Management & Leadership

Women’s Challenges in the Workforce Today (and how to overcome them)

It may be 2022, but women are still facing challenges in the workforce. There is no doubt that women have progressed significantly, but there is still much work needed to improve things. Between discrimination, lack of childcare assistance, workplace harassment and other challenges, women are constantly faced with obstacles while navigating their careers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a part in slowing down gender equity in the workplace. According to CNBC, women globally lost $800 billion in income due to the pandemic, in just one year! As women are able to fulfill more of their ambitions and pursue any role of their choice, there are still a lot of work issues that they face that inhibit advancement and create other professional issues. So, what are some of the major issues faced by women in the workforce and more importantly, how can we overcome them?

Top 6 Challenges Faced by Women in the Workforce & Tips to Overcome Them

Here are some of the most significant challenges faced by professional women and ways we can overcome the issues.

Challenge 1: Sexual harassment 

No matter the role or industry, sexual harassment in the workplace is a big ongoing issue faced by women. Sexual harassment not only makes women feel uncomfortable in their workplace but can limit their advancement and even affect their mental health. This issue inadvertently affects employers because continuous harassment can create a toxic workplace culture, leading to low productivity and decreased engagement.

How can Leaders Intervene?  

Leaders can intervene by implementing strategies to educate their teams. All supervisors should be trained in observing and managing harassment issues, claims and complaints. All complaints should be taken seriously, and appropriate action should be taken in response. Additionally, sexual harassment training is now a requirement in some states – check with your legal counsel for more details and be sure you are compliant with all the training and education for your team.

Challenge 2: Bias 

Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles that women have to face is unconscious bias based on their gender, race, ethnicity, and/or culture. Many women have to deal with microaggressions, such as unwarranted stereotypical comments and other unwelcoming situations, that make women uncomfortable in their own workplace. This discomfort and negative comments can often lead to stress and anxiety.

How can Leaders Intervene? 

Managers should always be observant and stand up when they notice bias taking place. Managers should always be available to listen to their employees’ concerns and be open to feedback and implement changes when necessary. Building trust will be very important in ensuring the workplace is a safe and comfortable environment for all employees. 

Challenge 3: Pay inequity 

As PayScale notes, women earn 82 cents for every $1 earned by men (based on a study using uncontrolled data). It’s 2022 and the pay gap still exists. This isn’t an issue just in the United States, it’s an issue faced all over the world.

How can Leaders Intervene? 

Regular age audits are a good way to ensure that there is no pay gap within the company. Everyone should have equal opportunities for promotions and pay raises, and pay transparency should be supported. 

Challenge 4: Fewer women in leadership positions

According to a McKinsey & Company report, “Only 86 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men promoted to the same level, resulting in fewer women available for promotion at even higher levels.” With fewer women in leadership positions, there are fewer role models for younger women to be inspired. While things are changing for the better, there are still obstacles that women need to overcome compared to their male counterparts in the same position, especially when it comes to career advancement.

How can Leaders Intervene? 

Employers should make it a point to give their women employees the promotion and career advancement they deserve especially when they are highly qualified and drive business success.

Challenge 5: Childcare 

Women want to be able to focus on their careers, but often childcare burdens fall on them. Because of a lack of assistance, women are forced to leave their careers and look after their families. Of those who continue to work, many are afraid to let their employers know about their struggles and continue to work hours that causes stress and burnout.

How can Leaders Intervene?
Women want to be able to focus on their careers and providing them the opportunity of flexibility, support, trust and an environment without judgment will truly be beneficial for their growth and happiness at the company.

Challenge 6: Access to career opportunities 

It could be possible that women don’t have access to opportunities as much as men do which is imperative to career advancement. This could be due to the nature of the job or the lack of visibility because of the roles they are offered instead.

How can Leaders Intervene? 

Invest in your women employees! They will work just as hard as the men in your team. Encourage inclusivity and ensure that everyone on the team is trained to be aware and will behave in an inclusive nature when it comes to collaborating with each other.

While things are improving and the workplace is progressing toward equality for all genders, there are still ongoing issues that need to be addressed in order for women to feel like they are treated equally. Little changes to create awareness and training to educate can go a long way in making sure the workplace is an equal opportunity, safe and comfortable environment for women to navigate their careers.

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