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Work has changed in countless ways, but gender bias persists

October 11, 2022 - 6 min read

 

There’s no question the world of work has changed in numerous ways in recent years: We dress up less frequently, we spend way more time in video meetings, and we might be more likely to bond with our coworkers over funny GIFs sent via Slack than an after-work happy hour. But one thing that remains unchanged by the pandemic? Data show women still aren’t getting credit for their work at the same rate as men.

And while remote work has improved employees’ experience in areas such as work-life balance, it hasn’t helped women and gender-diverse workers get the professional recognition they deserve. In fact, the disparity appears to be slightly worse for women and gender-diverse employees who work remotely than those who work in person. 

This data comes from a Prolific research online survey, which collected responses from 1,022 US workers. To compare the experiences of different genders, we looked at the frequency with which people indicated that “Others take credit for your work or don’t give you the credit you deserve.”  

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Women and gender-diverse employees aren’t getting credit for their work

The survey showed cisgender females are more than three times as likely to have someone else claim credit for their work as their cismale coworkers. And the situation is even more common among gender-diverse workers: The same survey showed trans, genderqueer, and agender employees are five times as likely as cismale workers to experience someone else taking credit for their work.

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To understand how work arrangements might affect this experience, we analyzed how often this occurs among workers in remote, hybrid, and in-person work settings. We found that women and gender-diverse workers were twice as likely to experience someone else taking credit for their work in remote work arrangements as compared to in-person settings. For cismale workers, the data mirrors the general pattern seen in the other two groups, but work arrangements do not appear to have a significant impact on the rate at which others take credit for their work.

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Remote work offers many benefits, but it hasn’t solved gender discrimination

The data tell us that while organizations have experienced tremendous change in the past few years, gender equity remains a serious issue. Workplaces across industries have long struggled with gender inequality, which shows up in pay disparity, sexual harassment, rates of women in leadership, and other issues. Women also experience burnout at higher rates than men—a gap that nearly doubled over the course of the pandemic.

The data also indicate organizations may have to make more deliberate efforts to fight sexism and other forms of discrimination in the current work landscape. While many workers prefer remote or hybrid work options, there are still hurdles to overcome in this new world of work.

By now, it’s clear that remote and hybrid work can be great for both workers and their organizations, leading to a boost in productivity. And there’s an opportunity for these new work arrangements to improve the experience of women and gender-diverse workers. For example, added flexibility can make it easier for some workers to balance work and family responsibilities, which may help women with children stay in their jobs and continue climbing at work. 

In the case of nonbinary workers, remote work—where you can easily include your pronouns in an online profile—can make it simpler and more comfortable to be out at work. Workers in remote settings may also experience less pressure regarding their appearance and feel less judgment related to how they dress or present physically. This could help workers who don’t conform to gender norms to feel more at ease.

But dispersed work settings aren’t without challenges. The data suggest that in the virtual workplace, it may be even easier for the contributions of women and gender-diverse workers to be overlooked. And men may have an even greater advantage in angling for raises, promotions, and recognition.

What organizations can do to promote gender equity

Organizations with remote or hybrid models have an immense opportunity to offer workers more flexibility, better work-life balance, and a greater sense of well-being. At the same time, they will have to pay close attention to matters of equity to ensure that women and gender-diverse workers are treated with fairness and inclusivity. Here are a few ways organizations can help curb gender discrimination in their workplaces: 

  • Eliminate gender pay gaps. Take care to ensure that wages and salaries are equitable. Conduct a salary audit and make adjustments as needed to make your organization’s pay fair—and go a step further by making salaries transparent. 
  • Provide mentorship. Establish a mentorship program to help women and gender-diverse workers excel in the workplace and progress in their careers. In addition to helping mentees navigate tricky situations, mentors can act as a sounding board and call out incidents of gender bias when they happen.
  • Prioritize women’s advancement. Regularly provide professional development and leadership opportunities. One recent study found that companies that made women’s advancement a formal business priority saw a growth rate as much as 61% higher than their peers. 

Gender bias in the workplace is an old and pervasive challenge—and it’s one organizations can’t afford to ignore. Employers have an important role to play in helping women and marginalized workers achieve equality, and in doing so, they stand to strengthen their organizations and improve the future of work for everyone.

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Published October 11, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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