In the year 2019, women are still drastically marginalized in society – this especially includes the workplace. There is a lack of transparency, accountability, and addressing the larger problem at hand. There are barriers in company policies that make it more difficult for women to prove that they’re victims of discrimination. And even if there are no policies against such things, honest curiosity is often frowned upon. The pursuit of equality can lead to being fired in a state that abides by “employment at will,” Georgia being amongst one of them. Ultimately, this leaves a former employee the only option of suing for wrongful termination – a case that is arduous to prove unless there is empirical evidence of discrimination. Retaliation is illegal. But there are tireless obstacles to go through to receive any compensation. However, the compensation doesn’t make up for the lack of fundamental human rights.
According to leanin.org, there has been an increase in leadership roles for women in the confines of the workplace, but there is still a large gap between men and women’s representation. Andie Kramer, a contributing writer of Forbes, recently summed up the problem by titling a piece of hers, “It’s Not The Women, It’s The Workplace.” The research rings true. According to NPR, men with the same degrees as women pull in over $26,000 more. To further this, women are about to become the majority of those who obtain a degree from higher education. There are the nonsensical explanations thrown out to justify the reasons why things are this way. That women choose low-income fields, that there is some disparity over their leadership skills, even something as baffling and offensive as how women are naturally inclined to behave due to their gender.
There is often a notion that women’s discrimination is a singular problem, but it isn’t. Each woman’s experience is unique. Women’s lives are further complicated by their race, their sexual orientation, disabilities that they have, and even their religion. The underrepresentation has nothing to do with education; in fact, women hold more bachelor’s degrees than men – yet men still have more lucrative careers, even when holding the same position. If you aren’t a white woman, things in the workplace look even more fraught. Black women and women with disabilities face more barriers in advancement, get less support from managers, and receive less sponsorship than other groups, according to leanin.org.
So the question is, what can women do in preparation for the workplace?
Courses are beginning to be taught to help guide women in the workplace, expanding issues with contributions from women who have exceeded in a system that has worked against them. It is encouraged to seek a company that embraces a thorough education on gender discrimination. Diversity is not to be overlooked.
This also means to ensure that there is an equal opportunity policy. A company that doesn’t have these implementations in order is a huge red flag and puts not only their history into question – but their entire message. If there is a possibility, find a mentor who is a woman. These mentors are more likely to have experienced the hardships, bias and will help guide you through the processes (such as negotiations, filing a complaint, and promotions). They may even end up being your future hiring manager at some point.
Negotiating salaries for women requires research on the gender pay gap and overall preparation that is more rigorous than the male workplace. Know your value, know that you can ask, and have a statement prepared. This goes for promotions, as well. According to Linda Babcock’s Women Don’t Ask, a study conducted that only 7 percent of women attempt to negotiate following an offer versus a male 57 percent. Chad doesn’t deserve to earn more than you because his uncle used to drink scotch with your boss every Sunday. You deserve it because you were magna cum laude at one of the top tier universities in your field.
Be sure to take immediate action towards any complaints, especially sexual harassment. This is certainly easier said than done (as a male, I couldn’t even imagine). The prolonging of allegations is a household defense for those who are opposed to the #MeToo movement, a highly dubious bunch who fit the archetype of speaking out of turn: straight white males. Immediately filing a complaint is the epitome of bravery, be sure to document everything, and take note of anything that comes off as a form of retaliation. The idea of building unity between women within the workplace is a step towards progression, but first, there have to be measures taken towards paving the way for women in leadership roles.