By Rex Huppke
I may wear a tight-fitting Superman outfit to work each day, but that doesn’t make me the Man of Steel. (It does, however, make me a frequent visitor to the human resources department, something about “inappropriate work attire.”)
The point is, I’m human, and so are you. We may lose track of that fact in the buzz of a busy workday, but our humanness is a constant, and that humanness comes with flaws.
We make mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t. And as much as we try to deny it, we carry with us certain biases.
It’s through this lens that I’d like to examine gender bias in the workplace. It’s a thorny issue, in large part because none of us, male or female, likes to admit to being anything but egalitarian.
The subject of gender equity is often discussed solely from the standpoint of equal pay, and that sets off a furor between those who cite estimates on how much less women earn than men and those who claim those estimates don’t account for a wide array of other factors and blah blah blah.
Let’s set pay aside for now and zoom the microscope in on the underlying, often unconscious, biases men develop outside work and bring with them to the office.
In a recent article published in Administrative Science Quarterly, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, New York University and the University of Utah examined how marriage structure impacts men’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors toward women in the workplace.
By conducting five different studies, approaching the issue from different angles, the authors found that men married to women who are not employed tend to: “(a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) perceive organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny qualified female employees opportunities for promotions more frequently than do other married male employees.”