In the early 20th century, most women in the United States did not work outside the home, with only 20% of women being “gainful workers.” By the early 1990s, the number reached just over 74 percent, and the gap in earnings between men and women has narrowed substantially since then.
But, as The Center for American Progress notes, women working full time still earn an average of 82 cents per every dollar earned by men. Plus, recent research has shown that although women now enter professional schools in numbers nearly equal to men, they are still less likely to reach the highest levels of their professions. One of the primary reasons for that is because top jobs in fields such as law and business require longer work weeks, thus penalizing women who are still expected to balance family and work far more than men.
In other words, women are finding they have to work almost twice as hard as men in order to be equally compensated. Burnham Douglass explains that this has made it necessary for women to find ways to overcome the kind of hurdles that men are far less likely to face.
Asking For a Raise
There are reasons why women continue to earn less, on average, for the same performance and remain underrepresented in top jobs. Research has shown that both conscious and subconscious biases contribute to this problem. Women often don’t get what they want and deserve because they don’t ask for it, while men are far more likely than women to negotiate for what they want.
The direct, competitive negotiation style most men use to ask for a raise doesn’t work well for women and often leads to promotions and raises being denied. Several studies have shown that to be persuasive or influential, women need to come across as likable. If women can use their social skills to come across as warm, approachable, and likable, their odds of success increase dramatically.
Since women are usually uncomfortable advocating for themselves in the workplace, practicing role-playing in advance can make them more confident when they finally get in front of that decision maker.
Currently, more women pursue higher education than men. Over the past thirty years, the percentage of college-enrolled women aged 18-24 was higher than the percentage of enrolled men in the same age range according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And having a degree narrows the men vs women pay gap substantially. But again, since women are still expected to carry the lion’s share of home and family responsibilities, this makes it far more difficult for them to get a degree in those professions where pay gaps narrow.
Online degree programs have changed all of that, though. And although many women choose online education over in-person classes to balance work and family, not all female online learners are married, working mothers. In fact, forty-four percent of the women surveyed reported having no children. There are many accredited online schools offering competitive tuition rates for both graduate and undergraduate studies.
Dealing With Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace is one of the most widespread and common problems that women face.
Sexual harassment can be verbal or physical and doesn’t necessarily mean touching the private parts of any woman. It ranges from offensive comments, showing obscene pictures or videos, threats of sexual assault, and holding back raises or promotions for women who object to any of that. Unnecessary verbal activities or gestures like remarks about appearance, gender-based insulting comments, whistling, and cracking adult jokes also come under the heading of sexual harassment.
Employer sexual harassment training usually consists of forcing new hires to sit through hours of boring, exaggerated, and poorly produced training videos. After which, the employee takes a multiple choice exam to receive a certification.
Understanding Your Strengths
Whether you’re preparing to ask for that raise, promotion, or bonus, or you’re improving your career options by getting your degree online, understanding the power you hold in all areas of the workforce is the key. This includes starting your own business. You can choose to form your venture as an LLC which has several benefits (e.g., limited liability, tax advantages, less paperwork, flexibility) and operate as an S Corporation. States have different regulations around forming an LLC, so check the rules in your state about starting a NJ S Corporation before moving ahead.
This power in the the workforce is also your superpower against sexual harassment. Your boss or coworker has no legal right to harass you, but you have a legal right to be protected from harassment. And the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed by President Obama in 2008, stipulates you are legally entitled to receive the same salary as a man for the same work.
The rules of the workplace are on your side, use them!