Shocking Sh*t That Women Still Deal With At Work
This thought is always at the forefront of my mind and in the center of my work: What will make a real, tangible, sustainable difference for working women in the world today?
When we look at this question through a workplace lens, we can zone in on two of the greatest impacts to progress: bias and leadership.
In a world that has seen an end to the notion that women need to be fixed or act like men to succeed in a ‘man’s world’, things are certainly changing, and incredible progress is being made in some areas. And yet still, we see data that feels like a slap in the face every time we look at it, like these 10 shocking things that women still have to deal with at work:
Men interrupt women 3 times more often than they interrupt other men.
Do you find it hard to have your voice heard at work? If you’re nodding your head, you wouldn’t be alone as research shows that men interrupt women 3 times more often than they interrupt other men. If you start actively looking at this amongst your co-workers at the same level in meetings, you’ll likely notice that men sit in the front and centre seats around a boardroom table, and that women tend to gravitate towards the end of the table and the edges of the room away from positions of power or positions that convey status. Women also tend to get less air time in group discussions, and they are interrupted more - not just by men - but by women as well.
Women leaders are twice as likely as men leaders to be mistaken for someone more junior.
According to the latest Women in the Workplace 2022 report by Lean In, despite women leaders being just as ambitious as men and wanting to advance, they face much stronger headwinds. One such challenge is that women leaders are twice as likely as men leaders to be mistaken for someone more junior or to have their judgment questioned.
This is one of the reasons why women leaders are stepping away from their companies in unprecedented numbers. It’s not only that they have to put up with unfair treatment such as this, they are also doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and going mostly unrewarded.
66% of women received negative feedback on their personal style in performance reviews compared to 1% of men.
This particular research, which highlights how high-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews, is indicative of one of the greatest challenges that women face at work, known as the likeability penalty.
Men are expected to be assertive and confident, so coworkers welcome their leadership. In contrast, women are expected to be nurturing and collaborative, so when we lead, we go against expectations - and often face pushback from men and women.
The problem is that women need to assert themselves to be effective. This “likeability penalty” often surfaces in the way women are described, both in passing and in performance reviews. When a woman speaks in a direct style or pushes her ideas, she is often called “aggressive” and “ambitious.” When a man does the same, he is seen as “confident” and “strong.”
Replacing a woman’s name with a man’s name on a resume improved the odds of getting hired by more than 60%.
In addition to the likeability penalty, women also must contend with performance bias which is based on deep-rooted—and incorrect—assumptions about women’s and men’s abilities.
We tend to underestimate women’s performance and overestimate men’s. As a result, women have to accomplish more to prove that they’re as competent as men. This is why women are often hired based on past accomplishments (they need to prove that they have the right skills), while men are often hired based on future potential (we assume they have the skills they need).
To understand the impact of this bias, consider what happens when you remove gender from decision-making. In their book What Works for Women At Work, Joan Williams and Rachel Dempsey cite a study which showed that replacing a woman’s name with a man’s name on a résumé improved the odds of getting hired by more than 60%. Performance bias often leads to missed opportunities and lower performance ratings for women—and both can have a huge impact on career progression.
When hiring managers know a woman has children, she is 79% less likely to be hired.
The strongest type of gender bias that women face at work is maternal bias, where motherhood triggers false assumptions that women are less committed to their careers—and even less competent. As a result, mothers are often given fewer opportunities and held to higher standards than fathers.
We fall into the trap of thinking mothers are not as interested in their jobs, so we assume they don’t want that challenging assignment or to go on a big work trip. And because we think they’re less committed, we’re more likely to penalise them for small mistakes or oversights.
A powerful example of how maternal bias negatively impacts women is the research which shows that when hiring managers know a woman has children—because “Parent-Teacher Association coordinator” appears on her résumé for example—she is 79% less likely to be hired.
58% of women working remotely feel excluded from meetings and interactions.
One of the significant changes that came as a result of the pandemic, is that many of us now have a hybrid work model. Despite offering more flexibility, this way of working still isn’t delivering the benefits it could. According to the Women at Work 2022 report by Deloitte, 58% of women working remotely feel excluded from meetings and interactions and almost half of them say they don’t have enough exposure to leaders, which is a critical piece when it comes to sponsorship and career progression.
59% of women have experienced harassment and/or microaggressions at work in the past 12 months.
Even though it would be nice to focus on the progress that is being made towards gender equality, one of the unfortunate truths is that research by Deloitte shows that harassment and microaggressions against women have increased in the past 12 months, with 59% of women reporting that they’ve experienced this treatment at work in 2022.
Perhaps even more concerning than the fact that almost 60% of women have experienced non-inclusive behaviours like this in the past 12 months, is that 93% of them don’t report these behaviours because they don’t believe their employer will take action. How have we arrived at the point where in 2023, 93% of us believe that speaking up against harassment and microaggressions in the workplace won’t result in anything being done?
37% of women leaders have had a coworker get credit for their idea compared to 27% of men leaders.
The latest findings from Lean In show that women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen. One of the motivating factors behind these departures are the headwinds and bias that women leaders come up against on a regular basis. According to the 2022 report, 37% of women leaders have had a coworker get credit for their idea compared to 27% of men leaders. This is not a new trend, as women at all levels in the workplace have faced attribution bias for decades.
Research by Madeline Heilman and Michelle Hayes shows that women are given less credit for their accomplishments and are blamed more for mistakes. Often the work a woman does can go unrecognised, and studies show that when women and men work on tasks together, women often get less credit for success and more blame for failure.
Women who work full-time, have partners and children spend on average 20 hrs more per week on childcare, caring for elderly or sick relatives and housework than men.
One of the concerning statistics to come out of the global pandemic, was that full-time working mothers with partners are doing an additional 20 hrs of work each week on childcare, housework and caring duties compared to men. That’s the equivalent of a part-time job! The situation is even worse for women of colour and single mothers, who spend even more time on these things than women overall.
With statistics like this, it’s no wonder that in 2022, 46% of women reported feeling burned out.
School and daycare closures in 2020 led to 512 billion additional hours of unpaid childcare globally for women.
The unequal distribution of unpaid work for women reached unprecedented heights during 2020 and 2021. In fact, a UN report examining the progress towards gender equality found that school and daycare closures in 2020 led to 512 billion additional hours of unpaid childcare globally for women. To give that number some context, that’s over 57,000 decades of unpaid work.
This is one of the many unforeseen consequences of the pandemic, which has not only halted progress towards gender equality but in many cases, reversed it. According to the World Economic Forum, in 2020 the global gender pay gap was expected to close in 100 years, whereas now we are looking at 136 years.