Career Advice

5 Obstacles Women Face in the Workplace (and How to Combat Them)

Despite all the progress that’s been made in recent history to level the playing field for women in the workplace, the undeniable fact is that females still face many obstacles that men don’t. From wage inequality to a lack of affordable childcare, these challenges can make it difficult to advance in your career. Learning about these issues and taking steps to combat them, however, will enable you to achieve success. In this post, we’ll look at five of the most common obstacles women face in the workplace and provide some tips on how to overcome them.


#1: Wage Inequality

Although the exact size of the pay gap can vary depending on factors such as age, education, and experience, women consistently earn less than men. In fact, in the United States, women only earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. Why is this? For one, women are more likely to work in lower-paying sectors like caregiving and customer service. Also, many times they aren’t given the same opportunities as men to advance their careers or to move into higher-paying positions. Studies have shown too that women are more frequently penalized than men during salary negotiations.

What can be done to help close the gender pay gap? From a big-picture perspective, women need to be offered more opportunities to enter higher-paying fields and positions. Companies should also commit to equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. From your perspective, strive to become a strong negotiator who fights for well-deserved raises and promotions.

#2: Pregnancy Discrimination

Another challenge that females commonly experience in the workplace is pregnancy discrimination. This can take different forms but frequently refers to when an employer refuses to hire a pregnant woman because they know that she will need time off work to have and take care of her baby. Women who experience pregnancy discrimination often feel isolated and alone, but there are several ways to combat this problem. First and foremost, it’s important to speak up and assert your rights. If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly at work, don’t be afraid to talk to your boss or HR department. Additionally, there are organizations that can help pregnant women navigate the workplace.

#3: The Glass Ceiling

A term that describes the invisible barrier women face when they are trying to advance in their careers, the glass ceiling exists because of prejudice and a lack of flexible work arrangements and affordable childcare. Although women have made great strides in the workplace, they continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. To break the glass ceiling, commit to supporting and mentoring other women. Recognize that you’re stronger together. In addition, companies also need to create inclusive workplace cultures where everyone has an opportunity to succeed.

#4: Childcare Struggles

Working mothers are sometimes forced to take time off work because of childcare responsibilities. This isn’t surprising when you consider the high cost of childcare and the lack of affordable options. For many women, the only way to afford quality care is to sacrifice their own earnings, which puts them at a disadvantage in the workplace and can negatively impact their career growth. The lack of governmental support for paid family leave and access to childcare also makes it difficult for women to balance work and family responsibilities. As a result, many talented women choose to leave the workforce altogether, which is an obvious loss for businesses and our economy as a whole.

#5: Gender Bias During Interviews

Job interviews can be tricky for anyone, but women often face an extra challenge: gender bias. Studies have shown that both men and women are more likely to hire male candidates than female candidates – even when they have the same qualifications. This bias can manifest in many ways from interviewers interrupting female candidates to asking them questions about their home life. You can tackle this bias by being prepared to answer and redirect (technically illegal) questions about childcare and your family life. Also, defend your qualifications and highlight your successes. By being prepared and confident, women can level the playing field and give themselves the best chance of landing the job.