Updated: Jul 22
For the month of July we are exploring the impacts and instances of gender discrimination.
Today our Blogger Stacey Stateler is sharing her views and experience on the subject. Stacey is a student at Mount Royal University and she's captured some of her experiences in the work world.
In the King of the Hill episode “Junkie Business”, Hank Hill is given the responsibility of hiring on a new employee at his workplace. He finds a perfect candidate for the job-an absolute expert on propane, but he refuses to hire her because she is a woman, and a fairly attractive one at that. Instead, he hires a man who has no idea what he’s doing and regularly uses drugs at work. While this a comedy show, this can be a reality for many women in the job searching process and for women seeking out promotions.
I remember when I was about fifteen years old, I applied at a coffee shop very close to my house. The owner happened to be in as I brought in my resume. He asked me what kind of hours I was looking for, and I informed him that since I was-obviously-in school, I’d need an evening and weekend schedule. The owner abruptly informed me that he does not hire girls and women for evening shifts. Perhaps it was a concern for the safety of the woman, which is patronizing if you ask me, especially at a coffee shop that closes at 9 pm. My dad explained to me that perhaps he was concerned that a young lady would be more likely to be complacent in handing over the money to a robber, while a man might put up a fight. I also found this comical because businesses are not legally allowed to ask you to stand up to a robber.
Speaking of legalities, it’s also illegal to not hire someone based on their gender. I don’t believe this means that it doesn’t still happen. That’s like saying: “there’s no way this guy got murdered! Murder is illegal!” Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen every day. The company can easily make up a myriad of other reasons why they didn’t hire someone. It would be so hard to prove that your gender was the reason you didn’t get hired.
Of course, there’s going to be variation in the degree of gender discrimination depending on the work sector. You’re probably going to have a way harder time starting out in a construction career as a woman than a secretary position. On that note, by the way, when a previously male-dominated career becomes dominated by women, the pay suddenly decreases for that job (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html).
To be honest, other than the coffee shop incident, I have never been aware of any other time where I wasn’t hired or promoted because of my gender. Though I’ve only ever worked in fast food, retail, and tutoring. Actually, friend of mine, who works a blue collar job, always highly encourages women to get into blue collar fields because he finds it refreshing. This is just my own experience though, and like I stated before, it would be impossible to know if I wasn’t hired because of my gender unless I explicitly got told so. I firmly believe that women have a harder time getting in to many careers and working their way up the ranks.
That being said, I have faced a fairly bad degree of sexual harassment in the workplace in the past. My first job was in the food court, and I was the only female employee. One of my coworkers, who was a man in his twenties, often made comments on my body and told me that when I turned sixteen, I should call him. At another job, a soon-to-be co-worker had apparently watched my job interview on the CCTV camera and found me attractive, so the boss let him be the one to do all my training. He once tapped me on the rear end with a water bottle and said: “what’s cooking good looking?”
I think that sexual harassment is an important thing to mention because it goes hand in hand with gender discrimination. If our co-workers and our bosses are objectifying us, they’re going to take us less seriously. Not to mention, they’ll make us feel incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve heard many stories from girlfriends that they’ve left jobs because of ongoing sexual harassment. When this happens, you can’t collect employment insurance because you willingly left the job. When interviewers ask you why you left your previous job, it becomes very awkward. You either have to tell them you were sexually harassed, which can often times make them label you a “drama queen”-and even if it doesn’t, it’s just not fun to talk about to a potential employer, or you have to make up a lie and remember what it was. Sexual harassment can really set you back on working your way to a high-ranking career.
We should also think intersectionally here, women of colour can face even more discrimination in the work place than a white woman such as myself. A white man can make 75,000 annually for a job, while a black woman makes 73,900 for the same job (https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap). This might not seem like much, but this gap shouldn’t be existing at all. While we’re on the topic of intersectionality, every transwoman I’ve ever met has had a very hard time finding a job. I know this might seem anecdotal, but listening to women’s experiences is always crucial.
Overall, it’s not impossible to enter into any career sector as a woman. I’m sure there’s not a job in the world that has zero women working in it. There’s just many fields where getting in and moving up the ladder will be much harder. You’ll likely be expected to work twice as hard to prove yourself; this is just an unfortunate reality. Stay strong and confident; you’ll get there eventually.
-If you are a victim of sexual harassment or gender discrimination in your workplace, please contact your human resources department. Don’t let it slide.1