Stop Gender Fatigue to Address Gender Bias

It’s been more than sixty years since we adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which upholds the “equal rights of men and women.” So, does gender discrimination at workplace exist or is it just a figment of our imagination? Unfortunately, it does!!! The World Economic Forum’s Report on Gender Gap made this startling statement:

“No country in the world has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap.”

And this is what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say:

  • women who work around 44 hours in a week earn just 84.6% of what their male counterparts earn for the same working hours
  • women who work more than 60 hours in a week take home only 78.3% of what men get for the same hours they put in

This gender discrimination at workplace became the subject of the study conducted by Elisabeth Kelan, Ph.D. From King’s College London. She attributed this difficulty in addressing the gender bias at work to “gender fatigue.”

working woman

The Study
The study included 26 women and men from two ICT (Information Communication Technology) companies based in Switzerland. For the study the companies were given fake names “Bluetech”, a multinational company of around 3000 employees and “Redtech”, a local Swiss company employing some 50 employees. From Bluetech 5 men and 6 women were interviewed and from Redtech 4 women and 11 men were chosen for the same. Besides them, 16 other individuals were also interviewed for several hours. The interviewees were in the age group of 24 to 54. They were asked to give their opinions on the gender discrimination and other important issues.

The Result
Employees of both the firms expressed that:

  • Their respective organizations were gender neutral
  • Evaluation of the performance was based on the merit and not the gender.
  • Gender bias against women occurred only in the past (10 or 20 years ago)

According to Dr. Kelan, the workers do not deny the gender discrimination, rather they acknowledge its presence. However, they look at it as a singular past incident and leave it on the women to cope with it.

The findings have been published in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, September edition.


Gender Fatigue- A Big Hurdle

The employees who participated in the Kelan’s study displayed a phenomenon called “gender fatigue”. In such a situation the employees get tired of acting upon gender bias. They chose not to speak about the gender discrimination in spite of the fact that it does exist. This acts as a hurdle for any kind of constructive discussion on gender bias at workplace. It becomes difficult to address the issue in such circumstances. Kelan suggests that further studies on gender fatigue might give way to practical solutions to establish gender equality at workplace.

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