Calling it like Clinton: hidden gender discrimination

By Rebekah Peterson

Another blog post for all the nasty women out there? You bet.

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With the release of Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, a lot of criticism ensued:

“Enough, already”

“Bristling at her unfair loss and cashing in”                    

“Clinton is just playing the ol’ woman card again”

In reality? Clinton is calling out overt and hidden misogyny and sexism that she faced during the 2016 presidential campaign. The fact that Clinton still faced sexist attacks while running for president after decades in the political sphere is a problem—and it’s a problem for all women wanting a career in politics, or, let’s be real, any other field.

Research also shows that the issue of overt and hidden gender discrimination doesn’t just start once women begin their political career. For example, it can even occur when women are trying to pursue higher education in the field, like a PhD.

In 2004 Johanna Kantola surveyed data from PhD candidates in the Political Science department of a Finnish university. A questionnaire was answered by 42 PhD candidates and 13 were interviewed (8 women and 5 men).

Kantola examined the interviews of the women and men in the PhD program.

No overt forms of discrimination (sex-segregated job advertising, gender pay gap, or verbal abuse) were found, but hidden discrimination acts were, and those are much harder to address in an organization.

Many of the women PhD candidates recalled being called “girl” by their advisor, or their area of research not being taken seriously—two behaviors that contribute to women not being perceived as experts in the political field.

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Many of the women also said they were not being offered teaching positions by their advisors, while some of the male PhD candidates said they were often encouraged to apply for teaching positions by their advisors. This shows that women are often stalled in the recruiting process while men are recruited through their inner circle.

So, if female PhD candidates and the first female presidential candidate of a major political party are facing hidden discrimination…that means it’s most likely showing up in your workplace too.

And how should women deal with this gender discrimination at work?

Well, we all can’t write a book like Clinton calling people out—most women want to keep their jobs and this prooobably isn’t the best way to do that—but there are other ways to confront the issue. For example:

  1. Recognize the issue
    1. Write down any gender biases you may being facing.
  2. Confront it head on
    1. If it’s a pay gap issue, ask for a raise.
    2. If you aren’t being seen as the expert you are: use your business card to legitimize yourself.
    3. If it’s overt discrimination, like verbal harassment or outwardly sexist comments, know your organization’s zero-tolerance policy and speak with HR.
  3. Look for a female mentor
    1. A female mentor can help advise you on making it to the top as a woman.
    2. A female mentor can also tell you how they may have experienced hidden discrimination and how they dealt with it, or how they wish they dealt with it.

 

So remember—when you face gender discrimination, it doesn’t have to be overt to be upsetting and constraining. Channel your inner Clinton and call that crap out.

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