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4 Obstacles Women Still Face in the Workplace

Hamsa Ramesha | HRPeople

March 22, 2010


Experts preach about how far women have come while analysts point to studies backing them up. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar men earn. For every Michelle Obama or Sonia Sotomayor, there are thousands of women in the workforce whose careers end at that glass ceiling.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“In 2007, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $614, or about 80 percent of the $766 median for their male counterparts. This ratio has grown since 1979 (the first year for which comparable earnings data are available), when women earned about 62 percent as much as men.”

As much as we should applaud ourselves for this kind of growth, it’s baffling that we haven’t come further. Unfortunately, stereotypes and outdated notions of tradition remain prevalent in modern corporate culture. It also doesn’t help that “pink collar” jobs like cosmetology, waitressing, and secretarial jobs are reinforced as just “women’s work” by the fact that it’s overwhelmingly women who accept these positions.

So what gives? Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, we still see obvious pay differences today, nearly 50 years later. The flip side to this argument is that the statistics don’t necessarily reflect factors such as maternity leave, how men are more likely to take high-risk jobs, and, of course, the idea that men focus on their careers while women are split between work and home life. (Ironically, research also shows that men with a family are more likely to get promoted and do well in their careers than single men).

Thankfully, if there’s one good thing that came out of this recession, it’s that it has been a blessing (in disguise) for women. During this “man-cession,” as The New York Times calls it, men have lost 7.4 million jobs, while women have lost just 3.9 million jobs.

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