Beyond the Wage Gap: Staying Fierce in the Workplace
Men outearning women has been documented, but according to the New York Times, women face more struggles than just the wage gap. Research has shown that employers place a lower value on work done by women – so much so that when a field changes from being male-dominated to female-dominated, the pay for that job drops. Essentially, once women start doing a job, it’s seen as less important or requiring less skill. As if that weren’t enough to be concerned about, women entering the workforce also worry about finding a job, earning equal pay, gaining career advancement, battling sexism, and so much more.
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Advancing in Your Career
While some initiatives exist to help level the playing field, it’s often debated whether they do more harm or more good, says the Philadelphia Business Journal. Although the initiatives have good intentions, women can sometimes feel isolated and singled out based on their gender instead of their accomplishments and abilities. So how can you ensure you’re measured by your work?
You need to build a strong network of female peers. However, it’s also important to work with and learn from both men and women. Continually grow and use your network and connections. Also, advocate for yourself and be your own voice. Keep your resume up-to-date so you can leap at any open opportunities. Build a professional website that lists your skills and accomplishments. If you want more responsibilities, tell someone. If you want a raise, ask for it. If you want a promotion, present your case. Go for it!
Dealing with Sexism
Many women face subtle sexism on a daily basis. Women are “expected to tolerate sexist jokes and comments, pet names like ‘sweetheart,’ and comments about their appearances, for fear of being seen as humorless or uncooperative,” states Bustle. Women are also expected to take on office cleaning, planning office parties, being the note-taker in meetings, and other stereotypical roles. All of the examples above can be subtle sexism in the workplace.
Bustle suggests that one way to shut down sexism in the workplace is to first try turning the tables. For example, ask, “Do you comment on your male coworkers’ clothes?” If you’re always being asked to make coffee, ask why you’re always assigned that certain task but other coworkers never get asked to do it.
If someone makes a sexist comment, consider speaking with him or her about it in private. As Bustle points out, sometimes people speak before they think and don’t intend to be offensive; they just need a friendly reminder to not be inappropriate at work. Also, don’t laugh at the joke. You can also ask him or her to repeat it. By saying the comment again without the context that prefaced it, the person may realize how inappropriate it was. When a sexist joke is made, request an explanation by asking, “Why is that funny?” or “Why would you assume I’m menstruating?” Or you can just say, “That’s inappropriate,” and move on.
Bustle also recommends keeping a record of episodes of sexism and any discussions or confrontations you have about these episodes with coworkers or supervisors in case you ever need to go to HR or consult an attorney. If you go to a supervisor, explain what’s going on in a simple and factual manner. And if you kept records, use them.
Cracking the Glass Ceiling
According to Pew Research Center, about two-thirds of Americans say it’s easier for men than women to get into leadership positions. People think this occurs for two main reasons: women are held to higher standards than men, and companies’ lack of readiness to hire women for top positions.
Women can crack the glass ceiling by doing four things, says Business News Daily. First, step out of your comfort zone. Second, conquer your fears. Third, believe in yourself and your career. Lastly, act as if equality is reality. Stand your ground and demand the respect you deserve.
Author: Gloria Martinez
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