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How unconscious bias impacts women in the workplace

As a woman in the American workforce, you may have found at some point during your career that you had struggles advancing or securing the salary you deserve, and you may attribute this to the fact that you are a woman. Regrettably, many employers have something of an unconscious bias against female employees, and this holds true regardless of whether the employer is female, herself.

Just as young boys and girls often grow up to believe that there are “boy’s activities” and girl’s activities,” this sentiment often continues later in life, where it can have a direct impact on the work environment. For example, throughout life, many young boys and girls grow up to believe that men are the ones who typically hold leadership roles, and it can be hard to shake this subconscious belief that men are better suited to positions of power.

How this impacts the work environment

So, just how can these subconscious beliefs, many of which come about during childhood, affect your work environment as an adult? For starters, in some cases, men who have grown accustomed to holding positions of power tend to structure their work environments in a similar manner they would their own homes. For example, they may be accustomed to having their wives pick up their slack or otherwise handle “less significant” tasks while they, in turn, tackle the hard stuff. They may also, whether subconsciously or otherwise, delegate duties among their staff members in a similar manner.

Furthermore, while male employees frequently receive promotions on account of their potential in a particular position, female workers more frequently receive promotions based on merit, highlighting an unfair disparity between the two sexes. Similarly, when women make errors in the workplace, their employers are more likely to remember these mistakes – and are less likely to forgive them – than they would for a male’s error.

It is an unfortunate but very real reality that women face an unconscious bias in the workplace. While you cannot necessarily stop others from treating you unfairly due to the fact that you are female, you are in control of how you respond to it.

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