Workforce Solutions

Women In The Workplace: The Fight Against Gender Bias

Cogent Infotech
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Dallas, TX

The world has made remarkable progress in bridging the gap between males and females in the last few years. However, we are still very far from removing gender bias. From the days when women were considered only good for 'pink-collar jobs', they have consistently moved up the ladder over the last few decades. But the pace has been slow and steady.

Gender bias in the workplace refers to the unfair treatment of employees based on their gender. This bias can manifest in various ways, including unequal pay, unequal job opportunities, harassment, and discrimination. Addressing gender bias in the workplace is crucial for creating a fair and inclusive workplace, promoting diversity and equality, and maximizing employee potential. 

A report by McKinsey & Company found that women in the United States are underrepresented at every level in the corporate sector, with the representation of women decreasing at each successive level. The report also found that only 38% of managers are women, contrary to the men who hold 62% of managerial posts. Additionally, women of color are particularly underrepresented, with only 4% of C-suite positions held by them. These statistics are concerning and highlight the need for organizations to take action to combat gender bias in the workplace.

For example in 2020, Google settled a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company paid women less than men and denied them opportunities for promotion. The lawsuit brought attention to the systemic bias against women in the tech industry and the need for organizations to address gender bias in hiring and promotion practices.

Gender bias in the workplace is a pervasive issue that affects women at all levels and industries. Organizations need to take action to combat gender bias, including addressing unconscious bias, providing equal opportunities for career development, and implementing policies to promote gender equality.

Historical Context of Gender Bias in the Workplace

Gender discrimination has a long history in the workplace, with women facing significant barriers to entry and advancement in many industries. Until the mid-20th century, it was legal for employers to openly discriminate against women by denying them employment, promotions, or higher pay based solely on their gender. Even after anti-discrimination laws were enacted, women continued to face significant challenges in the workplace, including being relegated to low-paying ‘pink-collar’ jobs and facing harassment and discrimination on the job.

The fight against gender bias in the workplace has been supported by a range of laws and policies over the years. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was one of the earliest pieces of legislation aimed at addressing gender bias in the workplace, prohibiting employers from paying employees of one gender less than employees of the opposite gender for performing the same job. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Additional legislation, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, provided further protections for women in the workplace. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 gave workers the right to take unpaid leave for medical and family reasons without losing their jobs. 

While significant progress has been made in the fight against gender bias in the workplace, there is still much work to be done. According to the United Nations, women earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, with women of color facing even wider wage gaps. Additionally, women are underrepresented in many high-paying fields, such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Real-life examples from the United States illustrate the progress made in recent years. In 2018, for example, California passed a law requiring publicly traded companies based in the state to have at least one woman on their boards of directors. This law was intended to increase gender diversity in corporate leadership and ensure that women have a voice in decision-making processes.

In 2019, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team won the FIFA Women's World Cup, bringing attention to the issue of pay equity in sports. The team's players were paid significantly less than their male counterparts, despite generating more revenue for their sport. US Soccer agreed to pay a lump sum of $22 million to the players. Their victory highlighted the need for equal pay for equal work and sparked a national conversation about gender bias in sports.

While progress has been made in the fight against gender bias in the workplace, there is still much work to be done. Laws and policies have been enacted to protect women's rights, but women continue to face significant challenges in many industries.

Current State of Gender Bias in the Workplace

Despite progress in recent decades, gender bias remains a significant issue in the workplace. Only 10% of companies on the Fortune 500 list are run by women at the top. The situation is even worse when it comes to specialized jobs in technology and product marketing. In addition, the unequal pay gap is another unresolved challenge.

Gender bias can take many forms in the workplace. One common type of bias is implicit bias, which refers to unconscious attitudes or beliefs that influence decision-making processes. For example, a manager may be more likely to promote a male employee over a female employee based on subconscious assumptions about gender roles and abilities. 

Another form of gender bias is stereotype threat, which occurs when individuals feel pressure to conform to negative stereotypes about their gender. This can lead to self-doubt and a lack of confidence, which can in turn negatively impact career growth and development.

Women face challenges in balancing work and family responsibilities, which can impact their ability to take on additional responsibilities or pursue career development opportunities. Women are also more likely to experience harassment and discrimination on the job, which can create a hostile work environment and negatively impact career growth and development. 

Real-life examples from the United States illustrate the ongoing impact of gender bias on women's career growth and development. In 2020, a group of former employees at Pinterest filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, retaliation, and failure to promote women. The lawsuit alleged that female employees were paid less than their male counterparts and that women were steered into lower-paying roles. The lawsuit also alleged that women who spoke out about discrimination and bias were retaliated against. The suit was brought by Françoise Brougher, the company’s former COO, who said she was fired after speaking up about mistreatment. The company settled the suit for $22.5 million.

Gender bias remains a significant issue in the workplace, with women facing barriers to entry and advancement, lower pay, and underrepresentation at senior leadership levels. Implicit bias and stereotype threat can negatively impact career growth and development, and women may also face challenges in balancing work and family responsibilities.

Strategies for Combating Gender Bias in the Workplace

Organizations need to take radical steps to combat gender bias in the workplace. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, it will take 136 years to bridge the global gender gap. The slow and steady pace will not work in the long run. Here are some of the steps that can be taken to combat gender bias in the workplace:

Addressing unconscious bias

One strategy for combating gender bias in the workplace is to address unconscious bias through training programs. This can help managers and employees become aware of their biases and learn strategies for mitigating their impact on decision-making processes. For example, Google implemented a program to help employees recognize and combat their own unconscious biases, which resulted in increased diversity and inclusion within the company.

Providing equal opportunities and support for career development

Another strategy is to provide equal opportunities and support for career development. This can include programs for mentoring, networking, and skills development, as well as policies that support work-life balance, such as flexible schedules and parental leave. By creating a supportive environment that encourages and facilitates career growth for all employees, organizations can help mitigate the effects of gender bias.

Encouraging workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Encouraging workplace diversity and inclusion is also critical for combating gender bias. This can include actively recruiting and hiring diverse candidates, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and promoting diverse perspectives and experiences at all levels of the organization. By valuing and celebrating diversity, organizations can create a more equitable and welcoming workplace for all employees.

Implementing policies and procedures to promote gender equality

Organizations can implement policies and procedures to promote gender equality, such as pay transparency, equitable promotion and hiring practices, and zero-tolerance policies for harassment and discrimination. By setting clear expectations and standards for behavior and holding individuals accountable for their actions, organizations can create a culture of respect and fairness that supports gender equality.

Salesforce's commitment to achieving pay parity for all employees, and the NFL's adoption of the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview diverse candidates for head coaching and senior operations positions are a few good examples. These initiatives demonstrate the importance of proactive and intentional efforts to promote gender equality and combat bias in the workplace.

Success Stories

There are many examples of companies that have successfully combated gender bias in the workplace. One such company is Accenture, which has committed to achieving a gender-balanced workforce by 2025. To achieve this goal, Accenture has implemented a range of initiatives, including unconscious bias training for all employees, a program to promote women's advancement to senior leadership positions, and a new parental leave policy that provides up to 16 weeks of leave for all parents, regardless of gender.

The impact of Diversity and Inclusion on organizational success

There is growing evidence that diversity and inclusion are key drivers of organizational success. Similarly, a study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams had higher innovation revenue and EBIT margins than companies with less diverse management teams.

Several lessons can be learned from successful gender equality initiatives. One is the importance of leadership commitment and buy-in. Successful initiatives often have the support of senior leaders who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and are willing to allocate resources to make it happen.

Another lesson is the importance of data and measurement. Successful initiatives often involve data-driven approaches, such as conducting salary equity analyses or tracking the representation of women and people of color at different levels of the organization. This data can be used to identify areas for improvement and measure progress over time.

Successful initiatives often involve collaboration and engagement across the organization. This can include involving employees at all levels in the development and implementation of initiatives, as well as working with external partners and stakeholders to share best practices and learn from others.


The fight against gender bias in the workplace requires action from both organizations and individuals because there is still much work to be done. However, there are reasons for optimism. Many organizations are recognizing the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion and are taking concrete steps to address gender bias. In addition, there is growing awareness and advocacy around the issue of gender bias, with individuals and organizations coming together to push for change.

Looking to the future, there is much potential for progress in the fight against gender bias in the workplace. With continued advocacy, education, and action, organizations can create workplaces that are equitable, inclusive, and supportive for all employees, regardless of gender.

Cogent Infotech help organizations hire the best talent in the industry and build an inclusive workforce. Visit our website to know more.

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