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Women in the Workplace

Women in the Workplace
I matter. I matter equally. Not 'if only,' not 'as long as'. I matter. Full stop
- Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer
Women have been attempting to deviate from societal norms and standards. They have marched for equal rights and fought for their place in the world. True, the movement has begun to demolish centuries of patriarchy, but we still have a long way to go, particularly in corporations, where the adage glass ceiling still exists.

Representation of Women

Women remain underrepresented at every level, from entry-level jobs to C-suite roles. According to the Women In the Workplace 2018 report, representation of women of colour is the least, causing them to stay behind white men, men of colour, and white women. Women of colour comprise only 17% of entry-level roles and 4% of C-Suite positions.

This underrepresentation gets worse in senior management positions. Only 22% of C-suite executives are women. Compared to 62% of men in managerial positions, only 38% of women are promoted to managers.

What’s interesting to see is that the number of women and men leaving their companies is almost the same. Therefore, attrition can’t be blamed for this inequality and misogyny.

Gender Pay Gap

Women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men. Research by Payscale says that in 2018, the median salary for women was roughly 22 percent lower than the median salary for men.

In India, too, the fight for equal wages continues. The Labour Bureau in India has found that in rural areas in the agricultural sector, the daily wage for men is ₹264.05 and ₹205.32 for women. In non-agricultural sects, the average daily wage rate for men is ₹271.17, while for women, it is ₹205.90.

Sexual Harassment

The #MeToo movement brought out numerous cases of women facing sexual and non-sexual harassment. These cases ranged from unwelcome verbal, visual, non-verbal or physical harassment.

The Women in the Workplace report found that 35% of women in full-time corporate sector jobs have experienced sexual harassment. Another study by EEOC estimates that 75% of women subject to such hostile situations will not report their harassment. And especially when the abuser is someone in a senior position.

People often ask, "why did the victim not report?" The primary reason for this is the fear of being fired. EEOC's research found that "75% of harassment victims experienced retaliation when they reported it."

Unemployment Penalty

During child-rearing years, the unemployment penalty for women is longer. This means that women who take longer leaves have a harder time getting rehired.

The report by Payscale mentioned earlier also says that "someone unemployed for less than three months faces only a 3.4 per cent penalty while someone who has not worked in over a year experiences a 7.3 percent penalty."

The report shows that the percentage of men unemployed for 12+ months between 20-29 is 4%, while for women, it’s 11%. Between the age group 30-44, the number of unemployed men and women is 10% and 20% respectively. This ultimately reflects in the gender pay gap making it harder for women to hold senior-level positions.

Race and Ethnicity

64% of Americans say that racism continues to be a major problem in society. In the workplace, too, it continues to be a problem. White men and women continue to get hired over people of colour and women from diverse ethnicities.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) 2017 workplace discrimination claims found that race discrimination claims accounted for 33.9 percent. A report published by the UK govt in 2017 shows that if black and minority ethnic (BME) talent was fully utilised in the UK, their economy could be boosted by up to $29 billion.

A typical example of racial and ethnic discrimination women face in the workplace is telling them that they won’t fit in with the culture and work ethics and hiring a white person over them.

-by Shreya Dutta