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.

I always feeeel like, somebody’s…

By Joey Konrad

Have you ever encountered a male co-worker or a customer that gives you weird vibes—you know, when it feels like he’s looking at you behind your back, rating your body and how “hot” you look? Do you get these feelings even though you can’t identify who specifically is watching you?

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If you identify with that situation, you certainly aren’t alone. Researcher Beth Quinn conducted 43 interviews with working men and women about their experiences in the workplace with “girl watching”: those unwanted or unnoticed sexual gazes towards women in the workplace by men.

Quinn found that most of the people interviewed were aware of girl watching in the workplace, however the men interviewed often understood girl watching as a harmless joke or simple appreciation of women’s appearances, while the women felt it was objectifying and didn’t like the attention.

Quinn further questioned the men’s acceptance of girl watching and found that many responses fell along the lines of “that’s just what men do” and the women feeling objectified was not the reason why men engaged in girl watching. In fact, when forced to imagine themselves in a position of being sexually watched, all the men interviewed understood the harm or discomfort of girl watchingyet were unable to generate that empathy when listening to women’s experiences.

In 1980, the U.S. passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which outlined sexual harassment as illegal and required employers to provide preventative measures to address sexual harassment, like awareness seminars.  However, sexual harassment in the workplace is still rampant, as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that around 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and that statistic does not account for the women that do not report or share their experiences.

Quinn’s findings reveal some flaws in the way we approach teaching and preventing sexual harassment at work. Who knew those mandatory seminars that showed weird videos from the 90’s were ineffective?

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The larger problem here isn’t that men need help understanding what sexual harassment is, rather what men understand to be masculine includes proving their (hetero)sexuality at work through girl watching or other forms of sexual harassment. Men must confirm how manly they are to others at work by asserting their enjoyment of sex and appearance, and also show no emotions of compassion or concern towards women because they can be labeled weak and their masculinity is threatened.

Sexual harassment training and information sessions need to address stereotypes of what it means to be a man and a woman if they want serious gains at eliminating sexual harassment at work. Men specifically can provide positive reinforcement for other men who speak out against sexual harassment and redefine masculinity, as well as speak out against men who don’t.

So whether it’s you or your buddy….dude, stop looking at your coworker like that, alright?