Is it ethical?

Imagine if you will, a large American corporation. They are EOE, and go to great length to make sure the employees feel welcome and accepted at work, and they sponsor a number of good causes.
E.g., they offer a scholarship for daughters of employees who are headed to college.

If this were a private foundation, there wouldnt even be a question in my mind about it. But people are working their behinds off for this company whether they have a daughter or a son, and it appears that a gender-based differential in benefits exists.
Maybe I am seeing this wrong, that there is a bias.

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It’s weird that it’s specifically for daughters, @Alexander8. Is there one specifically for sons too? That would at least even out some of the playing field. Is one of the female executives sponsoring it or is it out of the general pool of scholarships?

I still hear about and have seen gender-based differences in pay in a number of different EOE employers…

Are they bias in the causes they support? Or are they fairly well spread out throughout a diverse selection of organizations?

I think everything can be seen as bias depending on how we’re looking at it. But our biases don’t make true biases any less bias. (That made sense in my head, hopefully, it makes sense in type. :wink: )


Oh, I bet. But isnt it true that

  • it is not something celebrated
  • the policy is to even out these differences, not make them more pronounced

Also, this is not a benefit for women in workplace. I support this class of benefits unequivocally. No, there is no symmetrical scholarship for boys.


Sounds unbalanced to me. I think it’s a legit question to ask why girls not boys.
There are still school imbalances based on gender… say girls in hard sciences, math and some engineering disciplines… if it were targeted to that, it might make sense. Otherwise, maybe we dont have enough info to know why it’s set up that way.


Not sure what specific scholarships the company your speaking of is offering, but I know some companies in the technology industry have a number of STEM related programs targeted at girls and getting them interested in Engineering (they have some that are focused at both genders, but a majority target girls).

The thought process behind this is that while women make up over half of the college graduate (approx. 55%) they only make up about 20-26% of STEM degrees and as such only make up about that much in the STEM degreed work force despite the entire workforce being about 50/50.

So yes those programs are gender biased, but are done so in an attempt to even out what’s seen by many as a disparity in the other two populations down stream.

Not arguing the point of whether it’s right/wrong, just stating the rationale behind the bias.


Thanks to all for your replies. The scholarship is two part. One eligibility group is indeed STEM area of study. The other is targeting high school graduates who had leadership roles.
No doubt that their heart is in the right place, and it is good that they want to encourage young women to take technical jobs and lead people.
The scholarship makes good sense as charity. Also makes good sense to treat your employees the same, and not tell them their children need not apply here because they are certain gender.

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My personal opinion… if it is considered a charity yet benefits the employees directly and has tax deductible status for the business, there already exists a conflict of interest. Additionally, if it is part of an official benefits package for employees, then it is discriminatory… again just my personal opinion.

However, I have no qualms about encouraging programs and charities that target a specific demographic… particularly because 1. it focuses resources towards an easily definable goal/solution to a problem, and 2. specificity helps approve non-profit startups when applying for 501c3 status. If employees (and family) were disqualified from this program, I would consider it truly philanthropic, without conflict of interest or discriminatory potential.

That being said, I might consider that in the grand scheme of things, it’s better that this program exists than to not exist at all.

*Side note, here’s some interesting statistics (PDF) from the government website for the “National Center for Education Statistics” (NCES): College Enrollment Rates. Page 3 breaks it down by sex and race.