Women in the Workplace

Over on Skepchick a link was posted yesterday to a post on The Clayman Institute for Gender Research website at Stanford University. It is titled Breaking down barriers for women in the workplace, and provides an interesting insight into the situation for women in the workplace from a perspective of men who have made a transition from woman to man.

The article explore the work of Professor Kristen Schilt from the University of Chicago. In her research she describes the situation of Susan who became Thomas:

When Thomas replaced Susan at work, a man working at an associated company told Thomas’s boss that it was a good move to fire Susan, due to her incompetence, but that the “new guy” (Thomas) was great.

This example illustrate a point that has been researched before: white men seems to be evaluated as more competent than equally qualified women or people of other races, as investigated in this paper.


We examine whether and how various biases may influence customers’ satisfaction evaluations and produce discriminatory judgments for minorities and female service employees. We argue that customer satisfaction evaluations are biased because they are anonymous judgments by untrained raters that usually lack an evaluation standard. In our laboratory and field samples, we find disturbing evidence generally confirming our arguments and suggesting that the presence of nonwhite and women service employees may produce lower aggregated customer satisfaction evaluations which may ultimately hurt individuals and organizations financially.

This topic is also elaborated on in this Wikipedia article.

Back to Schilt. She continues: “Transgender men […] report receiving workplace rewards that they did not get when they worked as women.” 54 transgendered men were part of Schilt’s study, and many were surprised of the change they experienced when they started going to work as men. Two thirds of them experienced clear benefits of being men compared to their experience as women. Even if they weren’t doing anything different.

The experiences of these transgendered men demonstrate the reality of the every day situation for many women at their workplace. The difference may be subtle to most, especially—probably—to the men. Sexism is still very much present in the workplace even in our more enlightened day and age. It is not enough to be aware of obvious sexism. One also need to check one’s own perception of other people and not evaluate them on the basis of gender, or for that matter: race, culture, sexual orientation or gender expression and identity.

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