5 Job Search Issues Women Have To Worry About That Men Just Don't
It's no secret that the workplace is far more sexist than most of us prefer to think, but misogyny is often present long before women get hired. Women deal with sexism in the job search in ways that men simply don't have to worry about, whether they're having to negotiate for higher pay just to compare to their male coworkers — thanks, wage gap! — or scour their social media to summarily remove anything that would be considered "unfeminine," and, therefore, "unprofessional." Although feminism has certainly improved the circumstances for most women in the workplace, they're still held to different standards than men, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields.
Even aside from the aforementioned (and oft-cited) wage gap, the work performed by women is consistently devalued. For instance, a 2013 study showed that when presented with identical abstracts for research papers, people associated male authors with higher scientific quality; in other words, putting a man's name on a paper makes it more likely to be taken seriously. Furthermore, other studies have shown a similar effect with identical resumes — but more on that later.
Clearly, women are up against far more than men when it comes to the job hunt. This isn't to say that the workplace is populated by mustache-twirling, Mad Men-style misogynists; the insidious thing about sexism is that it's generally the result of unconscious, systematic biases. This doesn't excuse misogyny, of course, but it does provide an explanation. One day, we might even be able to overcome our innate prejudices. Until that day comes, however, women are stuck with the following ways sexism manifests in the hunt for a job.
1. The Wage Gap
Most people are aware of the existence of the wage gap these days, but that doesn't mean it's gone away. In fact, a study published earlier this month found that 69 percent of the time, men are offered a higher starting salary than women for the same job. When you're job hunting as a woman, you have to keep in mind that the pay range specified on most job listings is exactly that: a range. This is dependent on a variety of factors, of course, but considering men are generally offered more money for the same work, it's something most women have to consider.
2. Judging The Likelihood Of Harassment
Research has shown that certain fields are more likely to perpetuate gender stereotypes and harassment. According to a study performed last year, higher male-to-female ratios in the workplace increase the risk of sexual harassment, and women who work in male-dominated spaces report higher levels of stress. (Interestingly, a separate study indicates that women in positions of power are more likely to report sexual harassment.) Although gender-based discrimination is present in all professions, it's simply more likely to happen in some jobs. As a women, you often have to weigh your willingness to deal with harassment against your desire for the job.
3. Age Discrimination
Age discrimination applies to everyone, but it affects women far more (and at a younger age, depending on the job) than men. According to one study, sales jobs are particularly youth-oriented; young women were twice as likely to get called back than older women, while men faced less discrimination than expected. Researchers attributed much of this to the emphasis on women's appearances.
"Age detracts more from physical appearance for women than for men," the authors wrote, according to the Washington Post. On a similar note, there's evidence that being seen as too attractive can hurt your chances of getting a job as well.
4. The Motherhood Penalty
As if being a woman on the job hunt wasn't bad enough, motherhood is seen as an undesirable characteristic in job applications. Research consistently shows that women with children are considered less capable, are less likely to get hired, and are paid less than their male coworkers — basically, it's everything women typically deal with, but intensified. What makes it particularly infuriating, though, is that fatherhood has the opposite effect, known as the fatherhood bonus: Men with children are more likely to get hired and paid more.
5. Getting An Interview
As discussed above, women are often seen as less competent than their male coworkers, and as a result, simply getting an interview is harder than it sounds. When presented with identical resumes in a seminal 2013 study, professors of all genders considered female "applicants" less competent and hireable than their male competitors, and they were less willing to mentor female students. Furthermore, male applicants were also offered higher starting salaries.
The bottom line? When you're a woman, even just getting a job interview is an uphill battle.