In today’s society, it is presumed that women are equal to men, but there is still a double standard when it comes to how men and women are treated in the workplace. Women have come leaps and bounds from the days where women would not even be considered to work side by side with a man, or if they were, they were hired as a secretary or assisting a man in some type of way. Since then, women have slowly worked their way up there ladder to make their role more prominent in the workforce.
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The women’s movement took off in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I am woman hear me roar was very popular song in the early seventies that preached about women empowerment. Those words still ring true today. Hillary Clinton broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female presidential candidate for the Democratic party. According to an article by Catalyst, approximately 24 women hold CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, two of those positions are with General Motors and PG&E Corporation (Gary, 2018). While this may not seem like a lot compared to where we were 30 years ago, this is a big improvement but there is still a lot of work to be done in regards to women advancing in corporate america. It’s not just in corporate america where women are making head way. According to an article by the New York Times, 21 percent of the top lawyers at the nation’s Fortune 500 companies are women, an increase from 17 percent five years ago, according to a new tally of corporate counsel rank (Olson, 2014). Being a lawyer was once a male dominated position and now, women are being promoted to the highest level within a law firm. According to the same article by the New York Times, The number of female partners in American law firms is 19 percent, according to ALM data (Olson, 2014).
There are certain areas of the business world where certain spectrums are going to greater lengths to hire more women for top ranking positions, in particular minority women. According to Lydia Frank, minority women remain underrepresented in some of the fastest growing and top paying fields like technology, but top chief executives are making it a top priority to address this (White, 2016).
It comes down to numbers. While it is pretty remarkable that 24 women hold high ranking positions within these major corporations, that’s still not enough. Bettina Daynes, Vice President of human resources and diversity at the Society for Human Resource Management states One reason women are not being hired or promoted into positions of higher authority is purely in the numbers. There are significantly fewer women than men, so they’re statistically at a disadvantage. they’re fighting the odds that a man will be chosen (White, 2016).
The difference in pay when it comes to men and women is still the biggest issue that women face in the corporate world. According to NBC news, women earn just 76 cents for each dollar a man earns, the controlled gap that accounts for differences in education and job type, is much smaller, at 98 cents to a man’s dollar (White, 2016). This still puts us at a disadvantage, but the higher we are promoted, the smaller that gap gets. In the same article, Payscale Vice President Lydia Frank says We do see the pay gap grow as women advance in their careers, with the divergence accelerating when women are in the roughly 30-to-35 year age bracket (White, 2016).
One misconception about women is that we value our home life over our careers. While that may be true for some, for a lot of women they’re sole purpose in life is to advance to the highest level of their chosen career. Since the majority of the men are doing the hiring, they probably automatically assume that a woman who is applying for a certain position will not be there for very long because she will eventually leave to get married or start a family. Payscale Vice President Lydia Frank states If we continue to have the belief that women are responsible for children in a family setting what we’re saying to women is your career is second (White, 2016).
While there are women who make their career a top priority, there are still many women who want to either start a family or are trying to make their families a priority as well. Unfortunately, America is still really far behind when it comes to maternity leave, leaving some women with a very hard choice to choose between their job and there family. According an article in The Washington Post, nearly a quarter of employed mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth (Paquette, 2015). Sadly, women are not going back to work because there excited to get back to work, it’s simply because they have no choice. They can’t afford to stay at home with their baby because they need the money to support their family. It’s even more of a struggle for single parents as well. According to the same article, Forty percent of U.S. households with children under 18, meanwhile, rely heavily on a mother’s income (Paquette, 2015). There are some firms who are taking this problem into consideration. According an article by the Economist, Ernst & Young and other accounting firms have increased their efforts to maintain connections with women who take time off to have children and then ease them back into work (Economist, 2009). There are some companies who are taking this practice even further and letting women (and men) who want to focus on their families work remotely. According to the same article, Almost half of Sun Microsystems employees work at home or from nearby satellite offices. Raytheon, a maker of missile systems, allows workers every other Friday off to take care of family business, if they make up the hours on other days (Economist, 2009).
Women in today’s society are more ambitious than ever before. Instead of conforming to the standards of a normal job, they are going out and creating their own businesses to adapt to their schedule. According to the same article by the Economist, Women-owned companies employ more people than the largest 500 companies combined. Eden McCallum and Axiom Legal have applied a network model to their respective fields of management consultancy and legal services: network members work when it suits them and the companies use their scale to make sure that clients have their problems dealt with immediately (Economist, 2009).
Education has played a role as far as women advancing in their careers. Having an education in general holds a lot of value, especially for a woman. According to an article by the Economist, In 1963, 62% of college-educated women in the United States were in the labor force, compared with 46% of those with a high school diploma. Today 80% of American women with a college education are in the labor force compared with 67% of those with a high school diploma and 47% of those without one (Economist, 2009). Not only are women getting educated, but there becoming educated in subjects that were very male dominated. According to the same article, n 1966, 40% of American women who received a BA specialized in education in college; 2% specialized in business and management. The figures are now 12% and 50%. Women only continue to lag seriously behind men in a handful of subjects, such as engineering and computer sciences, where they earned about one-fifth of degrees in 2006 (Economist, 2009).
While the advancements for women over the past fifty years have been quite remarkable, there is still an added pressure that comes with such high positions. Since women are now being promoted to higher positions, women feel like they are being watched even closer especially in a male dominated workplace. The term tokenism was coined by Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Cooper, 2018), which means being inclusive to different minority groups, including women, which gives the appearance of racial or sexual equality. Women in the workplace can be referred to as tokens depending on the situation. According to an article by slate, Everything the token woman does or says is put under a microscope, creating performance pressures. And her success or failure often becomes a litmus test for what all women are capable of doing, significantly raising the stakes on her individual performance (Cooper, 2018). Some corporations are very proactive when it comes to providing a diverse working environment, but some are only doing the bare minimum to make it look like they are being inclusive just to save face. According to the same article, many companies have approached diversity with a one-and-done mentality, only focusing on these issues until they’ve reached some minimum threshold of diversity (a few women and people of color), thinking that was sufficient to check off the diversity box. Such an approach doesn’t do much to move the needle on representation, and it makes it even harder for members of underrepresented groups who are hired (Cooper, 2018).
There is still a bias when it comes to women in the workplace. There has always been a stereotype about when women, when we are trying to get a point across or be decisive, we are perceived as being overly emotional. Since women are by nature nurturing, we try to make people feel good and please people. According to an article by Marketwatch, women say they’re keener on having influence than winning because they don’t want to be perceived as overly aggressive. This is due to existing gender biases, which penalizes women for being overly assertive. 81% of women and 66% of men said that women are judged more harshly than men when they are seen as ‘engaging in corporate politics.
While being a woman in the workplace can bring on many obstacles, women of color are facing even more obstacles than Caucasian women. According to an article by Mckinsey, Women of color face more obstacles and a steeper path to leadership, from receiving less support from managers to getting promoted more slowly. Although women in general are more likely than men to report they never interact with senior leaders, black women are the most likely of all to report they never have senior-level contact. This may affect how they view the workplace and their opportunities for advancement (Krivkovich, 2017).
Diversity in the Workplace In Modern Society. (2019, Nov 13).
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