Gender Bias And Its Cost For Women

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. In response to this call, #Break the Bias has been trending across social media, with multiple firms inviting people to share their ideas on how to build a better world.

Before we delve into how to build a safer, more inclusive world for women, let us take a look at the different types of biases and blocks women face in their everyday lives.

Psychology classifies biases into two broad categories – conscious and unconscious. Conscious, or explicit bias, are the biases one is aware of. Unconscious bias, also called cognitive bias, are ones that are unintentional but which seep into our attitudes and behaviors.

gender equality

A diverse workplace performs better than its competitors.

Gender Bias

Biases can be based on, but are not limited to, gender, age, skin color, weight, sexual orientation, educational status, and social-economic status.

Research has revealed that women have been adversely affected by gender bias. When left unchecked, unconscious gender bias tends to permeate every level of an organization – from entry level to upper-management. An often-quoted bias is that women tend to be more emotional while men are more rational in their approaches. 

According to a study published by the European Journal of Finance in 2018, professional financial advisers believed that women would be less knowledgeable about investments in comparison to men. 

Gender bias also affects recruitment, mentoring, promotions, and career growth. Researchers have found that people tend to gravitate towards others like them. In a recruitment process, this form of bias, if left unchecked, can lead to a pool of similar-looking and like-minded people that can stifle growth.  

In 2020, a UN study discovered that a staggering 90% of men and women hold some form of bias against women. Furthermore, no country in the world has achieved gender equality. Another study by McKinsey and Company, in 2021, found that LGBTQ+ women and differently-abled women are more likely to experience microaggressions at the workplace.

Meanwhile, a report published by the World Bank in 2022 states that women still have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. Laws alone are not enough to help women, as religious, cultural, and social norms too play a major role in improving gender equality.

A vast majority of women admit that the pandemic has been detrimental to their career goals as they struggle to manage childcare and mental health, as women are still treated as primary caregivers. Globally, women tend to manage a lion’s share of the household duties.

Tackling Bias and Prejudice

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recommends pushing for quality education, massive investments in women’s training and decent work, an effective plan to tackle gender-based violence, and universal health care.

In an interview with the Business Insider, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg admitted that most people find it tough to have discussions around bias and prejudice. To tackle this menace, her non-profit created an interactive program called 50 Ways to Fight Bias, which highlights the biases women face. 

Unconscious-bias training must be made mandatory at workplaces. Companies need to take the initiative to reduce the gender gap, starting from hiring. In the US, in publicly traded companies, nearly one in 10 boards have no female representation. Female representation is crucial for implementing policy and cultural changes that encourage diversity. Unless workplaces are transformed, it is impossible to create a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Studies have found that companies with women leaders are more likely to financially outperform their competitors by about 25%. Multiple studies have proven that empowering women is good for business and the world.

Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships puts it succinctly as she states, “As we move forward to achieve green, resilient and inclusive development, governments need to accelerate the pace of legal reforms so that women can realize their full potential and benefit fully and equally.” 

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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