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15 issues women face in the workplace and how to combat them?

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15 issues women face at the workplace and how to combat them

Gender inequality in the workplace is a persistent issue that has garnered widespread attention in recent years. Despite progress toward gender equality, women continue to face a myriad of challenges that hinder their professional growth and advancement.

According to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 132 years to close the gender pay gap globally, highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted gender inequalities in the workplace, with women being disproportionately impacted by job losses and reduced working hours.

Women make up nearly half of the global workforce, and failing to address these issues means losing out on their potential contributions to economic growth and development. Addressing issues regularly faced by women in the workplace requires a multifaceted approach that involves not just employers but also policymakers and society at large.

By promoting gender equality and creating a more inclusive workplace, we can ensure that women have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in their chosen careers. This, in turn, benefits individuals, businesses, and society as a whole, creating a more just and prosperous future for all.

Top 15 Issues Women Face in Workplace

Several issues are faced by women at work regularly. The top 15 issues that women face at work are as follows:

Gender Bias and Stereotypes

Studies have shown that gender bias and stereotypes can lead to a variety of negative outcomes for women in the workplace, including lower pay, fewer opportunities for advancement, and a lack of recognition for their contributions.

One study found that men are often seen as "stars" when they speak up and assert themselves in the workplace, while women are seen as "bossy" or "pushy" for exhibiting the same behavior. Similarly, women who negotiate for higher salaries or better benefits are often penalized for being "aggressive" or "unlikeable."

It is essential to raise awareness of these biases and their impact on women's careers. Training programs and workshops can help employees and managers recognize and challenge their biases and create a more inclusive workplace culture.

Another strategy is to implement objective hiring and promotion practices that focus on qualifications and experience rather than subjective perceptions of gender. Additionally, companies can work to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which can help to break down stereotypes and reduce bias.

Unequal Pay and Benefits 

One of the most significant challenges that women face in the workplace is unequal pay and benefits. According to a UN report, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Unequal pay and benefits can take many other forms, including differences in bonuses, overtime pay, and access to healthcare or retirement benefits. Women are also more likely to work in low-paying jobs or industries, which can further exacerbate the pay gap.

The impact of unequal pay and benefits on women in the workplace is significant. Not only does it harm women's financial well-being, but it can also have long-term effects on their careers and opportunities for advancement. Women may be less likely to negotiate for higher pay or pursue higher-paying careers if they perceive that they are not valued or compensated fairly.

To address unequal pay and benefits, it is crucial to promote transparency and accountability in compensation practices. Employers can conduct regular pay audits to identify and address any gender pay disparities, and they can implement policies that promote equal pay and benefits for all employees. It is also essential to provide women with the tools and resources they need to negotiate for fair compensation and advocate for themselves in the workplace.

Lack of Diversity and Inclusion

Studies have shown that diverse teams tend to be more innovative, productive, and successful. However, women and other marginalized groups are often underrepresented in leadership positions and other areas of the workforce, leading to a lack of diversity and perspective at the highest levels of organizations.

The lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can lead to other challenges like microaggressions, discrimination, and harassment against women and other marginalized groups. For example, women of color may face intersectional discrimination, where their gender and race intersect to create unique challenges and barriers in the workplace.

To promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it is essential to create a culture of respect and belonging that values and celebrates diversity. This can involve implementing policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as training programs, mentorship opportunities, and employee resource groups.

Employers can also prioritize diversity and inclusion in their hiring and promotion practices, including setting diversity goals and tracking progress toward those goals. Additionally, it is important to hold leaders and managers accountable for promoting diversity and inclusion and addressing any instances of discrimination or bias.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, with studies suggesting that one in three women face physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner in their lifetime. These behaviors not only harm women's mental and physical well-being but can also have long-term effects on their careers and opportunities for advancement.

Sexual harassment and discrimination can create a hostile work environment that can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and turnover. Women may also be less likely to report instances of sexual harassment and discrimination due to fears of retaliation or concerns about not being taken seriously.

To address sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, it is crucial to create a culture of respect and accountability that promotes zero-tolerance policies for any form of harassment or discrimination.

Work-Life Balance

Women may also be more likely to take on flexible or part-time work arrangements to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities, which can limit their opportunities for career advancement and financial stability. Additionally, women may face stigma or discrimination for taking time off work for caregiving responsibilities or to prioritize their personal lives.

A lack of work-life balance can lead to increased stress, burnout, and decreased productivity, as well as negative effects on mental and physical health. Employers can promote work-life balance by implementing policies and practices that support flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flexible schedules, and paid time off for caregiving responsibilities.

Employers can also offer support and resources for employees to manage their work and personal responsibilities, such as employee assistance programs, on-site childcare, and eldercare resources. Additionally, employers need to create a culture that values work-life balance and promotes healthy work-life integration.

Career Advancement and Leadership Opportunities

Women are underrepresented in leadership positions, with women holding only 31% of senior management positions globally. Women of color, in particular, face additional challenges in advancing their careers and securing leadership positions.

The lack of career advancement and leadership opportunities for women can have a significant impact on their financial stability and professional fulfillment. Additionally, the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions can contribute to the perpetuation of gender bias and stereotypes in the workplace.

To promote career advancement and leadership opportunities for women, employers can implement policies and practices that support diversity and inclusion, such as mentoring and sponsorship programs, leadership development programs, and flexible work arrangements. It is also important to address bias and discrimination in the workplace and promote equal opportunities for all employees. 

Family and Maternity Leave

In many cases, women are the primary caregivers for newborns and may require a longer period of leave to recover from childbirth and care for their newborns. However, many employers do not offer paid maternity leave, or the duration of the leave may be too short to meet the needs of new mothers.

Additionally, women face stigma or discrimination for taking time off work for family or maternity leave and may experience negative career consequences as a result. In some cases, women are forced to choose between their careers and their family responsibilities.

To promote family and maternity leave, employers can offer paid leave policies that are equitable and supportive of both men and women. Employers can also offer other forms of family support, such as on-site childcare, flexible work arrangements, and eldercare resources.

Lack of Mentorship and Sponsorship 

The lack of mentorship and sponsorship can have significant negative effects on women in the workplace. Women may not have access to the same networking opportunities as their male counterparts and may struggle to find mentors or sponsors who can provide them with guidance and advocate for their career advancement. This can result in fewer opportunities for women to advance in their careers, as well as a lack of role models and support systems to help them navigate the challenges of the workplace.

To promote mentorship and sponsorship, employers can implement formal mentorship programs, establish employee resource groups, and promote networking opportunities. Additionally, employers can encourage senior-level executives to serve as sponsors for high-potential employees, including women and other underrepresented groups. 

Microaggressions and Implicit Bias

Microaggressions and implicit bias have significant negative effects on women in the workplace. Women may experience feelings of isolation or exclusion due to the constant barrage of subtle discriminatory behaviors, which can have an impact on their mental health and well-being. Additionally, implicit bias leads to women being overlooked for opportunities, promotions, or pay raises, despite their qualifications and experience.

To address microaggressions and implicit bias, employers can provide training and education to employees to raise awareness of these issues and promote a greater understanding of the experiences of marginalized groups. Employers can also establish clear policies and procedures for addressing microaggressions and discrimination and hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Double Standards and Expectations 

Women are often held to higher standards or face greater scrutiny for their behavior or performance, while men may be given more leeway or rewarded for similar behaviors. Double standards and expectations can significantly negatively affect women in the workplace.

Women may feel pressure to conform to traditional gender roles or stereotypes to be accepted or promoted, which can limit their opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, women may face backlash or negative consequences if they deviate from these expectations, which can create a hostile or unwelcoming work environment.

To address double standards and expectations, employers can work to promote greater awareness and understanding of how gender stereotypes and biases can affect the workplace. This can include providing training and education to employees, as well as establishing clear policies and procedures for addressing discrimination and bias. 

Lack of Flexibility

The lack of flexibility in the workplace can lead to significant negative consequences for women. For example, women may face challenges in balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities, which can lead to burnout or reduced job satisfaction. Additionally, the lack of flexibility can limit career opportunities for women, particularly those who are unable to work full-time or on a traditional schedule.

Pew Research Center found that working mothers were more likely than working fathers to say that they had to reduce their work hours or take a significant amount of time off to care for a child or family member. Additionally, women were more likely to report feeling that their work interfered with their family responsibilities.

To promote flexibility in the workplace, employers can implement policies and programs that provide employees with greater control over their work schedules and location. This can include options such as flexible working hours, telecommuting, and job sharing, as well as programs that support employees in managing their caregiving responsibilities. 

Lack of Networking Opportunities

The study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company also found that women are less likely than men to have access to senior leaders who can provide guidance and support. The lack of networking opportunities can also have a significant impact on women's career advancement. Without access to key decision-makers and mentors, women may miss out on important opportunities to develop new skills and take on new challenges.

Possible solutions to promote networking opportunities include creating formal mentorship and sponsorship programs, providing  networking training and resources, and ensuring that women have access to informal networks within the workplace. Additionally, companies can promote networking by encouraging employee participation in professional organizations and industry events. By promoting networking opportunities, companies can help women build the connections they need to succeed and advance in their careers.

Lack of Access to Resources

Resources such as funding, training, and technology are essential for success at work. However, women often face a lack of access to these resources, which can impede their professional growth and advancement.

In addition to managerial support, workplace culture can also play a role in resource access. For example, if a workplace culture is not inclusive and welcoming to women, they may feel discouraged from seeking out resources or may be excluded from informal networks that provide access to resources.

Period Shaming

Period shaming includes negative attitudes and beliefs towards menstruating individuals, which can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and even exclusion. According to a survey, one in five girls in the United States has missed school because of their period. Additionally, a survey conducted by New York Post found that 58% of women felt uncomfortable discussing their period.

Organizations can take various measures to address period shaming and create a more supportive environment for menstruating individuals. Firstly, they can provide education and awareness around menstruation to reduce stigma and promote open communication. This can include training employees on the biology of menstruation and providing information on menstrual products and resources.

Businesses can provide access to free or subsidized menstrual products, such as tampons and pads, in restrooms and common areas. This can help reduce financial barriers and make it easier for menstruating individuals to manage their periods at work or school

Work Environment and Culture

The lack of a supportive work environment and culture negatively affects women's professional development and advancement opportunities. Promoting a positive work environment and culture is crucial in ensuring gender equality in the workplace.

Organizations can implement various measures to foster an inclusive work culture, such as providing unconscious bias training to employees, promoting diversity in leadership positions, and establishing clear and transparent policies against discrimination and harassment.


Women continue to face numerous challenges in the workplace that hinder their professional growth and advancement. Employers, employees, and society as a whole must take action to address these issues and create a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Employers can implement policies and programs that promote diversity and inclusion, provide support for working mothers, and address unconscious biases in hiring and promotion.

It is important to recognize that addressing these issues requires a collective effort and a sustained commitment to change. By working together, we can create a future where women can fully realize their potential and thrive in the workplace. We can build a workplace culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported, regardless of their gender.

Cogent Infotech helps organizations to get the right talent and build an ecosystem that promotes the growth of all individuals in the organization.

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