Modern trends in the world are aimed at eradicating discrimination from every area of human activity. The labor market, where problems with gender inequality have existed for a very long time, is not an exception. The wide range of problems and stereotypes that have developed historically and to this day lead to inappropriate behavior and bias against women requires complex solutions. This paper examines the main causes of gender inequality in the workplace, as well as possible recommendations for eradicating and avoiding these causes leading to discrimination and harassment in the future.
With the advent of digitalization and the massive development of remote employment, the issue of people’s rights to comfortable working conditions following all requirements has become especially acute. However, there is a particular problem of discrimination of non-compliance with ethics in the workplace the world. Less than half of the world’s women are employed, and those who work earn on average one-third less than men. In 2018, the International Labor Organization produced a global report on employment and social issues. He showed: that among women, only 48 percent are present in the labor market; among men, 75 percent (Fernandez-Mateo & Kaplan, 2018).
Equal economic and political opportunities prescribed by law do not always ensure gender equality in the workplace. Consequently, a complex of stereotypes about education, a long-established culture, the need to care for children, and a pandemic lead to the current gender inequality in the workplace. In support of this thesis, evidence from scientific articles is given below.
Opportunities in the workplace have long been discriminated against by bosses and have deeper roots that continue today. Specialized higher education is almost always required to meet the requirements for a vacancy, unhindered and fair access to which women have also gained relatively recently (Stier & Herzberg-Druker, 2017). However, echoes of the stereotype that men are more educated than women are still found today. This manifestation of discrimination also unfairly affects gender inequality for workers from the very beginning of the job opening phase. Very few companies have ever looked for a candidate of a specific gender for a particular position during their existence (Stier & Herzberg-Druker, 2017).
Although women have improved the labor market due to equitable access to education, the problem remains in the higher-paid professions. Despite the corresponding trends, the problems laid down for a long time are still reflected in statistics and have not been wholly eliminated.
In addition, the need to look after a child is also a prerequisite for gender inequality in the workplace. The inequality comes from the political side, which in some countries does not create a level playing field for parental leave for men and women (Azmat, Hensvik, & Rosenqvist, 2020). In addition, after maternity leave, women are more likely to take parental leave when they are sick. As a result, women are not always legally retaining their jobs after a vacation; this is why they are also reluctant to be hired for high-paying jobs. At the same time, according to the law, absolutely identical conditions of parental leave between parents are widespread in Sweden, which is why the country has a relatively high index of happiness (Azmat et al., 2020).
As a result, this practice helps to correct the situation from this aspect – two parents take care of the child in turn, and each of them does not lose his job and works equally during the child’s first years. However, such a progressive policy is not applied everywhere. As a result, this fact does not contribute to a change in the situation regarding gender inequality in the workplace.
These factors form the prevailing unhealthy culture, resulting from which these manifestations of discrimination take place. In developing countries, a relatively large percentage of all genders work informally, while the gender wage gap is roughly the same in many countries (Yahmed, 2018). However, there is a significant difference between the aspect of the formality of work – in formal work, the higher the level of education required for a vacancy, the more significant the gender wage gap, reaching 35%, with 5-7% at the informal level (Yahmed, 2018).
Modern large international companies are trying to adhere to social responsibility, inclusiveness, and equality policy regardless of employee’s race, age, and gender, providing everyone with similar conditions. However, the lack of international experience in large companies in developing countries, on the contrary, indicates a high wage gap and the absence of any social responsibility measures (Yahmed, 2018). In this regard, the delicate work of the higher authorities is proposed to introduce additional measures that can eliminate this inequality. As stated above, for example, these may be the same conditions for parental leave.
The pandemic has made adjustments to the pace at which many organizations and individuals operate. Most employees faced the need to work remotely; many people lost their jobs. As a result, jobs were left with those who, on duty, needed to continue their activities while their partners took over the care of children who also stayed at home due to the pandemic (Fortier, 2020). In addition, women are more often represented in positions in the sectors of the economy most affected by the pandemic, many of which have closed due to government restrictions (Fortier, 2020).
As a result, the impact of the pandemic has increased the division of gender roles in childcare and household management in certain countries, which will only increase gender inequality at work. It should be noted that the pandemic did not reveal fundamentally new problems on this issue; it only reinforced stereotypes and traditions of corporate culture that existed before.
As a consequence, incidents of discrimination have decreased in professions that are especially heavily involved during the pandemic – such as a doctor or teachers. The workload on nurses has increased many times, and responsibility at each workplace has increased dramatically, leaving no room for decisions based on discrimination (Schlick et al., 2021). However, the positive impact was caused by the worldwide disaster, which is not an acceptable solution in this situation. On the other hand, a pandemic can help to learn from the experience of medical institutions in a difficult world situation and reduce gender inequality against the background of a common misfortune. Changes will be required at every stage of the employee cycle: from applying for a vacancy to retirement or dismissal for a specific reason.
Digitalization has become an integral part of the process launched by the pandemic, as a result of which many workers are switching to remote work, as indicated above. However, it is much more difficult to regulate such processes when colleagues and bosses are not within walking distance. First, there is no control over the work schedule and other working conditions. Secondly, on the other hand, the risks of direct discrimination and manifestations of harassment are reduced.
However, the problem immediately arises of a relatively new type of discrimination in the online community (Kalev & Deutsch, 2018). However, this problem also has its roots in the institutional and political aspects of the issue. At the moment, these stereotypes and measures leading to inequality are adjusting to new trends dictated by the pandemic and the restrictions caused by it. Moreover, the recommendations are not radical actions to eradicate the causes of inequality, namely the use of a fair, unbiased scientific approach to identify and select an employee for a particular vacancy.
Even though some success in achieving gender equality in the workplace has already happened, the problem still exists for various reasons. Biologically, women spend energy on bearing and having a child, and in many countries, also on raising a child, while the other parent provides for the family. Established stereotypes in culture, which have been going on since the days of gender inequality in education, still have a particular impact on this problem.
Depending on the structure of the country’s economy in which the man or woman lives, biological characteristics may be more or less relevant. For example, the more critical agriculture plays in the life of society, the more crucial physical strength and the higher the competitive advantage of men. Finally, the pandemic has highlighted certain aspects of the problem more clearly, making it harder and slower to tackle gender inequality in the workplace. To achieve tangible results, first of all, it takes time and exact complex solutions. Participation in the creation of such decisions should be taken not only by stakeholders but also by everyone from the heads of organizations to representatives of public authorities who can indirectly contribute to equality.
Azmat, G., Hensvik, L., & Rosenqvist, O. (2020). Workplace presenteeism, job substitutability and gender inequality. Web.
Fernandez-Mateo, I., & Kaplan, S. (2018). Gender and organization science: Introduction to a virtual special issue. Organization Science, 29(6), 1229-1236.
Fortier, N. (2020). COVID-19, gender inequality, and the responsibility of the state. International Journal of Wellbeing, 10(3).
Kalev, A., & Deutsch, G. (2018). Gender inequality and workplace organizations: understanding reproduction and change. Handbook of the Sociology of Gender, 257-269.
Schlick, C. J. R., Ellis, R. J., Etkin, C. D., Greenberg, C. C., Greenberg, J. A., Turner, P. L.,… & Hu, Y. Y. (2021). Experiences of gender discrimination and sexual harassment among residents in general surgery programs across the US. JAMA Surgery, 156(10), 942-952.
Stier, H., & Herzberg-Druker, E. (2017). Running ahead or running in place? Educational expansion and gender inequality in the labor market. Social Indicators Research, 130(3), 1187-1206.
Yahmed, S. B. (2018). Formal but less equal. Gender wage gaps in formal and informal jobs in urban Brazil. World Development, 101, 73-87.