The Challenges Women Face in the Workplace

Lately, women’s rights has been a popular issue of social importance. And with the recent happenings from this year’s “International Women’s Day,” I was inspired to write about the challenges women are often plagued with in the workplace. Below is just a small selection of the challenges I’ve seen.

Maternity Leave

Overall, paid maternity leave in the United States lags behind almost every other industrialized country in the world. America, and a small island nation called Papua New Guinea, are the only two industrialized countries in the world with no paid maternity leave at all.

Although legally, employers with fifty or more workers must allow new mothers twelve weeks of job-protected leave every year to care for a newborn. However, the problem is maternity leave isn’t paid and often leaves new mothers with less income at a time when they need it the most. That’s why most new mothers don’t utilize the full 12 weeks they are given

Women Need to Be “Attractive” to Succeed

Women in every industry and every level of leadership make 79 cents for every dollar men make. Not only do we make less than men, but we have to put out more money to make ourselves look attractive. Why? Because statistically, attractive people are better off in the workplace. It’s a human bias that’s known as the “what is beautiful is good” effect. Women who look beautiful are seen as more intelligent and competent. They also are more likely to get job interviews, more job offers, and higher income than their less attractive counterparts. So if we want to be seen as more attractive by societal standards, we have to wear makeup, style our hair, whiten our teeth, and attend to skin and nail care — all which require money.

Women Need to be Attractive, But Not Too Attractive

It’s a catch-22: women need to be attractive to succeed, but they can’t be too attractive or else they won’t be taken seriously. It can bring an increased discrimination in hiring and on the job, and can make women leaders less trustworthy and loyal. So although women “need” wear makeup and have their hair done, being too done-up can make women seem shallow or judged for only getting by based on their looks. If women aren’t done-up enough, they aren’t taken seriously and aren’t as successful as other, more attractive women.

Women, how do you feel about this? Please comment below.

Tips for Success as a Woman

As a working woman in this world, there are a lot of uphill battles you must face on a day-to-day basis. Women still only make an average of 80 cents to each man’s dollar, and that number gets smaller and smaller for women who are also minorities; African American women make an average of 63 cents to a man’s dollar, and Latinas typically make only 54 cents per dollar. Alongside the perpetual gender wage gap, women also face difficulty advancing through businesses and climbing the corporate ladder; of the businesses on the Fortune 500 list, only 21 have females currently holding the role of CEO. Although it can be tough in the working world as a woman, there are things you can learn and teach yourself that can help you in your fight to the top. Without further ado, here are some tips that you, as a woman, can use to help you find success in work and in life.

  1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
    • No one really likes to talk about money, but one of the worst things you can do to yourself as a professional is be afraid to fight for what you deserve. Forbes notes women’s general discomfort around and tendency to shy away from negotiating has not only lead to them being less successful in their attempts than men but also likely perpetuates the gender wage gap seen across most developed nations. Although it can be mildly terrifying to imagine yourself negotiating wages or promotions, you owe it to yourself and your professional career to not accept less than you are worth.
  2. Network hard and network often.
    • A big part of developing professionally is building a strong network of other professionals with whom you interact and discourse about your industry or business ideas, and to whom you can turn if and when the time comes for a change in employment. Instead of eating lunch alone at your desk, use every meal that you’re at the office as an opportunity to enhance and grow your own professional network.Women are even unintentionally selling themselves short on social media; women dominate every major social networking site – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and overwhelmingly Pinterest – but men still greatly outnumber women on LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Put yourself out there and grow your list of connections as you develop professionally.
  3. Learn to effectively delegate.
    • In their pursuit to “have it all,” some women lose focus of the fact that they don’t have to do it all by themselves. While there are certainly tasks that require your keen eye and expert touch, not every project is a top priority. Former President and CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises Bryan Dyson discusses responsibilities as rubber and glass balls; some balls when you drop them will bounce right back to you, but some balls when mishandled will fall and shatter. When it comes to delegation at the workplace, the glass balls are the things you keep for yourself, and the rubber balls are the ones you pass along to others.

Little-Known Facts About Women in the Workplace

Lori Cornmesser
Women in the Workforce

Holding 47% of jobs in America, women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the working world.  Recently, an article published by the Pew Research Center has analyzed the Census data and come to some interesting conclusions on the values of having women in the workplace and what the realities are for men and women alike in today’s job force.

1. Compilation of data has shown that women are entering the working world better educated than males entering the workforce.  Thirty-eight percent of women ages 25-32 had at least a four year degree when beginning their careers, while only 31% of men in that same age range had at least a four year degree.

2. Looking back across the last 30 years, each new group of young women beginning their careers have began their jobs with wages higher than the previous year, as compared to male wages.  In other words, the gap is closing between the differences in hourly wages between men and women.  In 2012, women ages 25-34 were making 93% of what their male counterparts were making, while in 1980 women in this same age category were making only 67% of what men in this age range were making.

3. Women have become the innovators in the workplace.  Seventy-five percent of women ages 18-32, of the millennial generation, say that America needs to continue to make changes in order to achieve a more gender-equal standard for the workplace.

Lori Cornmesser Ruiz
Women juggling careers and parenting.

4. While women do want to ensure that they have job security, women from ages 18-67 were overall less-likely than males to ask for a raise or to pursue higher-up positions within their company.  This becomes even more apparent as the age groups are broken down into generation categories.  The baby-boomer generation women are the least likely to ask for raises while Millennial women were the most likely.

5. In terms of men and women who are parents and also have full-time jobs, the number of women who noted that their position as a parent has become a hurdle in advancing their careers is far higher than the number of men who say the same.  Fifty-one percent of women said it made the advancement of their career more difficult compared to only 16% of men who attest the same.

These were just some of the interesting findings that indicate the climate of women’s place in the working world today. To see more of these facts, check out the article listed above.