Signs of sexism at work can be tacit or visible. It depends on the observer’s attention to this issue. But first, let’s define sexism. Sexism is linked to attitudes about women’s and men’s essential natures and roles in society. Gender stereotypes might rank one gender as superior to the other due to sexist beliefs about men and women. Hierarchical thinking can be hostile when it is conscious. However, it hurts, even more, when it is an embedded unconscious bias in society.
Sexism is linked to power and usually, men have the power. We frequently treat those in positions of power favorably, whereas we discriminate against the ones who are not. Discriminatory acts or attitudes are typically based on incorrect beliefs or generalizations about gender. Discriminators think gender is relevant where it is not and give it power.
Signs of Sexism at Work
Part of the reason women and men dominate distinct professional domains is that they have different skills by nature or nurture. Men dominate politics, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while women are over-represented in childcare and primary education.
The gender pay gap is partly due to this horizontal gender segregation. As sectors dominated by men tend to pay more than fields dominated by women. Also, men will have more opportunities for promotion, hold more senior positions, and earn better wages even when women dominate the field.
What Effects does Workplace Sexism have?
Sexism is a waste of time and resources
Due to sexist perceptions and practices, employees can be held back and channeled into the wrong roles. Senior positions may exclude women and/or push them into occupations that are stereotypically ‘feminine’. Due to societal stigma, men tend to leave women-dominated jobs.
Sexism Harms Employees
Sexist standards and behavior negatively affect employees’ performance, sense of belonging, mental health, and job happiness. When sexist behavior and practices are shared and accepted, they are just as harmful to employees’ workplace well-being as sexual harassment.
Sexism Tarnishes a Company’s Reputation
When employees believe that discriminatory behavior and practices persist despite efforts to create a more inclusive workplace, employers may be accused of ‘gender washing’ or simply making cosmetic changes. Many businesses have committed to diversity and inclusion to increase the number of employees from underrepresented groups and to improve their work experience. However, it is easy to jeopardize these efforts without organizational and company culture transformation to overcome ingrained gender stereotypes and unconscious bias.
Types of Sexism at Work
All forms of sexism are destructive to society. Sexism disproportionately impacts women but has an indirect effect on men. There are many types of sexism that people may encounter regularly. Any act that portrays one sex or gender as inferior is considered sexist. Sexism can be expressed in a variety of ways, including speech, writing, images, gestures, laws, customs, and traditions. There are various methods to classify sexism. Sexism can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including the following: hostile, benevolent, ambivalent. These words are from the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, a framework that researchers use to understand better and quantify the consequences of prejudice. In society, sexism can manifest itself at various levels. It might be something like this: institutional, interpersonal, internalized.
Refers to hostile attitudes and acts toward a group of people based on their sex or gender. Hostile sexism is exemplified by misogyny or the dislike of women. People with hostile and sexist opinions towards women may regard them as cunning and deceptive, capable of exploiting seduction to keep guys in line.
These viewpoints may also apply to anyone who possesses feminine characteristics or expresses their gender in a feminine manner.
The term “benevolent sexism” refers to attitudes and behaviors that portray women as innocent, pure, nurturing, and caring. Nothing more than beautiful, vulnerable, and in need of protection.
People who believed in humanity’s supremacy over nature and who perceived women as being more directly related to nature than men were more likely to display benevolent sexism.
A mixture of benevolent and antagonistic sexism. Depending on the situation, people who engage in ambivalent sexism may perceive women as good, pure, and innocent or as manipulative or deceitful.
According to some academics, aggressive and benevolent sexism are mutually supportive as part of a system. Benevolent sexism protects women in exchange for taking on a more subordinate role, whereas hostile sexism punishes those who do not conform. As a result, some people call the former “Plan A” and “Plan B.”
Refers to institutionalized sexism in organizations and institutions, such as the federal government, the judicial system, the system of education, the medical system, the financial institutions, and other workplaces, including the media.
Institutional sexism occurs when rules, processes, attitudes, or laws produce or reinforce sexism. Institutionalized misogyny is rampant. It can be antagonistic, helpful, or ambiguous. The absence of gender diversity among political leaders and business executives is one of the most apparent indications.
A salary disparity between men and women is another clue. Refers to the discrepancy in average compensation between men and women for equivalent work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a woman earns 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the United States. Women make less money in general as compared to men.
Shows up while you’re interacting with other people. It can happen at work, in partnerships, with family members, and in encounters with strangers.
Internalized sexism refers to a person’s sexist attitudes about oneself. Usually, a person learns these attitudes unconsciously due to sexist behavior or other people’s opinions. This attitude can lead to feelings such as incompetence, self-doubt, powerlessness, shame. It also leads to people unknowingly supporting sexism.
Summing It Up
There are many different sorts of sexism. Prejudice and discrimination might be hostile and overt, or detrimental in subtle ways. Many countries that perceive themselves to be tolerant, on the other hand, perpetuate a mix of sorts, resulting in an ambivalent sexism system.
All forms of sexism are damaging to society’s health. Understanding how sexism develops and then challenging sexist attitudes and actions at all levels — from the internal to the institutional — is critical to ending it.
Authored by Afifa Maryam Siddiqui
Edited by Yara Fakhoury
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