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Demoted: Is Gender Bias The Issue?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “My new boss is truly a male chauvinist. He has surrounded himself with male managers and completely ignores all the women. After holding a management position for eight years, I was recently reclassified to a nonmanagement level. My boss gave no reason for this change, except to say ‘it would be best for the department.’ Although my title has been downgraded, my duties are almost exactly the same. The boss gave my old title to a man, along with a hefty raise. My boss says this change was not punitive. I believe that he simply doesn’t want any women managers. Should I jump ship or go on as though nothing has happened?” — Discouraged

Marie's Answer: Despite much progress, women still encounter managers with prehistoric attitudes. If your boss is such a Neanderthal, then your future may be dim.

•    Before jumping ship, be sure that you have accurately assessed the situation. New managers often reorganize, so there could be another reason for your position change.

•    Since the HR department would have signed off on any official reclassification, ask the department for an explanation.  You may not agree, but at least you can evaluate their reasoning.

•    If your HR manager is trustworthy, confidentially share your concerns about discrimination.  This may cause HR to watch your boss more carefully in the future.

•    Legally, you do have the right to file formal discrimination charges.  But that’s a big step that could have adverse career consequences, so it should not be taken lightly.

If your boss does have discriminatory beliefs and attitudes, they will continue to affect his decisions. If you conclude that women have no future with him, start working on your résumé.  

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