We are living in a progressively collaborative and equal society, where we are being influenced by strong and influential female figures. Take the UK for example, which is being ruled by a female Prime Minister and the Queen. There are strong female figures popping up everywhere and in 2017, women have much more of a voice and a valued opinion, but that’s not to say that we have reached a point in the world where we can boast true equality between all sexes. The workplace is an environment that experiences one step forward and two steps back, and however far females progress, there are small minds and archaic opinions which drag the workplace back to a less progressive and more male dominated time. So, as a working woman, what are the grievances expected to be faced?
The Glass Ceiling Effect
We have all heard of the glass ceiling effect, which refers to when a professional can progress no further. Studies has shown that women experience this much earlier than men and are given less opportunity or trust to progress within their careers. In the office environment, the CEOs and directors are typically male, the middle management follow a similar pattern, whilst female will be at the bottom of the feeding pile. Although this is not always the case, and that many strong women are capable of becoming CEOs, this is more of a reference to the attitudes of the decision makers within a company. Decision makers often choose to promote the men within the company, as opposed to their female counterparts, as they are deemed to be more assertive and sharp. This old fashioned attitude has been filtered down into most small businesses and larger companies across the globe, and in some countries the idea of a woman being a CEO is deemed as laughable.
Almost 70% of women across the globe have admitted to feeling either pushed out or judged when announcing their pregnancy. Many employers feel as though women who are starting a family have less desire to do well for the business, and often slowly begin to reduce any responsibilities they have in the workplace. As with anything, there are different levels of maltreatment or discrimination when it comes to maternity leave and pregnancy. In some cases women have been refused a promotion after they have announced that they are pregnant, and even more mothers have been replaced during their maternity leave and encouraged to quit their jobs completely. Women have maternity rights put in place, and there needs to be more of a dialogue inside and outside the workplace on women’s maternity rights. Becoming a mother shouldn’t mean the end of a woman’s professional career unless she chooses to do so.
Co-worker’s Sexual Advances
Women and men experience forms of sexual harassment every single day. Whether this is online, or in person, sexual harassment can make an individual feel really uncomfortable in any situation, and when this happens in the workplace, it can be a huge distraction, can make the victim feel uncomfortable and upset and can even make people quit their jobs. Women seem to be more susceptible to sexual harassment in the workplace, and this can be anything from a comment on their appearance, to physical contact or a sexual advance. All of the above should be treated with the utmost severity, and in most cases, companies and large corporations take sexual harassment claims very seriously. Sexual harassment claims have been known to ruin the reputation of whole companies, affecting their sales, their clients and their future, which is why they are treated swiftly and with as less publicity as possible.
Bias Against Gender
This point follows on from the “glass ceiling” concept. It’s been known that employers and decision makers not only choose to promote men over women, but it’s also been shown that women are asked to assume gender stereotypical roles within the office environment. This could be as simple as asking the female worker to be in charge of watering the plants, making the tea and answering the phone in a secretarial fashion. Employees should be treated with the same discretion regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Sexism and gender bias has been engrained into the fibre of most business structures, that certain gender biased roles are handed out subconsciously, as opposed to purposefully, but regardless of this, a discourse needs to be started in the workplace to help to eradicate this mentality.
Being Penalized and Picked On
Most people will be exposed to office bullying at one point or another, but in any instance, it should be addressed swiftly and prevented from happening in the office. It’s easy to pass a comment off as “harmless banter”, but words affect people in different ways. Women are often faced with colleagues or employees referring to them as being a “dragon” or a “ball buster”, when they assume a position of power in the workplace. In order to overcome workplace bullying, it’s important to seek advice from the human resources representative and take precautionary steps based on their advice. Most workplaces have a zero tolerance bullying policy and will do their best to stamp out any maltreatment right from the beginning.
This article is written by Alice Porter who works for a Dispute Resolution Lawyers in Manchester and aims to share her advice on best workplace practices and fair treatment for every gender in the workplace.