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Nearly half of workers believe certain jobs are exclusively ‘male’ or ‘female’, survey finds

Research suggests ‘unconscious bias’ still rife in UK workplaces

Kate Ng
Wednesday 19 May 2021 16:09 BST
Only one in five UK workers believe there is gender equality in their workplace, according to survey by Samsung
Only one in five UK workers believe there is gender equality in their workplace, according to survey by Samsung (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New research has found that nearly half of workers in the UK still believe certain jobs can be exclusively “male” or “female”.

This “unconscious bias” means that many women put off applying for some vacancies as they feared being discriminated against.

The survey of 2,000 adults, carried out by electronics giant Samsung, suggests that such bias still exists in the workplace.

Just one in five people who responded to the survey said they believed there was gender equality in their workplace, amid complaints certain people were not put forward for opportunities.

This was felt more keenly by women (42 per cent) compared to men (35 per cent), as well as by millennial workers (52 per cent) compared to those aged between 45 and 54 years old (26 per cent).

It also found that almost one in five women said they have not applied for a job for fear they would be discriminated against because of their gender.

Industries most associated with being “male” included engineering, law enforcement, trade, and technology. Meanwhile, women were most associated with fashion, retail, healthcare and hospitality industries.

The survey also revealed that men are four times more likely than women to have perceived leadership skills, with qualities such as assertiveness, leadership and numeracy ranking higher among men while empathy, listening and understanding are much more associated with women.

However, almost two-thirds of respondents said they believed the chief executive officer role was now gender neutral.

Charlotte Grant, head of inclusion and engagement at Samsung UK and Ireland said: “We are moving in the right direction as shown by this research, which is certainly encouraging.

“But there is still a long way to go to achieve total gender parity in the workplace.

“Companies have an active role to play in tackling this, creating a culture where conscious inclusion is encouraged and actively challenging bias where it exists.”

Dr Nilu Ahmed, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Bristol, added: “Gender bias remains prevalent across workplaces.

“Whilst men and women do apply for jobs differently, partly due to societal gender bias where women remain primary caregivers, women are more likely to seek flexible work, which is traditionally less well paid.

“Women also tend to apply for less senior jobs.”

Additional reporting by PA

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