Gender discrimination at the workplace

Gender discrimination at the workplace

Author: Sibani Suresh, student of Symbiosis Law School 


The persistent and alarming issue of gender discrimination in the workplace casts doubt on the values of justice and equity, which are the cornerstones of a just and prosperous society. Even with the creation of legislative frameworks and a shift in public views, discrimination based on gender still exists in professional settings and affects both men and women equally. This widespread problem affects many aspects of the workplace, hindering professional development, obstructing career prospects, and jeopardising the general wellbeing of those who are impacted.

The many and subtle ways that gender discrimination presents itself reflect deeply rooted prejudices that can either overtly appear in laws and practices or covertly influence workplace relations. Women are often paid less for identical roles than males, which perpetuates an unfair salary disparity. salary inequities still exist. The pernicious idea of the “glass ceiling” keeps preventing women from rising to the highest levels of leadership and creating a structural imbalance that prevents them from reaching their full potential.

Another aspect of gender discrimination is stereotyping, which places people under strict expectations based on gender roles that are defined by society. Sexual harassment can flourish in the workplace, fostering hostile conditions where improper conduct, remarks, or acts are tolerated. Gender inequality is made worse by maternity discrimination, which penalizes women for exercising their right to develop into mothers.

Gender discrimination requires a multidimensional strategy to address. Crucial actions include establishing and upholding strict anti-discrimination laws, supporting diversity and inclusion programmes, and cultivating an egalitarian workplace culture. Programmes for education and training can encourage a more fair and courteous workplace and increase awareness of unconscious biases. Workplaces can transform into places where the abilities and contributions of every person, regardless of gender, are acknowledged, valued, and given the chance to thrive by tearing down the barriers preventing gender discrimination.


When someone is treated unfairly or unequally because of their gender, it is referred to as gender discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination of this kind can take many different forms and harms both men and women. Here are some typical instances and features of discrimination against women in the workplace:

  1. Age Gap: Pay disparities between genders for comparable or equivalent work are a common problem. When it comes to doing identical work duties, women frequently make less money than males.
  1. Glass Ceiling: Women may not be able to advance to higher positions inside a corporation due to gender bias. This unseen barrier can impede women’s access to top leadership positions and impede their ability to advance in their careers.
  1. Stereotyping: In the workplace, preconceived ideas about gender roles can give rise to stereotyping. For example, presuming that men are more competent in leadership jobs or that women are better suited for particular roles.
  1. Unequal Opportunities: There may be prejudice in how opportunities for advancement, training, or growth are distributed. Women could be turned away from specific projects or leadership initiatives.
  1. Sexual harassment: Unwelcome advances, remarks, or acts motivated by a person’s gender can make a workplace unfriendly. Jokes, inappropriate conduct, and any other type of unwanted attention fall under this category.
  1. Pregnancy-Related Discrimination: Pregnancy- and maternity-related discrimination are frequent causes of concern. When a woman gets pregnant or takes maternity leave, she could encounter prejudice or unfavourable outcomes.
  1. Lack of Representation: It may be an indicator of discriminatory recruiting or promotion procedures if there is a notable underrepresentation of one gender in particular roles or departments.
  1. A hostile work environment: Is one that is harmful to the wellbeing of employees. It is characterised by gender-based animosity, inappropriate jokes, and insulting remarks that are tolerated or encouraged.


Wide-ranging consequences of gender discrimination in the workplace harm people, businesses, and society at large. These outcomes lead to a workplace that is less inclusive, egalitarian, and productive. The following are some significant repercussions of gender discrimination in the workplace:

  1. Lower Employee Morale and Productivity: 
  • People who encounter gender discrimination may have lower job satisfaction and morale.
  • Decreased involvement and productivity can result from low morale, which reduces workplace efficiency as a whole.
  1. Negative Effects on Mental Health: 
  • Discrimination can have serious negative effects on people’s mental health, including stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
  • The psychological toll may lead to presenteeism and absenteeism as well as higher healthcare expenses for employers and employees alike.
  1. Compromised Innovation & Creativity: 
  • Diverse viewpoints and ideas will likely be suppressed in a company that tolerates gender discrimination.
  • Limiting diversity can hinder the workforce’s ability to solve problems creatively because diversity catalyzes creativity.
  1. Hampered Professional Growth: 
  • People who experience gender discrimination may run into obstacles in their path to promotion, which impedes their ability to advance professionally.
  • This barrier to advancement may cause the organization’s leadership team to become less dynamic and varied.
  1. Economic Inefficiency: 
  • By underutilizing the abilities and capabilities of a sizable segment of the workforce, gender discrimination contributes to economic inefficiencies.
  • When prejudice reduces the total productivity and contribution of half the population, the economy as a whole may suffer.


  1. Establish and Uphold Anti-Discrimination Measures:
  • Create comprehensive anti-discrimination policies that specifically address discrimination based on gender.
  • Make sure that all staff members are well informed about these procedures and that there are easy ways for them to report infractions.
  1. Encourage Initiatives for Inclusion and Diversity:
  • Actively encourage inclusiveness and diversity inside the company, highlighting the importance of many viewpoints and experiences.
  • Put plans into action to boost the number of women in leadership roles and at all organisational levels.
  1. Practices for Equitable Pay:
  • Make that equal compensation for equal labour is maintained by routinely reviewing and auditing pay arrangements.
  • It is imperative to maintain transparency regarding salary ranges and advancement requirements to eradicate gender-based pay discrepancies.
  1. Monitor and evaluate:
  • The organization’s progress towards attaining its goals for gender equality regularly.
  • To find and fix inequalities, gather, and evaluate data on employee satisfaction, salary, and promotions.

Related case laws

  1. Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan

Guidelines to stop sexual harassment in the workplace were established by this historic case. Responding to a petition following the Bhanwari Devi case, the Supreme Court of India declared that sexual harassment violates working women’s basic rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution.

  1. Deepalakshmi v. State of Tamil Nadu

In this case, the Madras High Court tackled the problem of sexual harassment at work. The court emphasized that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a secure workplace and found that failing to stop sexual harassment violates the fundamental rights of female employees.

  1. Vijaya Manohar Arbat v. Kashibhai Laxman Keluskar

The topic of pregnancy-related dismissal was addressed in this case. The Bombay High Court ruled that firing a worker because they were pregnant was discriminatory against women and went against the Constitution’s equal rights provisions.


In conclusion, gender discrimination in the workplace is still a serious issue that jeopardizes the fundamental ideas of inclusion and equality. Biases endure despite legal frameworks and increased knowledge, leading to an atmosphere in which people are treated unfairly according to their gender. The ramifications affect people individually, in groups, and throughout society.

Even though it should be a meritocratic environment, prejudices, biases, and unequal chances sometimes prevail in the workplace. Historic decisions have advanced the law by creating norms and precedents that fight discrimination based on gender. To effectively address these concerns, organisations must actively foster inclusive cultures; simply adhering to anti-discrimination rules is not enough.

Organizations should create diversity-promoting policies, provide education to increase awareness of prejudices and guarantee clear career advancement possibilities to combat gender discrimination effectively. Governments, employers, workers, and civil society all must work together. Crucial actions include questioning conventions, eliminating discriminatory practices, and creating environments at work where people of all genders can prosper.

The pursuit of gender equality is a moral necessity that goes beyond legal conformity. It entails creating a society that, regardless of gender, values and respects the contributions made by every person. A commitment to fostering conditions that unleash different abilities, spur innovation, and support equitable and just societies is made when gender discrimination is eradicated. By tackling gender discrimination head-on, we create workplace conditions that support equality, give people agency, and serve as symbols of progress and inclusivity.

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