An interesting survey among the top corporate giants around the world confirms that women have proved their stupendous presence in almost every industry and in huge numbers.
They are strong, smart, technically competent and emotionally valiant in comparison to their male counterparts. As such they are rightly called as the new age corporate women. But despite achieving such huge laurels, women still face many obstacles in their workplace.
Gender bias and sexual harassment are not just what we are talking about but there are few more issues that are big hurdles for women to grow high up in the corporate scene.
Let us discuss the most predominant challenges that women in the workplace face in their day to day life.
As per research, companies who have a higher number of women in their workforce have gained high financial profits and productivity as their output, when compared to the companies which have fewer women employees.
Being in this 21st century, where women have been equally capable and successful as men, gender diversity at the workplace should be made a mandatory rule. Moreover, the companies which have a diverse workforce are more successful when compared to other companies which are mostly male-dominated.
Hiring women in the companies have many benefits as they are more focused, committed and successful even when they are under-represented most of the time. Workplaces are usually unequal and it is a global truth, one can easily understand it by seeing the pay, the positions, the designation what men and women get at work. But still, women have been victorious in making a mark on their own in this competitive market.
The best part about hiring more women in the workplace not only helps you double your gains and increases your organization’s productivity but also make the workplace a better place to work.
Some of the top advantages of having gender diversity at the workplace are,
- Better job satisfaction
- The work turns out to be enjoyable and fun
- The dedication level towards the company will be higher
- Being positive and focused on company goals
- More meaningful work
- Have better opportunities to succeed
- Lesser burnout situations
Women in the Workplace Issues and Challenges:
1. Men versus Women Issues:
Men and women are always two sides of the same coin. Each one of them has their unique charisma and each one thinks and handles the situation differently.
While a man may be a practical woman could think farfetched. But it is still a shame that irrespective of being equally talented there is always discrimination in the eyes of the beholder.
In corporate environments, where people of both genders participate in all activities with equal vigour and enthusiasm such vague differentiation is the biggest challenge for a woman.
One must understand that a working woman loves your concern but not your sympathy. She wishes to be recognized with her talent and not her gender. As colleagues men and women need to combine their synergies and work in union. Such a first step will definitely be the giant leap for mankind.
2. Gender Bias:
Gender bias is another challenge that many women experience at their workplace. Though we can say that corporate offices are bridging the gender gap slowly, private institutions and government offices are still way far behind.
Jobs that require frequent travel, physical exertion etc. are still open for men only as they are considered more eligible than women. Many companies while hiring women employees ask them openly about their marriage and further family planning as they cannot afford the maternity leaves and other flexibility perks.
One must understand that women are blessed with the opportunity to bring another soul into this world and this factor must not be a hindrance for their growth and progress.
It is a promising change to see that many social welfare organizations like the UN are raising this concern globally and is pledging to remove gender bias in the workplace.
One of the most shameful and heart-wrenching challenges that women face in the working environment is the kinds of sexual abuse she is exposed to.
Mostly women fall prey to cunning men who lure them on the pretext of love and sexually harass them. Many men have the notion that working women are compromising in nature which is the foundation for such vicious deeds.
To curtail this challenge, there are social welfare organizations which are discussing women empowerment on multiple forums and have raised voice against harassment of women at the workplace. This technique has forced the law and order to include several severe punishments against these ruthless men.
Women who stand up for their self-respect do not fail to voice out their difficulties but naive and fretful women still need to be fed with courage and must be taught to fight back against these vengeful men and show them their place.
4. Work-life imbalance:
Another most noticeable challenge that women of today face at the workplace is the work-life imbalance.
Differentiating personal life and professional career becomes little hard for women in general. They tend to mix up work commitments with personal priorities and that’s when all the issue starts.
The family feels neglected, friends feel lost and unfortunately, she has to face the wrath of her entire support system just because she has forgotten to draw the line between work and life. This challenge is mostly self-imposed and to get out of this mess, the woman has to help herself.
She needs to set her priorities right and plan her day well ahead. If she has to attend a family event and she is asked to attend a corporate dinner which is unplanned according to her, she needs to gather courage and politely refuse the latter as she has committed to her family. All she needs to manage is time and effort then everything falls in place.
5. Maternity leaves:
Growing from a woman to a mother brings about a lot of changes in anyone. She learns to nurture a small being inside her. Elders say that as a woman becomes a mother, care and patience become her inseparable virtues.
But does anyone perceive what all changes and challenges she is about to face at the workplace before and after the baby is born?
Handling mood swings and morning sicknesses without showing a slightest discomfort, traveling to and fro with her baby belly, avoiding office parties and late night meetings as her health may take a toll, listening to her boss’s taunts as she constantly applies checkup leaves, maternity leaves etc. are simply too hard for a pregnant woman.
Most of the firms have policies where maternity leaves are granted for the first two babies which is appreciable. But once the lady resumes office post her maternity break, she may be in for surprise as her role would no more be the same. She may have to begin from beginning all over again.
To bridge this gap and ease the challenge, corporate firms have now included flexibility policies for women who resume their career post maternity breaks.
6. Lack of role models:
Women have time and again proved their capabilities in the work front but still, the top cream layer is mostly occupied by men. The challenge here is female leaders are many but role models are few. Hence when women try and look for leaders whom they can emulate, they are left behind.
While male leaders are many and they train their successor with full vigour a women leader learns everything the hard way. When women look up to men for guidance and mentorship they feel they are disconnected and disoriented as there is a great difference in their objectivity and style of communication.
But this challenge is slowly minimizing as more and more women are entering as managers, politicians, presidents, CEO’s and in the next few years to come, there will be more leaders who will turn role models for the generations to follow.
7. Power play:
For generations, women have succumbed to the power play that men have played. With the dawn of the millennium, women are ready for a tough fight.
Many women leaders have stated vehemently that it took them a lot of time and plenty of courage to survive the power play politics and reach their current position in their workplace.
Driven by emotion and instinct, for women surviving office politics is one of the toughest challenges as it can hurt her inner soul and disturb her mental peace. Rather than falling prey to this false ego, able leaders should encourage healthy comradeship among fellow employees be it, man or woman.
Also, practising the art of treating criticism as a feedback mechanism is the best way to tackle this challenge on the work front.
8. Ego clashes:
Adam was the first human being in this world and then came eve. Men always try to prove their superiority while at work. An alpha male will feel his ego is crushed when he has to report to a women manager.
Howsoever the lady is kind to him, he will try to find faults against her approach or mode of work etc. Women who are at a higher rank face this challenge while interacting with their peers, subordinates and superiors.
Out of the three, handling her peers is the toughest job for a woman as she needs to imbibe special communication skills. But on the other hand, manipulating a man’s brain is easy if you can know the nuances.
The emotionally weak men need agony aunts or 3 AM friends to vent out and rant while women can keep any amount of agony and pain within them and yet smile gracefully. Working women need to encash this ability of hers to persuade and win the trust of her peers and this will definitely help her to befriend her colleague and turn the ego clash into nothing.
9. Restroom gossips:
Office without gossip mongers is like a cake without icing. Tea breaks, lunchtime, restroom meetings are the venue and time when gossips are created and spread across.
When a woman reaches a respectable position in her workplace there are always plenty of speculation about her journey to that position. Some comment on her ability while some comment about her friendly attitude. Such comments sound too harsh and many times forces the girl to put down her papers.
But on a deeper thought, this challenge can be easily handled if you can sit calm and think. All you will need to do is not to reciprocate any hard feelings. Women should know to face and win over this emotional challenge in her stride.
In a world where good and bad co-exists, women must grow their emotional quotient and let their work speak for them instead of engaging in verbal battles.
Last but not least the most threatening challenge for women at the workplace is their security. With more and more cases of physical assault and abuse being reported in dailies and news channels, women need to learn the art of self-defence for their security.
Many organizations have employed special security services for helping their women employees to get back home at late nights. Not just working women but every girl should always be prepared to face the wrath of uncivilized men and hence must equip themselves with defence mechanism and face their challenge with oozing self-confidence.
Problems of Working Women:
Boasting about gender diversity at the workplace and discussing successful women employee stories does not cover the harsh truth of sexual harassment which is still the biggest issue working women are facing at workplaces.
Working women already are facing so many problems like compromising of pay(compared to male employees), struggling with work-life balance, consistently working hard to prove themselves etc. Here sexual harassment is a major issue which is nothing but pushing the limit to the extreme. Also, this is not an issue which women used to experience earlier, but it is still present and can be said as even more.
No matter how well a company provide its employees pays, comfort and independence, the safety policy which it offers to its female employees is what matters. It is not only the responsibility of the employers but as co-workers, one should not have a closed eye towards it. Not only this, but there are other few issues which working women face. Some of them are as mentioned below.
Issues Women Still Face in the Workplace:
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender Pay biased
- Race and Ethnicity
- Climbing the Career Ladder
- Setting the Room Temperature
- Exclusion from the Boy’s Club
- Office Favouritism
- Unsupportive Managers
- ‘That Time of the Month’
Challenges are everywhere. Pushing oneself out of their comfort zone and trying something new and good is the challenge that one can impose on himself. More challenges one faces in life, his achievements and memories increase manifolds.
Women In the Workplace: Then Vs. Now
The following is an infographic which essays the topic of women at work
Instead of dreading the challenges if one learns to treat challenges as stepping stones of success they will hardly feel its magnitude. Women have to break the soft sweet image in order to succeed in their work endeavour. Being as fierce, stable and aggressive as a lioness and working towards her goals without any distraction makes a woman achieve her goal with precision.