Overcoming Stereotypes in the Workplace As Gender Disparity RisesAdd bookmark
Gender inequalities in the workplace are detrimental to success, and they must be addressed as gaps in the pandemic impacted workforce climb. In a recent study by PwC, research suggests that the pandemic actually set progress towards gender equality in the workplace back to levels recorded in 2017.
This setback may be attributed to the disproportionate unemployment rates women have, and currently are, experiencing. There are roughly 2.3 million US women missing from the workforce compared to 1.8 million men, as of last month. Gallup notes a few causes for this disparity, with the most notable being familial demands and child care responsibilities consistent with the closing of schools.
While this gap may be temporary, the lingering emotional and cultural effects can be widely permanent even as we see many women re-enter the workplace. Employers need to address leading challenges that allow for this gender disparity, and urgently work to mend the divide.
Stereotypes are tricky; they become so ingrained in our minds through societal norms that it becomes increasingly difficult to realize we’re using them. However, they have the potential to become incredibly dangerous and pervasive, specifically in the workplace.
When we rely on stereotypes, we begin to overlook the uniqueness that each employee and colleague offers -- reducing people to familiar characteristics rather than recognizing true individual talent.
Females are particularly prone to being stereotyped and according to Harvard’s research, it deeply impacts their sense of confidence and overall ability in the work environment. The study found that women are often more reluctant to share their ideas and highlight their competency in typically male-coded subjects -- even if they are high-achievers. In fact, the most talented women were even more likely to downplay praise and lowball their abilities.
This is entirely problematic in the workplace and diminishes the voice and input of highly qualified and diverse groups of talent. It also has the potential to become more pronounced as many women have been forced home throughout the pandemic.
As many women take a necessary break from the workforce, their confidence will continue to decrease as they see their male counterparts accept promotions and new responsibilities in their absence. Companies now need to work to address gender inequality to make space for women to feel confident and accepted in their current and future positions.
Focus On Promoting Allies
While everyone may be well-intentioned, seeking equal footing for their female colleagues, they still need to be equipped to properly identify and alleviate personal biases. In doing so, anyone can become an ally to promote the success of their exceptional and deserving colleagues.
The current challenge is that many people may not even recognize potential barriers to career advancement, according to Reuters. To begin identifying these circumstances, there needs to be greater education on gender disparities, biased attitudes and behavior, and more consistent discourse surrounding the intention to change.
There also needs to be greater understanding and recognition for individuals who had to temporarily exit the workforce for familial and personal reasons. We cannot risk the formation of any stigma associated with this absence.
Form Supportive Communities
One of the biggest hurdles of change is simply recognizing that there’s a problem. When companies offer a supportive space or community for individuals to voice their concerns, it becomes a much more manageable and positive opportunity for change.
In our own CCWomen series, we dedicate the time to address these commonalities, like stereotypes, and help women navigate difficult moments. Additionally, working with like-minded women across industries allows for engaging discussions that work to form a supportive environment and enact meaningful change. These groups are a necessary tool to uncover some of these deep-seated biases to disrupt their impact before they become pervasive in the workplace.
To hold individuals accountable as allies during International Women’s Month, there needs to be continued momentum to promote movements of change. CCW Digital has pledged to help support and mentor the growth of women in the workplace and the next generation of female leaders. We challenge everyone to use #CCWomenStrong and upload their photos using the hashtag on social media.
To continue the conversation, join us at our April CCWomen Meet-Up: Overcoming "Cute, Small and Invisible" Stereotypes in the Workplace.
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