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People Who Believe Workplace Equality Exists Are More Likely To Be Biased, Finds Study

People Who Believe Workplace Equality Exists Are More Likely To Be Biased, Finds Study

Remember that scene from Dil Dhadkne Do where Manav (played by Rahul Bose) tries to refute the entire premise of feminism by trying to show how things have changed and he had, in fact, “allowed” his wife to work just like he does? Well, thank god for Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s writing and the character of Sunny (played by Farhan Akhtar), who promptly shut him down by asking why his wife needed his “permission” in the first place. 

That said, there is so much of present-day reality embedded in Manav’s character and his thought process. Discuss feminism and it’s importance with a bunch of people and more often than not you’ll hear a counter-argument laced with ideas like “but that’s not what happens in cities,” “but women are getting equal opportunities in our organisation/workplace now,” “but in my team, I don’t discriminate between men and women,” etc. And while some of them might sound progressive given that they claim to not discriminate on the basis of gender, if you were to believe a recent study these people might be doing some serious harm. 

Published in Science Advances, this study posits that most of the managers who claim that there is no workplace discrimination operating in their organisation are more likely to be perpetuating certain biases than those who think that we are yet to arrive at a stage of unbiased equality. In fact, as per the study, “biases persist even when women become well represented.”


The study states “Evidence included managers evaluating an employee randomly assigned a male (versus female) name as more competent and advising a $3475.00 higher salary, equating to an 8% pay gap. Importantly, those who thought bias was not happening in their field were the key drivers of it—a “high risk” group (including men and women) that, as shown, can be readily identified/assessed.” Thus, it was found out that those openly claiming that there persists workplace equality in their organisation are in fact more likely to foster discriminatory behaviour. 

“With many professions working to increase the number of women in their ranks, companies need to be careful not to equate gender diversity with gender equality—even with equal numbers you can have unequal treatment,” Dr Christopher Begeny, lead author of the study said in a media statement. He further added, “Ongoing vigilance is required, including awareness training to guard against some forms of bias.”


The study thus throws light on how making organisations more inclusive and open to women is just the tip of the iceberg and there is so much work that remains to be done. This misperceived gender equality in office percolates it’s way to payscales, growth graphs, and better opportunities, factors that still remain largely overlooked when it comes to conversations pertaining to the gender diversity of most workplaces. Thus, while organisations might successfully create the facade of being more inclusive, the idea of equality becomes all the more elusive as women keep compromising on a number of factors. 

So much for equality! Well, you know what to say next time you have to deal with this hogwash about workplace inclusion. 

Featured Image: Shutterstock 

29 Jun 2020

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