Gender Discrimination Still Happens

I stumbled across a blog in the Chronicle of Higher Education reporting that the University of Colorado paid $40,000 to settle a gender-bias case. Keep in mind that the University of Colorado at Boulder has roughly 32,000 students. This is not a small organization.

I encourage you to read the article, but here are the damning quotes as far as I’m concerned:

“In her complaint, Ms. Miglarese said she had resigned from the university because Mr. Ikenberry and Al Smith, an associate business dean, discriminated against her for being a woman over the age of 40, and created a hostile work environment.
She also said Mr. Smith had systematically sought to remove women from leadership positions.
Two other women have filed gender-discrimination complaints against Mr. Ikenberry, who was reappointed this summer to a second five-year term.”

Did you see the word reappointed? The article continues.

“Two other women have filed gender-discrimination complaints against Mr. Ikenberry, who was reappointed this summer to a second five-year term.

The university has struggled with sexual harassment in its philosophy department, where an outside review found the program was rife with “inappropriate, sexualized unprofessional behavior.”

The end result? The University of Colorado- Boulder reappointed a supervisor who had received at least three sexual harassment/discrimination complaints. Forty thousand is pocket change with these kind of violations. Considering the attorney will get 30-40% depending on their contract, the person who filed the complaint will receive only $24,000. (Unless the defendant agreed to pay attorney’s charges, which wasn’t mentioned.)

This is why women don’t speak up more. I’m sure all of the time and effort of filing a lawsuit wasn’t worth the result. Even though she won the case, I consider this a loss for the plaintiff because nothing changed.

You can read the article here:

www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/u-of-colorado-pays-40000-to-settle-gender-bias-case/

Want to hear about my brush with obvious gender bias? Once, as a consultant, I gave a speech to a county board of commissioners to discuss my project. I was probably 34 or 24. I spoke after a consultant who was probably ten years older than me. He got flustered with the questions they asked him. When I talked about my portion of the project, I answered their questions without hesitating.

As the other consultant and I were leaving, one of the county commissioners stepped forward and told me that I did a great job for a girl. I just smiled and nodded. What else could I do? He thought he was giving me a compliment.

Have you ever been treated differently because you were a woman? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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In my book No Strings Attached, Laura Todd works for a consulting firm where the director treats the women in his office as servants. Here’s an excerpt:

Laura headed to the break-room to make coffee. Lloyd liked his coffee early, but apparently she wasn’t fast enough, because he came stomping out of his office.

Days when Lloyd worked in the office were the worst. He loomed over her and slammed two coffee cups on the counter. The cups clattered as they banged into each other.

“These were still in my office from yesterday,” he said, his tone accusing.

“Amanda told me to stay out of your office.”

“She’ll be in late, may not be in at all. Some sort of stomach bug. I need a cup of coffee.”

“It’s not ready yet.”

“Bring it into my office, then. Make it black.” He brushed past her when he left.

“Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” she muttered to herself. If Lloyd planned to sell the company, she wished he would get on with it. He came into the office just long enough to disrupt everything and put everyone in a foul mood.

When she set the coffee on his desk, he barely looked up from his computer. Perhaps she should bob and curtsy as well.

If you want to read more, download the sample from the Amazon link below. You’ll find a hot Vegas weekend, a missing sister and embezzlement charges. Currently the book can be read for free if you subscribe to in Kindle Unlimited.

 

Soapbox Time – Gender Discrimination is Real

I am still amazed at stories I hear about women not being hired because they have kids. A writer friend of mine who has decided to return to the workforce posted this on Facebook today:

Advice I have learned over the past year of job hunting: stay at home parents, never be honest that you were a stay at home parent. I was turned down for three jobs because of basically this. I know it because I wanted to be honest! And open! And on my third interviews, I was saying, “I am so good at juggling lots of things at once because of my SAHP skills!” and they were like, “Will you really be dedicated? You have kids! We have other applicants who don’t have kids.” Now when I go on an interview, I won’t even admit to having friends. “I’m a workaholic virgin with an ant farm I keep for company, but with no ants, because their care gets in the way of my work,” is the line I’m going with.

In case you’ve forgotten, potential employers aren’t supposed to ask about children, about child-rearing plans, about the potential of future children, or whether you plan to have children, or any permutation of that. They can ask about attendance requirements, or physical ability to meet the job requirements, but not about children at home, or spouses, or anything too personal.

So those of you who think we’re past gender discrimination in this country, we’re not, and this makes me very sad. Meanwhile, in other news, I also ran across this article in the New York Times, “Why US Women are Leaving Jobs Behind.” Reasons cited in the article, in addition to a soft economy, are lack of flexibility on the part of employers, and lack of inexpensive childcare options. Most other developed countries have a year of family leave available, a good bit of which is paid.

We’re the worst. Corporate profits are at an all-time high, and yet we still struggle to provide basic benefits to our employees. Such basic amenities as a private location for pumping breast milk are unavailable for most moms, who end up weaning early because pumping breast milk isn’t an option.

I stayed at home with our two children from September 2001 until September 2004, and it took me a while to find a professional position that would be worth it with the cost of two in childcare. Now I’m blessed to have an employer who provides generous annual and sick leave, including up to ten days per year of family sick leave. That means if one of the kids has strep throat, I can stay home and make sure they get proper fluids and rest without worrying about my job. Yes, I’m in a professional position, and I can do some work from home, but it gives me incredible peace of mind knowing my boss understands and works with me when life happens.

What are your thoughts? How can we get more women to return to work?