Research Proposal: Workplace and Sexism

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[. . .] This is often because of the way men and women handle crises and other issues, the way they lead others, and the way they show (or do not show) their feelings and emotions about various issues that concern them (Atwell, 2002; Kail & Cavanaugh, 2010). That not only stops women from being equal on the job, but it can even stop them from getting the job in the first place (Bojarska, 2012; Schneps & Colmez, 2013).

Dick (2013) found that women who had the same, equal qualifications as men and applied for the same, identical positions were 20% less likely to be hired. The same percentage discrepancy held true when it came to women being promoted, as they also struggled in that area (Dick, 2013). When men and women are equal in every other way, a lack of sexism would indicate that they should be hired the same percentage of the time, but this is not the reality in the majority of cases.

For women in careers and industries that are predominately held by women, the results are better, of course. In those types of cases, there is a concern that there may be sexism directed at the men who are attempting to get into that career (Bojarska, 2012). While this can be seen to a certain extent, the largest issue still stems from the fact that men are hired, retained, trained, and promoted more often than women as a generalization across the board in any and every industry (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2010). Seeing men get hired and promoted over them when they know they are qualified can be difficult for women to handle and accept, and can lead them to move on to other jobs or careers where they feel less threatened, uncomfortable, or devalued (Bojarska, 2012; Atwell, 2002). Of course, that can also lead to women not getting the quality of life they want or ending up in a career they do not prefer simply to feel as though they matter in some way (Atwell, 2002).

That is unhelpful to women and also unhelpful to society. Women and men should be valued equally in order to ensure they can both provide for themselves and their families, and in order to ensure that there is equality throughout the country (Schneps & Colmez, 2013; Kail & Cavanaugh, 2010). When one gender is much more highly valued over the other, it becomes difficult to see the true value of every person. It also becomes much easier to ignore a valuable idea, statement, or plan, simply because it came from someone of a different gender (Bojarska, 2012). Without a deep respect for the value that both genders can offer, sexism in the workplace will continue to be a problem. Legally, however, there is no sexism in the workplace. It is against federal law to discriminate against any person because of his or her gender, along with several other categories that are also protected (Bojarska, 2012). While this is vital to note, it does not stop the practice of sexism from still happening. It is far too easy to find other reasons to hire someone who is preferred by the company because of gender, and make it appear perfectly legal (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2010).

If the other person has any more education or experience, or if the person is simply considered to be a "better fit" based on the corporate culture of the company, he or she can be hired without too much fear of recourse (Atwell, 2002; Hurst, 2007). The person who was turned away because of sexism must prove that was the reason, and that can be a very difficult thing to do (Atwell, 2002). It would seem more logical that the accused company would have to prove that they were not being sexist in their hiring choice, but that is not the way federal law and discrimination works (Atwell, 2002). Instead, the person who believes that sexism is at work in a hiring or promotion decision, or simply in the workplace in general, has the burden of proof to show that is the case.

While not easy, it can be a worthwhile pursuit for more obvious cases (Atwell, 2002). There have been individuals who have won large settlements because of sexism and discrimination cases, but these are generally difficult to prove for most cases and not worth the expense and damage to one's reputation they often cause (Atwell, 2002). Some choose to risk those issues, however, and can find that it is very rewarding to win a case against sexism in the workplace.

Research Question

The research question for this study regarding the presence of sexism in the workplace is as follows:

Is sexism present in the professional workplace, particularly in the processes of hiring and professional treatment (promotion, rule enforcement, etc.)?


The methodology that will be used is qualitative in nature, and will take into account and evaluation the feelings and reports of men and women, as well as their professional status. Issues explored will be the process of hiring, the procedure used for callbacks, and the way the individual was treated once in the workforce. That treatment will include everyday issues such as inclusion, but also address promotions and work-related changes and adjustments that can be considered to be based on the value a person is believed to bring to a team or a company overall. There will be information collected at the beginning of the study period, and then a follow-up conducted one year later.


The participants of this study will be three men and three women. This number was chosen because it is much easier to collect this level of data from a smaller group. However, using only one person of each gender would be too simplistic and would not provide any other same-gender subjects for comparison. These participants will have the same educational background, work experience, extracurricular activities, and volunteer experience. They will attend six separate interviews, knowing that they are all equally matched and equally qualified for the jobs at hand. The only differences in their resumes will be that they match their gender. Other than that, they will be the same. It is important to note that the researcher will need to control for other factors such as race, age, attractiveness, and even something as simple as a person's name in order to narrow down the issue of why the person did nor did not get hired to being one of gender, specifically.


There are many variables that have to be addressed for this study. Gender is the variable that is being studied, but it is not the only issue that must be considered. Additionally, there are other areas of life that are going to affect the way a person is perceived. Age and race are big factors when it comes to hiring, and some individuals simply get along better than others. With that being the case, there are variables that are difficult to control, such as whether the interviewer likes the person's name, or finds something about the applicant's mannerisms or speech patterns off-putting or uncomfortable. It is not impossible that something as simple as one of those issues could stop a person from getting a job, and that may be beyond the control of the researcher. However, race, age, manner of dress, arriving on time for the interview, qualifications, resume, and even attractiveness can all be controlled or controlled for in this particular study, helping to narrow down the reasons why one person would get hired over another person when considering gender.


Each participant will have the same script for questions in the interview process and will wear the same type of professional attire. Once they have all gone through the interview, it will be observed as to who receives the offer of the job. The employer will be consulted as to the reasons the person was hired. The participant hired will be observed for one week as they get comfortable in their new job. At the end of that week, the coworkers and any employees working under them will be interviewed in order to determine how much the new person is liked and whether everyone has adjusted to what that person has to offer. The participant will be in a management position with a company that requires managers to be hands-on and work directly with employees, and that has roughly equal numbers of males and females currently in those types of positions. Those who are also surveyed at the end of the week will be asked the following questions:

Do you work with or under the newly hired applicant?

If you work with that person, is he/she easy or hard to work with?

Do you feel he/she is the right fit for the job?

Do you feel he/she has the proper education and experience for the job?… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Proposal:

APA Format

Workplace and Sexism.  (2014, March 26).  Retrieved August 25, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Workplace and Sexism."  26 March 2014.  Web.  25 August 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Workplace and Sexism."  March 26, 2014.  Accessed August 25, 2019.