Women and those over 55 are the most likely to believe they face discrimination in the workplace, according to a new study by the University of Melbourne.
The study used data from the HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) longitudinal survey of Australian households, which is conducted every two years by the Melbourne Institute of Social and Economic Research. That study has asked 13,000 Australians whether they’ve felt discriminated against professionally in both the 2008 and 2010 surveys.
In total, 8.5% of job applicants reported being discriminated against in the last two years, while for employees who had been with the same company during this time, 7.5% reported discrimination.
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One in twenty of those over 55 (6.4%) said they had been discriminated against while applying for a job. In the course of employment, this type of discrimination dropped to 4.4%. Just 1.5% of those surveyed said they had been discriminated against due to their gender when applying for a job, but when asked about discrimination in the course of employment, the number of those reporting gender discrimination rose to 2.4%.
This revealed older workers felt discriminated against during the hiring process, but for women, discrimination was experienced during the course of their work. This is not surprising, suggests the study’s author Roger Wilkins, who wrote that parenting responsibilities are likely to be a common cause of discrimination against women, and employers cannot ask about such responsibilities during job interviews.
The study looked at perceived discrimination, which, Wilkins notes, is not the same as actual discrimination, though there is likely to be an overlap. However, he cautioned that even the perception of being discriminated against is highly damaging to employees. For example, those who believe they are discriminated against have lower levels of mental and physical well-being, and are more likely to leave their job or withdraw from the workforce altogether.
The full study can be viewed at the Melbourne Institute.