In today's world, gender equality and women's empowerment have become crucial topics of conversation (and long may that continue).
While significant progress has been made (anyone need just look back through history to see how far we’ve come - a recent Netflix series on Queen Charlotte set in the late 18th century acts as a stark reminder of what life once resembled for women of society, let alone women of lower classes), it’s true that gender bias still remains a persistent challenge, particularly when it comes to women's career progression.
It’s also worth noting that here at Cuppa, we are committed to continually having the conversations which matter, regardless of how hard they might be, and there are many inequalities that should and will be addressed by us here in subsequent conversations, but this article’s primary focus is on the impact of gender bias on women’s careers.
Let’s set the scene, it’s 2023, so you’d think that career progression wouldn’t still be impacted by gender. And yet, here we are. The truth is, work is a game originally developed by men, for men. And whilst the players may have changed, the rules to succeed have not. When today's talented women play like men, they often get punished for not being 'ladylike', accused of acting “like a man”, yet when they play like women, they get punished for not being 'leaderlike' or being “too soft” and if a woman chooses to become a mother then she is often sidelined for not being committed enough to her career.
Women of recent generations are taught that they can have it all, but are we setting them up for unrealistic expectations, burnout and failure when we match it to the current reality of the working world for women?
Welcome to the gender penalties that sideline women from the game of work.
The Prevalence of Gender Bias:
Gender bias manifests itself in various forms, such as unequal pay, limited access to leadership positions, unconscious biases, and stereotypes. These biases permeate workplaces, shaping perceptions and decisions that ultimately, affect women's career progression.
Let's look at some eye-opening statistics:
Unequal Pay: According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021, women globally earn, on average, just 63% of what men earn. This wage gap not only affects women's financial wellbeing but also impacts their prospects for career progression. Let alone when it comes to a woman’s choice to have a family, she is then hindered with choices around returning to work and the cost of childcare.
Leadership Representation: Women are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions. The 2021 Catalyst Census found that women hold only 29.5% of senior management roles globally. This lack of representation hampers the development of diverse and inclusive workplaces.
So, what is the impact on career progression?
Gender bias has profound implications for women's career progression, often resulting in:
Stereotypes and biases can lead to women being overlooked for challenging assignments, promotions, or important projects. This lack of visibility and opportunity inhibits their professional growth.
Confidence and Ambition Gap:
Women often face societal and cultural expectations that discourage them from pursuing ambitious career goals. Moreover, gender biases can erode confidence, making women doubt their abilities and potential, which further affects their progression.
Work-Life Balance Challenges:
Balancing work and family responsibilities disproportionately falls on women's shoulders. Stereotypes and biases assume that women prioritise caregiving over their careers, creating challenges in achieving work-life balance and career progression simultaneously.
What can we do to make a difference?
Change is not linear, nor is it overnight, but by continually showing up and committing to show up, we are able to not only help women progress in the workplace for this generation, but for every subsequent generation that comes. Together, we can make history.
Here are a few ways in which we can continue to bridge the gap:
By educating individuals about unconscious biases, stereotypes, and their impact on women's career progression, we can foster a more inclusive workplace culture. Employers should provide training programmes and resources to promote awareness and understanding.
Building Supportive Networks:
Organisations can facilitate mentorship and sponsorship programmes that connect women with influential leaders who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy. Peer networks and professional associations can also serve as invaluable sources of support and inspiration.
Encouraging Leadership Diversity:
Companies must prioritise diversity and inclusion at all levels, setting measurable goals and holding leadership accountable. Implementing policies that promote gender balance in leadership positions is essential for fostering an inclusive work environment.
Flexible Work Arrangements:
Offering flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help women better navigate the role and decision around motherhood, and managing family responsibilities whilst still enabling career progression at the same time.
Equal Pay and Compensation Transparency:
Companies should ensure pay equity by conducting regular pay audits, establishing transparent salary structures, and addressing any disparities. Transparent compensation practices contribute to building trust and equity within organisations. Not to mention, that this kind of transparency, makes an organisation more attractive to work at too.
Gender bias still remains a significant hurdle for women's career advancement, perpetuating inequalities and limiting their professional growth. By acknowledging these biases, understanding their impact, and taking actionable steps, both individuals and organisations can create an environment that empowers women to thrive. Breaking these barriers requires collective effort, but the benefits of a more inclusive workforce are undeniable—a diverse and equitable workplace benefits everyone and paves the way for a brighter future.
Let’s turn obstacles into opportunities for women at work.
If you’d like to find out more about the gender penalty, then we have just the show for you.
Ready to learn how you can overcome the challenges and biases that may be holding you back in your career?
Join us for an engaging cuppa on "Gender Penalty" by Anneli Blundell, a thought-provoking book that explores the impact of gender bias on women's career advancement. Anneli Blundell, a renowned executive coach and leadership expert, presents a compelling argument that despite women's increased participation in the workforce, gender biases still exist, and these biases limit women's access to top leadership roles and earning potential.
Some of the key topics we'll be touching upon are:
How gender biases still exist in the workplace, and how they limit women's access to top leadership roles and earning potential
How the motherhood penalty is real and can have a significant impact on women's careers
How the confidence gap is a major obstacle for women, and it is often fuelled by societal stereotypes
Why female role models in leadership positions are essential for breaking down gender barriers and inspiring the next generation of female leaders
How women can take control of their careers by building their confidence, leveraging their strengths, and advocating for themselves
Grab your spot and we'll see you there.
When: Tuesday 23rd May at 8:30am (AEST)
To reserve your spot you can do so here: https://cuppa.tv/programs/anneli-blundell