Currently in the UK, the unemployment rate for women has been steadily increasing while men’s employment has improved.
In fact, women make up 42% of the unemployed ( however, only 28% of those claiming Job Seekers Allowance are women ). The reasons behind women’s employment are wide, ranging from women in caring roles to income background, but is it possible that women are less likely to be hired than men?
A study by — Steinpreis, Anders & Ritzke — showed that there are unconscious discrimination made between men and women during interviews.
In this study, a panel consisting of male and female employers, were asked to assess a selection of CV’s submitted by male and female candidates.
Even though the standard and experience of the CV’s were exactly the same, male candidates were significantly more likely to be hired than female candidates.
This work has been furthered by the Proceeding of the National Academy for Science, who also demonstrated that managers were more likely to employ a male interviewee over a female interviewee of the exact same calibre, even when completing a skilled task in front of the board of employers.
In fact, as well as choosing male candidates over female candidates of the same ability on the task, if employers were to hire someone worse at the skilled task than other candidates, these were very often male interviewees.
The reasons behind these findings are speculated, but are thought to be related to the way our society views gender. Women are expected to be polite, modest and submissive, whereas men are expected to be assertive and dominant.
These characteristics are harmful for both men and women, producing stress and expectations that can’t often be met. However, these are particularly detrimental to women; effecting their career prospects, shaping their self-perception and making women vulnerable.
These ideas especially come into consideration ( somewhat subconsciously ) in a work environment. Women in power are often associated with negative characteristics, such as bossy, aggressive or domineering, whilst a man in the same position would be considered authoritative and influential.
These perceptions of the characters of men and women can also be seen in interviews. Men in interviews can confidently discuss their achievements and skills, whereas female interviewees often feel the need to downplay their skills in the fear of being branded negatively.
Furthermore, the job interview advice for women predominantly focuses on irrelevant details.
For example, in an article entitled “Job interview advice older women don’t want to hear” included suggestions such as dying grey hair, plastic surgery, teeth whitening and losing weight. Which are not only factors that should be irrelevant in an interview, but are highly likely not to be mentioned when discussing a male interviewee.
It is clear that the unemployment rate is caused by a number of factors, but the way we perceive women is holding women back in their employability.
We need to make ourselves aware of the unconscious attitudes we hold towards gender and become conscious of their detrimental effects.