We’ve come along way in terms of closing the gender gap in America. Gone are the days when men are doctors and women are nurses, men are pilots and women stewardesses. Well, maybe. According to the Pew Research Center, “Large racial and gender wage gaps in the U.S. remain, even as they have narrowed in some cases over the years. Among full- and part-time workers in the U.S., blacks in 2015 earned just 75% as much as whites in median hourly earnings and women earned 83% as much as men.”
While we’ve made progress, deeply-seated biases and preconceptions may be holding us back. In a recent article written for the Network of Executive Women or NEW, Rufino Cabang writes, “Stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias are contributing to a widening gender gap at work, according to a new international study commissioned by Unilever.”
According to the study, 60% of women and 49% of men responding to an online survey, indicated that stereotypes had an impact on either their personal lives, or their careers—or both. The results of this research reveal that gender stereotypes still have a stronghold in the business world, on both men and women! In fact, while 77% of male respondents said that they believed a man would be the best choice to lead a high-stakes project, 55% of women responding also agreed. Both men and women overwhelmingly agreed that they’d rather see a man, than a woman, in the C-suite.
As is often the case, those who hold these biases aren’t necessarily bad people. In many cases, negative views of different groups are entirely unconscious. A crucial step toward remedying the effects of such unconscious biases is to expose and analyze them. Cabang’s article on the data surrounding the gender gap is a great example of this. We’ve made progress, but there is still work to be done.
Take a look around your workplace, around the office and around the boardroom. How many women are sitting in positions of power? How many men—and women—think they should be?
Bottom line: be inclusive!