Gender bias still exists in the workplace, as evidenced by a new study that reveals women are frequently asked questions during job interviews that their male counterparts are not. And once hired, women are often treated differently than their male co-workers.

The survey of about 200 senior-level women in the technology industry showed that 75 percent of them have been asked questions during a job interview about:

  • Their marital status.
  • Whether they have, or plan to have, children.
  • If they have children, the details of their child-care arrangements.
  • Their religion and views on abortion.

Hiring managers who ask these questions are exposing a company to liability. These types of questions can lead to an employment discrimination lawsuit if the applicant was not hired based on gender.

The survey focused on women who work at tech companies in the San Francisco area. It included women who have worked at start-ups and larger companies, like Apple and Google, for at least a decade. Three-quarters of the respondents were at a vice-president level or higher.

In addition to improper questions during the hiring process, the study further found that, once hired, women continue to experience bias. The survey showed that:

  • 60 percent received unwelcome sexual advances from co-workers, mostly superiors.
  • 84 percent have been told they are “too aggressive.”
  • 50 percent have been told they need to speak up more often.
  • 60 percent have been excluded from networking opportunities, including golf and ski outings, and trips to local gentlemen’s clubs.
  • 59 percent believe they have not had the same opportunities in the company as men.

The survey also revealed there still exists a bias toward working mothers. Many of the women said they have received negative comments in the workplace about being a mom. In fact, 52 percent said they cut short their maternity leave because they feared it would hurt their career, and many said they purposely do not discuss their families at work because they don’t want to be perceived as not dedicated.

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are knowledgeable in all aspects of discrimination laws, including gender discrimination and Family & Medical Leave Act violations. If you suspect that you have been the victim of discrimination or unlawful treatment in the workplace, please contact us to learn how we can help.


Tad T. Roumayah

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Tad T. Roumayah

Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.