Gender Diversity in the Workplace: Definition, Trends & Examples

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  • 0:03 Introduction
  • 0:43 Modern-Day Gender…
  • 1:47 A Sobering Example
  • 3:59 Closing the Gap
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

Gender diversity deals with equal representation of men and women in the workplace. In this lesson, we will explore trends and issues with gender diversity in the modern workforce.


On an intellectual level, most of us realize that in order to be fair and equitable in the workplace, we need to have an equal representation of men and women. However, this isn't always the case - even in modern times. Gender diversity, as it relates to a work environment, means that men and women are hired at the same rate, paid equally for equal work, and promoted at the same rate. Granted, we have come a long way in the last 50 years or so, but we are still a very long way from achieving true gender diversity and equality in the workforce.

In this lesson, we will explore gender diversity - and the lack of it - in the workforce.

Modern-Day Gender Diversity Facts

As of last year, according to the McKinsey Report, a well-respected report on this subject, women made up about 40% of the global workforce. However, only about 5% of CEOs (chief executive officers, or leaders of large corporations) are women. How can that be, you may ask…

In addition to that gross disparity, would you believe that women still earn only 80% of what their male counterparts do? That means that a male accountant who has been with XYZ Company for 5 years earns $70,000, but a female accountant who does the same job and has also been with XYZ Company for 5 years very likely earns only $56,000.

Furthermore, at XYZ Company, that same female is much more likely than her male counterpart to be passed over for a promotion because there are assumptions that she has children who require more time and attention from her than the male's children do (after all, his wife can care for the kids). If she's of childbearing age, it's often believed that she will give up her career if she gets pregnant.

A Sobering Example

Let's look at three workers at XYZ Company. XYZ is a law firm where Jane, Judy, and Joe all work. Jane is 27 and a recent graduate of a prestigious law school. She was first in her class, and her grades were stellar. She is also transgender. Judy is 40 and has been with the firm for 12 years. She, too, did very well in school and has won some tough cases while at the firm. Joe is 32 and has been with the firm for 2 years. While he has some experience in the courtroom, his win/loss record is about 50/50. It is pertinent to mention here that Joe and Jane are both single, while Judy is married and has two children. Judy's husband is also an attorney, although he works at a different firm.

There has recently been an opening for a partner at the firm. All three of these people apply for the position. Keep in mind that law, even today, is a male-dominated field. In fact, four of the five partners at this firm are men. Although Jane has only been with the firm for about a year, she makes a point not to dress in a feminine way and is always talking and joking with the other men on her floor. Judy usually wears nice dresses, along with a strand of pearls, and she usually keeps to herself, preferring to keep her door closed while she's working. Joe is a casual dresser and is one of Jane's friends and confidants.

Even though Judy has the most courtroom wins and the most experience, she is about 15% less likely to get promoted than Joe is. In addition, when her daughter was sick and had a risky surgery last year, Judy took an extended amount of time off, and this will probably hurt her chances for getting this promotion as well. One of the partners even said to her last year, 'At least you won't lose much income while you take off work since your husband probably makes more money at his job than you do here!'

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