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Gender Discrimination at Workplace Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 27th, 2019


Gender discrimination in the workplace continues to be a disturbing problem to various women in USA and the rest of the world as well. It is considered to be quite widespread and virtually every woman must have suffered from one form of discrimination or another due to her gender.

Even in the current age, women still experience discrimination in their places of work and despite having similar skills as their male counterparts; they still can earn a two third of what the men can earn irrespective of their qualification and experience which might be same as or more than that of men.

Gender discrimination in the work place is the favoring of one gender against the other in terms of recruitment, job assignment, and termination of employment, compensation and promotion.

Discrimination in the work place may be intentional or unintentional and might be prompted by prejudice or ignorance. Women and men are always subjected to different treatment in the work place; in some circumstances, men may be treated more than women while in some other cases women are treated better than men.

Despite the fact that both men and women joint the work place with predetermined gender differences which is used as a basis for the preferential treatment they receive, it is in rare circumstances that gender differences in the treatment of both men and women is associated with preexisting perceptions (Bell, McLaughlin & Sequeira 67).

This essay will document gender bias and gender discrimination in the context of social and physical and the social confines of the work place that is experienced at work in the context of United States of America and Saudi Arabia.

Traditionally, gender discrimination emphasized sex discrimination and the two were used synonymously. The most powerful form of discrimination in a work place is when a particular group is adversely affected by the procedures that are followed in making decision or during work place practices.

It might be agreed that work practices may not be intentioned to discriminate against any group, but they might have the impact of offering fewer opportunities to either gender (Mayer 1).

Gender discrimination, sexual harassment and glass ceiling

There is a relationship between gender discrimination, glass ceiling and sexual harassment and all the three are hindrance to women occupying executive or managerial positions.

There are three main forms of gender discrimination, namely: overt discrimination, sexual discrimination and glass ceiling. All the three negatively impact on the status of women.

Women have been the victims of gender discrimination in various business organizations in the United States of America despite efforts of numerous legislations and strong feminist activists to combat it.

Overt Discrimination

This is understood as the use of gender as a parameter for making employment related decisions. This form of discrimination was the objective of Title VII in the USA which formed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This Act prohibited all forms of sex-based discrimination in matters of employment like hiring, promotion and firing. Examples of over discrimination are the refusal by employees to hire women or the practice of paying women low wages due to their gender.

Over discrimination has led to occupational sex segregation in the Saudi Arabia. The stereotyping of particular job as for women or men are evident in the US where women makeup the majority of nurses, flight attendance and secretaries which are characterized by low pay, short career ladder and low status while men make up the majority of pilots, physicians and executives.

In the USA, women are considered to occupy low organizational status and low organizational status and power (Gregory 209).

Sexual Harassment

This is another form of gender discrimination and manifests itself in employment based discrimination. There are two guidelines that define the illegality of sex harassment, these are: quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment.

Quid pro quo involves the inducing of a woman through employment so as to receive sexual factors or compliance. It is the coercive form of quid pro quo that is considered as gender discrimination.

Most of this form of gender discrimination is perpetuated by managers and supervisors of an organization. Hostile harassment on the other and is witnessed when sexual favors can interfere with employees’ work performance or when sexual behavior is used to create an intimidating work environment. Sexual harassment is considered as a tool for occupational sex segregation.

Glass Ceiling

This is considered as a fundamental factor that hinders women from accessing employment and status. Glass ceiling affects women in an organization.

Glass ceiling are understood as those invisible man-made barriers which hinder women from progressing beyond certain levels. In the US for example, it is estimated that women make up 30 percent of managers but only 5 percent make up the executive managers.

These factors are linked to gender stereotypes. It is difficult to eradicate glass ceiling by use of legislation (Bell, McLaughlin and Sequeira 70).

Gender Discrimination in the United States of America

Gender discrimination in the United States of America is an ancient phenomenon since it assumes the dimension of discrimination against women which is global.

Just like in other various parts of the world, gender discrimination is ripe in the USA. It is global knowledge that the position of women is marginalized in the society in various aspects of production.

Women are guaranteed limited access to education, they lack power to own property, they have limited exposure to education and training facilities and they have limited opportunities for employment than men.

The reluctance of the USA to ratify the Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women which was adopted by the United Nations is a clear indication of how deeply entrenched gender discrimination is in the USA.

However despite the inability of the USA to ratify the CEDAW, they have enacted legislations and numerous statutes which are aimed at safeguarding of women from all forms of discrimination and particularly in the working environment.

Previously, it was the duty of the states to define the kind of employment that women were entitled to do. All aspects of discrimination in the USA was taken care by the Title VII but despite of this, and in spite of the fact that women are gaining entry into the labor force, there still exists inequalities in wage structure.

Gender discrimination is experienced when one gender is given preference or is treated less than the other gender. Women on several occasions are given little preference than men because of their sex.

Wage equality and sexual harassment are the predominant forms of gender discrimination. Despite various regulations to promote equality, there are still some cases of discrimination in work place.

Women do not measure up to men in various aspects of employment particularly regarding income, the rate or frequency of employment and the range of occupation. Glass ceiling exists to prevent women from being discriminated upon (Bell, McLaughlin and Sequeira 69).

Gender discrimination in the work place is a common phenomenon in the United States of America. Women find it difficult to secure employment as compared to men.

This is associated with the snaky behavior of women in the USA. There are existent laws that provide for protection against any discrimination in their workplace.

This however has not prevented employees from facing various forms of harassment and discrimination in employment based gender.

In the USA, sex discrimination rare its ugly face in various forms and the common form of gender discrimination id the exclusion of women from the labor market just because of the fact that they are women.

It involves the association of particular jobs as for men only of for women only or by application of the glass ceiling rule that defines how far women should go in the corporate or government ladder (Dipboye and Colella 174).

The most widespread form of gender discrimination is sexual harassment. This happens when an employer connects the job status of the employee to their sexual suggestion.

This is totally contrary to laws of employment which prohibit the subjecting of women to sexually charged or hostile work place environment.

Sexual harassment includes posting on obscene photos that can offend fellow workers, slur on the appearance of the fellow workers or making derogatory comments in respect to women’s pregnancy (Brayton 1).

The prohibition of gender discrimination under title VII was considered as relieve for all women and a new dawn of seeking inequality in the work place but still the practice is widespread.

It is estimated that in the USA, the female gender are still occupied with jobs that are deemed to be typically for women like secretaries, administration scale workers as well as sales clerks.

According to the women’s policy research institute in Washington, for every $75 cent that a lady earns, a man earns $1. Gender discrimination has been implemented by some multinational companies operating in the USA and which claim that they are protecting certain bilateral treaty provision that gives them leeway to employ staff of their own choice. This might be a recipe for discrimination (Mayer 1).

In the USA women suffer from gender discrimination in a various work place spheres like hiring, promotion and salary. In terms of hiring, few women find employment as compared to the population of women who graduate from College.

With regards to promotion, women occupy lower positions. Women are not represented in the top hierarchy of various organizations and the problem is not due to the fact they are not adequately trained but because they are discriminated because of their gender. Salary wise, women often make little money that the one made by their male counterparts (Isaacs 1).

Gender Discrimination in Saudi Arabia Work Place

In the case of Saudi Arabia, their current policies and programs are geared towards the emancipation of women in the labor market. Despite the efforts by the government to ameliorate the position of women in the spheres of employment, women are still the minority in the work place and it is estimated that they make approximately 15 percent of the population in the labor force.

The marginalization of women in the work place is linked to the existing legislative, social, occupational and educational constraints that hinder the participation of Saudi women in the labor market.

Gender based discrimination in Saudi Arabia is evident in the statistics of job population; men occupy approximately 85 percent of the labor force.

Women in Saudi Arabia account for the large group of the unemployed population. Gender discrimination in the Saudi work force market has its roots in the country’s education system which fails to prepare women for managerial positions and other competitive roles in the society.

Saudi laws guarantee that a woman is entitled to work but the same laws specify the environment that women should apply their labor and this is considered a form of sex segregation where women are placed in certain positions that are considered feminine in nature and are less fit for men. In the private sector for example, women have access to narrow range of jobs mainly in private business and banks (AlMunajjed 4).

Though Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in combating discrimination in the work place, the progress has never been even and specifically in areas like women in paid employment and their treatment of migrant workers.

Women in the Saudi Arabia are experiencing difficulties in their entry into the labor force. It is estimated that the rate of women participation the workforce in Saudi Arabia has been on the rise.

Women are a minority in occupying jobs in the managerial positions and they experience restriction in their choice for labor market and employment. Women experience a lot of harassment in the work place and they also suffer from offensive comments.

Violence, discrimination and segregation are some of the common practices that affect woman in Saudi Arabia and it is deeply rooted in the Muslim tradition and the rigid social stratification structure which insubordinates women and makes them to appear impure or inferior to men.

Gender discrimination has made it hard for Saudi women to secure employment, to secure better training or to get equal pay for their work done. There is also widespread discrimination against women in terms of hiring and recruitment.

Various employers have refused to accommodate the needs of women that are occasioned by their gender but which conflict with work practice for example pregnancy (International Labor Office 3).

In Saudi Arabia, gender discrimination and inequalities apply to women’s employment opportunities. Traditionally in Saudi Arabia, business and government sector are predominantly preserve of men and they were limitedly exposed to family oriented systems, in this regard, men differed from women based on their perceptions, the beliefs and the expectations of a typical Saudi Arabian work pace. Yes, gender discrimination and segregation is prevalent in Saudi Arabia but it is being slowly eliminated.

Manifestation of Gender Discrimination

Overall, gender discrimination is reflected in the following areas:

Pay gap: there is often widespread discrimination and bias in the distribution of bonus and performances which may be related to the salary, it has been established that women are paid lower salaries than their male counterparts for similar work done.

This equality is reflected in their entire career life. Consequently, in the salary cadre women concentrate on lower jobs in their occupations.

Recruitment, conditions of services, retention and promotion: there is a lot of occupational segregation in terms of career development in Saudi Arabia and US.

It has been established that men occupy two-third of the management, professional and senior jobs. There is also a likelihood of men progressing up the career ladder faster than their female counterparts, which is a reflection of discrimination in the work place.

Recruitment: gender discrimination is also evidenced in the recruitment and the selection process. In this circumstance, men dominate highly paying jobs while women are recruited to occupy the low paying jobs.

In Saudi Arabia, informal recruitment and personal referral are the common modes of recruitment. These informal methods of recruitment have the tendency of propagating women exclusion in certain job fields.

Consequently, women are more likely to be asked questions which touch on their family background during the recruitment and this is considered an issue of gender discrimination.

Progression in career paths: women are in most circumstances trapped in lower paying jobs. Women can only be promoted to supervisory positions but their male counterparts have the likelihood of being promoted to managerial posts.

Work place culture: there are several culture issues that form the basis of gender discrimination in the work place. Networking activities and sports only place focus on male dominated sports.

These cultural issues may be stereotyping and sexist in form. This alienates women hence creating exclusionary feeling of undervaluing their participation and confidence.

The practice and culture of long working for long hours serves to discriminate against those employees who have tight family responsibility who, on several occasions are women (Equality and Human Rights Commission 9).

Theories of Gender Discrimination in the Work Place

There are various theories that are used to account for gender discrimination in the work place. There are certain cases of discrimination bias which are encouraged by the structures and practices of an organization as well as the environment and the dynamics what individuals operate.

Gender discrimination can also be depicted in the established rules of success where men are promoted or employed based on their performance while ladies secure employment or promotion based on their appearance.

There are various theories that seek to explain the prevalence of gender discrimination on the workplace. These theories are the sex plus theory, rational bias theory and the disparate treatment theory.

Sex plus theory is defined by the gender and the marital status of the employee. Gender discrimination can also be evidenced on the benefits provided by an employee to workers.

Most employees fail to factor in the fact that female employees have special sex based disabilities and health care demands like bearing children and pregnancy. This unique sex based features of women should be made so as to enable women to fully participate in the labor force and failure to address this needs can amount to discrimination (Brayton 1).

Disparate Treatment Theory

This theory holds that employers are directly accountable and are responsible for their organizational structures and the institutional practices that may enable the practice of discrimination bias in the work place.

There are situations where women managers with similar qualifications and same training and experience as their male counterparts and in similar positions earn fewer wage.

Modern organizations are slowly embracing team work which leads to the increase in the number of individuals who are charged with the art of decision making.

The increased use of team work to make decisions has heightened discrimination bias which affects the ability of women to develop or grow within the organization.

It may be hard to imagine or understand how organizational structure or the practices of institutions or the dynamics of work place can lead to gender discrimination.

There is disparate treatment theory which occurs when individuals are treated differently due to their group or association to particular group.

Examples of disparate treatment theory are: the unwillingness of employees to hire women due to their gender, the reluctance by the management of an organization to place women in career track positions, offering of small salary to an employee just because she is a woman and the asking of male like questions to female candidates during an interview.

Consequently, there is the traditional version of disparate treatment theory which defines discrimination in the work place as an individual and measurable practice.

It explains work place discrimination as intentional. According to the theory, individuals are consciously motivated to practice discrimination; it argues that discrimination is product of decision by an individual with stereotypical belief towards particular group of individuals.

Disparate treatment theory explains discrimination by unraveling the mind and the decisions of the individual actor and what motivates him to discriminate.

Various kinds of disparate treatment theory are: individual disparate treatment theory and systemic disparate treatment theory. It is important to comprehend disparate treatment theory in terms of dissimilarities as opposed to the conscious motives to discriminate for equity to be realized in the work place. There is also disparate impact theory which describes discrimination in form of consequences and not the motive (Green 94).

Rational Bias Theory

Another theory is that examines the prevalence of discrimination in the work place is the rational bias theory. Despite of numerous efforts to promote equality in the place of work, discrimination against certain groups still occurs, women have particularly bore the brunt of gender discrimination.

This results in women doing poorly than men in terms or economic strength, income and unemployment. This discrimination is reflected in their salaries where women earn less than men.

This theory predicts discrimination may be influenced by situations or circumstances whereby a demonstration of bias may attract rewards or sanctions.

According to the proponents of the theory, external pressure from the superiors can justify gender discrimination, it explains that there can be valid forms of discrimination which have basis in fact and which relies on particular stereotypes to arrive at a predictive accuracy (Larwood, Szwajkowski and Rose 9).

Sex plus Theory

This is the theory that captures all forms of gender based discrimination on account of pregnancy in the work place. The theory explains all forms of discrimination of pregnant women, it is considered out of law to terminate the contract of an employee due to pregnancy.

This theory argues that any sexual behavior in the office by an employer should be accompanied by a proof that the discrimination was not only driven by gender but by additional characteristics.

This form of discrimination holds the employers accountable when it happens that they have discriminated against women, sex plus discrimination is clearer and it happens when an employer does not discriminate against all the females and it only deals with subset or a category like Married woman.

It also covers the discrimination of women based on their marital status. This theory is used to describe a situation where an employee is categorized by the employer based on sex and another physical characteristic (Shetreet 255)


To overcome gender discrimination in the work place in Saudi Arabia, it is imperative for the government to introduce various reforms which will prepare women for competitive jobs.

This should include labor market reforms that will seek to promote gender equality as well as to create a favorable environment that can favor the participation of Saudi women in senior and managerial jobs which were traditionally preserved for men.

It is the responsibility of human resources management to enforce anti-discrimination policies in the company. This has never been the case because the organization’s management considers gender discrimination as a casual topic and hence is unable to prevent other forms of gender discrimination.

Most corporate organizations relegate the matter of gender discrimination to the periphery hence making its enforcement hard. Gender discrimination is often sustained by variables which are inherent and indigenous to the company and the company’s work environment.

There may be some circumstances where working conditions in a work environment dominated by men and work and lifestyle which is structured to fit male have the net effect of adversely impacting on the female workers. It is the corporate policies and practices of a company that sustain or eliminate the presence of gender discrimination in a work environment.

Gender discrimination in the work place needs to be addressed because it affects talent utilization in the work place as well as the quality of employee experiences.

It is imperative to understand the dynamics and other underlying issues in gender discrimination so as to prevent it. Gender discrimination is an organizational problem and it mentally and psychologically affects women who feel that they are discriminated against. This experience can lead women to have a negative perception about the organization.

Works Cited

AlMunajjed, Mona. “Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia: A Major Challenge”. Booz Media, 2010. Web.

Bell, Myrtle., McLaughlin, Mairi and Sequeira, John. “Discrimination, harassment and the glass ceiling: Women executives as change agents”. Journal of Business Ethics 37.1 (2002): 65-76.

Brayton, Purcell. “Workplace Harassment and Employment Discrimination”. Brayton Law, 2011. Web.

Dipboye, Robert and Colella Adrienne. Discrimination at Work: the Psychological and Organizational Bases. New York, NY: Rutledge, 2005. Print.

Equality and Human Rights Commission. “Sex discrimination and gender pay gap report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission”. Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009. Web.

Green, Tristin. “Discrimination in Workplace Dynamics: Toward a Structural Account of Disparate Treatment Theory”. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 38.1 (2003): 91-157.

Gregory, Raymond. Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003. Print.

International Labor Office. “Discrimination at Work in the Middle East and North Africa. International”. Labor Office, n.d. Web.

Isaacs, Ellen. “Gender discrimination in the workplace”. Isaacs-Gender Discrim, n.d. Web.

Larwood, Laurie., Szwajkowski, Eugene and Rose, Suzanna. “Sex and race relationship resulting from manager-client relationships: applying the rational choice theory of managerial discrimination”. Sex Roles 18.1 (1988): 9-29.

Mayer, Donald. “Gender discrimination”. Reference for Business, 2011. Web.

Shetreet, Simon. Women in Law. New York, NY: Kluwer Law International, 1998. Print.

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