Persistence of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

  • Christina Keinert-Kisin
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


Discrimination, today a negatively connoted behaviour, in its Latin origin stands for “division” or “differentiation”. Political and social sciences and legal practice understand discrimination in the contemporary sense as a disadvantageous, unfavorable or adverse treatment of an individual based on membership in a social group rather than on individual character, talent, merit or performance. For unfavorable treatment to be considered discrimination, a relatively privileged comparator is needed as benchmark. Unmerited privilege for some coincides with unjust disadvantage for others. Discrimination may be inflicted with or without intent and works as a mechanism of social exclusion. In the organizational context, gender discrimination may be expressed in rules, practices, processes or any other type of organizational and individual behaviors that disadvantage individuals of one gender compared with members of the other gender. Discrimination in the workplace is of course not limited to gender. It can happen on a variety of other grounds such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, age, sexual orientation, beauty or weight, some of which are outlawed, some are not. While discrimination often concerns members of social groups that are marginalized in their numerical proportion; women make up the slight majority in most countries. Still, in decision-making positions, they form part of a minority. Women may hence be the single largest—internally very heterogeneous—marginalized group within both the global and the managerial workforce. So by sheer numerical relevance, gender discrimination is a prime object of study concerning socio-demographic disadvantage within organizations. For Europe, issues of race and ethnicity arise to a greater degree from relatively recent migration in comparison to the United States. From this perspective, women as an overall group present themselves as a social group directly mirroring the educational biography of their male peers to a greater degree than migrants and descendants of migrants can. Still, forms and patterns of discrimination are intertwined rather than mutually exclusive organizational phenomena. Organizations that face gender disadvantage often simultaneously struggle with racial or ethnic discrimination. Some aspects of this study on gender discrimination must thus be considered relevant also for other forms of social discrimination; others will remain unique to the situation of women compared with men.


Human Capital Gender Discrimination Human Capital Investment Female Director Corporate Board 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina Keinert-Kisin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria

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