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Module 5: Gender Neutrality

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Welcome to the e-learning program of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission.

This module: Gender Neutrality

This module explores how bias in job comparison systems has negatively impacted the compensation of female job classes

Gender bias in compensation means that the gender of the person in the job, or who normally does that type of job, has influenced how the job is paid.

For example, gender bias results in receptionists often being paid less than delivery drivers.

A gender neutral process of job comparison examines the skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions required to do the job, regardless of whether women or men traditionally do the work.

Undervaluing women's jobs arises from overlooking job content, particularly if it is associated with women's traditional roles such as caregiving and communicating with people who are upset, irate or irrational. Disagreeable elements and stress are often not recognized as features of work.

For example, a receptionist or data entry worker works with little choice of movement, is in the same body position all day, may be restricted by a headset or computer screen and has continual interaction with the public, some of whom may be upset or abusive.

It is also common to undervalue skills, such as the physical dexterity involved in keyboarding. Another example is the concentration and accuracy involved in proofreading, editing or formatting documents.

In the following slides, you will be given examples of how women's work is often undervalued.

You'll be asked to think about how work can be valued in a gender neutral way so that the work of men and women are equally recognized and paid for accordingly.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • The stock clerk is given credit for lifting boxes weighing 20lbs. or more, regularly whereas the checkout clerk is given no credit for lifting objects.
  • To make this gender neutral, you would give the checkout clerk credit for lifting boxes weighing 20lbs. or more, occasionally and credit for lifting small objects, continually.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • The sales manager is given credit for difficult and complex communications when negotiating and closing sales whereas the HR manager is given no credit for difficult and complex communications.
  • To make this gender neutral, you would give the HR manager credit for difficult and complex communications when negotiating salaries, disciplining employees and dealing with complaints.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • In this example, the repair technician is given credit for problem solving when identifying unusual equipment breakdowns, requiring novel repairs whereas the customer service rep. is given no credit for problem solving.
  • To make this gender neutral, you would give the customer service rep credit for problem solving when assisting customers to identify problems and work through the manual to find on-site solutions.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • The repair technician is given credit for 6 months of on-the-job training and credit for completing a 2-year college certificate, whereas the administrative assistant is only given credit for six months on-the-job training.
  • To make this gender neutral, you would give additional credit to the repair technician for an apprenticeship and give additional credit to the administrative assistant for a 2-year college certificate in Business Administration.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • The groundskeeper is given credit for working outside in heat, cold and damp whereas the laundry attendant is given credit only for working inside.
  • To make this gender neutral, you would credit the groundskeeper for exposure to hot and cold weather and to dirt and unpleasant smells. You would also credit the laundry attendant for exposure to heat, steam and humidity and to dirty laundry and unpleasant smells.

Can you see the bias in this example?

  • The assembly line worker receives credit for concentration to ensure quality in spite of monotony, whereas the data entry worker only receives credit for accuracy.
  • To make this gender neutral, the data entry worker should be given additional credit for sustained concentration when entering data.

It is important that all parts of a job comparison system be free from gender bias.

The method of collecting job information and the amounts and types of information collected should be the same for all job classes.

The sub-factors in a gender neutral system must be able to measure both male and female job classes in the organization.

The weighting of points in a gender neutral system should be fair to both male and female job classes.

Finally, the process of applying the system to job classes should be free from bias.

In the next module, you will learn about choosing sub-factors appropriate for comparing jobs in your workplace.

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