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Managing Microinequities

• volume 1 • number 4

The following remarks about treatment of women in the workplace were recently delivered at a luncheon speech in San Francisco by Francis Conley, Professor of Surgery at Stanford University:

"The acting chairman of the Neurosurgical Department at Stanford found it culturally normal to address women as 'Honey' ­ all women, regardless of position or circumstances. And I believe that he was shocked at my allegations that to include me with that appellation within the workplace environment was demeaning to me and impacted negatively on my ability to function as a professional.

But if a patient with a problem is in an examining room with me and I respond to a knock on the door and we both hear, 'Hey, Honey can I see you for a minute in my office?' what does the patient think?

For women, these stereotypical microinequities that occur daily and are a norm in many workplaces, are cumulatively corrosive and work to undermine a self-confidence that may have worked very hard to develop.

Women are hurt and rendered less effective in job performance when they are treated as if they are invisible; when their comments and suggestions are dismissed; when, by mistake, they are not invited to that important meeting; when they are not given equal access to good cases, be they in marketing or in legal matters; when they are addressed as 'Susan' or 'Anne' and the rest of the crowd as 'Mister.'"

The Interviewer's Edge would like to hear from our readers examples of positive or creative responses to "microinequities" to further challenge this phenomenon in business today.