14 Striking Facts About Women in the Workplace
For decades, women have fought for equal representation with men, especially in the workplace, and today, we can say that some progress has been made.
Today, women have dramatically joined the workforce.
There is a higher number of women working as lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, and politicians compared to ten or twenty years ago.
Over the last five years, more women have risen to the top leadership positions in companies than ever before.
More and more companies are realizing that it is ethical, and even valuable to have more women among the top executives.
While this is a step in the right direction, a lot more needs to be done, because women still continue to be underrepresented at all levels in the corporate world, and especially in the executive positions, according to findings by a 2019 report by McKinsey and LeanIn.org titled Women in the Workplace.
In their latest report, McKinsey and LeanIn.org looked at HR and pipeline data from 329 North American companies that collectively employ over 13 million people.
In addition, the report surveyed over 68,500 employees about their experiences at the workplace.
The respondents included men and women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ community, as well as women with disabilities.
The respondents were gotten from all levels within the involved organizations.
Below are some of the most striking facts about women in the workplace that we gleaned from the report.
DESPITE THE PROGRESS, WOMEN REMAIN UNDERREPRESENTED IN CORPORATE OFFICES
According to the report, men and women are almost equally represented when getting into the workforce.
It reports that 48% of those getting into entry-level positions are women. From there, however, things quickly head downwards.
Only 38% of women make it to management level, just 34% make it to senior manager or director, 30% make it to vice-president, 26% make it to senior vice president, and only 21% of women make it to C-suite positions (the senior most job levels).
This means that for every 100 men that advance to management roles, only 79 women are promoted into similar positions.
The figures become even worse when you consider women of color, who account for 18% of entry-level positions but just 4% of C-level positions.
MORE WOMEN ARE MAKING IT TO THE C-SUITE
While we have seen that women are underrepresented in the C-level, there has still been some improvement from five years ago.
In 2019, 44% of organizations have at least three women holding C-level positions, which is an improvement from 2015, when the figure stood at 29%.
This increase in the number of women making it to the C-suite is making a huge impact, since top level executives play a significant role in influencing the corporate culture within their organizations.
Still, more needs to be done to add more women to the C-suite, since overall representation of women in this positions is wanting.
Today, out of every 5 C-suite executives, only 1 is a woman, and among every 25 C-suite executives, only one is a woman of color.
WOMEN ARE NOT LEAVING COMPANIES MORE THAN MEN
Most people might be tempted to assume that while the numbers of men and women are almost equal in entry level positions, the number of women keeps decreasing the higher one goes because women have a higher likelihood of leaving the workforce. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
According to the Women in the Workplace report, men are more likely to leave companies than women at all levels.
What’s more, the more they advance at the workplace, the less likely women are to leave.
Women who have made it to SVP-levels are 20% less likely to leave compared to men, and women who have made it to the C-suite are 50% less likely to leave compared to men.
Even when women leave the company, they don’t do it so that they can focus on raising a family, which is the common assumption.
Majority of women who leave their companies still remain in the workforce.
Only under 2% of workers – both men and women – leave the workforce so that they can focus on family.
WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY WHEN IT COMES TO TOP JOBS
So, why are there less women in top positions compared to men?
One of the reasons (there are many more reasons) behind this is that women have a different view of top jobs compared to men.
The Women in the Workplace report found that less women are interested in being top execs compared to men.
While women are generally less interested in top jobs than men, differences emerge when you look at different groups of women.
For instance, women of color are more interested in being top execs compared to white women. While 38% of black women are interested in holding a top level position, only 29% of white women are interested in the same.
On the other hand, Asian women are more interested in top level positions than men, while Latinas want these jobs in equal measure as men.
In addition, the motivation behind the interest in top level positions is different between men and women.
Whereas men are interested in top positions because they want to make an impact on the company’s bottom line, women are generally interested in these positions so that they can act as role models for other women.
Black women, on the other hand, are interested in top level positions so that they can have a positive impact on positive culture and pave the way for other black women.
WOMEN DO NOT HAVE AS MUCH ACCESS TO SENIOR LEADERS AS MEN
The Women in the Workplace report found that 33% of women have never had any meaningful interaction with a senior leader concerning their work, whereas only 27% of men report the same thing.
The figures are even higher for black women, with 41% claiming that they have never had any meaningful interaction with a senior leader concerning their work.
In addition, 49% of women never have any informal interactions with senior leaders, compared to just 40% of men. The figure is even higher for black women (59%) and Latina women (54%).
On the face of it, this might not seem like a meaningful statistic.
However, interactions with senior leaders at the workplace have a very big impact.
They have an influence on who gets promotions, who stays with the organization, and even who sets ambitions on these leadership positions.
This is to say that the less interactions someone has with senior leaders, the less the number of opportunities open to them.
WOMEN ARE NOT BEING SUCCESSFULLY MENTORED
Mentorship is very important at the workplace. It has a big influence on a person’s likelihood of success, yet women are getting less mentorship compared to men.
According to the report, about 17% of men in senior level positions have four or more executives to thank for helping them move up the corporate ladder, yet only 10% of women in senior level positions can say the same.
Differences in the amount of mentorship offered also emerge when you consider different groups of women.
For instance, while two thirds of White, Hispanic, and Asian women say that they received the support of a top executive to help them advance, only half of Black women can say the same thing.
WOMEN ARE TWICE MORE LIKELY TO BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST OR GET MISTAKEN FOR JUNIOR EMPLOYEES
Women are twice more likely than men to be taken for a much more junior employee compared to men.
For instance, one of the Asian women who took part in the survey reported having someone correct her when she pressed the elevator button for the executive floor.
The person in the elevator with her mentioned that the intern offices were on another floor, suggesting that this woman was more likely to be an intern. Here is the kicker – the woman was a director with the organization.
About 20% of women in the workforce have found themselves in similar situations, yet only 10% of men have had such experiences.
In addition, women are also required to prove their competence as twice as men. They are more likely to be the target of demeaning remarks, or to have judgements they made in their area of expertise questioned.
Women are also more likely to encounter microaggressions at work, such as being interrupted when speaking, having people surprised at their level of skill, having other people take credit for their effort, and so on.
64% of women reported to have encountered such microaggressions, compared to just about 50% of men. The figure was even higher for lesbian women, with 71% of them claiming to have experienced such microaggressions.
Here’s the unfortunate part – women who regularly encounter such microaggressions are three times more likely to think about quitting their job.
WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE “ONLYS”
Considering that women are underrepresented across all levels of the corporate pipeline, they are more likely to find themselves being the only woman or one of the only women in various groups at work.
18% of women, or almost 1 in every five women report that they have found themselves in such situations.
This figure is even higher for women in technical roles and women in senior leadership roles, with 35% of these women reporting that they have found themselves in situations where they were the only woman within a group at work.
In contrast, only 7% of men have found themselves in situations where they were the only man.
To make matters worse, women are more likely to have bad experiences when they are outnumbered by men.
For instance, they are more likely to encounter microaggressions compared to women who work in women only groups, men who work in equally represented groups, and men who are outnumbered by women.
In addition, when a women is the “only” woman within a group, they are more likely to be put under the spotlight, held to a higher standard, and have their actions heavily scrutinized.
To such women, it feels as though their actions are a representation of all women, and if they fail, it feels as though all women will be seen as failures along with them.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS STILL A HUGE CONCERN FOR WOMEN
Despite all the progress that has been made, sexual harassment is still a widespread issue at the workplace.
According to the Women at the Workplace report, 35% of women working full-time in corporate sector jobs have had encounters they consider to be instances of sexual harassment.
These include having sexist jokes directed at them, having colleagues try to initiate intimate relationships with them despite making it clear such attention is unwanted, being touched inappropriately, and so on.
When you take a deeper look into different groups of women, the figures go even higher.
34% of women of color, 48% of women in technical positions, 53% of lesbian women, 59% of women in C-level positions, and 62% of bisexual women reported having been sexually harassed at least once over the course of their careers.
Women with disabilities also report high levels of sexual harassment (51%), probably owing to the fact that they are vulnerable.
In spite of the widespread cases of sexual harassment, a significant number of employees are not confident in the ability of their organizations to properly investigate and address claims and complaints about sexual harassment.
A gender gap also emerges when it comes to employees’ confidence in their organizations when it comes to addressing sexual harassment.
Only 52% of women believe that their organizations can fairly investigate and address sexual harassment complaints, compared to 70% of men.
On the other hand, 30% of women believe that making complaints about sexual harassment would be useless, uncertain, or even risky, compared to just 15% of men.
MORE WOMEN THAN MEN SEE GENDER AS AN IMPEDIMENT TO ADVANCEMENT
We already saw that the higher up the corporate pipeline you look, the less women you will find. The report provides further insights as to why more women are not moving upwards.
According to the report, almost 25% of women believe that they have missed out on a promotion, a raise, or a chance to advance because of something to do with their gender.
In addition, 29% of women believe that their gender will an impediment to their future advancement.
In contrast, only 8 percent of men believe that they have missed out on a promotion, a raise, or a chance to advance because of something to do with their gender, and only 15% of men believe that their gender will an impediment to their future advancement.
Additionally, less women than men believe that their workplaces are fair and that advancement opportunities are based on objective and fair criteria.
Black women are the least likely to believe that their workplaces are fair.
WOMEN ARE NEGOTIATING FOR PROMOTIONS AND RAISES MORE THAN MEN
There is a common misconception that men are more likely to negotiate for pay raises and promotions compared to women.
However, the 2019 Women in the Workplace report throws this notion through the window, at least when it comes to corporate America.
The report shows that women are not shying away from asking for more.
In the last year, 31% of women negotiated for an increase in their compensation packages, compared to just 29% of men. In addition, 37% of women negotiated for a promotion, compared to 36% of men.
Here’s where things go wrong. Despite women asking for raises and promotions more than men, the outcomes do not reflect this.
Instead, women are less likely to get promotions, especially early in their careers, and on average, women are getting lower pay than men, even when the work is similar.
Black women are even less likely to get promoted and generally get paid less compared to white women.
MORE WOMEN ARE FINDING THEMSELVES IN DUAL-CAREER RELATIONSHIPS
In 2015, 75% of working women were in relationships with partners who work full time. In 2019, this number has grown to 81%. In contrast, only 56% of men are in relationships with partners who work full time, up from 47% in 2015.
One of the most notable things here is that the disparity between men and women in dual-career relationships continues to grow as you move higher up the corporate pipeline.
While only 37% of men in senior-level positions have a partner who works full time, 72% of women in senior level positions have working partners. In other words, the higher up the corporate ladder men move, the more likely they are to have a stay at home partner, while the same doesn’t apply for women.
There is also a disparity in the kind of household responsibilities men and women engage in.
While only 11% of men in dual-career relationships reported being responsible for all or most of the housework, 39% of women in dual-career relationships report the same thing.
WOMEN INTERPRET THEIR HOME RESPONSIBILITIES DIFFERENTLY FROM MEN
The 2019 Women in the Workplace report also asked both women and men to describe how they split chores and childcare back at home.
The report found that at most levels, women were consistently more likely to report that they handled more tasks than their partners.
The only place where this changes is when it comes to senior level employees and childcare. Here, 37% of men in senior level positions said they did more in terms of childcare, compared to 27% of women at the same level.
Still, the higher up the ladder that men moved, the less likely they were to take up more chores at home, with 4% of men in senior level positions saying they were responsible for more of the housework, compared to 30% of women at the same level.
WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES ARE NOT UNIVERSAL
Going over the other facts and statistics above, something else has become evident.
The experiences that women undergo at the workplace are not universal to all women. Instead, these experiences are influenced by other aspects of women’s identity.
Women with disabilities, bisexual and lesbian women, and women of color have experiences that are distinct – and in most cases worse – than the experiences of women in general.
Women with disabilities and black women are more likely to encounter barriers to advancement and receive less sponsorship and support compared to other groups of women.
In addition, women with disabilities are more likely to have people take credit for their work and ideas, to be interrupted when speaking, and to have their judgment questioned.
Bisexual women, lesbian women, and women with disabilities are also more likely to be the targets of disparaging comments, or to hear such comments directed at other people like them.
From the fourteen facts about women in the workplace discussed above, we can see that a lot still needs to be done to improve the representation of women in their workplace, to give them more access to opportunities, and to improve their experiences while at work.
Fortunately, most companies recognize the need for this.
The vast majority of companies and organizations that featured in the 2019 Women in the Workplace report acknowledge that gender diversity is a top priority.
However, some of the actions being taken by most of these companies are not translating to any significant change for women in the workplace.
Luckily, the 2019 Women in the Workplace report also outlines several strategies that companies can adopt in order to make improvements to gender diversity and improve the experiences of women in the workplace. If you want to learn more about these strategies, you can read the full report here.
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