Hurdles Women Face in their Quest for Professional Success

Do women find it more difficult than men to achieve professional success? Let’s see now. Women are better qualified!

More than 50% of the students entering college in western countries are women.

According to the results of a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, around 36% of millennial women of ages 25 to 34 have a bachelor’s degree or higher qualifications as compared to men.

But, do higher qualifications translate into better professional success and equal pay scales?

Of all the companies in Silicon Valley, the organizations that had at least one woman founder performed better than companies with all men on the board by 65%. Even so, women looking to start their own businesses are likely to receive only 19% of the angel investments out there. It is also startling to find that despite having better educational qualifications, women are may earn lower salaries as compared to men. For instance, a woman with a bachelor’s degree may make $50,000 each year on an average. And, this amount is the same as a man who has only an associate degree.

Here’s some added data. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, studies conducted in 21 professions and industries including the mining, professional services, finance, and insurance sectors showed that women earn less than $16,900 on an average or less than 75% of the male pay scale.

Source: IWPR

So, why do women earn lower salaries and struggle more for professional success?

Women Face Discrimination at the Recruitment Level As Program Director for Employment and Earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ariane Hegewisch says, “For women to break into male-dominated fields in the state workforce, states need to step up recruitment efforts and work to ensure that entrance exams are not biased.”

This statement is a clear indication that women face discrimination even at the hiring level.

Women Face Sexual Harassment

Hegewisch goes on to say, “Even if women get into these jobs, they may not decide to stay.” And, why is that? Sexual harassment in the workplace gets in the way of professional success.

Women facing and resisting sexual harassment have to deal with getting demoted, losing out on promotion opportunities to lesser experienced and qualified personnel, and even salary cuts. They may also have to lose additional perks such as medical benefits, bonuses, paid sick leave, compensation for overtime, paid vacations, and retirement benefits, among others.

In addition, women often suffer the trauma and stress related to such work situations that ultimately manifest themselves in physical, mental, and emotional issues. They may also find that they are the target of violent and vicious physical and verbal attacks. All of these factors can act as a snag in their professional success.

Women Need to Create that Perfect Balance between Work and Family

Women are naturally conditioned to be caregivers and nurturers. And, they need to devote adequate time to their kids and families. As every mother knows, juggling all roles efficiently is not all that easy. Although she does enlist all the help she can get including having her spouse, family, and friends pitch in for support, there are days when creating the perfect balance between work and family is hard. When you have a sick four year-old at home, it can be difficult to focus in a board meeting.

Factors like these can stand in the way of professional success.

Women Go Through Pregnancy

More and more women are now opting to delay having their babies until they feel they have reached the perfect time in their careers. According to the American Fertility Association (AFA), at least 20% of American women opt to have their first baby after the age of 35. But, the longer they delay, higher is the pressure they feel to return to work quickly.

Difficult pregnancies and deliveries that often result from older age can make it hard for women to get back to work quickly. And, the time they take off from work can make maintaining professional success harder.

Women Deal with Menopause and Hormone Imbalances

Women’s health is closely connected to optimum levels of hormones in their bodies. After the age of 35, most of them start to feel the gradual slowing down of the production of estrogen and progesterone. Unfortunately, most women are poised for their careers to take off right about this age. As the experts on hormone replacement treatments in Los Angeles warn, hormone imbalances can cause a range of issues such as poor concentration, memory lapses, mental confusion, weakening muscles and bones, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. All of these factors can act as a snag in productivity levels and eventually, professional success.

Professor of psychology at Villanova University and expert in work-life balance, Ginamarie Ligon-Scott, Ph.D. says, “I think the big concern with having a child earlier in life is that you haven’t built up the reputation to land a good position when you go back to work. But if you wait, your professional role gets harder the longer you’re in it. So the longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to take time off. Executives are back at work two weeks after the baby because they feel so much responsibility at work.”

Difficult pregnancies and deliveries that often result from older age can make it hard for women to get back to work quickly. And, the time they take off from work can make maintaining professional success harder.

Women Deal with Menopause and Hormone Imbalances

Women’s health is closely connected to optimum levels of hormones in their bodies. After the age of 35, most of them start to feel the gradual slowing down of the production of estrogen and progesterone. Unfortunately, most women are poised for their careers to take off right about this age. As the experts on hormone replacement treatments in Los Angeles warn, hormone imbalances can cause a range of issues such as poor concentration, memory lapses, mental confusion, weakening muscles and bones, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. All of these factors can act as a snag in productivity levels and eventually, professional success.

Being a woman in the professional sphere is not an easy task. And, you’ll probably have to work harder than your male counterparts to get the higher wages, top promotions, and meatier assignments you deserve. But, the fact remains that women are stronger, smarter, and better equipped to deal with all workplace challenges. And, once you’re aware of the hurdles you’re likely to face, you’ll prepare for them so that nothing stands in the way of your professional success.

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