Throughout centuries women have been fighting for equal rights, fair pay and working hours, and objective judgment in the workplace. Today, in comparison to the beginning of the 20th century, the participation of women in the labor force and the rates of educational completion have significantly increased (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Thus, it is possible to say that the situation has improved, and women started to get greater opportunities and are recognized in a broader number of industries.
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Still, women in the workplace continue facing discrimination, biased attitudes, lower payments, and subjective opinions concerning their expertise and capabilities at leading positions. In 2016, women’s pay was around 81% of the average earnings for men, and the percentage is lower in such fields as finances, medicine, and chief executive positions (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). The situation for women in the workplace has significantly improved, yet they experience numerous problematic issues, which generates a need for strategies towards achieving equal attitudes and fair judgment.
The topic of women in the workplace raises numerous questions, and one of them is why women are holding a substantially lower number of leadership positions than men, even though many are well-educated. According to Rhode (2017), today, women exercise leadership in different areas of public and private sectors, but “the progress is only partial” (p. 1). It implies that although females have achieved a specific level of acknowledgment in performing leadership roles, they are still underrepresented in senior and government positions.
For instance, women occupy around 4% of the Fortune 500 CEO, and in the law sector, despite holding almost half of graduate degrees, 18% of females are the partners of large companies (Rhode, 2017). Consequently, one can claim that there are prejudices and predisposed attitudes towards women when it comes to decision-making on who will occupy the leading role. Despite progress in the female’s presence in the workforce, some barriers prevent potential advancement and career growth for them, which creates inequality and unfair judgment.
Hence, the issue of women in leadership remains in the arena, while the improvement in this sphere offers numerous advantages for society. A bias that women are not as effective leaders as men are does not allow equal opportunities, and, what is more critical, deprives the civil society of the benefits that women in power can bring. One research revealed that females could offer unique priorities that will enhance “positive social outcomes and greater ethical accountability” (Hoyt & Murphy, 2016, p. 387). Nevertheless, it is a challenge to reach those results due to the stereotypes about women and expectations that come out of them.
Besides, the studies about leadership effectiveness show that there is no significant difference in terms of gender (Rhode, 2017). Therefore, the traits that influential leaders possess include both masculine and feminine common characteristics. The problem is that the qualities associated with leadership go in contrast with the attributes generally associated with women (Rhode, 2017). Such features as authority and assertiveness are usually the attributes of a leading role, which creates a burden for females to be related to those positions in the first place. Accordingly, separate standards for advancement in the workplace and stereotypes hinder the possibilities for females’ growth and development in professional fields, and it is critical to work towards positive change.
Another question of interest in the topic of women in the workplace is why the pay rate is lower than for men holding the same positions. The introduction mentions that earnings for women constitute slightly over 80% of those for men, which portrays the inequality in terms of payment and implies gender discrimination. It is suggested that the same-gender referent theory and reward expectations theory can explain the pay gap (Auspurg, Hinz, & Sauer, 2017).
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Still, the perception that fair payment for women is lower raises many questions, because many women receive graduate degrees and are highly present in the workforce. Achieving an equal pay rate can influence poverty rates among females, decreasing it almost twice, and will add more than $500 billion to the national economy (Hegewisch, Childers, Hartmann, & Mason, 2019). Thus, it is critical to find the solutions and integrate the strategies that will actively contribute to equality and fairness in earnings for all genders.
The paper has established that women are underrepresented in leadership roles. Along with this issue, there is also a problem of verbal assaults towards women who hold senior positions, especially those in governmental offices. Therefore, it is possible to ask the question of why women experience verbal attacks based on existing stereotypes. The issue is that “female leadership has often been viewed as a threat to male power and privilege,” which leads to resistance (Perdue, 2017, p. 1234).
As a result, women in leadership are facing confrontation and attempts to diminish their authority and decisiveness through accusations and to question their capabilities. According to Perdue (2017), sexism in politics represents a global phenomenon and substantially undermines women’s authority. Consequently, in efforts to represent women in an unfavorable light, others resort to such measures as offensive language and various insults. It is crucial to address this issue and undertake rigid regulations that will work towards eliminating this phenomenon and providing respectful and equal treatment to everyone.
Besides the problem of verbal assaults, there is a problem of why many women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. One of the studies found out that men are more likely to sexually harass females when they feel insecure about their position and notice feminine attitudes among women (Holland & Cortina, 2016). The paragraph above notes that women in leadership can be viewed as a threat by the male counterpart, which, therefore, can lead not only to verbal assaults but to severe activities from their side.
Moreover, women view the allusions of sexual harassment as “anxiety-provoking and threatening,” which can have emotional and professional consequences (Holland & Cortina, 2016, p. 87). Thus, sexual harassment represents a serious problem for women in the workplace and requires careful attention and consideration to confront its’ presence.
In conclusion, women have gained higher recognition as a workforce in the global community, which imposed numerous challenges and problematic issues that require solutions. Besides the questions about women in leadership, unequal pay rates, verbal assaults, and sexual harassment, there are other difficulties that females face. Among other issues that one might inquire about are why recruitment practices give preference to men and why stereotypes about females keep affecting their professional lives. The existence of those difficulties highlights the necessity for action. Answering the challenging questions might outline the foundation for possible strategies and recommendations aimed at the improvement of the situation and the elimination of problematic issues that women in the workplace keep experiencing.
Auspurg, K., Hinz, T., & Sauer, C. (2017). Why should women get less? Evidence on the gender pay gap from multifactorial survey experiments. American Sociological Review, 82(1), 179-210.
Hegewisch, A., Childers, C., Hartmann, H., & Mason, N. C. (2019). Pay equity & discrimination. Web.
Holland, K. J., & Cortina, L. M. (2016). Sexual harassment: Undermining the well-being of working women. In M. L. Connerley & J. Wu (Eds.), Handbook on well-being of working women (pp. 83-101). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Hoyt, C. L., & Murphy, S. E. (2016). Managing to clear the air: Stereotype threat, women, and leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(3), 387-399.
Perdue, A. (2016). Man up or go home: Exploring perceptions of women in leadership. Marquette Law Review, 100(4), 1233-1308.
Rhode, D. L. (2017). Women and leadership. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017). Women at work. Web.