This week, we had a rather interesting experiment. We were in the midst of debating our solution on Maternity and Gender Diversity for our corporate clients, and as part of that ideation we decided to do a small exercise. We asked all our women team members to reflect for 15 minutes and come up with any Gender bias they may have faced in the corporate world.
We were using this experiment to understand whether Gender Bias exists in our mind, and we force it on the working women who might be happy and content in their corporate life, or do women actually internalise the Gender Bias they face. This is the reason; we gave only limited time, and didn’t want them to think and over think and create a Bias.
Well the result didn’t surprise us, infact it proved that most women do internalise and live with Gender Bias at work place. We had our team highlight salary, stereotype and maternal bias.
As a team we took some time to document the clear biases that Women typically face –
Stereotype Bias – These biases are based on different physical, mental, and emotional characteristics to the two sexes. E.g. Sales job is for men as it involves more physical hardship.
Maternal Bias – Expecting or Working mothers are perceived as less committed to career advancement, less willing to take on additional work than women with no children.
Prove it Again - Women are held to a higher standard than men and must continually prove themselves. Women are promoted on performance, while men are promoted on potential.
The Agentic Bias - Success and likeability are negatively correlated for women. Men are likely to be agentic which means strong, forceful, aggressive, competent and successful . When women display agentic characteristics they are perceived negatively.
Tug-of-War - Studies show that women who have encountered discrimination early in their careers want other younger women also go through the same.
Self Limiting Bias – Women have stereotypes about their own talents, capacities, opportunities because they are a woman. Research shows that men apply for jobs even if they are 60% fit compared to women who typically don’t apply until they feel they meet 100 percent of the criteria.
Well our experiment proved Gender Bias exists. We will keep working in the space of Childcare, Maternity and Diversity to address such biases in the corporate world and life.
The author works for ProEves, focussed on maternity, diversity and childcare.