The challenges of women in business are very well-documented visit. Obviously, things have still gotten better for women in business over the years. The people who deny that there has been any progress in the past hundred years or so are ignoring the successes of multiple feminist movements. It’s a denial of history in general to say that things haven’t demonstrably gotten better for women in all sectors. There is still a lot of work to be done, particularly for women in business today.
Motherhood and Business
Women have to deal with the stigma towards working mothers even if they have no intention of being mothers. Employers will often refuse to hire a young or young-looking woman in business, because they tend to assume that she will just quit and stay home to raise the kids. Stay-at-home mothers are relatively rare these days and the proportion of voluntarily child-free women has actually doubled since the 1970’s. However, the idea that all women are eventually going to have children is something that stops young women from getting the careers that they want.
Women who have kids really get the short end of the stick. Many of them have to quit their jobs altogether because they aren’t given the maternity leave that they need initially. Few businesses have day care centers. Employers are rarely understanding towards women who have kids and who might need to spend some time on parenting during the day.
Men have been expected to more or less leave all of the child-rearing to their wives for generations because employers have wanted them solely devoted to their work. Women in the workplace, even if they have spouses, are more or less expected to never have kids at all. However, they will almost never get anyone to believe that they are truly child-free by choice. Even some older women struggle to convince their employers that they have priorities outside of their family members. This problem does not necessarily get better with age.
Sexism and Looks
Women in business often struggle to get taken seriously regardless of what they look like. Attractive women are often told that they are distracting to their male employees. They might be told to wear less makeup, regardless of whether or not they’re even wearing any. Women who have very curvaceous figures will often be told to wear something more ‘appropriate’ for a business setting, even if they are wearing the same thing that everyone else is wearing. People can’t truly do much about their looks, but employers often expect that women should.
Plain women might be discriminated against for not being attractive enough, in spite of the fact that few businesses are glamour industries. They’re told to put on makeup or to dress differently, reinforcing that it’s their looks that matter and not their performance. Women who are outright ugly might have a hard time getting hired in the first place. Women’s looks are often used against them one way or another.
Lack of Advancement
Women often struggle when it comes to advancing in a company. Given the choice between a female and male employee, the male employee will almost always get promoted. Few women move into upper management, as is evidenced by the few CEO’s that are women.
Business rewards aggression. American men are taught to be aggressive about everything from closing the deal to salary negotiation. Women are taught to be accommodating, and if they aren’t, they are slandered for their aggression in many cases. Of course, even women who do everything right will still lose to the male colleague with connections. Women struggle to break through stereotypes, and it something still doesn’t work.
The Future of Women in Business
There is more awareness about all of these problems today, click here. Women treated with sexism will now post their stories to social media, at which point they will get millions of people supporting them and their companies will get bad press. There is a great deal of pressure on companies to appear progressive these days. Child-free people have made their voices heard and are getting people to acknowledge them, which might indirectly change the perceptions of working women. With enough cultural change, these problems might eventually go away, along with the help of feminism. However, it might take a long time.