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Gender Bias As Subtle And Destructive As Ever

Women are put in a disadvantaged position in virtually every employment situation. Women are paid less for the same work. They are passed over for management positions they have earned. They are ignored. They are graded on a curve. They are subjected to verbal and physical harassment at much higher rates than men. Recent studies have shown that the bias is causing many women to remain quiet, even when they have ideas that could help move things forward.

Employers have quite a bit of latitude in how they treat employees. Workers can be treated pretty badly without their employers actually violating their rights. Bias is a troubling reality of many workplaces. It shouldn't take a lawsuit for an employer to treat women and men equally. But unlike some bad conduct, gender discrimination is patently illegal under New Jersey and federal law. The glass ceiling isn't just bad business; it's a violation of the law. 

Employers do not benefit from belittling and devaluing half the population. If a female employee stays quiet instead offering an idea that could solve a problem, the entire company suffers. Every employer should be aware of the tendency to undervalue the contributions of female employees. Women should be free to speak up and contribute and have those contributions valued exactly as they would be if offered by a male employee.

Gender bias may be a subtle problem, but its impact is not hard to identify. Most companies act as filtering devices as they promote. Men are allowed to go through the filter. Women are caught in its web and stopped. The problems tend to extend to entry-level employees and the result is a workplace that is inefficient and hostile to an entire gender.

Source: The New York Times, "Speaking While Female," by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, 12 January 2015 

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