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Men vs Women in Workplace: Fair or Foul Play?


When perceptions influence thought than facts, the result is nothing but bias - Bias in the matters of capability, career advancement and recognition.

Yes, women are facing a high degree of gender bias when it comes to their career. There is a general perception that women are less capable than men in matters of business and decision making. Almost 40 analytical studies have disproved these claims and have established that women and men are at par with each other.

Is gender bias hindering a woman's career advancement?

Let's see some of the hindrances that a woman faces.

* She is taken less seriously
* She is considered unfit and is denied challenging roles
* Her leadership capabilities are undermined
* She faces gender discrimination from the time of recruitment
* Reports say that at least 30% of women are facing pay bias
* Her family responsibilities are considered as hurdles to her professional commitment
* Her career goals are considered less important compared to her male counterparts

Why a woman is considered less capable?

The plain fact that we are still living in a patriarchal society answers it all. Gender discrimination at work is only one among those innumerable disparities that a woman comes across. So the blame is not just on the corporate world, but society at large.
A misconception that her judgement skills are poor also prevails.

What can corporates do?

Corporates can contribute to a woman's struggle a fair treatment. An unbiased work culture is the responsibility of every corporate which does not want to miss out on highly potential talent pool.

* Let efficiency and capability be judged on the basis of performance and not on the basis of gender
* Provide equal opportunities for men and women for growth in your organization
* Implement equal opportunity policies
* Cultivate a work culture wherein employees do not discriminate each other
* Encourage women to take up challenging responsibilities
* Avoid gender bias while recruiting
* Avoid disparities in the matters of pay
* Have laws and policies in place which punishes discrimination and sexual harassment.

Women do realize that gender equality is still the toughest battle they are fighting and things will not change overnight. A thorough change in the mindset of people is the most required solution to give equal and respectable opportunity for women. But how long will such a change take to happen?
Do Comment..

From India, Ahmadabad
Women have constantly been subjected to harassment at the workplace. The Indian Legal System has given ample rights to protect her interest but most women are ignorant of what they can use and when….
CJ: Rachel Arora, merinews , 12 Dec 2007 Views:2938 Comments:2
THE LAST TIME Jenny Briganza left her office it was because Sam Gera, barely a month old in the organization bagged a promotion over Miss hardworking her. She called her second job quits because a certain nobody from her company often made her feel ‘uncomfortable’ around him.
Archita Nayar, an executive with a Delhi based MNC is on the verge of quitting her job. The reason: Her boss recently pulled her cheeks while congratulating her for meeting her monthly targets.
There is no point in feeling sorry for the new age woman who shows that she is absolutely defenseless when in reality she is only ignorant about what the Indian Penal Code has to offer to safeguard her interests.
In today’s world being clueless about your legal rights is not cool. “It is like roaming around in a war zone without a shield,” says Ramakanth Misra, legal advisor.
If you know something is not working out, you need to gather your knowledge and get going instead of sitting in a corner and whimpering about it. This new age mantra is only to remind all the divas that accessing your rights on time shows that you are smart and capable of handling yourself. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get rid of the ‘I’m the victim’ sign you’ve been showcasing all this while and fight back.
As per the Indian legal system you’re not helpless at all. You can battle almost any problem under the sun as long as you are aware of your rights.
Kamal Mehta, advocate says, “The problem with most women in our society is that they are not aware of their legal rights despite being educated and holding a number of degrees.”
Atul Gupta, social worker says, “Women in our country have ample rights but have been brought up in such away that they feel scared to raise their voice against injustice. They feel timid to fight back in this male dominated society. Only a handful of them have the guts to file a report or complain.”
Shalini Jain, HR Manager says, “Women feel insecure only because they are ignorant of the power and protection that the Indian Legal System offers them.”
A number of women suffer at their workplace. Whether it is the corporate world or a small retail outlet, most women have complaints about their boss’s inappropriate behaviour. Workplace woes can be sorted out provided you know what to do.
Garima Khanna, call centre executive says, “I was going crazy at my new office when a group of rowdy boys would corner me whenever they could and bombard sleazy jokes. My boss would never take this seriously. I then made a complaint in writing to the HR (Human Resource) Manager in my organization and immediate action was taken against the lot.”
Razia Khan, Senior Associate in an MNC says, “It was my second job and as per my faith, I’d always cover my head with a scarf. My team leader started calling me ‘Taliban’ just because I was a Muslim. Initially, I ignored his remarks but the teasing continued. I soon realized that his comments were targeted in a communal way. I reported the matter to the ombudsperson in my office and an investigation was carried out in which my TL was found guilty of harassment.”
Mira Nandi, executive in an event management firm says, “I went through a very hard time when my boss hit on me big time. He’d merrily walk past and slap my back or pinch me publicly. I reported sexual harassment and he was fired.”
Seema Ahuja, Lawyer says, “The Supreme Court says that any act that has a sexual overtone/nature and causes you o feel uncomfortable amounts to sexual harassment. All you need to do is file a written complaint against such behavior to the HR department of your organization and take a receipt for it. There should be a person designated (a woman) to look into these issues as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court as your employer is bound by the law to provide a safe and conductive work environment to all the employees.”
Another common type of harassment at the workplace is gender bias. If your boss tends to have a soft corner for the male species and treats you like dirt and is even paying you a lesser salary as compared with your male colleagues for the same post and same amount of work done by you, it’s high time you read the Equal Remuneration Act to your boss.
Kavita Bishnoi, corporate counselor says, “The Equal Remuneration Act is applicable to all employees including those in the private and informal sectors. It states that employees of both genders doing the same or similar work of the same value be paid equal remuneration in cash and kind.”
Mukta Gulati was made to stretch for several hours during her pregnancy period which resulted in complex health issues for both her and the child.
Anshul Choudhary, trainer in an MNC says, “I was infuriated when my boss gave me a call one week after my delivery and said that she was going to fire me because I had not told her that I was planning a baby at the time of joining the organization.”
It is often difficult to deal with an unsympathetic boss. But even she can’t do much about the Maternity Benefits Act. According to the Act a woman is entitled to payment during her maternity leave at the rate at which she was working prior to the leave period.

The maximum period of maternity leave you are entitled to is 12 weeks, which can be taken either before or after the delivery. In case of a miscarriage or abortion, you are entitled to six weeks of paid leave. You can only apply for maternity leave if you have worked with the organization for a period of at least 80 days. It is prohibited to employ female employees during the six weeks after a delivery, miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.
The best way to safeguard your interests is to know all about your rights. You can sit with a legal counselor and get to know about it in a few hours. Knowledge is power and it is up to you to make that extra effort and make your future secure at your workplace. After all, it is your choice if you want to work in a healthy atmosphere conducive to growth or if you are ready to take the filth in the name of ignorance and live with it forever.

From India, Ahmadabad
North American women have joined the paid work force in record numbers and much-needed attention is now focused on the effect employment has on women's well-being (Long & Kahn, 1993). Until recently, theories and research about job stress have been directed primarily at men's experiences, as a result, women's experiences of stress have remained relatively unexplored.
The conceptual literature on stress suggests that working women are prone to the same stressors experienced by working men. Yet, women are also confronted with potentially unique stressors such as discrimination, stereotyping, social isolation, and work/home conflicts. In addition, taking care of children and aging parents continues to be a source of stress for women who work outside the home (Repetti, Matthews, & Waldron, 1989).
Even though women in the paid work force face numerous stressors, the conventional wisdom that work is necessarily harmful to women has not been proven. Repetti et al. (1989) found little evidence to support a global relationship between paid employment and either mental or physical health in women. Instead, they found that paid employment had clearly beneficial health effects for some women and clearly detrimental effects on others. These effects depended on the characteristics of the individual woman, her family situation, and the properties of her job:
Employment contributes to greater health benefits for unmarried women than for married women.
For married women, employment has more health benefits if their husbands participate more in household labor.
Employment has beneficial effects when there is a match between a woman's desire for employment and her employment status.
Job characteristics such as heavy demands and low control increase health risks.
Some women derive greater satisfaction from employment roles than from traditional roles as wife, mother, and community volunteer.
Work relationships that provide social support appear to improve health.
Obviously, the global conclusion that employment is inherently harmful to women in unwarranted. Employed women experience a multitude of work-related stressors, yet they appear to be better off than women who are not employed. Although multiple roles for women produce a number of benefits, certain work conditions are deleterious to women's well-being (Repetti et al., 1989).

From India, Ahmadabad
While women's work-force participation has doubled in the last 25-30 years, most women are still employed in a limited number of occupations, performing labor different from the kind of labor performed by men. For example, while 6 out of every 10 women are in the paid labor force, 58% of Canadian women work in clerical, sales, or service occupations. Men are employed in a wider range of jobs and more frequently hold higher paying jobs (Statistics Canada, 1990). Sex segregation of work roles creates further stressors unique to women. For example, secretaries, waitresses, and nurses experience high demands, but receive limited autonomy and low pay. Routine, bureaucratic work is common in female dominated jobs (e.g., clerical work). In addition, women in jobs that remain male-dominated often experience social isolation-a situation that limits women's opportunities for social support. Although women are joining the paid work force in record numbers and are moving into men's occupations, men are not moving into women's occupations. Until women's work is valued as much as men's work, this imbalance is unlikely to change.
From India, Ahmadabad
Another important stressor for employed women is the lack of career progress. While this is a potential stressor for all employees, it is particularly problematic for women because they are clustered in the lower levels of the hierarchy. For example, women hold only 2% of senior management positions and only 5% of corporate board positions (Friedman, 1988). An explanation for this finding is that stereotypes and biases of male decision-makers prevent women's career advancement. The barrier formed by these biases has been referred to as the "glass ceiling."
The well-known Framingham Heart Study showed that women's health may be jeopardized by such barriers (Haynes & Feinleib, 1980). One of the major predictors of coronary heart disease among female clerical workers was decreased job mobility. Furthermore, women reported more job changes but fewer promotions than did men, indicating that their upward mobility may be severely constrained.
If barriers to career progress are related to decision-making processes-and there is evidence that managers use decision models that systematically discriminate against women (Hitt & Barr, 1989), then programs need to be developed that focus on the decision-making behaviors of male managers. Education is another way to decrease occupational segregation. Thus, organizations can encourage continued education through such means as tuition refund programs and flexible work schedules (Nelson & Hitt, 1992).

From India, Ahmadabad
While organizations recognize the costs of stress to women, researchers and authors have suggested a wide range of strategies aimed at preventing or eliminating women's experience of work stress. The suggestions range from individually focused actions to broad based organizational policy changes (Freedman & Phillips, 1988; Nelson & Hitt, 1992). These include the following:
Promote equity in pay and benefits for women.
Promote benefit programs of special interest to women.
Eliminate occupational segregation.
Produce a bias-free job evaluation program.
Provide equal starting salaries for jobs of equal value.
Support educational opportunities for women.
Educate men regarding importance of sharing responsibilities outside of work.
Provide parental leave, day care, and alternative work scheduling as resources for preventing stress.
Provide more job flexibility for women and men to better manage work home conflicts.
Promote childcare and eldercare options in the community or the organization.
Support programs to educate and develop skills among women for managing and controlling organizational politics.
In recent years much has been learned about the unique stressors which employed women experience, as well as some of the health-related outcomes resulting from these stressors. Policies and programs need to be developed that are preventive in focus in order for women to maximize their career potential, and for organizations to benefit from the rich resources that women bring to the work force.

From India, Ahmadabad
30th May 2001

A proposal to amend a directive on the equal treatment for men and women regarding access to employment, occupation and vocational training includes, for the first time, a definition of sexual harassment, Fine Gael MEP Mary Banotti said today in Brussels. The proposal will be debated in the European Parliament tomorrow.

Much misunderstanding surrounds sexual harassment and adjusting to new legislation and new attitudes can be difficult and painful. Many women have experienced this throughout their working lives and are often afraid or reluctant to confront the issue.

Many men are unaware that their behaviour can be both bullying and upsetting. This is not a war between the sexes but an attempt at a more open and equal relationship within the workplace.

Many other issues affect the capacity and ability of both men and women to fulfil both their work and family responsibilities and the proposal falls short on a number of other points:

-no guarantee to the right to part-time working for the parents of young children
-no definition regarding measures to promote family-friendly employment policies
-childcare facilities should be made more accessible by means of financial support for creches,
-the Commission proposals could go a lot further in providing practical forms of affirmative action designed to remove gender inequalities in the workplace.


From India, Ahmadabad
Sexual harassment is unlawful under federal and state statutes. You may have heard the
expression that distinction between sexual harassment and no sexual harassment is dependent on
the attractiveness of the perpetrator and to a large extent this is tr ue. If the conduct or
environment is sexual in nature and it is unwanted then it is sexual harassment.
There is a difference between sexual harassment and gender based discrimination. Gender
based discrimination and sexual harassment are not the same thing, and a claimant can have a
gender based discrimination claim as well as a sexual harassment claim. Under California law
sexual discrimination requires the claimant prove a tangible job related benefit has been lost. The
claimant must show there was discrimination in compensation, or terms, or conditions, or
privileges of employment. In a sexual harassment claim, the claimant is not required to prove a
loss of a tangible benefit. Also, keep in mind that neither sexual harassment nor gender based
discrimination is limited to claims by women. Men likewise are protected and can also make
claims. Men generally do not make claims, for fear of embarrassment or other personal reasons,
but they are just as likely to be harassed as women are.
California law also specifically requires employers to take affirmative action to prevent
sexual harassment on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. Federal law does not pr otect against
harassment, because of someone=s sexual orientation, but California specifically prohibits sexual
harassment because of someone=s sexual orientation, therefore gays and lesbians are specifically
protected and any type of sexual harassment against these groups is unlawful.
The federal statutes and courts defined sexual harassment one way and the State of
California defines in a different way. The California Supreme Court has defined harassment as
conduct that is outside the scope of the necessary job performance, conduct that is presumably
engaged in for the perpetrators owns personal gratification, or because of meanness, or because
of bigotry, or because of other personal motives.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission has been authorized to adopt
and pr omulgate regulations to interpret the statute that addresses sexual harassment. The
department of Fair Employment and Housing defines harassment as having three components.
There is verbal harassment, there is physical harassment, and there is visual harassment. Verbal
harassment includes epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, repeated romantic overtures, sexual
comments and jokes, or prying into another =s personal affairs. Meaning an individual cannot
comment about another person's physical characteristics, cannot repeatedly ask another person for
dates, cannot make dirty jokes, cannot ask about another=s sexual activity or personal plans for
the evening or the weekend, or many aspects of that individual’s personal life.
Physical sexual harassment includes unwanted touching, rubbing against someone, assault
and physical interference with movement or work. Among other things a co-employee or
supervisor cannot touch another, cannot r ub his body another, block another =s path, restrict
another=s movement, or sit on someone=s desk to prevent them from doing work.
Assault means threatened contact with another person with the perpetrators body or an
object in possession or control of the perpetrator. Visual harassment includes derogatory
cartoons, drawings or posters, lewd gestures or leering. Another employee cannot have cartoons
that are sexual in nature whether explicit or implicit regardless of whether is written expression or
drawings. Leering has been deemed to constitute sexual harassment, looking at women=s
cr otches or men=s crotches, or women=s breasts for prolonged periods of times, would be
sufficient to constitute sexual harassment. Keeping a collection of centerfolds or sexual cartoons
on the walls would constitute sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment covers vir tually everyone. The Fair Employment and Housing Act
exempts nonprofit hospitals and health care facilities owner or affiliated by religious organizations
from some requirements, but not from sexual harassment.
Under California law sexual harassment as well as retaliation is prohibited. Meaning if
someone files a complaint for sexual harassment, and after investigation it turns out the
accusations or claims are err oneous, the person cannot be retaliated against. Meaning you cannot
fie someone that files or makes a complaint for sexual harassment it would lead to a valid
complaint for wrongful termination. California law also protects independent contractors
providing services in accordance with a contr act, and also it protects job applicants.
California law also differs significantly on coverage based on number of employees, under
California law sexual harassment applies to all employers, as compared to discrimination laws
which apply only to employers with five or more employees, and federal laws which applies to
employers with 15 or more employees.
The employer becomes liable for sexual harassment, because of if what is called vicarious
liability, meaning the employee, supervisor, manager, or officer is acting for the employer.
Therefore the actions of the employee are the actions of the employer. If the harassment r esulted
in an adverse employment action against the employee, the employer is automatically vicariously
liable under the theory of vicariously liability, if not the employer may have a defense.
There are many exceptions that make an employer liable and that provide a defense for
employer, but the best way to determine it a claimant has a claim or an employer has a defense is
to consult an attorney. Sexual harassment is a very broad area of law entailing many different
details. There are means of minimizing the risk to the employer and every employer should be
familiar with this area of law, since it covers every employer in California. All employers should
consider pr oving training or seminars from an attorney for all employees regardless of the size of
the organization.

From India, Ahmadabad
Despite Impressive numbers from women entrepreneurs, many still struggle to attract equity capital for nontech ventures.

When Sharelle Klaus launched Dry Soda in 2005 to produce and distribute her brand of nonalcoholic beverages to high-end restaurants and food retailers, she didn't have to look far for potential backers. As president of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs in Seattle, it was her job to network with angel investors. So when it was time to raise equity capital of her own, she quickly put her address book to work. "When I started, all my connections were with high-tech investors," recalls Klaus, 37, "but those high-tech investors knew other investors." Not only did those other connections invest in her business, but they also helped her staff the approximately $1.5 million company and find distributors. Klaus also recently completed a $1.5 million round of angel financing.

A recent study from the University of New Hampshire Center for Venture Research shows that women outperformed all entrepreneurs in receiving angel investments to fund their business ventures in 2005. Although women-led ventures accounted for 8.7 percent of the entrepreneurs seeking angel capital, 33 percent of those women received angel dollars in 2005, while the overall rate was just 23 percent, according to the study.
"That's a really recent trend, and I was amazed when I saw it," admits Stephanie Hanbury-Brown, founder of Golden Seeds LLC, an angel investor group based in Cos Cob, Connecticut, that invests exclusively in women-led firms. "The [number of] women entrepreneurs getting venture capital has [hit] a 10-year low."
"At the same time, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men today," Hanbury-Brown adds, citing a statistic from the Center for Women's Business Research. "The quality of the women starting businesses and the quality of the businesses they are starting has increased in the past several years."

But advocates for women-led firms argue that entrepreneurs like Klaus may be exceptions. More often than not, they say, women entrepreneurs lack access to the traditionally male world of angel investing. That--combined with angels' tendencies to invest in only high-tech ventures--has kept many women entrepreneurs at arm's length.

"[Until recently], women's experiences were more in industries that didn't grow in scale as much, so they were not as likely to be candidates for large equity investments," says Marianne Hudson, director of angel initiatives for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

In fact, it was the "imbalance of VC investments that go to men entrepreneurs" that moved Hanbury-Brown to launch Golden Seeds in 2004. "I realized women were starting companies in a whole range of industries [where] typical angel investors probably would not get beyond the executive summaries in their business plans," says Hanbury-Brown, whose group invests in a variety of industries in addition to technology.

Currently, only about half a dozen women angel groups operate in the U.S. However, that number is likely to grow. "Anecdotally, I would say there is a trend toward more women becoming investors but also more women becoming investors and wanting to invest in women," says Maggie Kenefake, manager of growth entrepreneurship for the Kauffman Foundation.

Experts say women investors are more likely to support a broader range of investment opportunities. Adds Kenefake, "Their number-one priority is a solid investment and a healthy financial return, but I think women investors [are] bringing different life experiences to the table, [giving] them a different perspective, and perhaps they will consider opportunities that their male counterparts might not."

From India, Ahmadabad
Even though there is a rise in the number of dual-career couples, there is still a challenge for women in management, especially in the international realm. International career is more difficult for women because of problems associated with relocating a male partner and family, and also male managerial style typically presumed to be required with international career. As a result, many women turned down an international assignment. According to ORC worldwide 2002 survey, women in North American & European firms stated family concerns are the most common grounds for refusal, whereas in Asian firms, children and eldercare concerns are the most common reason.
According to Azura Omar and Marilyn J. Davidson, authors of Women in Management, there are three underlying assumptions about the ideal roles for women in organizations:
1. “Men are the ideal organizational worker” viewpoint is the most prevalent in countries that have strong cultural beliefs on the roles for women at home and at work.
2. Equity viewpoint sees that women are identical, as professionals, to men and equally capable of contributing in ways similar to men.
3. Complementary viewpoint assumes a difference between the sexes. It also acknowledges the uniqueness of women and stress that both sexes are capable of making different, but equally valuable contribution towards organizational success.
The most common profiles of women in management are that they are more likely to remain single or, if married, childless, they receive fewer responsibilities than men, they are constantly pressured by the society and culture, and they also face difficulty in juggling the duty of being a mother and a career woman. I always wonder whether you have to sacrifice your family for your career or sacrifice your career for your family. Why can’t women have it all? Is it because they are not getting the support and help they needed? Or is it because they are not persistent enough in asking for help? Do women really lack the “ideal” competence that men have? To make matters more challenging, there are certain societies and culture where women, who have a career and highly educated, are looked down upon. Are women place is only in the kitchen?
As a woman in business myself, I support the argument that businesses, who differentiate women in the workforce and not facilitating their career and life, will be greatly disadvantaged due to underutilization of human capital. Women may not be the same as men in their analytical approach or communication style, but their diversity can actually turn to be one great advantage in business simply because diversity promotes creativity. Women, who decided to have a family, typically ended up doing management jobs that are menial with fewer responsibilities or ‘traditionally female’ jobs.
There are many studies that suggest that both maternal AND parental leave must be provided by companies. Companies should facilitate the development of their female employees’ career, regardless if they choose to have a family and support a more female-friendly firms. Moreover, government and society are raising awareness of employment equity towards female. However, how do women deal with a male-dominated culture while going abroad for an international assignment? In certain male-dominated cultures, women have no place in business. As a female international expatriate, the locals may reluctantly or even refuse to do business with her. This poses the biggest challenge for women, like me, in pursuing their career in International Management.
I would like to think that women can have it all. We all can be ‘superwomen’ without having to pay the penalties. In my opinion, if a woman really wants to have both a family and a career, she should find a spouse who would be supportive towards her decision and not bounded to traditional society expectation. Second, the typical male managerial style presumed to be required with international career may not be entirely valid. It is true that some women lack the expertise that men have in certain industries. “It has been particularly hard for firms in the oil, technology and financial industries to find women with enough experience. DNO, for instance, an oil and gas firm that operates in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere, found women it was happy with last November, but their expertise is in finance and human resources, not oil, says Helge Eide, DNO’s president.”[i] Women who are passionate about international career must work much harder than most people, be brave, be street and culture-smart, prove that they are very very good in what they do, cultivate leadership skills, and possesses a high EQ. A high EQ is important because when a woman is dealing with male-dominated society, she needs to be able to learn as she goes, develop a thick skin, and be sensitive to the local culture. Recent history in Norway suggests that the rightwomen can make strong directors.[ii] Third, Business Week reports that women’s network can work and is flourishing because of the “eagerness on the part of talent-hungry employers to appear more female-friendly.”[iii] Women’s networks are cheap, usually relying on female volunteers and garnering little corporate funding and they can be a magnet for recruiting and retaining top achievers.[iv]

From India, Ahmadabad

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