Employment bias otherwise known as discrimination refers to a differential treatment meted out to a person or a class of people by reason of their gender, age, race, religion, and even pregnancy by employers.
It is not a hidden fact that women are majorly at the receiving end of employment bias and discrimination not only in Nigeria but also in other parts of the world. What constitutes employment bias varies in different parts of the world, an accepted misnomer that has spread across both the public and private sectors in our employment history.
Today, we see organizations and companies refusing to hire married or pregnant women on the basis of that status only. We have an overrepresentation of women in informal and underpaid labour and a much lesser percentage in managerial or political positions.
Women’s Technology Empowerment Center in 2018 reported with a labour force that is not female dominant, an average of 22% of Engineering and Tech graduates each year are female. The same goes for professions that have been male-dominated.
The issue however is that how many women who obtain professional certifications from these fields are given room to practice with them. Almost 80% of the working Nigerian women combine their work with taking care of their families, which is unavoidably no fault of theirs.
The lack of a favourable system has caused most women to be mostly entrepreneurs. This is done more out of a necessity and we still find that most of their strategies and risk decisions in business are influenced by social and family factors.
We have a system that ordinarily supports and breeds the disempowerment of women and this same system is transferred to our employment criteria and strategies. This discrimination can also be tied to cultural factors of male superiority. This culture which is firmly entrenched in the minds of past and present generation still make some employers see their female employees or applicants for employment as being physically and mentally weaker.
A study carried out in Lafia, Nassarawa state by Ikwumokoni & Umar titled Implication of Gender Discrimination on Employment in Lafia Local Government reveals that lack of education and early marriage, and colonialism are major factors responsible for gender inequality and discrimination in the Local Government.
Not to sound like a broken record, but the fact that women are most discriminated against in Nigeria is no news, it is of concern, however, that this pattern of discrimination has been carried on to form part of employment bias. This is not to say that both genders are not victims of employment bias in some instances but a greater part of are gender-based employment bias and not general in nature.
The law is not silent on the matter of discrimination and it is on this basis that organizations and groups have risen all-round the country to create a platform to fight this discrimination. However, where it affects employment bias in recruitment processes, the law has little or no remedy. Affected persons cannot hold a right to be employed over the employers as they are at liberty to decide who they want to contract with.
However, where it extends to the bias or discrimination faced by an employee, then the law cannot turn a blind eye. It still remains unreasonable for employment contracts of females to be terminated because they get pregnant or get married as though it now forms part of the contract of labour. Hope still exists for remedies to be provided to curb this bias but in the meanwhile, awareness can be increased to address this discrimination.
From the foregoing, one can argue that employment bias or discrimination is a gender-based phenomenon affecting both genders but with the female gender bearing the crux of it. Whether this is the standard position or not will be answered in the next part of this article.
Daily Trust News (2018) “Gender, governance and political participation
Denning L.(1980).”The Due Process of Law” London Butterworth p.194
Ikwumokon, Ada Benjamin & Umar Elegu Ahmed(2017)
International Journal of Social Sciences and Management Research, Volume B No7,2017