Women’s right activist Susan Brownwell Anthony once said “I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on Earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.”
Even though it has been over a hundred years since her voice resonated with the women of her time, her words still ring true today.
Women have more opportunities than they did since the suffrage movement and changes in the Sexual Discrimination Act in the 1980s. However, problems still remain where women are still isolated within an ‘institutionalised system’, which hinders their economic advancement. A 2010 report from the Department of Social Services, found that women had more difficulty rising to positions of leadership compared to their male counterparts. Women are frustrated because there is a dangling carrot that lures them to desire senior leadership positions, however they are unable to break through the glass of the male-dominated system.
Emma Watson voiced her position on egalitarianism for women in her HeForShe formal address to the United Nations in 2015. “No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality...It’s probably one of the biggest contributors to poverty, to violence, to discrimination. It hinders development and progress, all over the world.”
By identifying the common frustrations that do exist, women can seize the opportunity to step out of the shadows and excel in the workforce.
According to statistics from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), there is still a significant difference in the wage gap between men and women. There are arguments saying that it is due to:
- The representation of women in higher paid industries, such as mining
- Women’s salary or wage choices
- Women’s incentive to ask for payment promotions
- Unpaid/No compensation to take time off work to look after or care for children, elderly or their loved ones
- Women’s contributions and values need to be valued as those of men
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, Australia currently sits 36th in terms of gender equality.
Feeling left out of ‘Boys only clubs’
Women have expressed their frustration with misogynistic culture, ‘Boys only’ clubs and chauvinistic behaviour. They've also expressed that succumbing to these environments have put them into positions where it creates barriers to excel in their field of expertise.
Additionally, informal career pathways can be elusive to most women because they may feel they don’t fit into the organisation’s male-oriented culture of mateship. Absenteeism from networking opportunities minimises the opportunity to forge critical relationships with other key business stakeholders, managers and peers.
Workplace harassment and discrimination
Workplace harassment is very evident in today’s work culture, infrastructure and organisations. Even though the Sexual Discrimination Act was passed over 30 years ago, there are still cases where work environments are hostile towards women.
Being a victim of discrimination or harassment is unacceptable. Women that have been a victim have claimed to experience post-traumatic stress disorders, as well as the inability to continue with their work.
Struggling to find the right work-life balance
Women are faced with the challenge of meeting their everyday demands of work and family life. They've expressed their workplace frustrations with the complex juggling act between fulfilling their needs at work and at home. Some have admitted that it isn’t a sustainable lifestyle.
Unlike men, women face sacrifices such as the choice of having children or sacrificing their own careers. Poor flexibility in working arrangements has contributed to a loss in female talent in senior management.
Can women 'make it' in a male-dominated world?
According to the Global Gender Gap report, women are grossly outnumbered in the workforce:
Women are faced with more difficulties than men in the workforce. Nonetheless, there are a few key things you can do to break past these societal constructs. Here are 5 ways women can overcome common workplace frustrations and improve their economic opportunities:
1. Learn how to create opportunities in your career
One of the major challenges women face when trying to advance in their career is the lack of opportunities. Talented women cannot progress if the opportunities aren’t there. It is the responsibility of both the business organisation and people to create opportunities for advancement. Speak with managers and stakeholders to promote skills training and development to help advance your career.
2. Get yourself recognised as an expert
Opportunities for career advancements, sales and recognition will come if people perceive you as an expert in your chosen skill. You can accomplish this by gaining publicity features in your industry news websites, journals or magazines, receiving awards, gaining certifications or qualifications or publishing content online.
3. Learn how to make yourself more appealing to hiring managers
Making yourself marketable as an irresistible business asset will open doors, breakdown barriers and help you get the job that you want. In 'Grab your hiring manager’s attention with your human-voiced resume', Liz Ryan shows how people can sell their personal brand through their story.
Pitching yourself as a commodity will limit your perceived value and competitiveness. Instead, you need a story that will:
- Trigger their attention
- Gain their vested interest
- Arouse their desire to hire you
- Entice them to act quickly by giving you the offer that you want
Liz advocates the technique of telling your ‘Dragon selling story’, which explains to hiring managers how you solved your business’s problems in the past and allows the hiring manager to identify your strong qualities.
4. Be bold
It is important that you remain on the front foot in your career. Be prepared to take smart risks and know how to handle disappointments or setbacks, should situations not turn out as expected. Learn from the experience and use it to your advantage so you can move forward in your career.
5. Learn how to negotiate
Knowing how to pitch your skills and value is an essential skill for your career. With the right negotiation skills, you will be able to secure wage or salary raises, career promotions and gain appreciation for your valued contribution to the organisation.
Women’s economic progress is heading in the right direction, however it is still a slow process. More can be done to empower women by creating opportunities for skills development and flexible senior management roles. To create a true egalitarian economic system, women must receive the same equal opportunities as men.
Looking for a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of gender equality in Australia? Get the full story here.