Supercharged Sexism: The Triple Threat of Workplace Monitoring for Women

34 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2020

Date Written: August 1, 2020

Abstract

As biometric monitoring becomes increasingly common in workplace wellness programs, there are three reasons to believe that women will suffer disproportionately from the data collection associated with it. First, many forms of biometric monitoring are subject to gender bias, among other potential biases, because of assumptions inherent in the design and algorithms interpreting the collected data. Second, the expansion of femtech in particular creates a gender-imbalanced data source that may feed into existing workplace biases against women unless more effective safeguards emerge. Finally, many femtech platforms encourage the kind of information sharing that may reduce women’s reasonable expectations of privacy, especially with regard to fertility data, thus increasing the risk of health data privacy invasion. This triple threat to female workers may be offset somewhat by the benefits of health data collection at work and may be remedied at least in part by both legislative and non-legislative means. The current trend toward greater health data collection in the wake of COVID-19 should provoke a reexamination of how employers collect and analyze women’s health data in order to reduce the impact of these new gender bias drivers.

Keywords: femtech, privacy, feminism, employment, workplace, wellness, biometric, wearables, discrimination, sexism

JEL Classification: K13, K22, K32, I14

Suggested Citation

Brown, Elizabeth A., Supercharged Sexism: The Triple Threat of Workplace Monitoring for Women (August 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3680861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3680861

Elizabeth A. Brown (Contact Author)

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

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