Gender bias in the workplace is one of the most challenging factors that affect employers and employees alike. Many employees have lost either a job or experienced a hard time during interviews because of their gender. It is true to state that the female gender is on the receiving end of this bias. Women mainly find themselves discriminated upon in the workplace.
Women either fail to get employed or they do not get promoted due to their gender. This research paper will focus on various aspects of gender bias that affect the outcome of interviews in the workplace, including the relationship between gender and organizational communication, gender bias and female leadership, gender and organizational culture, and stereotypes that enhance gender bias in the workplace.
The Relationship between Gender and Organizational Communication
Interviews are an integral part of organizational communication. Various types of interviews take place in a firm, all of which are often affected by gender bias. Organizational communication focuses on all types of communication, with the main forms including verbal and nonverbal communication. These two types are also the key components of interviews.
Verbal communication is used in all types of interviews. It can be classified as vocal verbal interview, which is an interview that uses speech, or non-vocal verbal interview, which is an interview that uses text. It is critical to point out that different types of interviews also exist, including promotional, appraisal, and selection interviews.
Verbal communication has been used in various occasions and in a number of companies to promote gender bias. Green (2) argues that verbal communication is one of the major factors one has to consider when trying to understand gender bias in working places. Employers are likely to consider the quality of talk of an individual during interviews.
However, most of the times women end up being disregarded based on the argument that they are not assertive in the way they talk. As Green (2) points out, women are considered to be lacking the necessary skills needed to convince clients or sponsors in some types of work. This puts them at a disadvantage if they are seeking promotions (Green 2).
The employers also prefer men employees due to some of their characteristics. Morris (para 3) explains that men are perceived to talk with a commanding voice, deep pitch, slow rate, and a relaxed tone. Women, on the other hand, are perceived to talk a lot softer and with a higher and unprofessional pitch. Additionally, women are considered to be powerless in arguments and have a strained tone when caught in complicated situations.
All these qualities show weaknesses in women. Morris (para 4) argues that these stereotypes have made it almost impossible for women to be invited to participate in some interviews. They have also made it impossible for women to fair well in promotional and other types of interviews.
Nonverbal communication also plays a vital role in interviews. The interviewers normally assess an individual through facial expression, gestures, and other body movements portrayed by the interview candidate. Females are perceived to show too much emotion through their non-verbal communication. They are also considered to have less desire for personal territory. This is viewed as a negative attribute in the workplace.
It reflects the ‘weakness’ that women feel, thus they cannot claim any territory as their own. Men, on the other hand, are considered to be less expressive and very aggressive in establishing their territories. This makes them valuable as it shows that they are willing to do what it takes to make the company in question successful.
Gender bias is very evident in organizational communication. The practice has been used to determine in advance the outcome of interviews, where some jobs are considered to be suitable for women, while others are for men.
Therefore, a woman would not get the position that is considered for a man even if they were interviewed for the position, in addition to having the necessary skills and academic achievements. Many companies do not shun women from interviewing for such positions. However, on many occasions, it is their male colleagues who get the job.
Gender Bias and Female Leadership
Gender bias has also had an impact on female leadership. According to Johnson et al. (117), legitimization of women leaders is important in solving the issue of gender bias and female leadership. One has to be interviewed in the workplace to get a promotion.
This type of interview is known as a promotional interview. Most companies allow women to interview for leadership positions. However, very few women get these positions due to gender bias against women (Johnson et al. 120).
Women themselves refuse to attend interviews for such positions due to their belief that they are not good enough compared to their male colleagues, despite their academic achievements and skills (Heilman and Parks-Stamm 50).
According to Heilman and Parks-Stamm (52), gender stereotypes are the main causes of the bias nature of the interviews and the workplace in general. Women are normally considered weak, both physically and mentally. Therefore, they cannot hold leadership positions.
Johnson et al. (124) argue that women take up leadership roles in companies where women are in power, as opposed to those employing more men. The researchers attribute this to the fact that men will always be given first priority in interviews in companies with more men.
Women will take leadership positions when they are competing for positions against other women. Johnson et al. (126) explain that many women have no fear or hesitation fighting for positions with other women. They, however, have the fear of fighting for such positions with men.
Johnson et al. (130) explain that legitimizing female leadership in a company can help make women more aggressive and enthusiastic in interviewing for such positions. It can make it easier for other employees to respect the females in leadership positions and to see them as equals.
Gender bias has caused many challenges for women who have shown an aggressive nature in the workplace. Women are never elevated, despite the fact that they might qualify for the leadership positions. This makes them the ridicule of the workplace, thereby affecting their moral esteem. Repeatedly, women have opted to change jobs due to this kind of treatment.
It makes it nearly impossible for a woman to have and manage a successful career. Johnson et al. (131) argue that employers must also be ready to have a woman lead them to get rid of these gender stereotypes in promotional interviews. It is possible to find that women get the leadership positions, but other employers make it hard for them to do their work effectively.
Gender and Organizational Culture
All firms have their own unique cultures. These cultures preset and establish the behaviors, attitudes, and the success of the employees. There are two types of organizations in relation to gender.
They include firms that have more women and those that have more men, each with its unique cultures. As Rudman and Phelan (20) argue, the existence of varying cultures in working places results in the presence of gender bias in the companies.
The unique organizational cultures have a direct link to the outcome of the interviews. For example, Johnson et al. (128) argue that it is difficult to hire a man in a firm that is mainly run by women. This is also the case in as far as firms employing more men than women are concerned. These trends show a form of culture inherent in the two types of organizations.
More females feel comfortable going for interviews in companies that have more women employees because they compete with other women. In such circumstances, women get many and major leadership positions. They also turn out to be very aggressive towards each other.
However, women fear going for interviews in companies employing more men because they do not like competing with men. However, Tiia et al. (319) state that women might go for interviews for positions that are perceived to be feminine.
Organizational culture also establishes the success of the employees. Tiia et al. (320) present a case of peer talk. This involves how people in the same age group talk to each other and about each other.
The study shows that women talk more aggressively and confidently among their female peers compared to how they talk when in the presence of men. On the other hand, men do not change their quality of talk, whether they are with fellow men or with women. This factor has been used in many interview cases to establish the gender of the person who will hold the position in question.
Stereotypes that Enhance Gender Biasness in the Workplace
Stereotypes are the main causes of gender bias in the workplace. It is due to these stereotypes about men and women that women cannot find employment or get promoted if they are already in employment. One stereotype that has been used to shape the outcome of interviews is that women are not suitable for jobs that need critical thinking.
This is attributed to the fact that women are seen as a bit weak mentally. This stereotype has been used to determine whether women or men will hold positions in the various industrial companies. Women are given opportunities to work as secretaries and office attendants, despite their qualifications that enable them to be financial directors and other high positions.
Another stereotype that is commonly used in the interview process is that women are not aggressive. The woman will be thoroughly questioned on how she expects to do the work if the job entails heavy work.
However, the men who are doing the same interview will be asked about other mental and creative issues about the job. This has posed a huge challenge to women because they are weaker physically compared to men. This stereotype blocks women out of jobs that require heavy lifting and working for long hours.
It is also very common to find companies rejecting women’s proposals for employment and promotions due to their ability to get pregnant. The issue of pregnancy has blocked many women from holding good positions in the workplace.
Children are seen as a huge commitment, the employer may think that the woman will not be able to commit fully to the job at hand. Many employers also believe that women have many commitments outside the work area that disqualify them from complicated jobs.
The stereotype that women express emotions easily than men has also been used against women in the job market. This stereotype is based on the fact that many employers require people who will not break under pressure. Women are known to be soft and tend to cry a lot when faced with pressures.
This makes women vulnerable, yet most companies do not want vulnerability, especially when it comes to holding leadership positions. Bellou (3) considered the impact of stereotypes on the female gender. She argued that these stereotypes are also accepted by some women. This is why women do not try to interview for job positions that are primarily perceived to be reserved for men.
To conclude, many companies still have a hard time fighting gender bias. This might be due to presence of gender bias in the family and school, which are the two main agents of socialization. The individual in question is likely to have gender bias if these two types of agents allow gender bias.
Gender bias is also reflected in interviews. This is always in terms of the participation and the outcome of the interviews. Many women will not participate in interviews for positions that are perceived to be masculine. In the same breath, many firms will interview, but not award women jobs that are considered to be masculine.
Bellou, Victoria. “Organizational Culture as a Predictor of Job Satisfaction: the Role of Gender and Age.” Career Development International 15.1(2010): 4-19. Print.
Green, Ruth M. “Gender Differences in Verbal Communication.” RUF Lehigh Summer Conference 2004, 2004. Web.
Heilman, Madeline E. and Parks-Stamm, Elizabeth J. “Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace: Obstacles to Women’s Career Progress.” In Correll Shelley J. (ed.) Social Psychology of Gender (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 24). London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, (2007): pp. 47-77. Print.
Johnson, Cathryn, Fasula Amy M., Hysom Stuart J., Khanna Nikki. Legitimacy, “Organizational Sex Composition, and Female Leadership.” In Shane R. Thye, Edward J. Lawler (ed.) 23 (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 23). London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited (2006): pp. 117-147. Print.
Morris, Charlotte A. The Effects of Gender on Communication in the Legal Profession. 2001. Web.
Rudman, Laurie A., and Phelan Julie E. “Sex Differences, Sexism, and Sex: The Social Psychology of Gender from Past to Present.” In Shelley J. Correll (ed.) In Social Psychology of Gender (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 24). London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited (2007): pp.19-45. Print.
Tiia, Tulviste, Luule Mizera, Boel De Geer, and Marja-Terttu Tryggvason. “Cultural, Contextual, and Gender Differences in Peer Talk: A Comparative Study.” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 51.4 (2010): 319-325. Print.