Career Woman

Still big problems for women in the workplace

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The US has come a long way in regards to women in the workplace as time has gone by, with recent statistics showing that female workers actually make up over 50% of America’s workforce, as well as earning the majority of advanced college degrees and diplomas.

Stats also show that the number of women in leadership roles, senior management jobs, and general positions of power is gradually rising around the globe, but there’s clearly still a lot of progress to be made, with men still being vastly more prevalent in powerful positions than women.

Despite women doing so well in education and beginning to make strides in many areas of employment, they still face dozens of obstacles, impediments, and other problems to stall their progress and limit their potential. Read on to learn more about just some of these issues.

The wage gap

One of the most obvious and serious problems for women in the workplace in the US, and many other countries, is the famous wage gap. Countless studies and reports show that women typically get paid significantly less than men for doing essentially the same work, with the same qualifications.

On average, women will earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Recent years have seen efforts made to reduce the gender pay gap and promote wage equality, but for now, women consistently find themselves doing lots of work for less reward, and this can have a range of financial consequences and other ramifications, such as job dissatisfaction and general frustration for females.

Health issues

Women and men have different physiology, which can lead to unique difficulties faced by both genders in and around the workplace. In the case of women, the menstrual cycle can make certain working tasks difficult to carry out, and while some countries offer paid leave for period pain and discomfort, the vast majority of employers will not even consider this.

Women may also find themselves at higher risks of injuries and illnesses in certain roles too. Physical, manual labor can be more challenging for women in certain cases, and studies have found situations where female workers are more likely to suffer long-term issues, like how female firefighters could develop breast carcinogens from using certain kinds of equipment.

An imbalance of credit

Studies also exist to suggest that, when completing team-based tasks, women will be less likely to receive the credit they are due than men. In surveys and studies, management professionals consistently seem to rate female team members as being less influential and less likely to act as leaders than their male counterparts, even if this runs contrary to the truth.

Again, there can be many reasons for this, and the problem may boil down to ingrained social constructs regarding assumed characteristics of men and women. Some people will naturally make assumptions about men or women based purely on their gender, which can be highly damaging, both in and out of the workplace.

The interview process

Even getting through an interview and actually obtaining a job in the first place can be much more of a challenge for a woman than it is for a man. Studies and reports have shown that some employers will discriminate based on gender, choosing a male candidate over a female one with identical or even superior experience, purely because the former candidate is a man.

A study carried out through a combined effort of Columbia, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago discovered that over 60% of managers would choose male applicants to fill available positions, even if female applicants performed more strongly in interviews and tests. Another study, carried out by Columbia, showed that recruiters in STEM jobs were twice as likely to hire men than women.

Childcare

Even though women make up over half of the workforce in the US, many of them are forced into part-time roles or have to take long periods of leave due to childcare responsibilities. Again, in recent times, some progress has been made towards balancing out parental duties between women and men, but research shows that women are still handling the vast majority of these responsibilities.

A lot of women can feel forced into accepting flexible roles and part-time jobs due to the demands of childcare, and many others feel forced to choose between their careers and their desires to have children, seeing little in the way of middle-ground. Fortunately, some employers are beginning to introduce new policies and strategies to help with this issue, but much work still remains.

Promotions can be harder to obtain

Reports also show that getting promoted as a woman can be much more of a challenge than it would be for a man. There are various reasons for this. In some cases, young male workers are promoted based on their assumed potential, which is less often the case for young women, who seem to be expected to have to prove themselves more thoroughly.

Similarly, if a company has a majority of male workers among management, promotions can also work more based on character, than merit, meaning that the management will be more likely to promote a male worker who has interests in common with them, rather than a female worker who has proven herself more than capable of taking on the job.

Plenty of evidence exists to back up these claims, with statistics showing that men who move on from jobs and into more prominent roles at other businesses earn much more on average than women who attempt to follow a similar path.

Conclusion

Clearly, progress has been made as the decades have gone by, but much more still needs to be done if true employment equality is ever to exist. Efforts are ongoing to narrow the gender pay gap, while progressive companies are making strides in terms of offering equal opportunities for employees of both genders, and if more companies follow in these footsteps, future generations of females may not find so many obstacles in their way when attempting to build their careers and follow their dreams.

About Susan Melony

susanm@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

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