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Steps employees can take to address gender bias

When women in New York experience gender-based inequality in the workplace, it may come in subtle forms. For example, men may interrupt women but not men. They may tend to make eye contact only with men in a mixed group or ignore women's achievements while lauding those of men. There are several steps people can take to address these actions when they happen at work.

First, it is important for people experiencing these behaviors to not dismiss their reactions out of hand as being oversensitive. However, it is also important to gauge the context of the situation. This may include speaking to colleagues about whether the behavior is typical and the person routinely treats women and men differently.

Next, the behavior can be addressed. This can be done in a neutral way. For example, a person who is interrupted might consistently express a desire to finish speaking. It is better to focus on the behavior and not the person who does it. It may be necessary to address the behavior in private. Women who experience less gender bias because they are in a position of seniority and men should speak up if they see even these subtle examples of discrimination. Finally, if addressing the person directly does not work, an employee might want to speak to human resources.

Unfortunately, workplaces do not always act effectively to resolve gender discrimination. In some cases, employees who raise the issue might even face retaliation. People who are dealing with discrimination in the workplace might want to consult an attorney about whether the actions rise to the level of discrimination that the employee is protected against by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. An attorney may explain employee rights as well as how to document the situation and what steps to take.

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