The Multifaceted Nature of Gender-Neutralism & Inequalities in the Workplace

By Krizia & Rhea

The ongoing presence of workplace discrimination has proven to be an impediment on gender equality. Gender discrimination often arises from implicit biases, defining gender roles in professional environments and associated stereotypes throughout workplaces. Such stereotypes pave the path in the creation of strict divisions between employees. Although there has been considerable progress toward gender parity, women still face a constant struggle in being seen as equals to their male counterparts — a breakthrough is still being waited upon.

For the greater part of history, women have been involved in physically demanding and draining household tasks. The Industrial Revolution brought a gradual shift in traditional working norms from home to factory. Post 1950s, women joined the workforce in massive numbers, perhaps due to expanding social and feminist movements or the consistently higher cost of living, a new beginning was catalyzed.

All of these movements have revolutionized the role women hold in the workplace and consequently, the widespread occupations they are now pursuing. Before important reformations, women took on the same jobs as men for lower salaries. This large discrepancy in pay existed based on the ignorant assumption that men served as the family’s financial backbone. The wage gap difference persists in the modern day work environment and is a pressing problem.

Gender inequality is a prevailing issue in our society that allows for the perpetuation of discrimination. Despite efforts to better the workplace environment, the gender pay gap remains uncontrolled. The ratio of the median earnings of women to men has increased by only $0.07 since 2015 and in 2020 women are paid about $0.82 for every dollar a man earns. For the same jobs performed by men, on average women earn less. This gender gap should serve as a wake up call to business leaders who should vocalize this inequality.

Legal initiatives as well as cultural and organizational changes will help the gender inequality problem. Companies must focus on promoting qualified women to higher positions and push for equal pay. Although there has been progress made toward pay parity between men and women, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research believes that complete equality will not be achieved until 2059.

The good news is that gender-neutralism and its practices are becoming more and more prevalent, the bad news is that it will take much reformation to become more gender- inclusive across a multitude of sectors.

What does it mean to embrace gender-neutral practices in a place of work? How can this impact and eventually, improve work relations between employees? Do improved practices positively affect a company’s profitability?

Before answering these questions, it is important to first understand that gender-neutralism embodies policies, practices, and language that avoid distinguishing roles based on sex and gender. Unfortunately, our modern day society has discriminations that are occurring too frequently; gender-neutral practices aim to avoid discriminating based on preconceived notions of social gender roles.

On January 4th 2021, The U.S. House of Representatives adopted gender-neutral language in efforts to further embrace diversity and inclusion. Any formal communication or written document will honor these changes by substituting words that are formally connected with gender roles. For example, “his or her resignation” will be substituted by “resign”, the word chairman will simply become chair, phrases such as “he or she serves” will be changed to “such Member or Delegate serves.” These are obviously just a few examples of the gender-inclusive practices pushed in Congress after a record number of LGBTQ+ lawmakers have joined the Legislative Branch.

Are these improvements reflected in the world of business and entrepreneurship Yes, but there is a long journey ahead!

Although the adoption of these practices has been delayed in many countries and industries, some well-known brands have relentlessly acceded gender-neutral and gender-inclusive practices. Olderbrother, the Portland-based apparel company, followed by Radimo, with one-of-a-kind handmade and vintage threads, and Riley Studio the London-based activewear company are all proudly embracing gender-inclusive ethical practices.

The absence of neutralism has proven to not only negatively affect women, but entire economies on a larger scale. It is important that we, as a society, work tirelessly to establish equality in the workforce; and, ultimately encourage all individuals to speak up and vocalize injustice in the workplace and beyond. As a collective of diverse individuals, we must be actively listening and paying close attention to unconscious biases. By catalyzing these changes, we will be able to sustainably revolutionize a system that has overlooked gender minorities for too long.

Works Cited

Joshua S. Smith, and Kristin E. Smith. “What It Means to Do Gender Differently: Understanding Identity, Perceptions and Accomplishments in a Gendered World.” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 38 (2016): 62-78. Accessed February 3, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/humjsocrel.38.62. 

Stainback, Kevin, Sibyl Kleiner, and Sherly Skaggs. “Women In Power: Undoing or Redoing the Gendered Organization?” Gender and Society 30, no. 1 (2016): 109-35. Accessed February 3, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24756168. 

“Women in the Workforce.” Accessed February 3, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/history-of-work-organization-648000/Women-in-the-wo rkforce. 

Guilder, George. “Women in the Work Force,” September 1, 1986. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1986/09/women-in-the-work-force/30492 4/. 

Mansfield, Guy Nicholas. Gender-neutral Leadership, January 1, 1970. https://management-culture.blogspot.com/2015/06/gender-neutral-leadership.html. 

BasuMallick, Chiradeep. “3 Gender-Neutral Leadership Traits You Should Screen For.” HR Technologist. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/recruitment-onboarding/3-genderneutral-leaders hip-traits-you-should-screen-for/.

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