Could TikTok Trending “Microfeminism” Be the Answer to Gender Inequality in the Workplace?

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Photo Credits: Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

The hashtag “Microfeminism” is currently TikTok trending, with more than a billion views at the time of writing. But what is this new concept, and might it really make a difference to the issues of gender inequality at work? Read on to learn more.

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TikTok Trending #Microfeminism – What Does it Mean?

As yet, the term “microfeminism” has no entry in any standard English dictionary; but given the exponential growth of its popularity shown through TikTok trends, it can only be a matter of time. For now, microfeminism is the word used to describe any number of small actions which people take in an attempt to highlight or challenge conscious and unconscious gender biases in the workplace. Initially coined by producer and host Ashley Chaney in a video posted in March of this year, #Microfeminism has since gone viral across the web.

Acts of microfeminism vary greatly and can be demonstrated in most aspects of working life, including the language used in emails, the delegation of various types of tasks, and the treatment of colleagues of different genders. Such conduct as putting a female colleague’s name before a male colleague in an email or assuming the female pronoun when discussing higher board members are just two examples of microfeminism in the workplace.

Read: “Diversity and inclusion need to be a part of the
initial thinking from the start” – Sky Group MD on DEI

Corporate lawyer and TikTok creator, Katie Wood, is very supportive of microfeminism being TikTok trending.“Some women don’t want to (or can’t) join protests, or share on their social media, or vote,” she explains. “… so microfeminisms are little things that those people can do that can move the needle, if even by a little.”

Iris Software Group’s HR director, Lizzy Barry, further expounds: “For Gen Z, this is a way of challenging archaic attitudes and acting for inclusivity, equality and respect in the evolving workplace landscape.”

Addressing Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Gender inequality at work has been an ongoing issue for some decades now. Whilst there have been significant improvements over recent years, there remain substantial challenges for women at work. These causes include disparities in pay and/or power, the higher risk of job insecurity, and sex discrimination in the workplace. Although some legislation has been introduced to address the problem of gender inequality at work, this has not yet proved sufficient to eradicate the issue entirely.

Read: Female Worker Wins Sex Discrimination Claim
Over Pretty Woman Comment – Employment Law Review

According to the Trades Union Congress, the pay gap between males and females currently stands at 14.3%. Whilst this in itself has a considerable impact on women’s earning potential, the issue is compounded for those women who have children, resulting in an ultimate pension difference of 40.5%. Moreover, data from the Office for National Statistics show that, on average, young women begin their careers earning 19% less than men of the same age. This imbalance is likely to increase throughout their careers due to factors such as part-time work, failure to progress because of sex discrimination in the workplace, and working in lower-paid sectors.

Can Microfeminism Help?

Chief people officer at HiBob, Nirit Peled-Muntz, believes so, recommending that employers should engage with the new TikTok trending buzzword. She states that “microfeminism is a way employees can draw awareness to gender equality in the workplace… My advice is to consistently collect feedback from your teams, ask specific questions about inclusion and act upon that feedback. Consider providing training, adopting new policies or coaching leaders.”

She adds that “creating a diverse workplace has a huge impact on the business success, microfeminism is one more trend that helps us keep the momentum and our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive workplace.”

Principal business psychologist Dannielle Haig is optimistic about the TikTok trending microfeminism and its potential impact on gender inequality in the workplace.

 “A small ripple can turn into a big wave,” she explains. “It’s behaviour that counts. Thoughts and ideas are fantastic, but behaviour and action are what makes a difference, that’s how we overcome biases.”

Similarly, Melissa Carr (director of EDI in the World of Work Institute) has highlighted the potential collective effects which the TikTok trending buzzword can have to wider attitudes towards gender biases. She has stated that “equality and diversity should not be a business function, but [should be] everybody’s responsibility”, adding that “it’s everybody’s issue to deal with this and create workplaces which are inclusive.”

Read: Gender Pensions Gap Highlighted by New Research – Employment Law Review

Potential Pitfalls of Microfeminism

Whilst supportive of the positive effects microfeminism aims to achieve, Lizzy Barry has warned about the potential impact of taking the TikTok trend too far. She states that: “sometimes microfeminism can become a microaggression towards men, which creators need to be mindful of.” Barry affirms that “ultimately, the overarching goal is not to create more divisions between all genders but instead work toward balance. All genders should be actively trying to reduce bias (intentional or unintentional) in the workplace.”

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If you are concerned about gender inequality at work, the employment law specialists at Redmans Solicitors will be pleased to help. With years of expertise in the field, they can address your queries and provide guidance. If you have an eligible case, they can support you through the legal process to ensure you navigate it effectively.

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