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How Gender Bias Corrupts Performance Reviews

Performance reviews continue to reinforce gender bias in the workplace putting women at a disadvantage to men.

Eliminating gender discrimination should be a top priority in your organization. To ensure gender equality is reflected in performance reviews, it’s important to understand and identify where this problem stems from.


Businesses continue to use performance reviews as a way to evaluate and improve an employees’ performance within an organization. However, when gender bias is present these appraisals can be the leading factor reinforcing a company’s glass ceiling. Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio conducted a content analysis which found women are 1.4 times more likely to receive critical subjective feedback. This means rather than being evaluated for their skills and abilities, the feedback women receive tends to focus on their personalities. Overcoming gender bias starts with understanding the inherent biases in our existing feedback systems and how this puts women at a disadvantage.

Here are three ways gender bias may be affecting your performance reviews and ways you can address them:

  • Feedback is subjective. This happens when managers evaluate employees based on their own personal perceptions. A way you can reduce subjectivity is to use ratings that are concise, unbiased and objective. For example, using a job specific score sheet that relates to an employees’ specific position.
  • Evaluations are vague. Women often receive less specific and actionable feedback than men. A way to combat this is by providing more developmental feedback based on business outcomes. This will help women to better gage areas they are doing well and where they could improve.
  • Limited perspectives. Performance reviews have the potential to be less accurate when there’s only one person involved in the evaluation process. The 360-degree feedback method is a great tool that provides employees with feedback from a variety of sources. Having more people involved in the review process allows ratings to be more impartial and unbiased.


Want more tips on how to overcome gender bias in the workplace? Read our blog post, Does Unconscious Bias Training Actually Work? You can also sign up for our weekly Sunday Snippets newsletter to stay up to date on best practices for diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace.

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