Misogyny in the Workplace
About 42% of women in the United States have faced discrimination because of their gender.
Misogyny is prejudice against women. This can be expressed through societal inequalities such as the wage gap (gender pay gap) and inaccessibility of medical care for women. It also describes many forms of violence, like domestic violence, gender-based violence, and sexual assault.
Misogyny is the worst form of abhorrence towards women, which is also referred to as sexism. Sexism can root from a person's beliefs or background teachings.
Types of Misogyny
There are various types of misogyny. Ambivalent sexism is the combination of two kinds of misogyny known as hostile and benevolent sexism. It is where a person has contradictory attitudes and behaviors that lead to stereotypes based on gender.
Hostile sexism is the most common type of the two as it involves physical approach. It involves negative stereotypes and assessments, such as women are inferior to men, unintelligent, and incompetent.
On the other hand, benevolent sexism involves positive attitudes of gender that can affect them, e.g., the notion that women should only handle their traditional gender roles. The traditional gender roles often have less power and status than the other functions given to men. Such positions also deny the woman her rights to do what she wants to do.
It portrays women as weak and needs protection from men. Statements that show that women are soft and can't establish dominance and opinions that objectify women are examples of benevolent sexism.
Benevolent sexism can hurt men in cases where women portray them as non-compassionate. Men who have hostile sexism characteristics tend to have benevolent sexism characteristics too.
Signs of Misogyny at Work
Misogynistic men in the office space tend to compete a lot with women and feel terrible when a woman succeeds either at her workplace, economically, or socially. Such a person will not honor any promises they make to the women.
Other signs of sexism in the workplace include:
1. Insults. The people insulting both men and women in the office usually pretend to be cracking a joke. Their jokes, however, consist of insults based on gender.
2. Shutting down women's voices. The act can be seen from men's interruption whenever women are talking as a sign of authority and control. This kind of action not only intimidates the women but also makes them feel that their views are not supported.
3. Role stereotyping. Offices always see some roles as not fit for women. At the same time, it is only women who do unpaid jobs such as welcoming new employees and making coffee, which is not even in their job descriptions.
4. Too much focus on physical appearance such as body shape, size, and dressing style instead of skills.
5. Labeling a specific gender as being too emotional, too soft, or too bossy.
6. Giving Credit to Ideas. It's critical to give credit to where it belongs. However, in most cases, when women collaborate with men, their ideas are rubbished. The credit can also be given to a different person, especially a man.
7. Pay. There is still a significant wage gap in the offices due to a few promotions for women and few women on the top leadership. Even if the women negotiate for a salary increase, nothing much comes out of the discussions.
The discrimination in wages is so bad in the workplace that men earn more than women for the same job done.
How to Deal with Misogyny
An employee must be keen on how he or she reacts with colleagues in their company. Misogyny affects the workplace. For example, they should not tolerate any sexist humor. Letting such will only encourage such people to continue with their sexism.
Whenever a company holds a meeting, there should be an equal chance for both male and female speakers to be heard. It is critical that all the members present contribute or comments on the meeting agenda if possible.
There should also be a flexible work schedule for both men and women to avoid sexism. Promotions from the work schedule should focus on performance but not gender.
How Men Respond to Misogyny in the Workplace
Most men are either not aware of misogyny in the workplace or are not sure how to deal with the behavior.
When faced with sexism, men will react e.g., by commenting on the matter, redirecting the conversation to something else, ignoring the issue, and leaving it to others to deal with it.
So why are most men not taking part in the fight against misogyny? Organizations need to realize that men must advance gender equality; hence the work environment should be friendly.
Men face barriers in dealing with sexism due to negative organizational factors such as poor workplace culture, harassment, bad leadership, and negative attitudes towards work among colleagues.
Factors that influence men's responses to misogyny
When men are aware of the personal benefits they can get from their response to sexism and the impact on the common good, they tend to contribute towards achieving a misogyny-free workplace.
The belief that it is excellent to stop gender discrimination, help others change their discriminatory behavior, and believe that they can help women get more opportunities also drives men to respond to sexism.
Company Policies on Misogyny
Companies should have a code of ethics for employees that sets clear guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable behaviors when it comes to ending discrimination and violence brought by sexism.
The company policy should outlay the kind of behaviors that it can award and those that are punishable. The company policy should apply to all employees regardless of their rank. The policy should also be clear on the criteria for promotions and working norms, for example, if the company can well accommodate women with families in significant roles.
Effects of Workplace Misogyny to Women Health
As much as both genders are affected by misogyny, women are affected more when working in a male-dominated workplace.
Women facing sexism experience a high level of stress, absenteeism at work, and low productivity levels. Organizations should, therefore, have a robust system to deal with the health issues brought by sexism.
Women who undergo sexual harassment experiences problems with their physical health, while those discriminated against their age can develop poor mental health. Lower pay and few opportunities at the workplace also bring psychological stress.
How companies Can Mitigate Health Effects of Misogyny
Conducting workshops and pieces of training to address sexism, having stress management events, and having a clear channel of reporting sexism incidences is not enough to tackle the level of discrimination witnessed in most of the workplaces. Addressing systemic sexism in the office needs a systematic and proper approach from the management.
It is vital to address sexism through evidence-based approaches, especially in male-dominated workplaces, to reduce discrimination against women.
Companies' management should scrutinize systemic and structural matters that encourage discrimination and poor treatment of women to happen in the company. The routine concerns to be addressed may include ensuring that the hiring process is not biased.
The company can achieve the process by implementing a collaborative hiring process, ensuring that there are only validated assessments, the interview is standardized, among other ways. The hiring team should avoid getting employees from familiar networks.
The women in the company can also get exposed to influential women in leadership as their role models. Such an act will motivate the women in the company and build the confidence and perception that women can lead to their highest positions.
Apart from learning from the role model's characteristics, women can also learn how to overcome obstacles from the role model and become the best version of themselves.
The working hours should also be flexible. Flexible work hours are significant, especially for women with families and new mothers. The company must address leave policies for such women, breastfeeding space, etc. without discrimination.
In companies where the workforce is diverse, sales revenue can increase with higher market value than those who discriminate against others. A diverse workforce also impacts positively on investor perception, workplace satisfaction, and profits. Therefore, it is upon the company to embrace diversity in the workers to enjoy the benefits that come with it.
Say No to Misogyny
There should be equality in the workplace. To win this war on sexism, both men and women need to see each other as equals in terms of abilities and in opportunities. Managers, supervisors, directors and authorities in the workplace should be role models in this area and establish rules against misogyny. Sometimes one may not know that they are being misogynistic, therefore this guide should assist in spotting such characters and help eliminate the behavior altogether.
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