No country is immune from gender discrimination, says the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report, and most companies feel like they are gender neutral and perhaps are - but because people and perceptions are different it's dificult to say what is discrimination and what is sensitivity or even militancy.

It's not to say there aren't disparities - "No country in the world has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap"  they write in the report.   But it may be more looking for causation in the correlation than entrenche discrimination. 

In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics says women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn and women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn.   Obviously similar results have been shown for liberal arts majors versus engineers and any number of comparisons. Basically, if you want to find discrimination, you can get data to show it.

Elisabeth Kelan, Ph.D., from King's College London did a study and says that "gender fatigue" caused by harping on gender issues (as opposed to very little attention being paid to the wage gap for those Master's Degree in Victoran History people) is the cause for workers not acknowledging that bias against women may occur even in instances where it obviously is.

The study conducted in 2003-2004, included 26 men and women from two information communication technology (ICT) companies based in Switzerland. The companies were given assumed names for this study—"Redtech," a local 50-person Swiss company and "Bluetech," a subsidiary of a multinational enterprise, employing 3000 staff in Switzerland. At Redtech 11 men and 4 women participated in interviews and at Bluetech 6 women and 5 men were interviewed; 16 individuals were also followed on the job for several hours. The interviewees, ranging in age from 24-54, were asked about their views on gender discrimination as well as other issues.

Employees from both companies claimed their organizations were gender neutral and that employees were evaluated based on merit. With further questioning, men and women interviewed could describe past situations where gender bias occurred against women, but limited it to happening 10 to 20 years ago, from contacts outside their own organizations (i.e. customer contacts), or to an isolated male colleague from an "older" generation.

"Instead of denying gender discrimination, workers acknowledge it can happen but construct it as singular events that happened in the past, placing the onus on women to overcome such obstacles," stated Dr. Kelan.  In other words, don't dwell on the past, something we all can agree on.

Participants in the study displayed, what the author calls, "gender fatigue" where individuals tire of discussing gender discrimination just because they occurred at one time within their organization - or could perhaps occur again. "The problem with gender fatigue is that it prohibits productive discussion regarding inequalities between men and women, making gender bias difficult to address," noted Dr. Kelan. "Future studies should explore what happens to gender fatigue over time and whether practical strategies can be developed to shape the way in which people in organizations speak about gender."

The findings were in the September issue of the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.