By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
Women’s History Month is well underway and it’s time for a status update on the treatment and opportunities of women in the workplace. Office environments have certainly changed in the last 30, 20 and even 10 years, and as a career coach, nothing thrills me more than helping women discover their ideal career path and honor their dreams.
Here are three of the most important areas in which company cultures have shifted in honor of women’s equality in the workforce. Some aspects have gotten significantly better and some have made little headwind, but they have been important changes, regardless.
- Closing the pay gap. While there’s no question that overall, men still make more income than women, there are some industries where women take home more than men do. A poll done by CNBC found that the following industries feature a higher female weekly median salary in 2018: Farmers and agricultural managers, first-line supervisors of personal service workers, medical assistants, health care support, electronics engineers and construction laborers. While that’s definitely not equality across the board, it is inspiring to see such unique fields where women are earning more. Pew Research breaks down the shift in labor even further:
- Women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, up from 30% in 1950
- In 2017, 57% of working-age women were either employed or looking for work
- Women’s median hourly earnings were $16 in 2016, up from $12.48 in 1980 (but still less than men’s median hourly wage of $19.23)
- Among adults ages 25 to 64, women are now more likely than men to have a four-year college degree
- 31% of women who are married or cohabiting with a male partner contribute at least half of the couple’s total earnings, up from 13% in 1980
- Half of Americans say the country hasn’t gone far enough on whether the country has made adequate progress in giving women equal rights with men
- Eliminating sexual harassment. The importance of the #MeToo movement can’t be understated, as it’s unveiled a lot of issues most women already knew to be true. A rather sobering survey from NPR found that 81% of women have experienced sexual harassment of some form. There are many ways we can address these problems, but some of the most effective tools we have include education and increased awareness, speaking up for ourselves, speaking up for others, challenging dated gender perceptions, and holding each other up.
- Experiencing equal treatment and opportunities. One problem I often see women running into is becoming a “yes woman”. While you may feel eager to show how much you deserve your position or feel like you may need to prove yourself, don’t get caught up in saying yes every time. Saying “yes” too much may also lead to burnout. A study in Harvard Business Review states that one in five employees is highly engaged and at risk of burnout, so make sure to find your healthy balance.
Being a woman in the workplace has gotten significantly better over the past few decades, but only because of the successful fight women have put up to make it that way. By uniting together and demanding simple equality, we have made strides and large gains in areas ranging from maternal leave to equal pay. The efforts of powerful and influential women have shown that not only do we deserve to feel safe at work and receive equal access to promotions and other opportunities, but that the world is better off that way. Everyone benefits in a culture that promotes unity rather than divisiveness, and hopefully these words will help you find some inspiration as we celebrate the triumphs of incredibly brave and dedicated women this month.
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