Gender equality has been a matter of many disputes for centuries. At present, despite active steps to its elimination, gender inequality exists in diverse spheres of life. Moreover, gender, together with race, age, or sexual orientation, often become prejudices that overlap such issues as stereotyping and discrimination (Myers & Twenge, 2018). These negative attitudes are frequent within the workplace and influence career development and other work-related aspects. Current paper reviews two articles about gender issues in the workplace, analyses the problem in terms of social psychology, and provides recommendations concerning the elimination of gender discrimination in the workplace.
Gender, Leadership Positions, Pay Gap, and Competition
Gender and Leadership Positions
Gender issues in the workplace can interfere with different spheres. For example, Monroe et al. (2015) investigate leadership positions in a department of medicine through a gender lens. The authors claim that “women remain underrepresented in top leadership positions” in academic medicine (Monroe et al., 2015, p. 837). The researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey aimed at collecting data about leadership positions of different ranks and their financial compensation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Statistical data were obtained through chi-square testing.
The research findings revealed that among 474 members of the department of medicine, there were 293 men and 181 women that makes 62% and 38% correspondently. While there was no significant gap in the number of instructors (28 men and 25 women) and assistant professors (111 men and 93 women), higher ranks were predominantly occupied by male individuals (Monroe et al., 2015). Thus, there were 68 male and 45 female associate professors. A gap between men and women in a full professor position was even bigger, 86, and 18 people correspondently (Monroe et al., 2015). However, women were more likely to hold their positions than men. The authors made a conclusion that despite a significant percentage of women on the faculty, there were fewer females in top-level leadership positions.
Gender Pay Gap and Competition
Another issue that touches both gender and work is that of payment. In some cases, a gender pay gap can be observed. Manning and Saidi (2010) review the problem of the gender pay gap as related to competition. The authors state that there is a gender pay gap that is difficult to explain despite many attempts of economists to find a reason for it. At present, one of the suggested explanations is that “by the time men and women enter the labor market, their psychological attitudes differ with respect to the type of employment contracts they favor, which ultimately affect their on-the-job performance” (Mannning & Saidi, 2010, p. 681). Previous studies give evidence that women tend to avoid tournaments and to change pay schemes giving preference to productivity increase.
Both theoretical and experimental studies prove that, in general, male and female individuals treat competition in the workplace differently. The researchers agree that this fact can partially explain the gender pay gap (Mannning & Saidi, 2010). It was discovered, although with modest evidence, that there exists “differential sorting into performance pay schemes by gender and small effects of performance pay on hourly wages” (Mannning & Saidi, 2010, p. 695). Another finding contradicts earlier laboratory studies regarding the importance of gender mix of a given profession for the responsiveness to performance pay. Still, the researchers revealed the fact that performance pay has an impact on work effort, which corresponds to earlier evidence.
Although both articles discover different aspects of gender in the workplace, both of them prove that gender has some meaning for the place of a person in a company. Monroe et al. (2015) provide evidence of discrimination that exists in occupying leadership positions by male and female employees. Although the research was provided in the academic sphere, a similar situation can be observed in other fields.
Manning and Saidi (2010), in their review of the issue of the gender, pay gap, revealing that female employees are less competitive. This fact can partially explain the situation from the first research. There is a probability that there are fewer females in leadership positions because they are less competitive and may not attempt to get a promotion. Moreover, according to Monroe et al. (2015), women prefer to retain their positions for longer periods of time, and it can be another reason for fewer women in leadership positions.
Social psychology suggests some issues that can be used to analyze specific features of gender in the workplace. These concepts include prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (Branscombe & Baron, 2017). Prejudices and stereotypes “are beliefs about the different attributes that males and females possess” (Branscombe & Baron, 2017, p. 236). Based on these stereotypes, discrimination can develop.
For example, it is widely accepted that young women are not desirable employees in case there is a male applicant for the same position because women can get pregnant and leave the job. Consequently, a male applicant can be more likely to get a position even with a worse resume that a female applicant. Other reasons for workplace discrimination and lower wages can be stereotypes that women are less suitable for some positions than men, in IT, for example. Despite some objective facts, stereotypes frequently have no grounds. Thus, there is a necessity to eliminate workplace inequality and provide both men and women with equal job opportunities.
Recommendations for Change
Workplace gender equality should be among the goals of contemporary human resource management. It can be achieved when both male and female employees have equal access to some resources and opportunities provided by a company and can receive rewards not depending on gender. Still, some efforts should be made to achieve this equality.
First of all, representatives of both genders should have equal access to different industries and have an opportunity to occupy any position according to their skills and knowledge but disregarding gender. Secondly, it is important to eliminate any existing barriers for women to participate in the workforce. Frequently, women are occupied by housework and do not have enough time for a career. Finally, the companies should include gender equality as a part of their corporate policies to contribute to the further elimination of workplace discrimination.
Generally speaking, the issue of gender discrimination is not new. However, in a contemporary society that tends to provide everyone with equal opportunities, it should be eliminated. In present-day companies, gender equality should become a leading principle disregarding their organizational structure. Although there can be jobs were men and women suit better, they should have equal opportunities to get a job, demonstrate skills and knowledge, and get promoted in case they perform well. Still, actions aimed at eliminating gender discrimination should be a common effort of different companies around the world to have a meaningful effect on this problem globally.
Branscombe, N.R., & Baron, R.A. (2017). Social psychology. 14th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Manning, A., & Saidi, F. (2010). Understanding the gender pay gap: What’s competition got to do with it? Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 63(4), 681-698.
Monroe, A., Levine, R., Clark, J., Bickel, J., MacDonald, S., & Resar, L. (2015). Through a gender lens: A view of gender and leadership positions in a department of medicine. Journal of Women’s Health, 24(10), 837-842. Web.
Myers, D.G., & Twenge, J.M. (2018). Exploring social psychology. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.