannot do everything that the men do. The women are treated as powerless. And also the society has a notion that some jobs cannot be assigned to women as they will not be able to do that.

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“Reskin (1988) concurs, noting that even if comparable worth or the sex integration of jobs takes place, neither will greatly reduce sex differences in employment. She suggests that, “the basic cause of the income gap is not sex segregation but men’s desire to preserve their advantaged position and their ability to do so by establishing rules to distribute valued resources in their favor (Reskin 1988,p.61).””

Men always try to dominate over women and as a result it adversely affects the promotion and growth chance of women. Some deserving candidates from the female counterpart are denied or delayed the promotion and growth opportunities. The discrimination toward the women community will definitely affect the confidence of the women employees. “Researchers and management practitioners alike have documented how difficult it is for women to break corporate “glass ceilings”. A glass ceiling is an apparent barrier to advancement to the highest level of an organization”.

Arguments of those who say that gender difference matters in the workplace

Women are naturally considered weaker than men and are considered incapable to execute activities which require lot of effort. Women are mostly assigned house hold activities which require less effort. Employers have treated women in a different manner ever since they started to work. Soon after the Second World War, the Edwin L. Wiegnand Company adopted a policy of expelling female employees once they get married and turning down women employees who are married. The policy was aimed at granting jobs to male employees after their arrival from the war.

Number of women with very young children, taking over jobs has also increased. This gave rise to laws protecting women from discrimination in workplace.

Joan Trezza, a working mother served as an attorney in the legal wing of an insurance company called Hartford, Inc. When there was a vacancy for a management position in the legal wing of the firm, another unmarried lady was appointed to the position without considering the fact that Trezza was senior in position to her. When Trezza asked about her disqualification, the company told her that because she had a family the senior position would not interest her.

The company provided promotion opportunities to male attorney who was also married and with children. The company believed that a female employee with children was unfit for the position and only male employee can handle this position. Finally Trezza decided to go to court against this firm for discrimination on the basis of sex. A married woman with children cannot discharge her duties. Therefore, giving women equal treatment on par with men fails to create fairness. Employers are reluctant to provide jobs for married women with children because of their house hold responsibilities and are not able to work for longer period.

Problems faced by women in the workplace and their solutions

From the above discussions it is clear that, women employees in an organization face lots of problems and discriminations. Most of the problems can be avoided if the organization takes necessary steps. Different problems faced by women employees and their solutions are explained below.

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Hiring

Discrimination occurs in hiring as well. A woman candidate was asked mainly about her nuptial status and about her children. Male candidates were not interviewed on similar lines. Discrimination occurs in other forms as well. Some employers entrust to women low paying jobs and keep them away from high paying jobs. They feel that women are not suitable for high paying jobs. In order to eliminate this kind of inequality, the organization must ensure a recruitment policy which gives equal importance to both men and women.

Induction problems

The women employees in every organization start to face problems from the date of joining itself. The newly joined employees assess the organization on the basis of the orientation program they receive from the organization. Induction or orientation is the process of introducing an employee into the social set up of the new job, work environment and organization.

“The successful orientation of new employees is vital for any business.” (Davis, & Kleiner, 2001).

If the newly joined employees do not get proper orientation, it will affect their morale and confidence. In most of the cases, women employees do not get proper induction. The experienced employees are supposed to give training and make the new employees of the organization familiar with organizational environment. But in most of the organizations the male employees do not give proper induction to the newly appointed female employees. This will negatively affect the morale of the newly joined female employees.

In order to avoid this, the organization must conduct an awareness program to the male employees, so that the newly joined female employees will be getting a good induction and they will start working happily. A work atmosphere should be created in such a way that all the employees irrespective of their gender, work harmoniously and men and women are treated equally. The gender difference should not be a matter in the organization.

Workload

Women employees are sometimes discriminated in such a way that they are given over-work load as in most of the cases the women employees do not say that they cannot do that overloaded work and they are forced to do that heavy job. If the organization follows a policy of equality, this kind of excessive work load can be avoided. The male counterparts impose overload on the women as they are sure that in most of the cases the female employees will not protest against this. The organization should take necessary steps to eliminate this discriminative attitude.

Compensation

Women are again discriminated when it comes to compensation. They are not paid on par with men employees.

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Some organizations pay women only one third or one half of the payment of the male employees. This should be avoided and the organization should treat the employees in both the gender group equally. It is unethical to pay less to the women employees compared to men employees. The organizations should design a salary structure in which there is no difference in payment, based on the gender difference, for those who are in the same level of employment.

Importance of women in the workplace

Like men, workforce women workforce is also very important for the success of any organization. Human resources or more clearly the employees are generally considered as the greatest assets of any organization. Retaining them is of significant importance. Every organization will try to retain the selected employees as high labor turnover affects the smooth functioning of any organization.

The women employees are more dedicated than men employees. They do the tasks and duties assigned to them in a very good manner. Like men, women also play a very important role in the success and growth of an organization. It is seen that women employees have more patience compared to the men employees. Customers are king in the present world where competition among business organizations has increased. Therefore, the organization which behaves in a better way towards its customers has a good chance of success. The women employees behave in a very pleasing manner to the customers compared to men employees.

Conclusion

To eradicate different kinds of discrimination, the company has to take all necessary steps. If there is any kind of discrimination in an organization, that will result in high labor turnover which means there will be increase in the cost of recruitment, selection, training and development. The company should keep work related and other records of all the employees including the performance evaluation details of the employees.

So, when any issue arises regarding promotion or filling a senior vacancy, the company can easily go through these records and find out who really deserves the newly vacant position. The organization should ensure a proper HR Management, which should be acceptable to all the employees. It should draw up a clear cut policy in matters connected with recruitment, selection, training, development, promotion, transfer…etc. An organization should practice what it preaches. That means the situation should not be like one, in which the organization says it is against discrimination but inside the organization there are different kinds of discrimination. Therefore, every organization should take necessary steps to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

It is recommended that the organization should not show an indifferent attitude towards women as they too contribute to the success of an organization. If the assigned task can be done very well by the female employees then there is no meaning in showing discrimination towards women employees.

References

Gregory, R F. (2003). Women and workplace discrimination: Overcoming barriers to gender equality: Ten discrimination against women with children. Rutgers University press. Web.

Understanding workplace discrimination: What is workplace discrimination?. (2009). All Business: Simple solutions, powerful advice. Web.

Noun : Discrimination. (n.d.). Wordnet search- 3.0. Web.

Gender Discrimination at Work: Dimensions, Processes, and Variations by Race and Class. (2008). All Academic Research. 5. Web.

Ohlott, P J., Ruderman, M N., & McCauley, C D. (1994). Gender differences in managers’ developmental job experiences. Academy of Management Journal, 37(1), 46-67. J STOR: Trusted Achieve for Scholarship. Web.

Davis, V D., & Kleiner, B N. (2001). How to orient employees into new positions successfully: Abstrct. Management Research News, 24(1/2), 43-49. Emerald. Web.

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