Women in the Workplace 2016, a study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, elaborates on women workplace discrimination patterns, provides some explanations for them, and suggests priorities for leaders seeking to speed the rate of progress. Key findings, based on data from more than 130 companies and over 34,000 men and women, include the following:
• Women remain underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline.
• Women negotiate for promotions and raises as often as men but face more pushback when they do. Women also receive informal feedback less frequently than men—despite asking for it as often—and have less access to senior-level sponsors.
• The research finds that, compared with white women, women of color face the most barriers and experience the steepest drop-offs with seniority despite having higher aspirations for becoming a top executive.
The wage gap is narrowing, but has barely budged in the last decade, according to the non-profit Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). Overall, women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, with black women earning 63 cents and Latinas earning 54 cents. Critics argue these figures do not reflect factors such as occupation or experience.
Second-generation bias is another obstacle that women face in the workplace. Second-generation bias does not involve an intent to exclude; however, it creates a context in which women fail to thrive or reach their full potential. Feeling less connected to one’s male colleagues, being advised to take a staff role to accommodate family, finding oneself excluded from consideration for key positions—all these situations reflect work structures and practices that put women at a disadvantage.
Gender discrimination in the workplace continues to be a major problem in the workplace despite the passing of time since laws such as Title VII or the Equal Pay Act were enacted to combat the issue.
Both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act (EPA) make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in the payment of wages or benefits. The laws against discrimination in compensation cover all forms of compensation, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
Under the law, pregnancy is considered a temporary disability, as are related medical conditions such as severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, and any other related medical condition. Employers must therefore give pregnant employees and temporarily physically disabled new mothers the same treatment and benefits that they give to employees with other temporary disabilities.
It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Recourses – visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website for more information about workplace discrimination.