Exploring Challenges & Experiences of Women at Work

Article by Jo Cresswell, Careers Expert at Glassdoor

sad business woman diversityMuch is discussed about women’s careers and progression in the workplace, with businesses and governments worldwide actively putting in place programmes and targets to level the playing field.

Gender pay parity, women on boards, parental leave and more are all issues that are being actively tackled at a country level. To understand what’s really happening within workplaces however, Glassdoor has released research ahead of International Women’s Day looking at the experiences and challenges of women at work.

Career Progression

In a survey*, 20 percent of women say they have missed out on a promotion at work to a man, rising to 28 percent of women aged between 25 – 34 years old. In addition, almost a fifth believe their gender holds them back at work.

Worryingly, less than half (49 percent) of women say they are comfortable putting themselves forward for new opportunities at work. Numerous proactive government and company-level efforts are trying to get more women in senior positions and reduce the number of women missing out on promotions. The Hampton-Alexander Review recently announced that FTSE 100 has met the target of 33 percent women on boards, but also highlighted a lack of women in senior and executive roles. This is supported by 35 percent of those surveyed by Glassdoor believing that their company should do more to promote women into senior positions, with sentiment among men even stronger at 38 percent.

Pay Equality

According to Glassdoor Economic Research,  the unadjusted pay gap in the UK means that women earn 82p for every £1 that men earn. There are many reasons at play, such as ‘occupational sorting’ with women overrepresented in lower paying, flexible jobs, but women are also believed to be less confident when it comes to negotiating higher salaries for themselves. Glassdoor’s research today shows that just over a fifth (22 percent) of women feel comfortable asking for a pay rise at work, compared to a third (33 percent) of men.

While women have traditionally taken on lower paid jobs which provide them with flexibility to start and look after a family, we’ve gone through a step change with women now increasingly prioritising career progression. This means we are seeing more women reaching more senior positions before taking a career break. However, salaries have not kept up with this trend and women are still, on average, paid proportionally less than men.

Workplace Experience

Pay and opportunities for women at work are clearly below where they need to be, and employees themselves need to take action to – and have the confidence to – create growth opportunities. What is encouraging from Glassdoor’s research is the workplace experience that many women report. More than half (51 percent) of women are working in businesses where they feel comfortable asking for time off work for family reasons, 57 percent feel comfortable asking for time off work for medical reasons and just under half (47 percent) feel comfortable speaking with their manager when they have a personal problem.

Employees – both men and women – want to work in an environment in which they feel professionally challenged and personally supported, no matter what they have going on in their lives. It’s encouraging that women in particular feel comfortable raising personal challenges and situations with their managers, and while this won’t lead to immediate equality at work, it will go a long way towards workplace satisfaction and a feeling of work life balance.

Headshot - Jo Cresswell GlassdoorAbout the author

Jo Cresswell is a Corporate Communications Manager and careers expert at Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. Prior to Glassdoor, she spent a number of years working in boutique PR agencies where she had responsibilities for recruitment, employee engagement and wellbeing.

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