It only takes a quick look at a newspaper in 2018 to see that sexual harassment and discrimination are a big problem for women in the workforce. There have been a large number of high-profile complaints putting a spotlight on these issues. Sexual harassment gets more headlines, but discrimination based on gender is an equally significant problem for women.
A new study by Pew Research Center confirms that it’s dependent on the workplace dynamic as a whole, showing that harassment of women is worse in male-dominated environments. The study compared responses from women who worked primarily with other women to the responses of women who worked with mostly men. The results conclusively identify different experiences. Almost 7-inn-10 workers say gender hasn’t affected their careers, but when it does it appears to be related to working with members of the opposite sex.
How was it different?
Rather than comparing numbers, we’ll explore how women experience discrimination. Throughout the study, recurring issues were
- It feels harder to advance careers
- Unfair treatment for personal matters
- Gender discrimination
- Sexual harassment
Over 1-in-3 women working with mostly men reports being treated as if they were incompetent because of their gender.
Gender is a protected class
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers for many reasons, including gender. This means that a company can’t discriminate, hire/fire, promote/demote or make other decisions based on if an employee is a woman. Other protected classes include religion, race, nation of origin and age. There is currently a federal court case considering if sexual orientation is included. It’s not just illegal to discriminate on these factors, it is illegal to retaliate against an employee (or applicant) who files a complaint.
Dealing with discrimination
The American workplace has changed significantly in the last 100 years. As of 2017, it was 53 percent male, 47 percent female. Those percentages vary widely between industries, however, with many blue-collar fields still predominantly male.
The research shows that many women work experience fair treatment, but too many still do not. Gender discrimination hurts on a personal level and it has a serious impact on career development and personal earning power. Gender is protected by law. Nobody deserves to be belittled or to feel incompetent for their work. All workers have the right to hold their employer accountable for their actions. An experienced attorney can help you to understand your rights within the law, protecting your job and amplifying your voice.