She Persisted: Navigating the Modern Workforce as a Woman

In today’s workforce, women are undeniably vital contributors, reshaping industries and leading innovation. However, the history of the professional world is marked by the exclusion of women, presenting unique challenges that persist even as opportunities grow. While significant strides have been made to compensate for the previously male-dominated workforce, studies prove that women statistically must work harder to move up the ladder and be recognized for the work they do. This article serves as a guide for women at all career stages by offering insights and practical advice on overcoming historical barriers and fostering success.

BBC article, Proof Versus Potential: Why Women Must Work Harder to Move Up, reveals that women are regularly judged as having less leadership potential than their male counterparts, making them 14% less likely to be promoted each year. The same study found that although women consistently earned higher performance ratings than men, many received lower ‘potential scores,’ indicating a discrepancy in managers’ beliefs about their future growth and development. 

If these statistics alarm you, good. We must start asking ourselves the tough questions. If women now make up “almost half of the entry-level workforce,” why do only 21% hold managerial/executive positions? What does it say about society when men apply to jobs they’re 60% qualified for but women only apply if they’re 100% qualified?

This being said, what can we do to promote a future of true gender equality? Here’s a few recommendations. 

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Tips for Women Navigating Male-Dominated Industries is a great LinkedIn article that advises women on how to break down these unjust barriers and notions. Some tips they provide include developing skills and expertise, exerting confidence and assertion, finding mentors, and more. 

If you’re a podcast person, we recommend Women at Work, a Harvard Business Review production that focuses on women in the workplace, particularly in corporate America, and what exactly that entails. The hosts are eight women who share how they landed a position of authority and gained confidence in that role while finding unexpected personal and professional benefits in the work. We hope their perspectives and advice will encourage you to do the same. 

Finally, when attending career fairs, networking with companies, and applying for jobs, ask the hiring manager about their DEI initiatives! This can look like: 

  • What steps has your company taken to close the gender pay gap and ensure equal compensation for similar roles? 
  • Are there mentorship/sponsorship programs in place to support underrepresented groups, such as women, in advancing their careers? 
  • How do you measure your progress in promoting gender equality? 

While acknowledging the significant ground that has been gained for women in the workforce is essential, it is equally crucial to recognize that there is still a substantial distance to cover in achieving full gender equality. As we move forward, continued advocacy, policy initiatives, and cultural shifts are required to ensure that women have equal opportunities, recognition, and support in fulfilling their professional aspirations. The journey towards gender equality in the workforce remains a shared responsibility.

By Sydney Glickman
Sydney Glickman Peer Educator