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Women In Management Often Face Personal Criticism

The American workplace can be an unfair and hostile place. While the situation for women has improved in some ways, old prejudices and sexist behavior are still alive and well. Women in management have often encountered and overcome numerous challenges that their male counterparts have never faced. Gender discrimination is against New Jersey law and federal laws such as the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act. But discrimination is insidious and continues to express itself in a wide array of employment situations.

A recent study conducted by Fortune.com has identified evidence of one of the challenges faced by women in the workplace. In analyzing workplace performance reviews, the study found that women are substantially more likely to receive negative feedback directed at personality than men. The personality comments appeared in 76 percent of the negative reviews received by women, whereas men received such comments on only 2 percent of negative reviews. 

Identical behavior may be perceived very differently based on gender. A man who behaves a certain way might be labeled confident, assertive and be considered a leader. A woman behaving in the same way may find herself targeted for criticism labeling her abrasive, judgmental or other, more personal terms. Leaders are rarely liked by everyone, but to become leaders women are pressured to be perfect and gain 100 percent approval. This is an unfair standard and is a form of gender discrimination.

You would think that employers by now have learned that every employee must be treated equally and evaluated on a level playing field. That is clearly not the case in many businesses around the nation. Gender bias is alive and well. The fight continues.

Source: The New York Times, "Learning to Love Criticism" by Tara Mohr , 27 September 2014 

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