Gender Gap In The Workplace Essay

Gender Gap In The Workplace Essay

Gender-based discrimination is one of the uncivil behaviors and actions in the workplace that compromise employee performance, retention, and productivity. According to Hebl et al. (2019), women comprise 47% of the American workforce. Despite the steady growth in female employees and the subsequent bridging of gender gaps in employment opportunities, women are still susceptible to discriminative behaviors exacerbated by the underlying gender stereotypes and biases. Hebl et al. (2019) contend that gendered expectations anchored by gender-based roles disproportionately affect women despite their sacrifices to ensure job security. Often, gender-based discrimination entails gaps in employment, wages, and career development opportunities. Also, sexual harassment and assault toward women signify gender discrimination. To ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), organizations should identify and challenge underlying biases and stereotypes that facilitate gender discrimination. As a result, this paper describes gender-based gaps in leadership, wages, and employment, the seven types of discriminatory practices in organizations that do not foster an environment of DEI, and evidence-based practices to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations.

Gender Gap in Leadership, Wages, and Employment

Gender-based gaps in leadership, wages, and employment are indicators of gender discrimination in organizations that do not embrace interventions for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion. Firstly, gaps in leadership entail disparities and inequalities in allocating top leadership and management opportunities. Alan et al. (2019) contend that the primary components of leadership positions are to demonstrate responsibility for decision-making and hold power. When explaining the gaps in leadership, it is valid to appreciate the current increase in female employees in organizations globally. In the United States, women account for about 47% of the country’s workforce, indicating improvements in employment, job retention, and inclusion (Hebl et al., 2019). Despite the steady-reducing gaps in job opportunities, gaps in leadership are conspicuous. Alan et al. (2019) use the 2014 G8 summit as an ideal example for identifying leadership gaps. According to the authors, 5 out of 58 leaders were female. Similarly, only 17% of women are government ministers, while 5.2% of chief executive officers (CEOs) are women (Alan et al., 2019). Disparities in the allocation of leadership positions emanate from underlying gender-based issues, including gaps in employment, discrimination in career progression opportunities, and disproportionate leadership training programs that favor male employees.

Secondly, gaps in wages and employment are highly prevalent and burdensome in contemporary organizations despite the vibrant vigor for ensuring job equality. According to Toczek et al. (2021), gender-based pay gaps are still common because they are deeply embedded in other human capital determinants that disproportionately affect women in the labor market. Based on the 2019 European Union (EU) statistics, women in many European countries earn 14.1% below their male counterparts. In Germany, the 2019 gender pay gap stood at 19.2%, indicating that women must work longer hours to bridge the payment gap.

Similar to gaps in organizational leadership, payment inequalities emanate from various determinants of human capital. Firstly, women are susceptible to gender stereotypes, including the perception that they should act in a non-agentic manner. According to Hebl et al. (2019), agentic behaviors entail assertiveness, goal orientation, and aggression. Secondly, women should be unselfish, sensitive to other people’s feelings, and friendlier than men. Thirdly, female employees face more restrictive standards and encounter the challenge of bulk domestic work (Hebl et al., 2019). In this sense, women take more days off, work part-time, and make massive sacrifices to balance formal employment and family responsibilities. Organizations may adopt punitive policies, including salary reductions, to discourage time wastage, day offs, and part-time work.

Finally, women encounter limitations when ascending to top leadership and management positions due to pregnancy biases that discourage their career trajectories. For example, women of childbearing age face perceptions that render them “unworthy” to conveniently ascend to top managerial positions (Hebl et al., 2019). Finally, they must balance between restrictive standards, competencies, and likable presence to prove their leadership qualities and capabilities. Often, the failure to balance between these aspects expose female employees to sexual harassment and assault in male-dominated work environments. Sexual harassment and assault are uncivil acts that significantly affect employee performance, mental status, and productivity. Unfortunately, many incidences of sexual harassment and oppression are unreported or underreported.

Seven Types of Discriminatory Practices in Organizations that do not Foster an Environment of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Discriminatory practices are uncivil behaviors and actions that happen when people or a section of employees face unfair treatment due to specific attributes. According to Roscigno (2019), discrimination takes various forms, including unfairness in job promotion, demotion, firings, and harassment. In this sense, these practices account for the prevailing and persistent gaps in employment, leadership, professional development opportunities, and wages. While elaborating on discriminatory practices in the work environment, it is essential to focus on different types of discrimination consistent with the existing primary and secondary dimensions of workplace diversity. These include gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, and pregnancy-based discrimination. Regardless of the type of discrimination practices, the prevalence of unfair treatment, harassment, assault, and oppression is the leading cause of employees’ stress, poor performance, intentions to resign, and employee dissatisfaction.


Gender-based discrimination

Women are more susceptible to gender-based discrimination than male employees due to stereotypical expectations, negative perceptions of women’s leadership skills and competencies, and firmly anchored gender-based responsibilities. According to Hebl et al. (2019), the pressure inflicted by bulk domestic work, male-dominated work cultures, and unfair treatment based on gender results in gender-based discrimination. Examples of practices prevalent in this type of discrimination are sexual harassment, gaps in employment and leadership, and assault.

Racial and ethnic discrimination

A typical work environment should appreciate racial and ethnic diversity to improve employees’ performance and enhance inclusion. However, employees from racial and ethnic minorities face formal and subtle discrimination due to the underlying stereotypes and perceptions of some groups, including Latinos, Native Americans, and African Americans (Hebl et al., 2019). This type of discrimination manifests through lower performance ratings, lower pay, limited networks, harassment, and gaps in leadership.

Age-based discrimination

A heterogeneous workplace culture comprises employees of different ages and work experience. However, ageism is a sensitive issue in the contemporary work environment due to the underlying perceptions of young people or older adults in the job market (Vickerstaff & Van der Horst, 2021). For example, young employees may perceive older workers as less motivated, less trusting, and more resistant to organizational change. These perceptions affect interdisciplinary collaboration, relationships, and interactions.

Discrimination based on religious perspectives

Many organizations have policies that accommodate the diversity of religious perspectives, beliefs, and worldviews. For example, organizations in the United States have become more religiously diverse, reflecting the vigor to bolster inclusion, equity, and inclusion (Hebl et al., 2019). However, organizations that do not comply with diversity, equality, and inclusion standards are susceptible to religion-based discriminatory practices, including disparate treatment, harassment, failure to accommodate religious diversity, and gaps in employment opportunities based on religious perspectives.

Pregnancy discrimination

Discrimination based on pregnancy is highly understudied, significantly affecting women their child-bearing age. Hackney et al. (2021) state that over 50000 women have reported pregnancy discrimination over the last decade. Pregnant women are more likely to take days off and may face difficulties working many hours. As a result, organizations may implement discriminatory regulations, including pay cuts and unfair firing of these susceptible populations, affecting their access to job opportunities and contributing to payment gaps.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation

Organizations encounter a renewed vigor to accommodate employees of different sexual orientations. According to Hebl et al. (2019), organizations in the United States implement policies that increase the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. However, discrimination based on differences in sexual orientation persists. Examples of discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation are unfairness in employment, harassment, oppression, and disparate implementation of career advancement opportunities.

Disability-based discrimination

Employees with disabilities are susceptible to discriminatory practices due to the prevailing perceptions and stereotypes that question their physical and cognitive attributes. In this sense, employees without disabilities may perceive workers with exceptionalities as less competent and unqualified to implement their roles and responsibilities (Hebl et al.,2019). Examples of discriminatory practices facing employees with disabilities are low wages, exclusion from workplace activities, limited access to connections, and isolation.

Strategies to Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Work Environment

Organizations can improve employee performance, productivity, and satisfaction by accommodating diversity, ensuring equity, and implementing practices that promote inclusion. According to Mullin et al. (2021), improving diversity, equity, and inclusion entails creating environments that promote respect, fairness, and just treatment. In this sense, organizations should ensure that employees access equal employment opportunities, fair treatment, and justice regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religious inclinations, and disability status. The current scholarly literature recommends multiple strategies for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work environment. These recommendations include;

Educating and Training Employees on the Essence of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Discriminatory practices persist due to the underlying stereotypes and uninformed perceptions toward people of specific characteristics, including gender, age, sexual orientation, and religious standpoints. It is valid to argue that organizations may struggle to dismantle and deconstruct these stereotypes by ignoring the importance of employee training and education programs. According to Olzmann (2020), educating and training employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion promotes cultural awareness and allows employees to accept diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. DEI education and training programs should focus on cultural competency, microaggressions, micro affirmations, stereotype threat, and the rationale for a heterogeneous work environment. Effective education and training programs can challenge the underlying stereotypes, implicit and explicit biases, and perceptions that facilitate discrimination.

Merited Recruitment and Retention Practices

Organizations should develop and implement talent acquisition and retention policies that focus on competencies, lived experiences, and employees’ competencies instead of their physical or social characteristics. Olzmann (2020) contends that recruitment and employee retention gaps persist despite the vigor to improve diversity and tackle the underrepresentation and exclusion of minority groups. Women, employees from ethnic minorities, people of unique sexual orientations, and older workers are susceptible to limited employment opportunities, unfair treatment, and disparate access to career development practices, including networks and training. Amidst the need to address disparities in recruitment and retention practices, organizations must implement appropriate policies for hiring, promoting, and transitioning employees. For example, employment and recruitment policies should entail fairness in payment, justice in job promotions, and equity in leadership opportunities.

Transforming Workplace Cultures

Workplace culture entails shared norms, behaviors, and actions that create employees’ sense of belonging. Perceptions and negative stereotypes anchored in the organizational culture contribute to overt and subtle discrimination. According to Hebl et al. (2019), organizations should promote a culture of intersectionality that entails the belief that every person is a constellation of different identities. An interactive workplace culture includes inclusive policies for negotiations and promotions, advocacy for antidiscriminatory legislation, team-based cooperation, and ethical values such as respect, justice, and fairness. Practical strategies for transforming workplace culture include educating and training employees on cultural competence, implementing ethical standards and policies, and enacting regulatory provisions that discourage workplace incivility.


Discrimination entails unfair and disparate treatment based on people’s gender, age, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other elements of diversity. In contemporary organizations, discrimination affects employee productivity, performance, and well-being. Types of the most prevalent discriminatory practices are harassment, assault, oppression, exclusion, and unfairness due to differences in age, gender, ethnicity, race, physical endowment, and religious perspectives. Organizations have an overarching responsibility to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion by educating and training employees on the importance of diversity, enacting appropriate policies for talent acquisition and retention and transforming workplace culture to eliminate uninformed stereotypes and perceptions.



Alan, S., Ertac, S., Kubilay, E., & Loranth, G. (2019). Understanding gender differences in leadership. The Economic Journal, 130(626).

Hackney, K. J., Daniels, S. R., Paustian-Underdahl, S. C., Perrewé, P. L., Mandeville, A., & Eaton, A. A. (2020). Examining the effects of perceived pregnancy discrimination on mother and baby health. Journal of Applied Psychology.

Hebl, M., Cheng, S. K., & Ng, L. C. (2019). Modern discrimination in organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 7(1).

Mullin, A. E., Coe, I. R., Gooden, E. A., Tunde-Byass, M., & Wiley, R. E. (2021). Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility: From organizational responsibility to leadership competency. Healthcare Management Forum, 34(6), 311–315.

Olzmann, J. A. (2020). Diversity through equity and inclusion: The responsibility belongs to all of us. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 31(25), 2757–2760.

Roscigno, V. J. (2019). Discrimination, sexual harassment, and the impact of workplace power. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 5(5), 1–21.

Toczek, L., Bosma, H., & Peter, R. (2021). The gender pay gap: Income inequality over life course – A multilevel analysis. Frontiers in Sociology, 6.

Vickerstaff, S., & Van der Horst, M. (2021). The impact of age stereotypes and age norms on employees’ retirement choices: A neglected aspect of research on extended working lives. Frontiers in Sociology, 6.

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Essay: Address the following prompts that impact DEI in the 21st century workplace. Address each prompt using at least 500 words for a total of at least (1500 words).

Describe the gender gap in leadership, wages, and employment.

Define seven types of discriminatory practices in the workplace that do not foster an environment of DEI

Discuss three strategies (best practices) to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work environment.

Assignment Expectations

Length: 1500 – 1750 words; answers must thoroughly address the questions in a clear, concise manner.

Structure: Include a title page and reference page in APA style. These do not count towards the minimum word count for this assignment.

References: Use the appropriate APA style in-text citations and references for all resources utilized to answer the questions. Include at least three (3) scholarly sources to support your claims.

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