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Behind Workplace Misogyny and Its Economic Impact on Women


In the pulsating heart of our economic landscape, misogyny lurks insidiously, extending far beyond the confines of street harassment and manifesting as a silent yet powerful force within the very structures that shape our financial destiny. While the term is commonly tethered to feminist analysis, it seldom surfaces in discussions about the governmental and market institutions that mold our society. From catcalls to gender-based violence, society has started acknowledging the more overt forms of misogyny. Yet, the covert, systemic role it plays remains shrouded in silence, deeply embedded in the roots of our economy.

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) recognizes the historical and ongoing effects of gender discrimination, sexism, and misogyny on the mental health of women, nonbinary individuals, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. As we delve into the grim reality of workplace misogyny, recent statistics shed light on the pervasive challenges faced by women. According to a survey by the National Women’s Law Center, a staggering 78% of women report experiencing gender-based discrimination in their professional lives. This deeply ingrained issue not only affects mental well-being but also has a profound economic impact, hindering women’s advancement and stifling their financial potential. It is imperative to confront these statistics, fostering awareness and advocating for systemic changes that pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive professional landscape.

The corridors of economic thought have long been dominated by male voices, with names like Adam Smith echoing through the ages. Women, like Joan Robinson, have been scarce exceptions, even as the field gradually witnessed the rise of prominent female economists, exemplified by Janet Yellen. However, a stark gender imbalance persists, with women constituting just over 30 percent of new economics PhDs and a mere 15 percent reaching the prestigious rank of full professors.

This gender disparity permeates mainstream economic theory, embodying a male-centric worldview that emphasizes individualism over community and prioritizes the study of markets while sidelining the intricate dynamics of households. Katrina Marcal’s poignant exploration in “Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?” unveils the unacknowledged role of women in shaping economic thought, challenging the conventional narrative that economic players act purely in self-interest, neglecting the multifaceted contributions of women throughout history.

The historical exclusion of women’s experiences and opportunities from economic theory reverberates through the institutions and structures shaping our economy. Women, often relegated to the roles of caregivers, have been indispensable to economic functionality, yet their contributions extend far beyond domestic care. The undervaluation of jobs associated with women, even those that were previously male-dominated, has perpetuated a complex history of gender bias in the workplace.

As women’s labor force participation has grown, the gender wage gap has gradually diminished, yet progress has stalled in recent years. Despite these challenges, mothers have become the majority of breadwinners in families, playing a pivotal role in maintaining family economic security during periods of wage stagnation.

Transitioning from theory to practice, misogyny finds a tangible presence in the business realm. Systemic discrimination and prejudiced attitudes towards women in the workplace present formidable challenges, from limited opportunities and unequal treatment to fostering a hostile work environment. Women navigating the corporate landscape often encounter barriers hindering professional growth, from the undervaluation of their contributions to challenges in networking and negotiations.

As we confront the multifaceted nature of misogyny, unraveling its grip on economic structures becomes imperative. Beyond the headlines and the workplace challenges faced by women, lies a call for transformation—a call to redefine economic paradigms and eradicate discriminatory practices. In the pursuit of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable business environment, companies that actively combat gender-based discrimination not only foster innovation but contribute to reshaping the narrative of our economic future.

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