This month the CTM team are thinking about gender discrimination, after a recent episode was reported at Google. The report on Google can be read here. Here’s what our columnist had to say about gender discrimination.
In today’s society, the issue of gender stereotypes is a common topic. Often, it’s a heated discussion. Gender roles in the work place, for most, still fall under “traditional,” where a boss is a man, and the secretaries are female. My own personal experience of working as a waitress showed the antiquated gender role dynamics at its very best. Chefs and bus boys being male with waitresses being all women, except for two men. There were two managers, both male. One was younger and had an open mind, with a teamwork mentality. He often helped the waitresses and waiters out when the restaurant got busy. The other manager, who was much older and from a time where gender inequality was more prominent than today, was much harsher, and had higher expectations and standards of the female workers.
At the restaurant, we couldn’t take a break until working the minimum of six hours, and only after that could we take a break. At the time I had this job, I was still in a fragile state of recovery from anorexia. I had a medical note saying I had to have a lunch break at the three-hour mark. The older manager had this attitude towards me like I was slacking off on the job, whereas there was also a male bus boy who had to take lunch breaks for medical reasons, and there was never attitude towards him. Society views anorexia as a “woman’s” problem, and the older manager didn’t seem to understand what was “wrong” with me that I medically needed a lunch break. All the female workers complained about the older manager and how nasty he was. I eventually left the job to continue with school.
I kept in touch with some of the workers and found out that almost a year after I left, the older manager got fired for saying that a waitress of his was too overweight to be a waitress. I was horrified when I heard that he said that in front of all the workers at the restaurant. His attitude towards the more attractive females, while I was there, was much nicer, than those that were less attractive, and this just showed his bias. The waitress went to Human Resources and the manager got fired for his inappropriate comment about why that waitress wasn’t qualified to be a waitress.
Gender issues and stereotypes have been an issue in the workplace for a while, whether it’s in regard to women not being paid as much as men, or women being sexualized and harassed. We are exposed to subtle adverts every day that can lead to sexism, whether it be hostile sexism or benevolent sexism. Society says that women aren’t aggressive or assertive enough to get paid more or to get promoted, but when women assert themselves they suffer from the backlash effect, which is when a woman acts more assertively (stereotypically, like a man) and gets negative reactions about their behavior from positions of authority.
The backlash effect makes moving up in a workplace almost impossible, so women have to work ten times harder to be seen as equals to their male counterparts, hence the glass ceiling. Not to mention the fact that women bear children, and take maternity leave. Most bosses will assume a woman will be distracted by their children. In today’s society, given that women are in the workplace just as much as men, men should be offered paternity leave just like women, that way either parent has the opportunity to work or take time off, leading to less of a bias against women who will soon be a mother. Society has a long way to go to address sexism and gender stereotypes, but until we start talking about this and actively taking steps towards change, things will, unfortunately, remain the same.