Attitudes are changing, and more people than ever feel free to challenge conventional notions of gender identity and gender expression.
Unfortunately, bigotry dies hard. Discimination, even in the workplace, is a very real possibility for transgender people, non-binary folks and the gender-fluid – and that’s definitely a form of sex discrimination.
But, what about those who find themselves harassed at work simply because their way of expressing themselves doesn’t match up with their peers’ expectations for their gender?
Gender stereotyping is just another form of sex-based discrimination
Gender stereotyping in the workplace can take multiple forms, and all of them are harmful. One of the most common is when a female employee is treated differently because she doesn’t look “womanly enough” or a male employee is outright harassed because he doesn’t act “manly enough.”
Employees can end up being criticized and constantly critiqued in reference to their clothes, shoes, hair, walk, mannerisms or language if their co-workers or bosses decide that, for example, a male employee’s mannerisms are too feminine or a female employee’s clothing is too masculine in nature.
Gender stereotyping can also affect the way that their performance in the workplace is assessed. A man who shows too much empathy for his manager’s liking, for example, could be deemed “soft.” On the other hand, a woman who is direct and no-nonsense may be called “aggressive” or “rude.”
Gender stereotyping can also crop up in dress codes. Any time that an employer has a gender-specific dress code there’s the potential that it will negatively affect one group of employees more than another, and that’s never acceptable. For example, a dress code that requires all female employees to wear makeup could be discriminatory if there’s no equivalent burden on the male employees.
When you’re in the workplace, you should be judged on your performance, not the way you look or sound or dress. If gender discrimination has been making your life complicated, it may be time to talk to someone about your legal rights.