In the modern workplace, women face difficult challenges and are woefully underrepresented. Until all businesses, and men are willing to evolve and make changes, we will continue to have a big gender gap. Understanding challenges women face, and systematically making changes to organizations can lead to a more empowered work environment, and help create more equality, especially amongst women.
Across the USA, income has increased dramatically for women since the 1970s. However, they’re still paid significantly less and awarded fewer leadership roles compared to their male peers. We can look at history to understand how we’ve evolved. Our previous beliefs around the role women should play have greatly contributed to our current gender gap. Men often subconsciously don’t want to allow women in power, and are fearful of letting women take more active roles. This has created issues in our culture and businesses. Currently, nearly 85-percent of corporate executives and board members in the United States are white males.
Today, Women are an essential part of United States commerce, and many companies who have women in leadership roles are more successful. Despite the progress of women in relatively recent years, there are still significant gender disparitiesthroughout the professional landscape. It’s true women still often go over looked in workplaces. Although we know the only way to create more equality is to start with our individual businesses and companies, many are unwilling to make changes to help mend the gender gap.
Gender Disparity in the Workplace
Today, women are still underpaid and do not receive proper respect in the workplace. Men are paid significantly more, and few women make it to the top of the corporate ladder. In some cases, women are more qualified and more educated, but are paid less and are unfairly overlooked for promotions given to their male peers. These injustices take place despite women entrepreneurs’ clear track record of business acumen and ability to generate revenue. This is especially true within specialty occupations, where women are typically paid more than 33-percent less than men.
There are many differences between male and female professionals. In the workplace, women function, operate and think differently than their male peers. They have more of a desire to feel engaged with their work and an increased need to feel reassured about their future career prospects. It’s been shown women’s great leadership skills can be intimidating for men.
Women bring a different perspective to the workplace. Like their male counterparts, they have excellent communication and listening skills, and qualities most men lack. Women often care more, and are able to deliver and execute in different ways compared to men.
Working Toward Gender Equality
Historically, a culture of gender bias and discrimination has made it difficult for women to earn respect in the workplace. Despite changing opinions of beauty and gender equality, women still face significant stereotypes every day. Some male business leaders, happy with the status quo, have made it difficult for women to make progress in this area, and unfortunately, marketing campaigns have conveyed a false image of womenthat’s difficult to overcome.
Contrary to this trend, marketers for Dove soap created a well-known campaign designed to help women feel good about themselves. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign championed the role of women in society. The campaign connected strongly with the female demographic and elicited and overwhelmingly positive response on social media platforms. Today, many enterprises present professional women in a positive light, helping to repair the damage caused by years of unfair stereotypes.
Today’s female professionals want to feel included and empowered. Women do still face obstacles daily that make them feel undervalued and unworthy. Women who are employed at companies who have not fully embraced gender inclusion and diversity often feel conflicted and doubt their ability to advance. Sometimes when they speak up, they get punished. Hopefully, the perception of women and minorities in the workplace will change over time, and more business leaders can make firm commitments to promote gender equality.
Righting Wrongs in the Workplace
Across the corporate staffing spectrum, women are still underrepresented, even though they have collectively earned more college degrees compared to men over the last 30 years. In light of this circumstance, many organizations and business leaders are realizing that there is a serious need to promote commitment to gender diversity in corporate America. Despite their efforts, however, success in this endeavor is painfully slow – almost to the point of stagnation.
Often, staff members mistakenly think that their organization doesn’t have a gender disparity problem because of their familiarity with a handful of female company executives, and many longtime male executives – comfortable with their corporate status – have little incentive to promote change. However, it’s these individuals that must realize the importance of leading corporate America toward fair inclusion and diversity. Hopefully, the new law signed in California that requires one female director on company boards will begin to equalize the business culture and initiatives.
For many women, it’s frustrating and discouraging to work for an organization that does not actively promote career development for female and minority professionals. Although this issue is becoming more prominent in society, it’s difficult for non-female professionals to understand what it feels like to work in the current environment.
Business leaders can serve as a positive influence in righting this wrong by promoting organizational structures that help women thrive and by establishing policies that promote career development as well as gender equality. Companies can adopt new cultures and alter their own perceptions, in order to help promote women equality. Until these conditions are remedied, women will continue to feel inferior in the workplace, and the American economy will continue to suffer.
There is a big call to action to all businesses and for men, to step up and begin to support women in bigger ways. Even the slightest initiatives and changes within a companies culture can help level the game, and help women feel more included and empowered.