They are men, most likely. Otherwise “female” or “woman” is typically placed beside the position as in “female CEO” or “woman doctor.” And sadly, it makes sense. For example, the distribution of physicians by gender indicates there are over double the amount of male doctors than females in the USA in 2015. There are even jobs that have “man” in the title which makes it necessary to include the adjective female or woman to the position in the rare case there is one, such as the signs on the road exclaiming “Attention! Workmen ahead” or that word even your dog knows, mailman.
We don’t mean to do it most of the time. It’s a habit. A subconscious thought. If we didn’t grow up with our working father sitting down to a homemade dinner prepared by our mother, then our parents probably did. My mother, growing up in the sixties, was told by her seventh grade teacher that she’d make an excellent “stewardess” or “secretary” before she’d even had her growth spurt.
Gender bias is deeply ingrained in our society and we can’t rewrite our patriarchal history or obliterate
its vestiges overnight.
What we can do is change our own workplace. How is it done? To start, we must identify the core issues.
As a recent college grad from a small liberal arts school, I have fortunately experienced less gender bias than most other women in the workplace. This is partly because of growing gender awareness, but more attributed to, I think quite simply, my lack of accumulated time spent in the “real world.” Despite nearly a third more of women than men enrolled in college today, the ratio for men to women in the workplace has yet to see major change.
In a small survey I conducted, the results act as evidence for the continual gender disparity in the work world. My respondents were a mixed group consisting of women and men, ranging from the ages of 21 to 58 who represent 10 U.S. states and over 20 industries.
- Just over half (52%) are or have been married and of that group, five are working parents.
- The most common location is urban (56%) followed by suburban (24%) and then various other types of workplaces unique to each of the remaining unaccounted.
- The daily commute for women averaged at 30 minutes while for men it was 20 minutes.
- 13 participants answer to a female boss and 10 report to a male boss – the remaining are self-employed or at the top of their career.
- Women on average interact most with customers, clients, patients and students while men interact equally among the aforementioned groups AND their bosses and coworkers.
- 77% of the women and 56% of the men call themselves feminists.
- Sometimes their views on gender equality stereotypically match their professions but often it is actually quite surprising (in a good way).
At a glance, the amount of women in leadership positions (52% have female bosses) seems great. And it is. But think about it: if the average age of participants is roughly 32 years old and have spent less than 5 years in their position, then they are probably not at the top of his/her career – which means that his/her boss probably answers to someone higher as well.
Another point to call attention to is the average amount of years women are spending in the same position vs. the men. If both genders average around the same age, shouldn’t they also average about the same time in a job position? Women average at 4 years and men average at 2 in their current position. The men could quit or get fired, but more likely they are moving up the ladder faster.
When asked how important it is to personally promote women’s leadership at the work place, nearly every single person said it was either “important” or “very important” for them to personally promote female leadership at their job. In fact, all men who responded agreed it was necessary and it was actually some of the women who claimed it wasn’t as important.
This is where the problem lies. It’s wonderful that all the men surveyed encourage female leaders at a personal level – that is great to hear – but how are us women supposed to advance in the professional world if we don’t believe in promoting ourselves? Why bother starting a career if you aren’t interested in developing skills to a higher level? Openly admitting on a survey that you don’t think promoting women’s leadership is important at your work place, to me, is self-defeating and works to the detriment of women both in and out of the workplace.
Because really, what does promoting women’s leadership at the work place mean?
It means listening to, speaking with, answering, calling, e-mailing, compromising, hiring and firing women the same way we would a man. It’s treating everyone equally no matter their race, religion and in this case, gender.