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Micro-inequities for women in the workplace

Despite the ongoing rise in awareness about gender discrimination and sexual harassment on the job, many New York employees continue to face these issues. The #MeToo movement has highlighted the many ways in which different types of gender biases have a strong negative effect on women’s careers, achievements and pay. It has also brought back to the forefront a term first developed in 1973: “micro-inequities.” The term refers to incidents, events and actions that may be small but may have a major overall impact on those who face discrimination on the job.

For example, women may be more frequently cut off or interrupted in meetings while men’s ideas are greeted with praise and admiration. These kinds of problems can be more complex to challenge than traditional forms of sexual harassment. However, it can be critical to respond to gender bias where it happens. Indeed, this may be the tip of the iceberg that indicates serious, underlying and actionable instances of gender discrimination.

People who have been affected in the workplace by disparate treatment based on gender can take action to help address the situation. First, they may need to avoid dismissing the issue out of hand as minor. Next, they can stand up for themselves without discussing motivation, such as asking to continue after an interruption. If these kinds of gentle yet firm hints do not lead to change, it may be important to voice clear concerns about the gender-based nature of the problem.

While subtle signs of mistreatment are often not something for which an employer can be held accountable legally, they may form the basis for ongoing pay discrimination, denial of promotions or even retaliation after complaints. An employment lawyer can work with victims of workplace discrimination to pursue relevant complaints and take legal action for justice.