Can You Identify Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

Business & Career

Aug 08
Can You Identify Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

It’s no surprise that gender discrimination is a huge issue in the workplace. Do you know how to spot it? 

Emma Watson

Emma Watson


Earlier this month, Time’s Up UK and Rights of Women launched a hotline to offer legal advice to women about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, supported by Harry Potter actor Emma Watson. 

In some ways, it’s shocking that this is the first service of its kind—but it’s also unsurprising given the history of gender discrimination in the UK. 

After all, The Equal Pay Act 1970 gave women the right to earn pay equal to men—and yet, nearly 50 years later, most women in the UK still make roughly 10% less than men.

Median gross hourly earning (excluding overtime) for full-time employees by sex (2011-2017, UK). Source:

Even more appalling: discrimination on the basis of gender has only been illegal in UK workplaces since The Equality Act 2010!

In light of this, we wondered how many of us really know how to identify gender discrimination in the workplace… so here’s a handy guide!

Who does it affect?

The Equality Act covers against women by men, but also against men by women, against women by other women and against men by other men.

The Act identifies 4 main areas of discrimination:

1. Direct discrimination.

As the name implies, this is when someone is treated differently from others because of their gender, such as advertising a job as better suited to men or to women, or requiring women to wear heels at work.

This includes discrimination based on actual gender, perceived gender and gender association.

2. Indirect discrimination.

This happens when a workplace rule, practice or procedure applies to all employees, but particularly disadvantages one gender. For example, a physical requirement such as height or strength may be met by more men than women.

3. Harassment.

The Equality Act breaks this type of discrimination down into three groups:

  1. Unwanted conduct related to sex that causes distress, humiliation or an offensive environment.
  2. Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (i.e. sexual harassment).
  3. Treating an employee less favourably because they have either been the victim of sexual harassment, or have rejected it.

4. Victimisation.

In the context of the act, this means treating an employee unfairly because they have made or supported a complaint about sexual discrimination in the workplace.

The sad truth is that, for anyone experiencing discrimination in the workplace, there is little they can do—so we applaud TimesUpUK in taking action to do something about it!

The advice line number is 020 7490 0152.

The reality of women in the workplace these days is part of why it’s so important for professional women to support one another—and for men and women alike to do what they can to invest in women.

Another great way to help make workplaces safer spaces for everyone is to embrace diversity—that means hiring all different kinds of people, with different accents, backgrounds and experience.

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