How Unconscious Bias Drives Gender Inequality in the Workplace

unconscious bias

There is a fascinating article titled Why Aren’t Women Advancing at Work? Ask a Transgender Person. The post addresses how differently trans individuals have been treated at work in their new gender. I, for one, would be shocked if much of the information in that post came as a surprise to women.

Just how Unequal are Men’s Experiences and Women’s Experiences at Work?

Transmen experience a higher level of respect, are interrupted less frequently, and have their opinions questioned less often than when they lived as women. Not surprisingly, transmen also felt like they were given more opportunities to succeed and to advance in the workplace than when they lived as a female. Transwomen have the opposite experience, and many find it shocking that they are now talked over in meetings and that their opinions are questioned even when supported by facts.

If you are a woman reading this, you might be discouraged. But, don’t worry! You don’t need a third leg to get ahead; you just need to be 87.5% to 232% more productive than the average male to be thought of as equally skilled and competent!

Can Gender Inequality be Fixed?

How can America overcome the gender inequality that exists in the workplace (especially when some insist that it has already been eradicated)?

The glass ceiling that is so frequently talked about in HR circles is built on a rock-hard foundation of unconscious bias. An unconscious bias is a preference or prejudice that we have without realizing it. Policies and procedures need to be in place to reduce or eliminate subjective feelings, which so easily overshadow the objective factors that hiring and promotion decisions should be based on. It is also imperative that companies start training recruiters and hiring managers on how to identify their unconscious biases and overcome them.

But why should companies stop there? Shouldn’t all employees, at every level of the organization, undergo this training? Why aren’t companies including this in their new hire orientation and training?

Does your organization address unconscious bias? If so, how? I look forward to reading your comments!


This post was originally published by Robin Brodrick.

Robin Brodrick is the founder of Talent Counseling, a résumé writing and career coaching business. She is also the instructor for a résumé writing workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education and a corporate recruiter in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. You can read more of Robin’s writing at or follow her on Twitter at @RobinBrodrick.



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