While gender inequality is still lingering around the workforce, it is undercover in a subtle and implicit way that we are likely to neglect how powerful it can be.


                                           Women in the workforce. Image via CNN.com

When it comes to gender equality, undoubtedly human being have achieved enormous amount of progress with regard to education, medical health, politics and workforce. We can’t help but ask, how far can we truly achieve gender equality in our society? Is gender equality really a big deal if we want to reach out our democratic future?

That sounds a bit broad and confused considering multiple uncertainties remain at present. Let’s narrow down the scope and focus on gender equality in the workforce as our exploring topic here.

Gender pay gap still exists in all parts of the world, in particular, Australia ranks 36 out of 145 countries in terms of global index of gender equality, according to a statistic report conducted by The Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Moreover, men as a whole earn an average total of $27,000 per year more compared with women, even in the same position.

Moreover, it turns out women receive different results in terms of employee performance, revealing from a research conducted two years ago. Specifically, female group received 87.9 per cent of performance reviews containing criticism whereas as their counterpart males, the figure was only 58.9 per cent. That is to say, the performance rating system favors more on men than rather on women, pro-male bias still exist among our society.

Gender bias towards leadership.  Image via flickr.com

Debby as a software engineer in an Australian company addressed that gender equality matters and it needs attention both from male and female.

“As you might have imaged, working in a men-dominant industry is not quite easy, since it is hard to notice you are belonging to the minority in this situation. In general, you have to work as equally as men and even much more so that they won’t judge you in a different way, in short, I don’t want to be regarded as a weak link in my team, that feels awful,” Debby shared her thought during the interview.

Speaking of her personal experience after having worked in this company for three years, she pointed out that she was treated equally in general regarding salary, holiday leave, medical welfare, to name a few. “My colleagues treat me really well in a polite and respectful way, in fact, we become very good friends and keep in touch after work.”

However, she admitted that there were several times that made she felt she was under disadvantaged position, or occurred to her that gender issues actually hinder her from achieving her goals.

“Though I am one of the members in my department, at times I still find myself out of this team, they would prefer to directly discuss problems with other male staffs and avoid eye contact with me in meetings, which made me really uncomfortable. Just because I am not a man doesn’t mean I should be differentiated based on their perception. ”

She gave an example in order to explain her statement before. “I remembered last year our team was designing a program for an important partner, I didn’t know we’d changed the code until I received an email from my boss. I ran to him immediately and asked why I had no idea about it, he explained that they discussed it after work at bar, apparently I was isolated simply because I didn’t hang out with these guys, which made me in a quite passive position.” After that, she signed, “it can’t be worse than sitting in the dark simply because of your own gender at work.”

In other words, gender inequality can be reflected in subtle yet hidden way that won’t be discovered explicitly, people going through this situation more or less don’t realize gender discrepancy as it shown. Therefore, it makes dealing with this issue become much complicated and tricky among public.

It is true that female employees nowadays have to confront with more serious issues compared with men such as maternity, babysitting and returning workforce after giving birth. Man and woman are born to be different, both physically and psychologically, which leads to discrepancy in all aspects of life, hence we cannot change but accept this fact. Given that, the only thing we can do is to admit gender issue and ensure it is developing toward a good way.

Now that there are a quantity of organizations relevant to gender equality in our life, Lean In is one of these that has attracted huge attention in recent years. Debby said she has joined in this entity several months ago, and she decided to invite more friends to become a member of this group as she though each individual can learn something from this organization.

Screenshot of Lean In Circle

“We form a small Lean In circle that encourages people to join in regardless of the fact that they are male or female. In this community, we share stories about gender and then discuss it in a broader way. Currently we are making effort to reach successful female leaders to lead our group as role models so that more and more people can be influenced and motivated by our community.” Debby proudly explained how the group works.

It is clear that gender inequality cannot be solved in a few years, especially we are dealing with the implicit part of the issue in the workplace. No matter what accounts for this inequality, we have to get rid of the general bias or stereotypes towards gender and remind ourselves where we are in current stage and how much progress have we achieved in this journey.

Coming back to the final question: how can we solve gender inequality in the workforce? Apparently we cannot answer it at this moment and hopefully we can see its success in the foreseeable future.