With decades of policy implementation continually on the agenda and revisions regularly made to ensure discrimination is a thing of the past, common sense would dictate that stereotypes, bias, and discrimation no longer exist in the workplace. But unfortunately, research has shown that there are still many instances of this problem. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gets regular complaints every year of discrimination, even in places where knowledge is supposed to be prevalent, such as the academic landscape.
Gender stereotyping and discrimination in the academic workplace shouldn’t exist, since those faculty and staff are the same people we are choosing to educate our future generations on how to treat each other. Yet gender bias in things as crucial to a person’s career as performance reviews still exist. These reviews are often skewed in favor of higher ratings for men over women based on the types of questions asked and the algorithms used. To prevent this, it’s crucial that we recognize gender stereotyping and avoid it everywhere, particularly in performance reviews that impact a scholar’s reputation.
The Importance of Performance Reviews
Performance reviews are a regular part of many jobs in the career field, but they are prevalent in academics because of how they tie in to a scholar’s overall reputation. These reviews are part of the accountability system in many states, although the framework and guidelines look different depending on the state’s policies and the institution itself.
The idea behind performance reviews is to use them for multiple forms of growth and advancement, such as:
● Promotional opportunities, such as leadership committees and department chairs, through comparison of growth from earlier reviews. With performance review analyses, the administration and employee can evaluate whether an individual has the knowledge, motivation, and skills to take on more responsibility.
● Additional compensation opportunities to give individuals different roles in an industry where pay is based more on seniority than merit, but hard work and outstanding performance reviews allow academic experts chances to obtain bonuses and salary increases.
● Training purposes to help an individual see where they need to grow and watch their own improvement over time.
● Disciplinary records to create a paper trail that will either help an employee improve their behavior or support administration in their decision to take further action and provide consequences to the person.
Performance reviews have many advantages to them, making them an important part of the growth process for faculty and staff in higher institutions. However, when they’re not created fairly, they can also be a means for unnecessary challenges.
Recognizing and Reducing Gender Stereotyping
As the standards that are used to judge people shift, stereotypes of gender also change. Common sense isn’t consistent, but common-rule judgments must be used when it comes to evaluating the performance review criteria used. The problem is that these judgment calls are subjective, so patterns must be looked for. When a pattern is noticed through analysis of reviews and percentage ratings, the commonality has to be based on a common rule based on scientific evidence in order for it to be a legitimate question rather than a stereotype.
Many of these “common rule” concerns include the discussion of success, finances, and appearance. If a performance review is skewed in favor of one gender on a subject that is so easily stereotyped, the next step would be to apply a common rule approach. For instance, if the reviews show that the men in an institution are consistently more financially successful than the women, then there should be an evaluation of whether this is factual, and if so, why, in a time when gender is not supposed to make a difference in pay, it is accurate.
Performance reviews are a good way to monitor individual progress but, when looked at as a whole, can also be integral in pointing out where stereotyping might be involved and overlooked.