Gender discrimination: not as overt as before, but still present

Imagine working in an office in Manhattan and hearing a supervisor tell a colleague that she won’t get a promotion because it is “not a woman’s place” to be in charge of men. It is highly unlikely that any such supervisor would say something like that these days, but that is the kind of gender discrimination with which women have traditionally had to put up. Even though that kind of overt bias may no longer have a place in the office, it doesn’t mean that gender discrimination is not alive and well in New York City offices.

Today, it is more likely that women will have a harder time advancing because they are seen as less dedicated to their positions or the company because they are mothers. Women may be seen as difficult to work with because they are assertive, a quality that is often praised in men. In short, the discrimination and bias that women feel in today’s workplace is much more subtle.

Regardless of if it is subtle or overt, gender discrimination is against the law. If an employer discriminates against an employee solely because she is a woman, it can be held accountable under federal and state employment law.

According to a new book, however, two authors are arguing that media portrayals of women making leaps and bounds in the workplace is actually convincing people that the situation is better than it actually is for women. Employers should be held responsible if they participate in or condone gender bias, but that can only happen if women file lawsuits to protect their rights.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Authors work to reveal hidden gender bias,” Katie Johnston, March 30, 2014

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