Challenging Stereotypes About Female Colleagues: How Men Can Be Allies in The Workplace

Men can become workplace allies to women

Women in today's century are a fundamental part of any workplace. In modern society, we can see women having functional and bearing offices at all levels right from being presidents of the country to being CEOs of MNCs. However, some research data suggests something that seems the opposite to it.

The research data of “SAGE Journals” suggests that only 20% of the women who have graduated and employed are working in such demanding jobs. The remaining 60 to 70% of the women choose less demanding and less paying jobs. One of the most significant reasons behind this statistical data is definitely the stereotypes about women in the workplace as well as in society at large.

Whereas, stereotypes about women are held only for the fact that they are women i.e. gender bias mentality of society.

Let’s discuss a few situations where Gender stereotypes and lack of Workplace equality are highly evident.

  • Lack of Confidence:
  • The biggest stereotype that holds women back is the lack of confidence they have. Women tend to have lower confidence compared to men while applying for a particular job or post. They tend to underrate their own skills, capacities, and abilities when it comes to taking up a post. Women tend to apply for the job only when they think they meet 100% of the requirements. On the other hand, men usually apply even if they think they are fulfilling more than 60% of the requirements.

  • The Glass Ceiling:
  • The glass ceiling to classically explain means women are not appointed to the higher hierarchy only because they are women. Vertical discrimination against women is common in most workplaces even today. The glass ceiling stereotype doesn't let women grow beyond a particular hierarchy and there are many biases that cause the same.

  • Societal Biases about Caregiving:
  • Our societies place a huge responsibility on women to take care of the family, senior citizens in the family, and children in the family. Hence, women are forced to take decisions of rejecting promotions, taking more leaves than usual, choosing posts and jobs which require them to work for fewer hours, and opting for more flexible positions and jobs such as contractual jobs or part-time jobs. It seems to allow them more time to take care of their family and individuals dependent on them.

  • Motherhood Biases:
  • Women with children experience much more biases at work about their ability to perform and be committed to their work than women who do not have children yet. Whereas, in the case of men it is absolutely the opposite. Women with children will often be deprived of bigger and new opportunities based on the fact that “she has a Kid you know” indirectly forcing her to pay more attention to children. If she does otherwise she is also made to feel guilty for choosing the work over children. Having a child acts as a perk to men as they are perceived to be responsible for earning more finances because “ he has a young kid you know!”

  • The Gender Pay Gap:
  • Classically all the research data available shows the same fact that women are paid less than men for their jobs - even if it is the same job. This difference only comes from the stereotype that women’s work is less demanding. They do not perform at their jobs well hence, they do not deserve the higher pay, a typical example of workplace inequality. In many cases women are paid less or their confidence is affected in spite of that there are many examples in the world that prove women can perform demanding jobs and be as deserving of promotions and higher pay as men.

    All of these situations are completely stereotypical of women and far from gender equality in the workplace. Sometimes these situations are so derogatory that women may have to face a complete emotional breakdown. They might need proper support for their mental health care to get back to normal life. In such cases, one should reach out to the best mental health counsellors in India for complete support.

    How Men Can Be Allies in the Workplace

    Gender stereotypes are deep-rooted problems in society. It needs to be uprooted completely to bring equality to every aspect of society. Here comes the role of the male counterpart of society along with the females. Taking small steps at a time can also make a huge difference in making the change. Male allies for women in the workplace is crucial for gender inclusivity.

  • Giving Confidence to Women Co-Workers:
  • Colleagues can be better supported to give surety that what they are thinking/doing is right and they deserve appreciation. Women usually carry the stigma in their minds thinking “I can't think like a Man”. Getting such appreciation from male colleagues that their inputs were valuable and ideas were unique helped women to build confidence about their abilities to perform at their job.

  • Workplace Equality:
  • Making it culturally accepted at the workplace that women no matter what their marital or family status is should be given offers when they deserve it. The opportunity to work at your organisation or to offer promotion need not be based on if she is pregnant or a mother or caregiver to old inlaws. The opportunities clearly need to be based on the skillset a woman has, and her capacity to perform the task assigned to her, and not on the basis of her gender or family background.

  • Equality in Remuneration for Women in the Workplace:
  • Bridging the pay gap , offering the pay as per the role and not on the basis of gender is the biggest action point a man in a position of power needs to make. This kind of workplace allyship is highly expected from the male counterpart

  • Generating an Empathetic Atmosphere for Women:
  • We need to accept the fact that women are capable, but they are biologically different. Hence the way nature functions for men is different for women. Hence generating policies such as paid menstrual leaves, flexible models of work, and respect for what they contribute to society can help the workplaces to be more bias-free for women.

    Men can be indispensable supporters in the workplace by eliminating biases and actively assisting their female coworkers. They can make the workplace more equitable and effective for everyone by supporting inclusivity, fighting for equal chances, and cultivating a courteous and empowering environment.

    Image credits: Freepik