Aug 6, 2010

Discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection

           Though sexism refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person, such beliefs and attitudes are of a social nature and do not, normally, carry any legal consequences. Sex discrimination, on the other hand, may have legal consequences. Though what constitutes sex discrimination varies between countries, the essence is that it is an adverse action taken by one person against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. Discrimination of that nature in certain enumerated circumstances is illegal in many countries.
          Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender. In an educational setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational institution, program, opportunity, loan, student group, or scholarship on account of his or her gender. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender.
              Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify different roles for men and women, in some cases giving rise to claims of primary and secondary roles.{{|date=May 2008}} While there are non-physical differences between men and women, there is little agreement as to what those differences are.
              The United Nations has stated (2006) that women struggle to break through a "glass ceiling", and that "progress in bringing women into leadership and decision-making positions around the world remains far too slow." The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues, Rachel Mayanja, said, "The past ten years have seen the fastest growth in the number of women in parliaments, yet even at this rate, parity between women and men in parliaments will not be reached until 2040."
The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment and government based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master’s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended reverse discrimination, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination.
Transgendered individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience problems which often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them.

      Gender harassment  -verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey insulting, hostile and degrading attitudes to women -is just as distressing for women victims as sexual advances in the workplace. According to Emily Leskinen, Lilia Cortina, and Dana Kabat from the University of Michigan in the US, gender harassment leads to negative personal and professional outcomes too and, as such, is a serious form of sex discrimination. In their view, there is a case for interpreting existing legislation as including gender harassment, so that it is recognized as a legitimate and serious form of sex-based discrimination in the workplace.
Their work is published online in Springer's journal Law and Human Behavior.
The generally accepted view of sexual harassment sees unwanted sexual attention as an essential component. What Leskinen's work shows is that nine out of ten harassed women in her sample had experienced gender harassment primarily in the absence of sexual advances in the workplace. And yet, within the current legal conception of sexual harassment, gender harassment involving no sexual advances routinely gets neglected by the law.
          Leskinen, Cortina, and Kabat analyzed survey data from women working in two male-dominated environments: the US military (9,725 women) and federal legal practice (1,425 women). Their analyses revealed five typical profiles of harassment: 
  • !!!!  low victimization (sexist behavior); 
  • !!!! gender harassment (sexist and crude harassment); 
  • gender harassment with unwanted sexual attention;
  • moderate victimization (moderate levels of all types of harassment);
  • high victimization (frequent harassment). 
The large majority (90 percent) of harassment victims fell into one of the first two groups, which describe virtually no unwanted sexual advances, yet are the most common manifestations of sex-based harassment.
              Compared to non-victims, gender-harassed women reported negative personal and professional outcomes in the two different work environments. In the military, victims scored significantly lower on all work attitudes and reported greater performance decline due to both physical and emotional health. They also described less overall psychological well-being and health satisfaction and had more thoughts and intentions of leaving their jobs. Among attorneys, gender-harassed women reported lower satisfaction with professional relationships and higher job stress. These results suggest that gender-harassed women, like women who experience sexual advance harassment, fare poorly in the workplace.
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1 comment:

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