Updated: Dec 1, 2022
We are all influenced by gender. Gender norms tell us what is appropriate for girls and what is for boys, women, and men to do in our society. Because of gender stereotypes, girls and women are often less valued and have lower social status. In this article let us look at some ways and situations in which women are discriminated.
Discrimination may occur at workplace, school, public transports etc. For an example, here I have explained briefly about how gender discrimination affects women in workplace.
Under law, sex discrimination in employment is illegal. However, currently there are no rules for protection of employees who are discriminated against based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Types of gender discrimination in the work place can be identified as two:
1. Disparate treatment based on sex
Generally disparate treatment based on sex refers to the different or unjust treatment of an employee based on their sex. Employees may experience this by ways such as, discriminatory hiring practices, pay disparities or restrictions or promotions because of their sex, getting paid less than a male employee who works the same job, being the subject of derogatory language or slurs on accountant of being a female etc.
2. Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment has been defined in Sri Lanka as “Unwelcome sexual advances by words or actions used by a person in authority, in a working place or any other place.” Sexual harassment in workplace can include:
· Unwelcome physical contact and advances
· Dirty jokes and obscene gestures
· Showing pornographic materials
· Demanding or requesting sexual favours
· Circulation of abusive personal or obscene emails and visuals
Department of Labour, Annual Employment Survey, Sri Lanka, 2013, 10
Gender discrimination on women can cause being unable to control how you are treated or viewed by others on account of your gender, and this can affect all aspects of employment, from perceived safety of your work environment to your ability to perform job responsibilities fully and to the best of your abilities. Below mentioned are some effects of discrimination on women in the workplace,
· Decreased productivity
· Low self-esteem
· Feeling unsafe or fearful
· Isolation from other coworkers
· Tension between yourself and the perpetrator of the discrimination such as coworkers, supervisors, company)
· Mental health and substance abuse issues
· Pregnancy complications
The way gender discrimination affects a person can vary based on the context of the situation and her own responses to the harassment or discrimination that occurs. Not every woman may respond or cope with gender discrimination in the same way.
Traditional roles of women
Gender roles express the idea of gender identity, but they may also be employed as means of exerting social control, and individuals may experience negative social consequences for violating them.
These gender roles categorize the variations of tasks by clarifying men and women by their strengths and possibilities for various tasks. As an example, in the past, the Sri Lankan society has had specific tasks for women and men: men being the breadwinners of the family and women being the caretaker of the household and look after the children and the husband by doing all the chores.
Stereotypes on women.
Stereotypes are how societies expect people to act based on their gender. For example, girls should stay at home and help with housework and childcare, girls dress modestly and not stay out till late night. People are often judged by how well they adhere to these gender stereotypes.
These stereotypes can often be seen being bled out into school and work, where girls are less likely to be encouraged into science and technology subjects or leadership roles, due to the perceived ‘male nature’ of these pursuits. Likewise, seemingly positive stereotypes and gender roles such as men being the ‘provider’ or ‘protector’ of the family also put an unnecessary burden on men and boys that could more positively be shared in an equal partnership.
These attitudes limit girls’ power by rendering them less in their contribution to making the world around them a better place.
Poor representation and objectification of women
Building a sustainable future for all, means leaving no one behind. Women and girls are critical to find solutions to the biggest challenges we face today, and they must be heard, valued, and celebrated throughout societies to reflect their perspective and choices for their future and for the advancement of humanity. Women’s full and equal participation in all facets of society is a fundamental human right. Yet, around the world, from politics to entertainment to the workplace, women and girls are largely underrepresented.
According to the latest researches, women’s political representation globally has doubled in the last 25 years. But, this only amounts to around 1 in 4 parliamentary seats held by women today. For an example in Sri Lankan parliament from 2015-2020, there has been only 13 women representatives are in the parliament and in the house. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the highest political positions.
When looking at the workforce, the gender gap in labour force participation among prime working age adults (25 to 54) has stagnated over the past 20 years. Improved education among women has done little to shift the deeply entrenched occupational segregation in developed and developing countries. Women continue to carry out a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work.
When it comes to equality of men and women in news media, progress has virtually ground to a halt. According to the largest study on the portrayal, participation and representation of women, in the news media spanning 20 years and 114 countries, only 24 % of the persons heard, read about or seen in radio, newspaper and television respectively are women. A glass ceiling also exists for women news reporters in newspaper bylines and newscast reports, with as of 2015, 37 % of stories being reported by women showing no change over the course of a decade. Despite the democratizing promise of digital media, women’s poor representation in traditional news media is also reflected in digital news, with women making up only 26 % of the people in Internet news stories and media news tweets. Only 4% of traditional news and digital news stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes. Among other factors, stereotypes, and the significant underrepresentation of women in the media play a significant role in shaping harmful attitudes of disrespect and violence towards women.