Issues faced by women in the workplace

While we hear a lot of success stories of women making progress in types of career fields, the struggles that women face in the workplace are still very prevalent. Most women juggle between work and home striving for balance but they have to work harder at work to get due recognition and create a success story compared to male counterparts. It is important for us to recognise and talk about these from time-to-time so that conversations around them are kept alive and call for changes is eventually heard.

Here are some of the issues and challenges that still haunt women at work:

  • Sexual Harassment: This is one of the most prevalent and talked about issue for women at work. Sexual harassment can be verbal or physical and sometimes women find it hard to report it due to fear of losing the job or lack of enough evidence. In most cases, men in power can subject women around them to such behaviour which makes it worse for women. While in the last decade we saw a wave of women speaking up against men and top companies do have strict policies concerning sexual harassment, we cannot deny the fact that it is still a massive challenge for women at large.

  • Unequal Payscale: A women with a similar experience background and competitive skills for the job may not be getting the same pay as a male colleague. This kind of pay scale inequality has been seen in various fields and is generally associated with the stereotype of men being the chief bread earner of the house. Add to that, the promotions and increments for men and women also differ due to discrimination based on gender.

  • Career Opportunities: Gender stereotype at work also dictates that men are better than women at some tasks especially the ones where governance and top management is concerned. Women who do manage to climb the ladder of success and get into top-level management often face ego clashes and work harder along the way. Recruiters and employers especially ask for male candidates for certain positions even today. Men seem to have better access to growth opportunities and professional development.

  • Pregnancy Discrimination: Though the Maternity Bill in India compels employers to give mandatory maternity leaves for up to 26 weeks, this only benefits a small percentage of women in the workforce. Pregnancy discrimination happens when an employer treats a woman differently when pregnant, during child care or on maternity while denying them benefits like promotion & salary increments. A lot of women feel that giving birth can negatively impact their career growth. In a lot of cases, women may be fired if they extend their maternity leaves or may not be granted enough maternity leaves.

While these are the top issues women face in the office environment, there are many other issues and challenges like work-life imbalance, being judged on appearance, poor security for late hours and lack of mentorship at work. For the health of the economy and women advancement, it is imperative that employers provide a conducive environment for women. While a lot of companies are working towards that, there is a long journey ahead for women at work to feel secure, valued and celebrated.

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