The Subtle Gender Biases of the American Workplace

Aug 16 2023

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda.

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh. What are we going to talk about today?

Goodbaum: Well, I know you are a proud feminist, as am I. And I understand you were doing some weekend reading about women’s equality in the workplace. So, tell us about what you were reading and what you’re thinking about.

DeMatteis: Yeah, I sure was. I stumbled across an article on CNBC. It’s titled “Women Are Held Back at Work Due to 30 Biases Out of Their Control.” Interesting article — Google it on CNBC. You’ll be able to pull it up and take a peek, of course, if you’re interested. But it stuck out to me as an employment lawyer because it recognized criticism against women that may not, on its face at least, appear to be gender biased.

Let me give you some examples. “You’re too young to lead,” a younger female employee is told. Or maybe an employer is talking about parental status and using a preschool-aged mom with young kids [as an example], as a reason to get passed over in a hiring process because of this perception that she cannot or should not be handling larger complex matters. Meanwhile, a child-free female, maybe a physician, could be expected to work harder and accomplish more than that of their female colleagues with children. Maybe you have a strong woman in the workforce who is being constantly talked over by male counterparts or something as simple as a doctor being mistaken for a nurse. Maybe these don’t ring out explicitly as gender bias. But in fact, they are.

I love an example that the article brought to our attention about how do we test whether something in the workplace is gender bias. The article refers to it as the “Flip It and Test It” test — which I really thought was interesting. “Could you ever imagine saying these types of things about a man in the workplace?” If the answer to that is no, guess what? That’s gender bias.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, we can start by talking about it, and that’s why I love seeing articles like this because it brings these conversations into the forefront and allows us to talk about them. If we see gender bias, let’s say something about it. The only way to eradicate a bias like this or any other bias that we may possess is to deal with it head-on and to talk about it.

So, if you’re experiencing any of these things at work, if you’re interested as to, “You know what? The way someone said something to me really just isn’t sitting the right way,” talk to an employment lawyer about it. You never know.

Goodbaum: And as we’ve said, it’s really important to be an advocate not just for yourself, but for your peers. So this isn’t a conversation that’s just important for women in the workplace. This is a conversation that’s important for everyone in the workplace. If you see bias, call it out. Totally agree with you, Amanda. Thanks so much for that insight, and thanks to you all for watching.

DeMatteis: Take care.

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amanda dematteis speaking on gender bias in the workplace

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