6 Ways to Eliminate Gender Bias in the Workplace

May 1, 2017 Mary Lorenz

Despite all the progress Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway are making at Sterling Cooper and Partners, gender bias is still very much present in today’s workplace. The recent findings that men are more likely than women to get flexible work schedules approved are just the latest in mounting evidence that women still have a long way to go in terms of equal treatment.

According to Pew Research, women are nearly twice as likely as men to say they have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. Gender discrimination doesn’t hurt only women, either; the entire organization can suffer when gender bias is present by way of lost productivity, increased turnover and legal retaliation.

According to Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, gender bias is informed by common stereotypes surrounding men and women, which can lead to unfair decision-making – often to the advantage of men. In her video, “Creating a Level Playing Field,” Correll outlines steps employers can take to eliminate stereotypes, stop letting gender biases influence decision-making and “create a workplace where all people, men and women, can thrive.”

6 Ways to Eliminate Gender Bias in the Workplace

  1. Educate Employees About How Stereotypes Work: Because we are not always aware of our biases, we do not realize when they are influencing our decision-making; therefore, education and awareness are key to moving forward. “When people hear how stereotypes work, they tend to scrutinize their own decision-making more carefully, and that tends to break the tendency to use stereotypes as a shortcut.”
  2. Establish Clear Criteria for Evaluation. “When making hiring or promotion decisions…establish clear criteria and qualifications for our decisions. Research has shown the more formal the criteria are, the more women and more underrepresented minorities will be hired.”
  3. Scrutinize Your Criteria. Take an objective look at the existing criteria you use to make management decisions, as they may be flawed. “Scrutinize the criteria you’re using when making hiring and promotion decisions. Are they the right criteria? Do they predict success on the job? Are they filtering out a disproportionate number of women? If so, it’s really important to understand if the criteria really matter in terms of who’s going to be successful on the job.”
  4. Hold Decision-Makers Accountable. Having to explain the decisions we make to others forces us to re-evaluate our decision-making, Correll says. “In the process of deliberating and thinking through the decision process more carefully, we break the tendency to use stereotypes as a shortcut.”
  5. Be Transparent. “Be transparent in what you’re doing in terms of hiring and promoting. Post the numbers and keep track of our progress in terms of how we’re doing in terms of gender diversity in our workplaces really causes people to be more thoughtful in how they’re making decisions.” Making yourself accountable to others for your decisions will help ensure you make objective decisions. 
  6. Vouch for the Competence of Women Leaders. Be proactive in your effort to break down stereotypes. “Whenever you have the chance to introduce someone or talk about someone you’re working with…describe her accomplishments or talk about how successful you think she’s been. That can help overcome the problem that stereotypes often create: That we have doubts about women’s competence.”

Watch the full video below:



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