Gender Sidelining and the Problem of Unactionable Discrimination

By Fink, Jessica | Stanford Law & Policy Review, Winter 2018 | Go to article overview

Gender Sidelining and the Problem of Unactionable Discrimination


Fink, Jessica, Stanford Law & Policy Review


      INTRODUCTION                                                   58 I.    The Limits of Title VII                                        61 II.   Gender Sidelining Across Workplaces                            65       A. On the Field (or Court, or Pool): Sidelined Athletes        66       B. On the Stage, Screen or Canvas: Sidelined Artists           70       C. In the Laboratory: Sidelined Scientists                     73       D. On the Political Stage: Sidelined Politicians               76       E. In the Boardroom: Sidelined Corporate Executives and       Employees                                                      79       1. Gender Sidelining Manifests In Female Corporate Employees'       Access To Leaders And Opportunities For Growth                 80       2. Gender Sidelining Manifests In Female Corporate Employees       Being Held To A Higher Standard Than Their Male Peers          81       3. Gender Sidelining Manifests In Female Corporate Employees'       Ideas Being Overlooked, Ignored And Usurped                    83 III.  Why Gender Sidelining Matters                                  86       A. Gender Sidelining Silences Female Voices                    86       B. Gender Sidelining Robs the Workplace of Female Input and       Perspectives                                                   89       C. Gender Sidelining Undermines Employee Morale and       Productivity                                                   91       D. Gender Sidelining Fuels Existing Biases that Hinder       Women's       Advancement at Work                                            93       E. Gender Sidelining Encourages Women to Opt Out of       Professional       Opportunities                                                  95 IV.   Tools Beyond Title Vii For Addressing Gender Sidelining        97       A. Get Women Into Positions of Authority in the Workplace     100       B. Encourage and Foster Strong Relationship Between       Men and Women       at Work                                                       103       C. Stop Hiding From the Problem                               105       Conclusion                                                    106 

INTRODUCTION

On a summer night during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, thousands watched as Team USA swimmer Katie Ledecky smashed her own world record in the 800-meter freestyle, beating her previous record time by an astonishing two seconds. (1) Finishing more than eleven seconds ahead of the closest runner up, Ledecky not only captured the gold medal with her incredible performance, but also became the first woman in almost fifty years to win a gold medal in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle races, (2) as well as one of only two swimmers in the history of the games to win a gold medal in consecutive Olympics as a teenager. (3) That same night, celebrated American swimmer Michael Phelps failed to capture a gold medal in what promised to be his last individual Olympic race, the 100-meter butterfly, ultimately becoming part of a three-way tie for second place. (4)

While most media outlets across the nation praised Ms. Ledecky's stunning achievement, (5) one previously obscure newspaper, the Bryan-College Station Eagle, attracted significant attention for its coverage of these two races. Reporting on the outcome of the day's swim meets, the Eagle ran a headline in large, bold font that said, "Phelps ties for silver in 100 fly." (6) Beneath the headline, in smaller and less prominent print, the paper wrote, "Ledecky sets world record in women's 800 freestyle." (7) Almost immediately, a backlash ensued, with members of the public condemning the Eagle for its biased coverage that seemed to downplay Ledecky's achievement. (8) University of Denver Law Professor Nancy Leong referred to the headline as "a metaphor for basically the entire world," with 34,000 people re-tweeting her comment, (9) and another commentator observed that the paper's framing of these events "made it seem like even the most historic achievements of a woman are less important than a pretty good performance from a man. …

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