Gender Inequality in the Workplace

The issue of gender discrimination is not a new phenomenon in management. It can be traced back to the industrial revolution period (Kalev & Deutsch, 2018, p 34). Even today, gender is emerging as one of the most controversial issues in modern management. The effect of gender equality campaigns is evident across the globe and in all sectors, including private and public. This pressure emanates from employees themselves within the organisations, employee unions, human rights organisations, and other humanitarian organisations (Stamarski & Hing, 2015, p 16). In response to the pressure, most governments, and even organisations have developed and operationalised policies to guide organisations in staffing to ensure gender inequality does not arise.  The gender issue is currently mainly rising in terms of how job opportunities are filled in the workplace and how motivation, promotions, rewards, and remuneration are distributed across the gender divide (Kalev & Deutsch, 2018, p 36). This proposal intends to establish how gender inequality issues affect staffing and, consequently, how organisations address gender inequality in the workplace.

Problem Statement

Gender inequality has been and remains to be a topic of interest between scholars, management professionals, governments, and even non-governmental organisations. The main question is, what the gender issue has remained controversial despite existing since the Industrial Revolution.  While some reports indicate that the performance is significantly defined by gender, among other factors, other studies indicate that gender is a significant determinant of employee capabilities. Therefore, both genders should be given equal opportunity at the workplace. While most nations in the developed countries are offering somewhat equal opportunities for both genders at work, gender inequality is still a severe issue in most developing countries (Stamarski & Hing, 2015, p 8). From empirical literature, the existence, magnitude, and effect of gender inequality in the workplace vary from organisation to organisation and nation to nation (Asha, 2020, p106). It is therefore not possible to generalise the gender inequality issues in the workplace across organisations or nations. There is, therefore, evidence of the need for research to determine the specific level of gender and, consequently, the effect of gender inequality on the performance of staff.

Research Objectives

This study has three main objectives; to identify the gender inequality issues in the workplace in the 21st century, establish the extent to which gender inequality issues are felt in the workplace, and examine the effect of gender issues on staff performance in the workplace.

Literature Review

Studies on gender inequality are evident in various work environments across the world. Gender issues majorly arise in the following ways; in offering job opportunities where one gender is seen to be given undue favour over the other, in employees rewards and remuneration where one gender is seen to be over rewarded in comparison with the other, in training and in staff development and staff promotions where one gender is seen to be given more opportunities than the other (Stamarski & Hing, 2015, p 18).

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Gender inequality can be understood from two perspectives (Stamarsk & Hing, 2015, p 18). The first dimension is hostile sexism, where decision-makers’ exhibit antipathy negative stereotypes about argentic women. The other dimension is benevolent sexism, where decision-makers exhibit complimentary but paternalistic views of women as they consider women as highly communal. In most organisations, gender discrimination is exhibited in either or both of the dimensions, and to reduce gender discrimination, organisations must adopt a multifaceted approach that allows integration and mutual interactions (Lansky, Ghosh, Meda, & Rani, 2017)

Stamarsk and Hing (2015, p 17) argue that gender-based discrimination in the workplace is also evidence in the performance evaluations and assessments used to establish rewards such as compensations, opportunities like role assignments and promotions, and punishment such as termination of the contract. Funk and Parker (2018, p 21) assert that gender-based discrimination in the workplace can be formalised into organisation’s policy if the criteria adopted by the decision-makers for assessing job performance are designed to favour men than women systematically. The author cited face-time metric, a performance evaluation metric adopted by several companies worldwide, and rewards employees who work long hours or extra time than those who work standard hours or prefer flexible working schedules (Stamarsk and Hing, 2015, p 19). Since women buy design as still the primary caregivers, they tend to prefer flexible work schedules than men, and such face career punishments since their score on the face-time metric is lower than their male counterparts (Stamarsk and Hing, 2015, p 16). Therefore, biased or one-sided criteria adopted by companies to evaluate performance contributes to gender-based discrimination.

The HR policies concerning opportunities for advancement and promotions are also areas of concern. Research shows that women are less likely to advance in companies that adopt job ranks or ladders dictate and constrain employee promotions. Such situations occur because most companies divide job ladders based on gender. As such, gender work segregation that starts at the entry-level positions is likely to be strengthened as workers climb the specific ladders or job ranks, with minimal changes to cross to other areas of advancement (Cavaletto, Pacelli, and Pasqua, 2018, 23).  As such, women, unlike their male counterparts, will lack particular job experience that is not within their lines in the company ladders, rendering them unqualified for promotions and advancements.

According to Lansky et al. (2017), gender issues should be considered right from the organisational structuring stage. The gender issue must be considered in decisions relating to organisational structure, organisational leadership, organisational culture, organisational climate, and organisational policies and strategies. For employees to work optimally, staff composition in terms of genders should be indifferent. This enhances positive socialisation hence reducing psychological and physical stress, mental stress sometimes associated with work. Stress-free employees are more likely to realise job satisfaction and organisational commitment, leading to enhanced employee performance. Gender discrimination in the workplace demoralises employees, leading to lower staff commitment and motivation.


Lansky et al. (2017) further report that gender discrimination in the work environment may lead to human dignity violations. Therefore, the tendencies, as well as effects, must be countered. The best approach to ensuring sustainable dignity in the workplace and ensuring gender inequality is eliminated, or gender inequality issues arise, are amicably resolved by having relevant legislation on gender inequality. The International Labour Organization (ILO) advocates for legislated equality to prevent gender discrimination and to enhance equal opportunity and fair treatment in the workplace. The legislation is aimed at promoting substantive equality and positive duties among staff.  Most nations worldwide adopt the ILO regulations and standards to ensure employees are fairly treated and have access to equal opportunity in the workplace (Asha, 2020, p 73).   

While gender inequality is predominantly influenced by traditional management thinking that males perform better in technical and management level responsibilities, Asha (2020) reports that in the current organisations, gender inequality arises as a result of misinformed organisational structures and policies. Organisations must develop appropriate internal regulations and structures to ensure that all staff feels valued and respected (Azuh & Amodu, 2017).   

Research Methodology

Research design is the pattern that the research intends to follow or the plan for conducting research. Research design facilitates the smooth operation of research activities (Mishra & Alok, 2017). This study will adopt a descriptive research design to describe the nature and level of gender discrimination exhibited in the work environment and determine the effect of gender discrimination on employees’ performance.

The study will collect secondary data from published literature such as journal articles, textbooks, book reviews, and organization reports. Before the actual data collection, the researcher will conduct validity and reliability analysis to ensure the research instruments adequately collect the correct research data.  Validity measures the research instruments’ ability to measure what it is intended to (Mishra & Alok, 2017). Several steps will be undertaken before the actual data collection to ensure a comprehensive secondary data review and creating a first-level typology. The researcher will first conduct a manual search on published work relating to the study topic, followed by a computer-based or online search of published literature/empirical studies. The databases will include JUSTOR, Emerald, Business Source, Good Scholar, and Business Source. The researcher will conduct construct and content validity tests. “Construct validity is extended to which inferences can legitimately be made from the operationalisation in the study to the theoretical constructs on which the operationalisations are based” (Mishra & Alok, 2017). Construct validity, on the one hand, will be attained through conversation with the supervisor.

Research Plan

This study will be conducted for a period of six months, as presented in table 1.

Table 1: Research Pan

Months TaskMonth 1Month 2Month 3Month 4
Preliminary Literature Search    
Proposal Development    
Data Collection    
Data Analysis and Interpretation    
Report Development    


Asha, G., 2020. Structural determinants of gender inequality: why they matter for adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health. BMJ.

Azuh, D., & Amodu, L., 2017. Factors of Gender Inequality and Development among Selected Low Human Development Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 22(02):01-07.

Cavaletto, G.M., Pacelli, L., and Pasqua, S., 2018. Women on board: Chain of command and gender discrimination at the workplace (No. 160). LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.

Funk, C., and Parker, K., 2018. Women and men in STEM often at odds over workplace equity.

Kalev, A., & Deutsch, G., 2018. Gender Inequality and Workplace Organizations: Understanding Reproduction and Change. New York: Springer International Publishing.

Lansky, M., Ghosh, J., Meda, D., & Rani, U. (2017). Women, Gender, and Work. Geneva: International Labour Office.

Mishra, S., & Alok, S., 2017. Handbook of Research Methodology. Education.

Stamarsk, C., & Hing, L., 2015. Gender inequalities in the workplace: The effects of organisational structures, processes, practices, and decision-makers’ sexism. Frontiers in Psychology, 1-21.