Gender discrimination is an issue as old as time and in spite of recent social progress, it still hasn’t been eliminated completely. Such discrimination can manifest in your public life, your private life, and even your professional life. Thankfully, there are a number of tools you can use to fight back against discrimination and even secure compensation. If you are in Los Angeles, then firms like West Coast Employment Lawyers can give you the help you need.
However, if you want to stand the best possible chance of fighting back against discrimination in the work place, it’s necessary to first understand the causes and effects of gender discrimination.
Cause: Uneven Representation in the Industry
In industries that are dominated by men, women often face pressures that men don’t have to deal with.
One of the biggest and most pervasive reasons for discrimination based on gender is that many industries simply don’t have equal gender representation. In industries that are dominated by men, women often face pressures that men don’t have to deal with. As female participation in such industries increases, some of that discrimination will die out, both as a result of the imbalance being smaller and men becoming more used to working with women.
Of course, men can also be discriminated against in the opposite situation. In industries like nursing and education for young children, men deal with discrimination as well.
Separate from industry-specific discrimination, you also have prejudices that are part of a wider societal problem. The objectification of women can make it very hard to be taken seriously in a workplace. In many cases, women are seen less as competent peers and more as pretty window dressing to be admired and sometimes even harassed. It’s an unfortunate situation where overcoming specific hurdles may do little for other women in the same position. If a woman proves that she is competent and not just an object to be admired, that doesn’t mean she successfully defeated discrimination in her workplace. Her peers may see her as an exception to the rule and continue to judge other women unfairly.
Again, this can affect men as well. In female-dominated environments, men may find themselves subject to unwanted advances.
Cause: Personal Beliefs
One of the complicated realities is that sometimes discrimination is completely governed by the personal beliefs of a select few individuals. If influential positions at a company are held by individuals with strong biases against men or women, then it may not matter how progressive or balanced the rest of the company is. Proving your worth may simply not work on individuals that have deeply-rooted prejudice. In such cases, it may come down to reporting the individual in question and if that doesn’t work, requesting a transfer or leaving for another employer.
Effect: Preferential Treatment
Preferential treatment is one of the biggest informal impacts of workplace discrimination. On an individual basis, it may look like nothing more than a man happening to get chosen over a woman for this task or that. However, when you zoom out and look at the big picture, it becomes clear that men happen to get chosen a lot more than women. This crops up when it comes to choosing who gets what promotion, how much salary is paid for different individuals in the same position, working conditions, and training courses. In terms of a single person’s experience at a company, it may not amount to much, but when you look at how a woman gets treated over the course of many years or how women in general get treated, the problem quickly becomes apparent.
When women are treated as lesser employees, it often also follows that certain men see them as acceptable targets for harassment. This can come up in a wide variety of ways, from overt invasions of personal space like groping and forcing women into compromising positions to more subtle intrusions like changing the dress code for women to demand more revealing attire.
One of the biggest problems for women in such positions is that it may be very difficult to prove that they were harassed. Unlike being passed over for a promotion or having a lower salary than someone in the same position, which are objective facts and, on the record,, harassment often comes down to her word against his.
Even if a woman isn’t directly targeted by sexual harassment, she may be generally uncomfortable with the atmosphere of her workplace. Disparaging remarks are common and are often disguised as backhanded compliments, such as when a man might praise a women for “doing a good job for a woman.” She might also be uncomfortable with jokes (dirty or otherwise) being told at the expense of women, which are often justified as “men being men.” In many cases, women are often criticized if they speak out against such behavior, with their only alternatives being to keep quiet or join in and prove to the others that she’s not like other women.
Solution: Seek Legal Aid
When faced with discrimination, one of your first and best options would be to consider legal action. A lawsuit, if successful, would not only award you money that you deserve, but also announce to both your peers and the world that their behavior was found unacceptable. Some victims are unsure about filing a lawsuit because it might lead to them being targeted or ostracized, but if you were a victim of discrimination based on gender, you’ve already been targeted and ostracized. Your best bet now is to secure compensation for the suffering you’ve already endured. Furthermore, your actions may lead to a change in the company and help save future victims as well.
Solution: Spread Awareness
One of your other options is to spread awareness within the company and seek out allies. Consult other potential victims, speak to the higher-ups, and even direct discriminators directly. In some cases, it may lead to individuals realizing that they did something wrong. Not all discrimination can be easily rooted out with a conversation, but some can, especially if the perpetrators realize how they’ve been hurting their peers.
However, you should take care if you’re planning on filing a lawsuit. Consult an employment attorney, or even better, specifically a gender discrimination lawyer and figure out exactly how much you should say to other people. Settlements can involve keeping quiet about the whole affair, so keep that in mind.
Solution: Explore Your Options Elsewhere
The fortunate truth is that your current employer might be an exception in the industry. Not all gender discrimination is deeply rooted in society and inescapable. Sometimes, just transferring to a different department or moving to a different company in the same area can solve your discrimination problems.
Again, be careful if you’re also considering a lawsuit. A gender discrimination lawyer can inform you whether you need to stay with the company until the lawsuit has been dealt with.
What Should You Do?
Your first step should be to consult an employment attorney and determine if a lawsuit is the best choice for you. Firms like West Coast Employment Lawyers can help assess your unique circumstances, evaluate how much money you stand to gain, identify any potential pitfalls, and walk you through every step of the process.