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Gender Bias and Gender Inequality is seen around the world and is seen even in places where it is hard to justify. For example, women actors are paid much less in Hollywood and Bollywood. The gap is huge. Apparently, there is no justification for this because both work equally hard to make a movie successful. Remember, it is not ‘pay as per work’. A guy may charge a huge sum for a small appearance while a gal will never get that privilege. More recently, movies like Wonder Woman have joined Billion Dollar Earners Club, but it has not eliminated the disparity between men and women payments. Bollywood is the same; Sharukh Khan or Amitabh Bachan may become the highest paid actors, but we have not heard any such award for a female actor.

Sportswomen are paid substantially less than sportsmen for the same sport. Recently, the US Women’s Soccer Team has been making protests against less payment as compared to men. It has brought the issue to public view successfully but has not led to equal payments yet. Megan Rapinoe became a symbol of protest and marshalled other members to protest.

Professional Women are paid less than their counterparts doing the same job. A male Director will be paid more than a female Director, and the disparity continues all along,

The irony is that more and more women are being inducted into workforce and most organizations are removing barriers to hiring women. The workplaces, work rules, compensation policies and work environment are not yet modified to reflect the new reality.

As a society, we are not comfortable in the presence of women. It dates back to separate ‘Zanan Khana’ and ‘Mardan Khana’ which were the norm from centuries. Children who have been educated in co-education schools tend to fare better, but they are still in minority and their homes may not support this. There is much more to say on this topic, but that would be dealt with later. For now, the point is that we carry our ingrained biases to workplaces, practice these, justify these and even glorify these.

Harvard Business Review published an article on May 18, 2015. It was contributed by Orit Gadiesh and Julie Coffman and was titled ‘Companies Drain Women’s Ambition After Only 2 Years’. Orit Gadiesh is the Chairperson, and Julie Coffman is a partner with Bain & Company.

Bain & Co. launched a study that asked more than 1,000 men and women in a mix of US companies two questions.

  1. Do you aspire to top management within a large company?
  2. Do you have the confidence you can reach top management?

Women who had work experience of two years or less scored higher on both counts than men. Means, they expressed greater aspiration for becoming part of top management, and they showed higher confidence about their ability to do so. However, women who had more than two years of work experience displayed a decline of 60% in aspiration and 50% in confidence. The decline was not related to marriage and motherhood status.

The same questions were posed to men. Initially, they scored lower than women on both counts, but after more than two years of work experience, their aspiration remained the same, but their confidence declined by mere 10%.

When the more senior managers were asked the same questions, the percentage increased for both men and women, but women never went up to the level shown by newcomers. Male senior managers were twice as confident to reach the top than their female counterparts.

The study authors discuss the possible reasons, as given below.

Celebrated Behaviors – the usually celebrated behaviors among corporates are designed around men. The war stories of heroic efforts to bring business, or pulling apparently impossible tasks through smart networking, socializing and personal wheeling dealing are suited only to men. What women contribute to organization is lost in this drumbeating. As women gain experience, they realize more sharply that they will never be able to be part of this league.

Culture – Digressing from the study, countries like Pakistan, put several cultural restrictions on women. Due to these, there is hardly any room for socializing or traveling freely or mixing up with customers. An even bigger issue is the general sense of MISOGYNY, a built-in disrespect for women which borders on hatred. We cannot see women as equals, and certainly not as superiors. The management takes the safe route and promotes the career of men rather than women.

In the Bain & Co. study, culture is reflected in the answers to a second set of questions.

  1. Do you see yourself fitting into the stereotypes of success within the company?
  2. Have your supervisors been supportive of your career aspirations?

While new workers of both genders had similar responses, but the answers from more experienced were quite different. Women’s confidence that they matched the idea dropped by 15 percentage points, men by just 9 points. Women’s sense that their supervisors supported their career goals was 20 points lower; men’s was just 3 points lower.

To be Continued……

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