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Married or unmarried, women face discrimination in their careers

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Discrimination

The idea of the glass ceiling or the invisible upper limit to a woman’s career success has been around for years. However, knowing about it doesn’t make it any easier to overcome it. Some women, hoping to give off a more professional appearance or push forward with their career aspirations might try to control how others perceive them.

Some women might intentionally represent themselves as married by wearing a solitary stone or band on their left ring finger despite not having a spouse. Other women might take the ring off to appear single in the hope of avoiding discrimination at work. However, married and unmarried women may face unfair attitudes and presumptions by their co-workers and employers.

What stereotypes work against single women?

Whether you hope to secure a promotion or get a job at a great company, the manager or human resources professional interviewing you may have concerns about your unmarried status. Quite a few people presume that even the most career-minded woman will give up her professional ambitions to follow her husband around once she gets married.

Even if they don’t question your commitment to your career, they may believe that bringing a single woman into the workplace will result in competition or aggression between male colleagues. A manager might opt to not hire a woman simply because they worry about what it will do to the behavior of the men on the team. If she does get hired, she may not receive the same compensation or promotions as similarly skilled male peers.

What stereotypes work against married women?

If you have a ring on your finger, managers may not worry that you’ll face advances from coworkers or leave the company when you find the right partner. Instead, they might start wondering how long it will take for you to decide to have children. Married women often experience discrimination from co-workers who assume they won’t put their job first but will instead prioritize their spouse or eventually leave when they decide to have kids.

Working mothers face an even steeper uphill battle when trying to achieve professional success, regardless of whether they are in a committed relationship or not. Employers tend to assume that the majority of parenting responsibilities fall to the mother, making them unconsciously believe that women won’t have as much time to commit to their job.

Women who have experienced either overt discrimination or more subtle forms of sex-based discrimination at their place of employment could potentially take legal action against the company to fight back on their own behalf and pave the way for other women to succeed at the business in the future.