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Gender Inequality in the Australian Workforce

Question:

Discuss about the Gender Inequality at Workplace.

Gender inequality is a burning issue where an individual is treated disadvantageously because of gender. This inequality is the situation or idea that men and women are not equal resulting in unequal treatment or individual perceptions partly or wholly based on gender arising from gender roles differences. In the Australian workforce, gender gap is still prevalent where women are earning less than men are and less likely to succeed in their careers (Broderick, 2012). Despite of the fact that women are making great strides, gender inequality is persisting at workplaces being a hot-button topic. Research suggests that problem of gender inequality arises when women try to balance family and work and end up carrying care giving responsibilities (Pocock, Charlesworth & Chapman, 2013). Gender systems are generally hierarchical and dichotomous that give rise to gender inequality stemming from socially constructed to empirically grounded distinctions. There are various domains where women lag behind including labor market opportunities and political representation. An income disparity is connected to job stratification widening gender gap explaining gender inequality at workplaces (Lips, 2013). Gender discrimination at workplace is a HRM problem and therefore, the following report discusses the issues of gender inequality, challenges that women face at workplaces due to gender inequality and HRM recommendations in overcoming the encountered challenges.  

Women are successful in overcoming obstacles within workplaces; however, gender discrimination is continuing to raise its ugly head with an unending trend. In Australia, men still out earn women across all occupations and in every industry. From the economic perspective, gender discrimination is a major impediment to economic growth preventing countries from reaching productivity to its potential. There is wide gender pay gap where women are still paid below that of male counterparts, despite of the fact that they are skilled and equally capable. Furthermore, promotion and job status of women is also low or below marks as compared to males having less profitable opportunities. These restrictions are resulting in loss of productivity amounting to 25% because of gender discrimination (Posthuma, Wagstaff & Campion, 2012).

Gender discrimination is witnessed in HR practices involving HR policies, decision-making and its enactment. Institutional discrimination can occur in HR policies against women from job recruitment to selection in an organization in terms of training, role assignments, performance evaluations, promotion, pay and termination (Kim, 2013). Discrimination against women prevails, as they are under-represented in a particular job and unintentionally discriminated against their credentials. An article published by Forbes stated that gender discrimination accounts for 5% in difference in performance where an organization has 58% of women filling entry-level positions that wind up with women filling only 29% leadership positions (Forbes.com, 2018).

Challenges Faced by Women at Workplaces due to Gender Inequality

Institutional discrimination is also witnessed against women that occur during performance evaluation for determining organizational rewards (compensation), punishments (termination) and opportunities (role assignments, promotions). ‘Face-time’ is a parameter to measure performance and rewarding employees who stay at office more than others do (Ridgeway, 2014). However, women being the primary caregivers use flexible workplace arrangements as compared to men and as a result face penalties scoring less on face time. Therefore, biasness in evaluation of performance policies also contributes to gender inequality. As a result, women lack job experiences, as it is not available to them in their specific job ladder leaving no space for advancement.


Gender inequality can be explained through the Human Capital Theory where it explains that knowledge, skills, experience, training and education of an individual makes them valuable to an organization. The theory states that inequalities between women and men in workplace are due to differences in their experiences and skills, but not due to gender (Cuberes & Teigni, 2014). Moreover, the theory explains that women have less favorable jobs due to interrupted careers and undertake different course of education as compared to men. Furthermore, this theory claim that men and women cannot be studied as self-working entities as they face different working life conditions that should be put into social context. This theory believes that women spend more time towards household work, children and family leading to under investment in the human capital (Philippon & Reshef, 2012). This is the reason that there is wide gender pay gap prevailing at workplaces, explained by few parameters like work experience and education. Another contributor to wide gender pay gap is glass ceiling effect-providing explanation that gender imposes significant disadvantages at the top levels of job hierarchies that affect career of a person as one goes on. This effect implies invisible barriers preventing women from advancing in their careers or getting promotions (Sabharwal, 2013).

Many anti-discrimination laws and policies are undertaken by HRM to support gender equality at workplaces in equal resources distribution and pay. However, the scenario is different posing challenges related to pay, promotion and hiring and job roles due to gender discrimination at workplaces discussed in the subsequent section.

Gender pay gap

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in their report stated that there is wide gap in gender pay as men earn more than their female counterparts do by more than $26,000 on average published by The Guardian (Annese, 2018). Women have a long to go before they achieve equal treatment at workplaces. The World Economic Forum made a period for solving this problem that is a slog of 217 years (Fortune.com, 2018). Not a single country is successful in closing its wide economic gender pay gap worsening the economic disadvantage of women and decline in global labor force participation.

HRM Recommendations to Overcome Challenges

Women are under-presented in senior positions in business accounting for 22% of managerial positions (Ibarra, Ely & Kolb, 2013). There is large growing evidence that specific pay premiums are sources of pay inequality contributing to wide gender pay gap. In an article published by Card, Cardoso and Kline, (2015) stated that women are unwilling to work at high-paying organizations and firms as they are offered wages worse than their male counterparts are. The main findings stated that women receive only 90% of the pay premiums as compared to men and wide gender gap is witnessed in terms of wages to changes in surplus over time. Another study conducted by Gauchat, Kelly and Wallace, (2012) suggested that gender-based economic inequality has influenced occupational segregation being the leading factor for the wide gender pay gap. The results indicate that effects of occupational segregation are the main determinant of inequality in gender earnings, although effects are slightly diminished by globalization.

Recruitment and promotion

The goal of interview process is hiring the most qualified candidate, however an unintentional gender bias get in the way. During recruitment, without knowing the work experience of a candidate, it is expected that male candidates outperform females. In an experimental study conducted by Liebkind, Larja and Brylka, (2016) in Finland indicated that male applicants belonging to majority groups were discriminated as compared to women characterized as feminine depicting implications of gender discrimination in recruitment. Herrbach and Mignonac, (2012) used a sample of 300 employees in a French company to investigate the relationship between their perceived gender discrimination and subjective career success. The results depicted that perceived gender discrimination had a negative effect on women’s overall career success suggesting that special attention must be given to women who aspire to achieve high level of competencies or seek work and home life balance. García?Izquierdo, Moscoso and Ramos?Villagrasa, (2012) highlighted that fact that gender biasness in promotions is an important issue as it is directly proportional to organizational outcomes. At the entry-level selection, there is wide knowledge gap in regards to promotions as it affects job satisfaction and organizational justice. After survey completion by 213 supervisors and employees from 31 different private organizations, it was found that where there is perceived equity (procedural justice) in procedures like promotion have a positive effect on job satisfaction.

Job descriptions

While hiring employees, mostly men apply for open positions in companies than women due to the language written in job listings. The wordings are more biased toward one gender adhering to gender stereotypes. According to an article published by the Forbes magazine, the word ‘ninja’ is used in high tech job descriptions that increased between January 2012 and October 2016 by 400%. In addition, the word ‘dominant’ increased by 65% in the same time (Forbes.com, 2018). Another study conducted by Kuhn and Shen, (2012) stated that gender discrimination is witnessed in advertisements on Chinese job boards. Job ads that target gender favour men and women are less presented in jobs that require high skill levels. The height, age and beauty of workers are strongly preferred over job skills for male versus male workers. Another study conducted by Horvath and Sczesny, (2016) highlighted the fact that linguistic forms like masculine generics used in job descriptions tend to be cognitively under-presented with low inclusion of women. These gender biased job ads showed that female applicants perceived to fit less than males in high-status positions due to masculine linguistic forms in job descriptions. Dubbelt, Rispens and Demerouti, (2016) conducted a study to provide insight into disadvantaged position of women at work. The cross-sectional study showed that gender discrimination was negatively associated with job resources and positively associated with job demands. There were gender differences witnessed in job characteristics posing a hindrance to career success of women.

Conclusion

To provide equal opportunities for women and men, HRM should take up practical steps ensuring gender equality and equal pay.

The companies should hire women for senior job roles and greatly consider the barriers that hinder them from filling it. Employers should take into consideration every type of experience broadening the pool of possible applicants. Expansion of applicant pool and promoting diversity would help to promote gender equity in workplaces (O’Reilly et al., 2015).

Research suggests that although employers understand unconscious bias, they are not able to believe that it happens at the company (Chant & Sweetman, 2012). During hiring, managers should provide resumes with removal of names so that women are not discriminated.

During interview, questions should be asked, phrased in the same manner to every candidate as different words can elicit varied answers. As a part of recommendation, during interview staging, interview candidates should be of mixed gender for reducing hiring biases.

As a part of recommendation, employers should not ask women and men about their salaries at their last job, rather every job should have pay range with allowance for special cases. There should also be auditing of payroll by employers increasing pay for women who are short-changed (Shen, 2013).

Employers should provide employees to have control over their schedules and no prioritization of time in delivering results in the office (face time over bottom line). Managers should consider helping pay to women for childcare making sure that company is employee friendly reducing frustration and stress in them (Rehman & Azam Roomi, 2012).

Companies should employ processes where all employees are placed on same platform meeting same standards as they progress through their careers. This helps employees to get equal opportunities and same exposure in training and promotions at workplaces (Korpi, Ferrarini & Englund, 2013).

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that gender inequality prevails at workplaces with wide gender pay gap. There is wage inequality where women are receiving unequal treatment based on gender. They are subjected to inequality in HRM practices like pay, hiring, promotion and job roles. Despite of the fact that women have battled to achieve enormous advances in all aspects of life, there is inequality in pay, promotions where they are earning less as compared to male counterparts. At workplaces, HR mangers do not enact practices that promote gender equality through decision-making and policy processes promoting the notion that men and women are different. The problem of gender inequality can be explained through human capita theory suggesting that differences should be created based on skills and experiences rather than gender. To promote gender equality, it can be recommended that there should be enforcement of rules and strict setting that uphold gender equality in terms of equal pay, unbiased recruitment, training and promotion for women at workplaces.

References

References

Annese, L. (2018). Paying women less than men is criminal. Is it time to make it illegal? | Lisa Annese. the Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/08/australia-needs-to-overcome-the-gender-pay-gap-the-pace-of-progress-is-too-slow

Broderick, E. (2012). Women in the Workforce. Australian Economic Review, 45(2), 204-210.

Card, D., Cardoso, A. R., & Kline, P. (2015). Bargaining, sorting, and the gender wage gap: Quantifying the impact of firms on the relative pay of women. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 131(2), 633-686.

Chant, S., & Sweetman, C. (2012). Fixing women or fixing the world?‘Smart economics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development. Gender & Development, 20(3), 517-529.

Cuberes, D., & Teignier, M. (2014). Gender inequality and economic growth: A critical review. Journal of International Development, 26(2), 260-276.

Dubbelt, L., Rispens, S., & Demerouti, E. (2016). Gender discrimination and job characteristics. Career Development International, 21(3), 230-245.

forbes.com. (2018). Forbes Welcome. Forbes.com. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/break-the-future/2018/01/31/why-gender-bias-holds-us-all-back/2/#e142f1a7bc44

forbes.com. (2018). Forbes Welcome. Forbes.com. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2016/12/14/how-to-take-gender-bias-out-of-your-job-ads/#142dbfe31024

fortune.com. (2018). It'll Take 217 Years for Women To Achieve Equality in the Workplace. Fortune. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://fortune.com/2017/11/02/gender-equality-in-the-workplace-how-long/

García?Izquierdo, A. L., Moscoso, S., & Ramos?Villagrasa, P. J. (2012). Reactions to the Fairness of Promotion Methods: Procedural justice and job satisfaction. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 20(4), 394-403.

Gauchat, G., Kelly, M., & Wallace, M. (2012). Occupational gender segregation, globalization, and gender earnings inequality in US metropolitan areas. Gender & Society, 26(5), 718-747.

Herrbach, O., & Mignonac, K. (2012). Perceived gender discrimination and women’s subjective career success: The moderating role of career anchors. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 67(1), 25-50.

Horvath, L. K., & Sczesny, S. (2016). Reducing women’s lack of fit with leadership positions? Effects of the wording of job advertisements. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 25(2), 316-328.

Ibarra, H., Ely, R., & Kolb, D. (2013). Women rising: The unseen barriers. Harvard Business Review, 91(9), 60-66.

Kim, M. (2013). Policies to end the gender wage gap in the United States. Review of Radical Political Economics, 45(3), 278-283.

Korpi, W., Ferrarini, T., & Englund, S. (2013). Women's opportunities under different family policy constellations: Gender, class, and inequality tradeoffs in western countries re-examined. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 20(1), 1-40.

Kuhn, P., & Shen, K. (2012). Gender discrimination in job ads: Evidence from china. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(1), 287-336.

Liebkind, K., Larja, L., & Brylka, A. (2016). Ethnic and gender discrimination in recruitment: Experimental evidence from Finland. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(1), 403-426.

Lips, H. M. (2013). The gender pay gap: Challenging the rationalizations. Perceived equity, discrimination, and the limits of human capital models. Sex Roles, 68(3-4), 169-185.

O’Reilly, J., Smith, M., Deakin, S., & Burchell, B. (2015). Equal pay as a moving target: International perspectives on forty-years of addressing the gender pay gap. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 39(2), 299-317.

Philippon, T., & Reshef, A. (2012). Wages and human capital in the US finance industry: 1909–2006. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(4), 1551-1609.

Pocock, B., Charlesworth, S., & Chapman, J. (2013). Work-family and work-life pressures in Australia: advancing gender equality in “good times”?. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 33(9/10), 594-612.

Posthuma, R. A., Wagstaff, M. F., & Campion, M. A. (2012). 16 Age Stereotypes and Workplace Age Discrimination. The Oxford handbook of work and aging, 298.

Rehman, S., & Azam Roomi, M. (2012). Gender and work-life balance: a phenomenological study of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 19(2), 209-228.

Ridgeway, C. L. (2014). Why status matters for inequality. American Sociological Review, 79(1), 1-16.

Sabharwal, M. (2013). From glass ceiling to glass cliff: Women in senior executive service. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 25(2), 399-426.

Shen, H. (2013). Mind the gender gap. Nature, 495(7439), 22.

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