SEXISM IN THE WORKPLACE: Examples, Impact & How To Get Rid of It

Photo Credit: Begelman Orlow Attorneys a…

Sexism is any sort of prejudgment, bias, or favoritism based on a person’s gender. Women are most affected by sexism. Any sort of sex-based discrimination in a business, establishment, or organization is called occupational or employment sexism. The manifestations of sexism in the workplace can take many shapes.

Sexism in the Workplace

Workplace sexism affects men’s and women’s roles in society. Gender stereotypes, which stem from sexist views of women and men, also elevate one gender. Gender discrimination in the workplace affects many women and LGBTQ persons. Sexism in the workplace is harmful to individuals and organizations. Promoting inclusive workplaces, raising awareness, and adopting proactive actions to prevent and combat sexism will make workplaces more egalitarian, respectful, and empowering for everyone.

Types of Sexism in the Workplace

Sexism in the workplace may appear in a variety of forms. It is always a severe problem that can have an adverse effect on both men and women in the workplace, whether it takes the form of overt or covert sexism. The following are some examples of the various forms of sexism that can be found in the workplace;

#1. Hostile Sexism

It may occur in a variety of shapes and sizes, from offensive remarks and amusing remarks to intimidation and sexual assault. In this scenario, women are made to appear beneath men at work and portrayed as being ineffective, overly emotional, or manipulative. This form of sexism is often used to frighten and control personnel, making it hard to speak out against it.

#2. Benevolent Sexism

Given that it frequently seems harmless, this type of sexism is considerably different from hostile sexism. It mostly affects women because it portrays them to be helpless, compassionate, frail, and requiring a man’s protection. Women may be prevented from performing their jobs and achieving their professional objectives as a result, undermining their professional skills. Despite the fact that the overall mindset is not disparaging and might even originate from a sense of “care,” it undermines the idea that women should be considered with equal respect.

#3. Ambivalent Sexism

This kind of sexism is a mix of aggressive and friendly sexism. This type of sexism may perceive women as innocent and good in some situations and malevolent and dishonest in others. They could exalt “traditional feminine behavior” while demonizing “unladylike” behavior. According to some academics, hostile and benevolent sexism work together as a system that reinforces one another and is sometimes best summarized as a “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” type of attitude.

#4. Subtle Sexism

This is frequently difficult to see, but it can be very significant. Subtle sexist comments or the use of gender-specific terms to define positions or responsibilities are two examples of this. Both sexes are affected by this; for instance, males are frequently expected to perform difficult and “dirty” activities because they are perceived as mentally and physically fit, while women are thought to be more adept at domestic duties.

#5. Casual Sexism

Casual sexism is a term used to describe unintentional prejudice and gender stereotypes that are strongly embedded in many societies, similar to subtle sexism. Latent or daily sexism, which is so pervasive in the workplace, is another word for casual sexism. This sort of sexism often dismisses women’s agency in the workplace and relates all of their behaviors to their gender. It may occur in the form of a remark telling a woman to “keep her cool down” when faced with an expression of sexism at work or a sexist joke that is excused as “just a joke not meant to be considered seriously.”

#6. Institutional Sexism

When a group, institution, or organization like the media, law enforcement, healthcare, education, the church, and banking support sexist ideologies and segregates people unfairly based on their gender, institutional sexism is present.

Sexism is frequently present in legislation, corporate practices, recruitment processes, media depiction, and other facets of society. Institutional sexism can be hostile, benevolent, or ambivalent. It could include anything from financially penalizing particular groups to outright penalizing people for identifying with their gender.

Although it can happen to any gender, institutionalized sexism most frequently affects women. In the workplace, where women have a disproportionate number of positions in low-status or low-paying professions, it frequently takes physical form.

#7. Interpersonal Sexism

This becomes apparent while interacting with other people. It can happen within the workplace, in relationships, inside families, and in encounters with unfamiliar individuals.

Interpersonal sexism might occur, for instance, when a boss refers to a transgender or nonbinary worker by the sex they were assigned at birth instead of by whatever gender they identified with.

#8. Internalized Sexism

Employees who encounter sexism on several occasions may begin to involuntarily form internal sexist ideas. For instance, a woman may begin to doubt her ability to perform a job or may grow to despise all males as a result of a bad previous encounter with a male coworker. According to studies, internalized sexism is perhaps to blame for the lower proportion of women employed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Sexist preconceptions have been found to have an impact on academic achievement. Internalized sexism could result in a lack of esteem due to the widespread belief that boys are superior to girls in the sciences and math. Additionally,  anxiety, sadness, and a variety of psychological issues can result from internalized sexism in the workplace.

Sexism in the Workplace Examples

Be it benevolent or hostile, sexism has no place in society. When it occurs at work, it might not even be as obvious. Despite the fact that sexism in the workplace can take a variety of forms, this phenomenon is generally defined by an absence of equal opportunities or treatment for some genders. Some examples of sexism in the workplace include;

#1. Insults as Jokes

Arguably the most frequent way that sexism manifests itself in humor is through insults. Men sometimes make jokes that are meant to be funny but hurtful to women because of their gender. Sayings like “Wear the low-cut top to the negotiation session and I’m certain you’ll seal the contract” are a textbook instance of this.

#2. Role Presumptions

These develop when individuals assign people to duties at work based on the functions that they believe these people should play. For instance, male coworkers would wait for a woman to open the package when food is reserved for a meeting as if that were the lady’s responsibility. Another instance is seen when a father asking for an earlier departure from his job to pick up his children from school gets a sexist response from his employer querying why the employee’s wife is unable to do it. This indicates an underlying assumption that men are the family’s primary providers while women are viewed as the household caregivers.

#3. Physical Focus

It is sexism when remarks regarding a woman’s physical appearance, such as her body type or the way she dresses, are made in relation to her professional ability by putting more emphasis on her appearance than on her other qualities. Also, hiring someone because they are gorgeous, and then firing them when they don’t respond to advances in a sexual manner is considered sexism.

#4. Gender Labelling

Another misconception about gender is the idea that if a woman is forceful, she is domineering and very often characterized as being excessively emotional if she isn’t assertive enough as anticipated. A sort of gender labeling is when someone says something like, “Boys will be boys,” “Man up!” or “Don’t cry like a girl,” in regard to not expressing emotions. This seems to say that men have the freedom to act carelessly because they can’t show feelings or weakness. It also shows how women frequently appear more emotional, weaker, and more mature than men.

#5. Disregarding Women’s Opinions

It can be considered sexism when men talk over or overly-explain things to women or when a man talks down to a woman while explaining something (an action referred to as “Mansplaining”).

Benevolent sexism is exemplified by “mansplaining”. It frequently originates from the idea that women often lack expertise in a variety of areas and consequently require direction and explanations from their “more intelligent” male counterparts. It might also be illustrating the notion that a woman’s voice is less significant or respected than a man’s.

Impact of Sexism in the Workplace

The ramifications of sexism in the workplace, go much further into the daily lives of women and is detrimental to their entire well-being. It negatively affects career advancement and recognition opportunities for women in general. Listed below are a few examples of the various impacts of sexism in the workplace;

#1. Wage Gap

In the same jobs, women make less money than men. Varying industries, job titles, and degrees of experience were used in the early 1980s to describe it. The gender wage gap, or the fact that women earn $0.81 for every dollar that men make, persists despite the fact that women have started to hold offices with equivalent levels of expertise.

#2. Mental Health

The comments and behaviors toward women at work might have a negative impact on women’s mental health. According to research, women are twice as likely as males to experience depression, in addition to loss of self-assurance and adherence to standards other than their own as a result of the social role theory.

#3. Career Promotions

In cases where both a man and a woman have the same qualifications for a position, it is feasible that a man will get the job solely due to sexist attitudes at work. This invariably leads to a slower rate of job advancement and less access to positions of power. Because of this, men continue to hold jobs with more power, while women have fewer chances to move into management roles. According to research, women seldom ask for promotions because they think they won’t be taken seriously and must put up more effort and continue to show themselves for recognition.

#4. Assault

Both sexual assault and workplace harassment are a result of sexism and the belief that women are less valuable than men. While there should be a very explicit prohibition against sexual harassment in every business, it is much too frequently disregarded which should not be the case.

Sexism in the Workplace Statistics

Most of the time, women face bias, even though statistics on sexism in the workplace show that bias can come in many different ways. Below are a few statistical facts concerning sexism in the workplace;

#1. Statistical results by Catalyst and BLS, show that 6.4% of the CEO roles at S&P 500 businesses are held by women

47% of the people who work in the US are women. However, the proportion of female CEOs at S&P 500 corporations is far too low in comparison. In 2022, statistics show that there will be about 32 female CEOs or 6.4% of all CEOs of the S&P 500 companies.

#2. Just 28.8% of the US Congress are women

Women are underrepresented in positions of governmental leadership making up just 28.8% of the US Congress. According to statistics on gender equality in the workplace, there are 127 women in the House of Representatives, including the Resident Commissioner, three territorial delegates, and three other delegates. The 117th Congress as a whole has 151 female members. These statistics also demonstrate that 24 percent of these women work for the US Senate.

#3. Female workplace discrimination has been experienced by 42% of women

Statistics on sexism reveal that almost four out of ten American women about 42%, claimed they have encountered gender discrimination at work. In addition, 7% of working women said that their bosses refused to give them promotions, as opposed to 5% of men who experienced the same issue. In terms of hiring data, 7% of women and 4% of men were denied a job after applying, although having equal qualifications for the post.

#4. Compared to men, women earn 17.6% less in salary

Women make on average $943 a week, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, while men make $1,144. In other words, the weekly wages of full-time employed women are 82.4% lower than that of their male counterparts. The earnings ratio between men and women varies by race and ethnicity, according to statistics on workplace inequality. In particular, white women make up about 82.3% of what white males do. Asian women earn significantly less than Asian men (79%), while Hispanic and Black women earn 85.7% and 88.1% respectively.

#5. Sexual harassment in the workplace has affected at least 25% of women

Unfortunately, prejudice goes beyond unfair compensation, a lack of resources, or insensitive comments at work. It frequently goes much further, turning women into victims of trauma from which they struggle to recover. According to data on sexual harassment in the office, one-fourth of women have experienced it there. Research conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that in some cases, this number can reach a staggering 85%. But not every business suffers in the same way.

For instance, current research indicates that 58% of female surgeons have encountered sexual harassment. Similar employment discrimination has affected one-third of women working in law firms.

#6. For the same work, 25% of women earned less money than men

The pay difference between men and women may be the largest. According to statistics on employment discrimination, one in four female workers (25%) acknowledged making less money than male workers for the same position. A mere five percent of men claimed to earn less than their female coworkers for the purposes of juxtaposition. Despite all the efforts and advancements feminists have made, the wage disparity between men and women, unfortunately, exists, despite the fact that it has shrunk since women were granted the right to work.

#7. Laws prohibiting women from entering labor exist in about 40% of the world’s economies.

Many nations around the world have regulations that prevent women from entering and staying in employment. In 18 nations around the world, men have a constitutional right to stop their spouses from being an employee. These rules, though, differ regionally. Despite this, 87.5% of South Asian nations have at least one legislative restriction on women’s employment opportunities, including a lack of laws against sexual harassment or providing for legal or penal remedies to safeguard women at work.

According to statistics, the trends in female workplace discrimination are equivalent in 83.7% of Europe and Central Asia, 80.7% of Sub-Saharan Africa, 78.1% of Latin America, 69% of East Asia, and 62.5% of the Middle East and North Africa.

How to Address Sexism in the Workplace

Addressing sexism in the workplace and putting a stop to sexist behaviors, requires the acknowledgment and effort of everyone in the society. Obviously, the sort of sexism involved and the level of attachment to the perpetrator will influence how the victim reacts. Be that as it may, here are a few ways to react and address sexism;

  • When you observe sexism, speak out. Don’t laugh or ignore sexist jokes, remarks, or comments when you hear them. Instead, be sure to call the issue out so the individual who said it understands that it is improper.
  • Be sure to encourage equitable contributions in meetings. Create an atmosphere for your female coworkers by explicitly soliciting their opinions if you observe they are frequently interrupted or given insufficient time to speak.
  • Put your own presumptions and views to the test. Dispel stereotypes about the types of jobs and professional pathways that are most suitable for men and women.
  • Check your speech patterns and jokes for sexism. When discussing your coworkers’ effectiveness, avoid using gender stereotypes as a starting point for conversation.
  • Promote the advancement of female employees in your organization who have demonstrated merit for leadership positions, promotions, and pay increases.
  • If a coworker reports that they have been the victim of sexual harassment or assault at work, it should be taken seriously, reported appropriately, and a follow-up of the coworker to see how she/he is fairing.

What policy is sexism in the workplace?

EEOC enforces two laws that protect anyone from sex discrimination at work (including during job applications): Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits an employer from treating anyone differently, or less favorably, because of their sex, which is defined to include pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

How do you survive sexism in the workplace?

A few ways to survive sexism in the workplace are;

– Calling out double standards.

– Making it personal.

– Reporting sexist comments and actions.

What are the gender issues in the workplace?

The gender issues in the workplace include;

– Unequal pay.

– Sexual harassment.

– Racism.

– Barriers to Promotion.

– Bias against mothers.

How can you tell if someone is misogynistic?

A few signs to tell if someone is misogynistic include;

– He objectifies women.

– He collects women.

– His views on the proper roles for men and women are firm.

– He criticizes your body.

– He views women as the enemy.

See Also HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE: Effective Ways How to Find Out and Deal With It


Sexism in the workplace represents yet another challenge for working-class women. Employers should work to make the workplace a place where everyone is welcome and racist behavior is not acceptable. Women who want to succeed in their careers won’t face needless obstacles if all forms of sexist procedures and practices are eradicated, whether they were intended to be that way or not. Because the repercussions of occupational sexism can last a lifetime, it’s critical that everyone works to put an end to it.

Sexism in the Workplace FAQs

What is work Sexism?

Work or occupational sexism is any form of discrimination based on a person’s gender that occurs in a place of work.

How to deal with sexist coworkers?

An effective method to deal with sexist coworker(s,) is by calling him or her out (in a clear, but non-abrasive way, thereby bringing light to the issue and forcing them to assess their own behavior.

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