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Literature Review on Gender Bias in the Workplace

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Society
Wordcount: 2768 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Gender Bias in the Workplace


There has been a fight over several forms of discrimination for as long as mankind has existed; whether it be religion, identity, race or gender equality. In the workplace, gender pay differences and positional bias is being experienced in modern society today. Women and men that are being impacted by unequal pay or positional preference based on gender are being treated unfairly.  Regardless of educational background, women are not receiving the same pay as men. Promotions based on gender is still a problem for women and men, but mostly for women. Even though laws have been set into place to stop this type of discrimination it is still happening all over the world today. Employer’s bias is just one of the many reasons this type of inequality is still able to exist. Most would agree that whether a person is man or woman this issue needs to be addressed and corrected.

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The role of women in the workplace was not an overnight achievement, but a gradual process that took place over time. Over the past 50 years women have flooded the work force, performing the same jobs that were once considered only for men. It was not easy, but women proved themselves just as worthy in fields such as engineering, construction, the military, and law enforcement to name a few.  There has been incredible progress in the American Culture concerning discrimination amongst race, age, and gender, but there remain unwarranted differences in the treatment of men and women in the workplace.

  Gender discrimination continues to create a gap between men and women that not only affects the workplace, but society and the economy as well. Even though women makeup around fifty percent of the world’s population and forty-even percent of America’s labor force they still face a significant gap in pay and opportunities compared to men (Lorenz, 2017). Though progress has been made this gap is an issue in society that needs to be addressed.

Gender equality is important today for several reasons. There need to be significant changes for gender equality to exist between men and women. Without the necessary changes woman will continue to lag behind in certain careers and fields. Women have excelled in many fields that where mostly employed by men, but there are still fields that are predominately male. Women only make up 25% of the workforce within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Research states that aside from this they are less likely to graduate in these disciplines as well. In 2017 President Donald Trump signed two bills supporting women in these fields to help close this gap. The bills are designed to not only support women’s participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, but encourages them to pursue careers in these disciplines (Lorenz, 2017).

Literature Review

Workplace gender bias

Unintentional bias can affect the workplace and organizations. It can cause unsatisfactory decision-making and present unintended discrimination. This type of bias can create an enormous delay in producing an authentic diverse and complete work environment. It has also been established that such bias influences recruitment and promotions. This hinders equal opportunities for women in regard to being selected and progressing to a higher-level management or leadership position (Agarwal, 2018).

Significant evidence substantiates that discrimination based on gender occurs frequently in the work environment and is a strong influence on employment and the hiring decisions. This is seen through the belief of workplace gender roles and the employers’ stereotypical expectations of gender roles (Eagly, 2014). Too often companies’ criteria for hiring practices are very relaxed and they do not have to answer for their decisions (Power & Grave, 2010). This not only makes gender discrimination possible, but a continuous problem in the workplace. 

The Equal Pay Act of 1963

Currently half of the workforce in made up of women. Also, in a large percent of American families with children, they are the main provider. When the equal pay act was passed in 1963, it required that men and women be given equal pay for the same work in the same industry (Sha, 2019). Discrimination towards women decreased in the workplace once this act was passed, but it was not excluded all together. This act was established to help get rid of the gender wage gap that continues today, nevertheless the issue has not been eliminated because men are still being paid more than women in the workplace.

Women and the Wage Gap Issue

Several things have strengthened women’s position in the American workforce. They have made gains over the past decades in work force involvement, wages, and access to more beneficial positions. According to Parker, even with this, there is gender inequality in the workplace. Parker also states that women who work in an environment with more men than women have a different experience than those that work setting has more females or an even mix of men and women (Parker, 2018).

The issue of wage among men and women is a very problematic issue that occurs across the world. According to research, it would take 108 years to close the gender gap (Bishaw, 2008). The World Economic Forum illustrated that the United States ranked 65th in wage equality among the 142 countries listed in the report. There are some countries listed that offer the most equal opportunities for women, but rank as the lowest in equal pay. Not all women are paid less than men in many countries, but there is still a large gap in pay among most. Women and men doing the exact same job unless other factors such as education, years of experience, or performance that constitutes the pay difference. Equal pay among women and men is critical in today’s economy.

Despite the passageway of the Equal Pay Act a century ago, studies show that presently women make 80 cents for every dollar received by men when both are working fulltime. The gender gap is a problem for all women, for ethnic-minority women it is a more damaging issue (Luthor, 2019). The figure is considerably lower for African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics and Latinos. The Equal Pay Act mandates that an employer must pay men and women equally for equal work. This equal pay includes, but is not limited to salary, overtime, bonuses, benefits, and training. Equal work does not have to be identical, but similar (Sha, 2019).

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In some states the wage gap is considerably smaller than in others making it appear that there is a geographic view to the wage gap. In various parts of the United States women see the largest wage gaps in the country. This includes states like Utah, Alabama, and Louisiana. On the contrary, states like New York, California, and Florida have smaller wage gaps (Luthor, 2019)

Causes of Wage gap

Several factors have caused the pay gap between men and women. A major one in this pay gap are gender roles.  Most of a woman’s time was consumed being a wife and mother and not a part of the workforce for a very long time. While maintaining the role of wife and/or mother, men were the providers of the home. The women that did not take on either of these roles worked for low wages as teachers, nannies, and maids as well as other lesser labored jobs. Men were not befitted for these positions. Several years would pass before women would become a part of the workforce and attain a job that were deemed only for men. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research it is reported that at the current rate that women’s wages are coordinating with those of men, it would be 2224 before Hispanic women are paid equal to men and 2119 for black women to achieve equal pay (Parker & Funk, 2017).

Findings and Discussion

Though there is an increased awareness in the existence of the gender wage gap there are many reasons it continues to persist. Women are paid less even when they possess qualifications for a job that are equal to men. Typically, jobs that are primarily worked by women pay less than jobs that are primarily worked by men.

There are numerous explanations of why the pay gap between men and women still exist today. When the work is controlled according to gender norms women would occasionally abandon the workforce. Certain research contributes that a pay gap exists for this reason. In 2018, the United States workforce provided work for 151 million full and part-time workers. This number totaled 53 percent men and 47 percent women (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Since men have been the ones to dominate the workforce for so many years, the gender norms are focused around them. Job location and occupation is another reason given for why the pay gap exist. The occupation men and women tend to follow are determined by the major that they pursue in college. While jobs like teachers, administrative duties, and nurses are likely chose by women, men often chose management, computer science, economics, finance, and engineering. The jobs that men chose are the ones that normally pay more and are controlled by gender.


As a method to determine the most relevant and valid answers to the focus of this paper’s questions, a detailed evaluation of current research and field studies was conducted.

According to an analysis of Pew Research Center survey data in the United States about 42% of working women have admitted that they have encountered gender discrimination on the job. Testimonies stated the experiences included earning less than male colleagues that performed the same job to being overlooked for important projects. While many differences exist between men and women in the workplace wage tends to be the biggest gap between them. The survey also included that 25% of working women revealed that they have earned less than a man performing the same job, while only 5 % of men expressed they were paid less than a female colleague.


Research states there is a substantial problem with gender bias when it comes to promotions and positions between men and women. Scholarly studies of the gender pay gap and of positional bias is very much necessary.  The correlations that exist in the areas of equality, fairness, retention, and social justice need to be examined. These are areas that lend concern to society because of the laws already passed to ensure all are treated equally.

The present results attempt to identify the reasons and consequences of gender bias and pay differences between men and women in the workplace today. It was confirmed through research that gender pay and gender bias is a big issue to many in the workplace. Regardless of the equal pay act and other laws that were created to resolve these issues, women still lag considerably behind men in pay. Even though changes cannot be made to all the causes of the gender pay gap, resolutions should still be evaluated. Thorough consideration should be given to the tactics needed to help correct the issues. Some strategies are proposed in the findings to help decrease the difference men and women are paid. 



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