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Gender Differences vs. Gender Inequality - Don't Confuse the Two

Gender Differences vs. Gender Inequality - Don't Confuse the Two

I was going to stay quiet on the gender equality issue, since I’m conflicted and can see both sides of each argument. But a client reached out to ask if I’d do a 2-part article on workplace discrimination that starts long before women hit the job site. That is, gender bias in the application process and interview “ceremony.” 

As I began research for the work, of course the studies compelled me to care more than I had before. Anyone who’s gone through Gallup’s Strengthsfinder exploration will appreciate this: In the past, I’ve had enough strengths to focus on not to worry about my shortcomings or differences as a woman.  In fact, I’ve previously used my differences as a woman to get the upper hand in business meetings.  Here are a few ways I did this: 

·         Using my intuition to ask aloud whether the presenter is saying something he didn’t have the guts to say outright. 

·         Multitasking to offer up a handful of solutions (on the spot) when only one would have been sufficient.

·         Finding relationships between ideas in a brainstorming session that none of my male colleagues could have found.  Then, later, reminding them of their inability to see what I see.

·         Empathizing with clients and readers to find “pain points” that our company’s competitors couldn’t possibly have seen – especially since our own sales guys failed to spot them.

Clearly, I believe I have the advantage as a human whose brain is wired differently than my male teammates, and I’ve enjoyed using that benefit to keep them under stiletto (er... foot.)  While I recognize those guys may have more opportunities than I do because of their anatomy, I have never let it get me down.  And this, I am learning, may be a symptom of resignation – not confidence. 

So today, I’m researching more.  I’ve unearthed a few “Captain Obvious” points that I’d honestly never noticed before.  I was too busy being a ninja business woman to wonder whether I should be offended.  Check them out:

·         Women are judged by their achievements, while men are measured by their potential to achieve.

·         Women judge themselves more harshly than they judge men. 

·         A woman’s foul-up is remembered longer in the workplace than a dude’s professional missteps.


And we’re just talking about the application process so far – not even the interview or on-the-job discrimination.

When my inner saboteur tempts me to “relax,” or “look on the bright side,” or “stop being such an angry fem,” I just remember the well-documented wage gap.  So many political issues can be explained away (or at least muddled) with a few conflicting arguments that make sense. This one, though, I’m sorry to say, has the very tangible wage gap as a silent witness – one that manifests the most incriminating evidence to date.

I'll sign off with a single example. In 2014, the Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University distributed identical resumes to over a hundred fellow scientists.  Or, rather, the resumes distributed were almost identical: atop half of them, the job candidate's name read "John," and the other resumes displayed the name, "Jennifer."  Do you know where this is going?  Read the fascinating results if you like.  

Stay tuned while I wrestle through this. I know I’ll come out better on the other side, but my hope is that someone else will, too.

Perhaps one of the darkest, funniest thoughts that has popped into my head as I chew on this article is, “Maybe a man should be writing this one.” And not for the readers' sake, but for his.

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