What is gender discrimination?

Gender discrimination, also called sexism,is any term (actions, words, images, utterances) that is based on the idea that some people, usually women, are worth less because of their gender. 

Sex discrimination is harmful. It makes people feel worthless, censors themselves, use avoidance strategies, change behavior and develop health problems. Gender discrimination is at the root of the gender imbalance. And then it disproportionately affects women.

Examples of gender discrimination in working life

  • Limited career opportunities for women with children or women of childbearing age
  • In meetings: ignoring the presence of women, speaking down to women, taking credit for their contributions or preventing them from speaking out
  • To favour a man instead of a woman for a senior position by assuming that the woman lacks authority or cannot be available enough
  • Unnecessary or irrelevant comments about appearance or attire 
  • Degrading comments about and to men taking on caring roles
  • "Mansplaining" (explaining things to women in a condescending way)

Why should we avoid gender discrimination?

Gender discrimination in the workplace goes beyond the effectiveness and sense of belonging of those affected by sexist behaviour. Gender discrimination can be used to discourage people from participating, leading to ideas and talents being ignored or not fully utilised. Humiliating comments create a threatening and oppressive atmosphere for those who are subjected to them, and can escalate into harassment.

Victims may become anxious and more prone to stress and workplace dissatisfaction, resulting in loss of talent. More generally, sex discrimination in the workplace leads to lower pay and fewer opportunities for those exposed to it. 

3 suggestions for preventinggenderdiscrimination

  1. Identify gender discriminatory behaviour e.g. unequal pay, bonus schemes, promotions etc. through a D&I temperature check
  2. Raising awareness about unconscious biases including expectations and prejudices about people based on their gender
  3. Leaders should commit to standing up to sex discrimination in the workplace through inclusive leadership
  4. Empowering staff to be inclusive colleagues and allies for those experiencing discrimination

Want to know more about how your workplace can counter sexism and gender discrimination? Then contact us here.

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Nikoline Nybo

BA Anthropology and Chaos Pilot.

Experience in cultural analysis and anthropological methodology, project management and process design, organizational development and facilitation.

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Louise Marie Genefke

Cand. mag. Marketing & Communication, MA Management and External Lecturer AU.

Experience with management, talent and organizational development, facilitation and Employer Branding.