Gender discrimination is more common for highly educated women

Discrimination can be difficult to pinpoint at times, spreading across a wide range of personal experiences. It can appear as snide comments or passive-aggressive remarks. It can also be clear as day, shown in position or promotion denials. Whatever the form, about 42 percent of working women say they have experienced gender discrimination at their jobs.

Rates of gender discrimination appear to be similar across ethnicity, race and generation. However, recent findings show that women who earn bachelor's degrees or higher have the greatest reporting of certain types of discrimination.

Postgraduates reported higher levels of discrimination

According to the Pew Research Center survey data, gender discrimination becomes more common the more education that a woman has. Some form of gender discrimination was reported at the following rates:

  • 39 percent of women who did not complete college
  • 40 percent of women with a bachelor's degree
  • 57 percent of women with a postgraduate degree

There is no definite answer as to why women with master's degrees and doctorates report unfair treatment at work more often. They are often highly qualified in their field, which may provide better evidence that they were not turned down for positions or promotions based on their experience.

Types of discrimination

The Pew Research Center study looked at various types of gender discrimination. Highly educated women reported higher incidents of repeated small slights at work due to gender and received less support from their senior leaders than men doing the same job. They also show higher rates of feeling isolated at work and being passed over for promotions. In the end, the biggest difference for highly educated women is unfair pay rates. Women with bachelor's degrees or more are much more likely to say they have earned less than a man who performed the same job.

Gender discrimination is a likely occurrence in the workplace, especially for highly educated women. While it may be common that does not mean it is legal. Women are protected under state and federal laws against workplace discrimination. Not only should workers report incidents of discrimination, they should hold their employers accountable. Anyone experiencing workplace gender discrimination should contact an employment law attorney to learn about their options for compensation.

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