Why does sexual discrimination in the workplace persist?

Many Californians have likely heard statistics related to the fact that, on average, female U.S. employees earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. According to information from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), this disparity in wages is even more pronounced for women of minority groups with Hispanic women earning only "54 percent of white men's earnings." Additionally, the wage gap appears to widen with age with working women age 35 and older earning less than their younger counterparts when compared against the salaries of men.

A recent article in The New York Times discussed factors that may be contributing to and perpetuating the practice of gender pay discrimination. For example, a Yale study asked working professionals their opinions with regard to executives who openly and frequently voiced their opinions. When the subject was a man, on average respondents viewed the executive as being 10 percent more competent. However, when a woman spoke up more frequently, she was viewed as being 14 percent less competent.

Other studies revealed similar results revealing that, in general, the ideas and opinions of working women tend to be more readily discredited and disregarded. This isn't to say, however, that women employees don't have good ideas that could greatly benefit their employers. In fact an analysis of research that was published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology pointed to a "female leadership advantage."

Acts of sexual discrimination in the workplace can be overt or more subtle. Whatever the case may be, Los Angeles area women who believe their employer is guilty of committing acts of sexual discrimination would be wise to discuss their concerns with an attorney. In some cases, legal action may be taken to shine a light on this important issue and aid in the recovery of compensation.

Source: The New York Times, "Speaking While Female," Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Jan. 12, 2015

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