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Is sexism still a work place feature?

Are women too emotional to be workplace leaders?

Joan Pickney
Career writer

Sexism is a form of discrimination based on gender. It claims that one gender, (traditionally male) is superior to the other. The foregoing is compounded by the practice in many patriarchal societies where females are viewed as the "weaker sex" relegated to doing domestic cares and household chores.

Whilst sexism may be evident in many sectors of a society, it is said to cause the greatest havoc at the workplace evidenced by unfair recruitment practices, unequal pay and intimidating behaviour. Today, that has changed dramatically as women are strongly represented at places of work assuming professions and statuses formerly exclusive to men.

In response to the forgoing however, some religious groups may proclaim that women have violated God's laws as their place is in the home and should yield to men in all circumstances.

Sociologists explain that extreme sexism, misogyny - contempt of women and misandry, hatred of men, exist in some societies today. While not extreme, sexism has increasingly been re-directed toward men. For example, women of power are said to discriminate against men at times, whether their peers or subordinates in the effort to prove themselves better or equal to men.

Some men have also expressed distress of being marginalised as repeatedly they are out-numbered in tertiary institutions, subjected to the increasing number of women in political and church leadership, and in other levels of private and public sectors. Interestingly, sexism is seen among members of the same gender.

Women for example are said to criticise each other for being too masculine, defying traditional principles and roles about how women should behave. There has also been the use of generously crude and colourful descriptive words, not fit for print, to label their fellow females.

A pertinent question then is: Is sexism still a workplace feature? One professional male from the public sector said, yes it is! He said that there is still a perception that male dominance is better and more desired; that some women are too emotional and this interferes with their consistent and effective performance. He added that whilst most public sector policies are anti-sexism there is a subtle but compelling presence of it.
A female from the private sector asserted that woman have fought long and hard for a spot in the workplace and have proven their worth as equal to or even better than men. While another, employed to the public sector defended that women will never be rid of discrimination in the workplace as the elements which promote men as better are still alive and seem indelible in the minds of influences of promotion - even up to the level of the board room.
In closing, it should not be refuted that women have risen in the face of blatant or subtle discrimination at the workplace and ought to be commended for it. But does this success qualify them to return the wrath of sexism to men? I strongly suggest that men and women alike embrace the legal right of each gender to be represented equally and fairly at the workplace and that positions awarded are on the basis of academic qualifications, skills, right attitude and ability, not gender. Sexism today seems not as dominant a feature at the workplace as it was yesterday. But it is apparent that the elements which favour this belief are still advancing it. I dare say that we have a long way to go to fully eradicate sexism from our society and in the workplace in particular.

*Joan Pinkney is a counselling psychologist based in Kingston. Email
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