Work needs to get woke: a modern look at gender inequity

October 29, 2019 Lauren Brown

4-minute read

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October is Pay Equity Month and what better way to end it than dropping some knowledge from the Workhuman® Analytics & Research Institute (WARI)? The next finding we’ll unwrap from their latest research, “The Future of Work is Human,” explores the disparity between gendered experiences at work.

I first learned about gender inequity when, as a little girl, my grandfather handed a crisp five-dollar bill to my male cousin followed by one-dollar bills to myself and another female cousin. I remember feeling the unfairness of his action and demanding my fair share. Although my memory about the outcome is foggy – I don’t recall ever being compensated the difference – that initial part where I was given less because of my sex, and the instant fight in me to argue against it versus accept it, has always been with me. But that was the early ‘80s. Now in 2019, there’s still a shocking lack of balance. And here we are again, demanding our fair share.

Just like old habits, institutionalized biases die hard, and reaching a future with complete gender parity is going to take time, an open dialogue, and some irrefutable facts. Here we’re asking how ingrained HR, talent management, and reward practices may be contributing to inequity. And we’re not going to lie – the data is surprising.

The imbalance of roles

On par with other research in this area, this year’s survey finds that women are more likely to be in individual contributor and other roles, while men are more likely to be in senior and middle management roles. In fact, men are 2x more likely than women to be in a senior management or executive role.

Men are 2x more likely than women to be in a senior management or executive role.

The imbalance of experiences

What about our experiences in the workplace? Do they vary based on gender? They do. More than half of women in middle and front-line management positions say a manager has taken credit for their work. And about one in three women in senior and middle management are also more likely to have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace.

The imbalance of work and life

As for the harmony between our work and personal worlds, given the responsibilities many women take on at home, it’s no surprise that 23% of women in senior management or executive roles say they don’t have a good work-life balance (compared to 14% of men).

23% of women in senior management or executive roles say they don’t have a good work-life balance (compared to 14% of men).

The imbalance of industry

It appears the industry in which you work can also impact work experience by gender. Respondents were asked, “Do you feel that hiring and promotion decisions are based on gender and/or race at your company?” Half of women in information technology agree with this statement, along with nearly half in biotech and industrial, and 100% in hospitality.

The imbalance of pay

Gender inequities continue to play out when it comes to pay as well – shocker. With the exception of the United Kingdom (way to go, U.K.!), women surveyed in senior management or executive positions are less likely to receive a larger bonus and more likely to receive a smaller bonus than their male counterparts.

How do we get our balance?

This isn’t an easy fix. There are even some predictions that say American women won’t reach pay equity until 2119 – roughly a whopping 150 years after the first Equal Pay Act. But we can take this data and do something with it. Businesses can take heed and start incorporating more voices into the mix when it comes to recruitment, succession planning, and rewards. This helps mitigate conscious and unconscious biases and starts to dismantle the ingrained, obsolete systems that promote them.

Let’s also keep in mind that while progress toward gender parity seems to be moving at a glacial pace, a future where it exists seems more and more likely. That’s because the keepers of that future are our children – so the fastest way for us to get there is by showing them the way it shouldn’t be.

We did just that below and their reactions are priceless. And – most importantly – hopeful.

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About the Author

Lauren Brown

Lauren Brown is the senior copywriter at Workhuman, writing everything from emails and landing pages to all the signage at Workhuman Live. In her free time, she writes novels, shops vintage, and throws epic dinner parties.

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