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Perspective is everything, especially in growing environments where diversity and inclusion are becoming increasingly important. Picture this, you are a summer Marketing Intern, and you are asked to write a blog about Women in the Workplace. What do you do? You say yes to the challenge even if you are a male college student. You say yes even if you only are in your 20’s and have little to no experience working with members of other age generations. Even though I knew it would be a daunting task, I said yes to the challenge of writing about a topic I really didn’t know much about at the time.
After much research, now I can say I know a little bit more about Women in the Workplace, which I’m delighted to share with you. For starters did you know that in 1950, 33% of women worked outside the home? In 1970 that number jumped to 43%. Now, women make up nearly half of the United States work force with 46.8% (Status of Women).
It is also interesting to note that the percentage of women working outside the home varies by region. For example, 74.8% of women aged 20-64 residing in Alaska are working outside the home (DOL (Department of Labor)). In comparison, 62.9% of women in West Virginia of that same age range, are working outside the home (DOL). The states with the most and least women working for the ages ranging from 20-64 reside within Alaska and West VA, however it is interesting to note that the Midwest Region has the most women working in comparison to the rest of the country.
While the number of women in the workplace continues to grow, that hasn’t been without many struggles along the way. For example, I’ve learned of a well-known stereotype that women are to stay at home and take care of the house and children. If women want to be successful in business, they must edge their way into the male-dominated business world while facing discrimination and bias. (Forbes) There are many obstacles that prevent women from having the same possibilities as men and to succeed, women often must work harder and make many sacrifices just to have the same opportunities as most men.
Even after struggling to make their place in male-dominated industries, often women are taken advantage of by men, frequently of higher ranking in the organization than they are. “In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 7,500 sexual harassment complaints, and 72,000 complaints about racial, sex, age, religious and other types of discrimination” says Tyler Sonnemaker of Business Insider. The #MeToo movement has inspired countless women to speak up against their aggressors. Not only have they stood up for themselves, but women are feeling empowered enough now to take their employers to court to fight the discrimination being shown to them (Business Insider). While dealing with sexual misconduct and cultural biases, women have persevered through it all and so many have become extremely successful.
Today there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses (Fundera). In 2020 in the United States, female owned businesses generated more than $1.8 trillion dollars (about $5,500 per person in the US) (Fundera). With all the progress the United States has made in gender equality, on average, women are still only paid $0.82 cents for every dollar a man makes. Even though women have made tremendous progress in staking their place in the business world, only 74% of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity after having a child. Of the 74% of women who return to work, only about 40% will return to full time jobs (Hult). Unfortunately, women must still deal with the stereotype of staying home with their child vs going back to work.
Educating oneself about the obstacles women and other minorities face in the workplace is only the first step in the route toward true equality and inclusion. The next step is using the knowledge obtained to help establish fair business practices, and actively applying them to everyday operations. Because simply learning about fair and better practices is not enough; making these practices part of the workforce environment is necessary. When looking to be more inclusive, it is important to eliminate variables in rhetoric on inclusion from not just the leaders but everyone within an organization. To learn more about women in the workplace, and any obstacles they face, it is recommended to conduct diligent research from trustworthy sites and articles.