Discrimination arises from the unequal treatment of persons based on factors such as gender, religion, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, and ethnic origin, and can affect various aspects of a person’s life.

In the working world, women are more often subject to discrimination than men.
This is demonstrated by unequal pay and also by the fact that young women across Europe today have better education levels than young men, yet are not able to translate their educational advantage into better professional prospects. The sharp rise in educational levels among women is offset by distinct vertical and horizontal gender segregation in the labor market.

Discriminatory Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are influenced by gender-specific role expectations. Women often come off worse than men, i.e. in comparison to their male counterparts, they face a greater risk of being judged more poorly. This can be the case not only at the job application and interview stage, but also in performance appraisals with supervisors.

For women it is therefore all the more important to prepare for performance appraisals not only because women are often judged more poorly than men but also because women have a tendency to underestimate their own strengths themselves. In contrast, men often tend to overestimate their competence.

What to Do in the Case of Suspected Discrimination

If you feel you are the target of discrimination, you can obtain advice and support free of charge from the cantonal arbitration authorities or gender equality offices. Other sources of information include trade unions, professional associations, and legal advice centers.

It is however extremely important that you prepare well before you seek professional support or take legal action. Start first by reading the guidelines that you will find in the upper right hand corner of this page. You can then contact one of the offices named in the guideline if you require more help.

In any conversation about equal opportunity and the advancement of women at professorial level, the term “leaky pipeline’ will at some point come up. The term refers to the phenomenon within academic structures geared to men in which outstanding female researchers may be disregarded and not promoted to professorial level.

The fact is that at universities too - in professorial appointments and recruiting processes - performance reviews are strongly swayed by the candidate’s gender: Not only are CVs with male applicant names better judged[1], but also female applicants are often rated as less employable and less competent.[2]

At the University of Zurich, the Gender Equality Commission and the Office for Gender Equality organize events to promote equal opportunity for women and men in research, teaching, and administration.
All information can be found on the following website: www.gleichstellung.uzh.ch.

Specialist Literature on the Leaky Pipeline

[1] Steinpreis, Rhea & Anders, Katie [et. al]: The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study. Sex Roles, 41, 1999, S. 509-528. available online (accessed 09/2014).

[2] Moss-Racusin, Corinne, Dovidio, John [et. al.]: Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109, 2012. S. 16474-16479.