Although major steps have been made toward gender equality over the past decade, women still face many obstacles in their professional lives. Women make up half of the workforce, yet it’s harder for them to find employment, earn raises, and land promotions. This is true in many fields and industries. Here are some of the most pervasive problems for women in the workforce.
A joint study by professors at Columbia University, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago revealed that two-thirds of hiring managers in the tech industry chose male candidates even if the female candidates performed the same or better than the male candidates. Similar studies showed the same bias is present in the sciences and in the corporate world. People of all genders have an unconscious bias toward men, assuming men are more competent than women even when they have no evidence to back it up.
One of the biggest problems women face in the workplace is recognition. Female employees have to work harder than their male counterparts for their managers to publicly praise them. They are also overlooked for promotions. Many female professionals feel like they don’t have a fair opportunity to earn promotions, having noticed that their male colleagues often received promotions before them even if they have less experience.
Gender Pay Gap
On average, men are paid more than women for the same work, even when they have the same educational and professional background, work the same hours, and have the same responsibilities. Since men are often more likely to receive raises, the pay gap experienced often increases over time. A study by the WAGE Project suggests the average woman with a BA will receive a third of what a man with the same degree makes over the course of his career.
What Can Organizations Do?
First and foremost, companies should actively work on making their processes for hiring and promotions objective and unbiased. Many managers are unaware of the biases they have, so the best way to approach decisions is to leave no room for subjectivity. Companies can also establish mentorship programs for women in the workplace and be proactive in hiring women for leadership positions. Organizations with more diversity in their leadership tend to perform better, so it is a win-win situation.
Gender inequality is a huge challenge in contemporary work culture. In most fields, women are less likely than men to be hired or promoted. They also tend to receive less money than men for the same work. If companies want to attract and retain the best talent, they need to rethink their approach to gender equality and take clear steps to reduce bias in their practices.
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