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    Gender Discrimination at Workplaces

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    Gender discrimination at the workplace is a serious problem even in the present day modern world. Gender discrimination occurs when a person is treated in the work place on the basis of their gender. it’s illegal in the workplace when it affects the “terms or conditions of employment”. This is a huge problem in developed, developing and least-developed countries. This issue has been a topic of discussion around the world for a long time. A lot of countries have executed laws concerning gender discrimination at the workplace. But still, lots of cases exist on gender discrimination at workplaces.

    The issue of gender equality at workplace has given rise to many policies in advanced industrial countries, all of which focused on tackling gender discrimination regarding enrolment, salary and promotion. Yet gender inequality and discrimination at the workplace continues. The motive of this research is to document the psychosocial process involved in the persistence of gender discrimination against working women. The dataset included data collected from respondents from 18 countries. the discoveries made clear how motherhood myths justify the gender structure in countries promoting gender equality.

    The latest release from the World Economic Forum—the Gender Gap Report 2016 [footnoteRef:1]–indicates that for the previous 10 years, the global gender gap across education and economic opportunity and politics has already closed by 4%, while the economic gap has closed only by 3%. Extrapolating this trajectory, the report emphasizes that it will take the world another 118 years to close the economic gap completely. Gender inequalities are especially obvious at the workplace. For instance, on average women are more likely to be employed in low-paid jobs, work part-time and not take on management positions. [footnoteRef:2] [1: The Global Gender Gap Report: 2016. Geneva: World Economic Forum; 2016.] [2: Arulampalam W, Booth AL, Bryan ML. Is there a glass ceiling over Europe?: exploring the gender pay gap across the wage distribution. Ind Labor Relat Rev. 2007;60(2): 163–186.

    European Union. Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union; 2014.]

    There is evidence that gender inequalities in the workplace trunk, at least partially, from the discrimination directed against women. Indeed, several studies have reported personal discrimination against women by decision makers[footnoteRef:3], some of them have more specifically examined the role of the decision makers’ level of sexist attitudes on discriminatory practices. In spite of consistent evidence that higher sexism is associated to more significant bias toward working women [footnoteRef:4], not much is known regarding the underlying processes linking sexism to discrimination. This question remains an important, especially because the persistence of gender discrimination denies the anti-discrimination rules promoted in modern societies. In fact, the issue of gender inequality at work made numerous policies and institutional measures rise in majority of countries. The Treaty on the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU contain provisions relating to the promotion of equality between women and men in all areas, and the prohibition of discrimination on any ground, including gender. The member states of the European Union have to obey these provisions [footnoteRef:5]. In this respect, some countries have absorbed legislation on equal treatment of women and men into general anti-discrimination laws (e.g., Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Poland, , Sweden, Great Britain), while other countries have opted for a specific gender equality act (e.g., Spain). The purpose of this research is to further examine the psychosocial process involved in the stubborn persistence of gender discrimination at the workplace, using a comparative and cross-sectional perspective of national representative samples. [3: Davison HK, Burke MJ. Sex Discrimination in Simulated Employment Contexts: A Meta-analytic Investigation. J Vocat Behav. 2000. April;56(2): 225–248.] [4: Stamarski CS, Son Hing LS. Gender inequalities in the workplace: the effects of organizational structures, processes, practices, and decision makers’ sexism. ] [5: Burri S, van Eijken H. Gender equality law in 33 European countries how are EU rules transposed into national law?. Brussels: European Commission; 2014. [cited 2016 Mar 11]]

    Literature Review

    Data collected from different researches shows trends of discrimination globally.

    A study conducted, revealed the problems, which women face in private and public sector. According to the study women with small kids face more problems in their career. Elderly women face a lot of problems regardless of their skills as well. Women have had trouble in getting promotions.

    Masser and Abrams [footnoteRef:6] found in a study that the higher the participants scored in hostile sexism, the more they were likely to recommend a male candidates rather than females for a managerial position. Despite of consistent evidence that higher sexism is related to greater bias toward working women. [6: Masser B, Abrams D. Reinforcing the glass ceiling: The consequences of hostile sexism for female managerial candidates. Sex Roles. 2004;51(9–10): 609–615.]

    Psychosocial Processes Involved in Justified Discrimination

    According to several researches conducted [footnoteRef:7], the expression of prejudice in contexts where social and political anti-discrimination values are widespread implies justifications. As social dominance theory claims, justification of practices that sustain social inequality arises through the endorsement of legitimizing myths (Sidanius J, Pratto F. Social dominance). [footnoteRef:8] [7: osta-Lopes R, Dovidio JF, Pereira CR, Jost JT. Social psychological perspectives on the legitimation of social inequality: Past, present and future: Introduction to issue on legitimation of social inequality. Eur J Soc Psychol. 2013. June;43(4): 229–23] [8: Sidanius J, Pratto F. Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press; 1999.]

    Furthermore, research made in the field of system justification theory has extensively documented an increased attachment to legitimizing ideologies in contexts where motivation to justify unequal social arrangements is heightened. Relying on this literature Pereira, Vala[footnoteRef:9] and Costa-Lopes provided evidence of the mediational role of myths about social groups on the prejudice-support for discriminatory measures relationship. It assumes that an equivalent mediational process underlies the justification of gender discrimination at the workplace or, express another way, that the sexism-opposition to women’s career relationship is mediated by validating myths. Glick and Fiske visualized sexism as a multifaceted construct that encloses hostile and benevolent sexism, both of which have three components: paternalism, gender differentiation and heterosexuality. So in my point of view the gender differentiation component of sexism specifically can be related to gender discrimination at the workplaces, because the preservation of power asymmetry through traditional gender roles is at the core of this element. Accordingly, it is assumed that the higher the endorsement of sexist viewpoints regarding gender roles in the family, the higher the refusal to women’s work. In support of this supposition, Glick and Fiske[footnoteRef:10] claimed that gender roles are part of the more general interdependence between men and women happening in the context of family relationships and, importantly, that these traditional, complementary gender roles form gender discrimination. However, given that the expression of hostility towards women became socially disapproved [footnoteRef:11] and that gender discrimination at the workplace is subjected to sanctions, the release of sexism with regard to role of women in the family and women’s employment opportunity can require justification[footnoteRef:12] . [9: Pereira C, Vala J, Costa-Lopes R. From prejudice to discrimination: The legitimizing role of perceived threat in discrimination against immigrants. Eur J Soc Psychol. 2010. December;40(7): 1231–1250.] [10: Glick P, Fiske ST. The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996;70(3): 491–512.] [11: Barreto M, Ellemers N. The Perils of Political Correctness: Men’s and Women’s Responses to Old-Fashioned and Modern Sexist Views. Social Psychology Quarterly. 2005;(1): 75–88.

    ] [12: Pereira C, Vala J, Leyens JP. From infra-humanization to discrimination: The mediation of symbolic threat needs egalitarian norms. J Exp Soc Psychol. 2009. February;45(2): 336–344.]

    Motherhood Myths as a Justification for Gender Discrimination

    Compared with other intergroup relations, gender relations present some unique features (e.g., heterosexual interdependence;), and accordingly comprise specific myths and ideologies aimed at maintaining the traditional system of gender relations. For example, the belief that marriage is the most significant and fulfilling adult relationship appears as a justifying myth, on which men and women rely when the traditional system of gender relations is questioned by increased gender equality measured at the national level. Drawing on this documentation, I can say that beliefs that imbue women with specific capabilities for domestic and parental work ensure that the traditional distribution of gender roles is maintained. Notably, I came up with the idea that motherhood myths serve a justification function regarding gender discrimination against women at the workplace. Motherhood myths include the belief that women, by their very nature, are blessed with parenting abilities, that at-home mothers are attached to their children, providing them unrivalled nurturing surroundings. Conversely, motherhood myths pathologies alternative mothering models, depicting employed mothers as neglecting their duty of caring, threatening the family relationships and jeopardizing mother-children bonding. Motherhood myths have the possibility to generate psychological barriers weakening women’s attempt to seek power in the workplace and men’s participation in child care. I think that beyond their destructive impact at the individual level of parental choices, motherhood myths might operate more widely as justifications for gender discrimination regarding proffesion opportunity. This question is of specific relevance given that equal treatment at the workplace appears even more ambiguous for women with children—the maternal wall. At the same time, acknowledging the prevalent justifying function of motherhood myths can help understand the psychosocial barriers faced not only by women who are mothers, but by women as a whole since ‘women are expected to become mothers sooner or later’ (Dambrin ; Lambert , p. 494;). Relying on earlier work reporting the mediational role of legitimizing myths on the prejudice—discrimination relationship, I can suggest that the myths according to which women pursuing a career threaten the well-being of the family mediates the relationship between sexist attitudes regarding gender roles and opposition to women’s work.

    Exploring Gender and Time as Possible Moderators of the Hypothesized Mediation

    the current research aimed to examine gender and time as possible moderators of the supposed relationship between gender, motherhood myths and discrimination. The analyses of the historical development of gender equality policies approves that the execution of laws and regulations aiming at abolition of gender discrimination at the workplace is a lengthy. In fact, although the fundamental principle of anti-discrimination has been ratified by a lot of countries in the second half of the 20th century, some measures are still acquired nowadays, such as the responsibility for employers to publish information by 2018 about their bonuses for men and women as part of their gender pay gap. As egalitarian principles have slowly progressed in societies, it is likely that the expression of intergroup bias has become steadily subjected to social sanction. Gender discrimination within organizations became less intense and more ambiguous. In agreement with this reasoning, the use of motherhood myths as a justification for unequal work opportunities may have increased over time. Conversely, it has been submitted that along with the increasing female participation at the workplaces over the last years, a positive attitude regarding the government-initiated women-friendly policies now coexists with the bonding to traditional family values and norms . There is a chance that the coexistence of contradictory norms in the same culture may leave some space for the expression of gender bias (i.e., a normative compromise,), reducing slightly the need to rely on justifications to discriminate against working women. The present research will examine these possibilities by studying the role of motherhood myths on the sexism—discrimination relationship.


    In this research has been used the waves of the ISSP Family and Changing Gender Roles cross-national survey. The ISSP’s data was anonymized so that participants could not be identified. The two databases slightly differed concerning the involved countries, some of which did not take part in the two survey waves. In order to keep stability across the analyses, some countries have been selected that participated in both survey waves. The data file for the survey wave included 54.4% female participants.

    The main variables used in the research are the following:

    Motherhood Myths

    Two indicators have been used that capture the myths about the apathetic consequence of mother’s work for her child and the family: “A preschool child who suffer if their mothers work” and “the whole family suffers when the woman works full-time”. Participants answered on a 5-point scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Data was recoded so that the higher scores reflected higher endorsement of motherhood myths.

    Opposition to Women’s Career

    Here two indicators have been used in order to represent the resistance to women’s career following the birth of a child:

    “Do you think that women should work full-time, part-time or not at all when they have a child under school age?” and “Do you think that women can work outside the home full-time, part-time or not at all after their youngest child starts school?” Participants answered on a scale ranging from 1 = work full time, 2 = work part-time, 3 = stay at home.


    Only one indicator has been used to represent sexism: “A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after family and children”. This taps into the gender differentiation component of sexism[footnoteRef:13]. Participants answered on a scale of point 5, which ranges from 1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree. Data was recoded so that the higher scores reflected higher sexism. [13: Glick P, Fiske ST. The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996;70(3): 491–512]

    Additionally, the first step of the analyses included the following control variables: the age and gender of the participants, level of the education, subjective social status, partnership status an the last, presence of political orientations and religious services.


    This section presents the results of some analyses which have been conducted. One of the analysis is mediation analysis, which shows that the more people hold sexist attitude regarding gender roles, the more they endorse motherhood myths, which in turn enhances the opposition to women’s career after the birth of a child.

    The survey conducted in participant countries shows that these countries are stating motherhood myths as a mediator of the sexism-opposition to women’s career relationship, rather than sexism as a mediator of the myths-opposition to women’s career relationship. Finally, this result suggests that endorsement of motherhood myths is not a mere consequence of discrimination. Taken together, analyses conducted on the whole sample, as well as on each country separately, support main assumption that endorsement of motherhood myths is a significant mediator of the relationship between sexism and opposition to women’s career.

    Moderated Mediation Analyses

    Indirect effect through survey waves-The moderated mediation model was estimated using a multiple group approach. The difference between the indirect effect in 2012 and 1994 is not significant. The indirect effect is not moderated by the survey year, except in Great Britain where the indirect effect, although still significant, decreased between 1994 and 2012, and Bulgaria, Poland, and Russia where the indirect effect slightly increased between 1994 and 2012. Results confirm that the indirect effect of sexism on opposition to women’s career through motherhood myths is not moderated by the respondents’ gender in 15 out of the 16 countries. The only exception is Poland. In this country, the indirect effect is stronger for the female than for the male respondents.

    Hierarchical Regression Analysis

    A hierarchical regression analyses was conducted in order to establish the respective contributions of demographical variables, motherhood myths and sexism to objection of working women. Firstly, participant’s gender and partnership were analyzed together with standardized scores of age, years of schooling, subjective social status, presence of religious services and political orientations. Step two included sexism, the myths about the aversive consequence of mother’s work for her child and for family. Predictors in first survey accounted for 9% of the variance. The analysis revealed the significant effects of participant’s gender, years of schooling age and political orientation. Partnership was not related to opposition to women’s work.

    held together the results democrat that the higher the time of education and the subjective social status, the lower the opposition to women’s work. Contrarily, the higher the age, political conservatism and the religiosity, the higher the opposition to women’s work. Finally, results show that opposition to women’s work is more pronounced amongst men than amongst women., sexism and motherhood myths are accounted for an additional 18% of the variance, indicating that these variables significantly improved the model’s ability to predict opposition to women’s work, over and above the contributions of gender, partnership, education, social status, religiosity and political orientation. Specifically, the analysis revealed the significant effects of sexism, myth about the aversive consequence of mother’s work for her child and myth about the aversive consequence of women’s work for family. It should be also considered that the effect of participant’s gender virtually disappeared after controlling for sexism and motherhood myths.


    Using a wide representative samples of respondents from different countries the current research demonstrated a psychological process justification of discrimination against the women who work and have children and family. As the hierarchical regression analysis found motherhood myths and sexism predict the opposition to the career of women, plus gender, education social status, religiosity and political orientation. Furthermore, the analyses of moderated indication demonstrated that the indirect effect reaches importance in each survey in almost every country examined without substantial difference. Only in some countries did the indirect effect slightly increase in recent years, suggesting that motherhood myths are more a justification for the expression of sexism nowadays that in 20th century. Besides these variations, it should be considered that motherhood myths are an important mediator of the sexism-opposition to women with career in all countries. this research makes clear the effect of macro level inequality on the justification of discrimination. The recent study found a negative association between the relative status of women in the society and support for gender equality at home. More notably, although the respondents with smaller gender gaps support women who work, they still show less approval for equal gender roles within the household. As an explanation, it can be argued that the less traditional the gender division is in the society, the more people need to express their freedom and defend the gender system, which leads to the support if gender differentiation in the private sectors. A higher gender equality conveys powerful suppressive factors (which reduces the expression of prejudice) by showing that the society encourages equalitarianism between men and women. And the specialization of gender in the division of family responsibilities especially childcare provides a strong justification factor by highlighting essential differences between gender groups. Thus, the unreasonable findings that the more equalitarian a society is, the less support gender equality at home may reflect an attempt to justify the release of genuine sexism. And it is likely that a less equalitarian society brings some degree of tolerance towards gender discrimination. The study shows that even in countries supporting gender equality, motherhood myths and especially the belief that working mothers threaten the family still remain the justification for the discrimination at the workplace. Considering the practices, it has to be noted that shared paternal leave policies often fail to meet the objective, with the majority of fathers who take minimal part in childcare, or not taking at all, and the majority of mothers who still take full part in rising their children. Once again, more researches need to be provided in order to document the process of mutual influence between changing family policies and preservation of the gender status quo via justifying belief.


    To conclude, the present research focused on opposition to mother’s work as an indicator of gender discrimination. The results and evidence of the study showed that even in today’s world gender discrimination at workplace remains a serious problem even in most developed countries. Of course Georgia is not an exception and here as well as in majority of countries motherhood myths play a huge role in discrimination and opposition to women’s work. In Georgia it is strongly believed that women’s major role is to raise their children and take care of the family. As mentioned previously, social roles create gender expectations that all women sooner or later will become mothers and as a result they will be less involved in the work and less flexible than men. Even in countries supporting gender equality, motherhood myths and especially the belief that working mothers threaten the family still remain the justification for the discrimination at the workplace.


    1. (Priming meritocracy and the psychological justification of inequality. J Exp Soc Psychol. , pp. 341-351)
    2. (Barreto M, Ellemers N. The Perils of Political Correctness: Men’s and Women’s Responses to Old-Fashioned and Modern Sexist Views. Social Psychology Quarterly. 2005;(1): 75–88.)
    3. (Eagly AH, Mladinic A. Are People Prejudiced Against Women’some Answers From Research on Attitudes, Gender Stereotypes, and Judgments of Competence. Eur Rev Soc Psychol. 1994. January;5(1): 1–35.)
    4. (Croft A, Schmader T, Block K. An Underexamined Inequality: Cultural and Psychological Barriers to Men’s Engagement With Communal Roles. Personal Soc Psychol Rev. 2015. November;19(4): 343–370.)
    5. (Dambrin C, 2008. May) (Timmer A, omparative analysis of gender equality law )

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