The Challenges Working Women Face

Just like men, working women balance careers, personal life, and raising a family. However, today’s working women also face the challenges of equal pay, work life balance (now called integration), and organizational advancement.

Did you know about half of all workers on U.S. payrolls are women? It may be a bigger surprise to realize women are not the only ones impacted by these challenges. The changing nature of our families impacts men and children too.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau women working full time only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn. This inequality, according to the National Women’s Law Center, translates into $10,622 less per median-income woman every year.

Many years ago, the role of women was to raise a family. In recent decades, women have been pursuing careers without pay equity. It is a juggling act. Reports show two-thirds of the responsibility for household labor and caretaking is by women all over the world.

Approximately 67 percent of Excelsior College staff is composed of women so recently Excelsior College’s President’s Committee on Inclusion (PCI) hosted a panel discussion, to answer questions about the working challenges women face and address the subject of pay equity.

The panelists included Omoye Cooper, director of the division of equal employment opportunity and NYS Equal Opportunity Officer for the NYS Department of Labor, G. Bernett Marion, Sr., director of equal opportunity and diversity development for the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and Libby McGinn, MS, LMHC, clinical supervisor from Human Resources Associates. They each helped answer some tough questions.

Excelsior Life: What is the impact of pay inequity?
Even with advanced degrees, women are at a disadvantage. The good news is women are outpacing men in getting degrees and tend to live longer. Workplaces should examine policies and practices. Employees need to speak up when there are inequities, even if the first person doesn’t benefit, the last person usually does.

Recommendation: Tap into your inner strength. Don’t listen to stereotypes of being too pushy. Women need to be competitive, work hard, confident and assertive. Risk taking is part of advancement and failing is part of advancement.

Pay inequity starts with salary negotiations. Salary impacts the whole family and opportunities when you can’t afford things.

When it comes to inequity, do your homework. Find out what previous employees were paid. Come to job negotiations armed with facts.

Excelsior Life: What are some tips on work life balance/integration?
Half of the US workforce is made up of women. This places a burden on women and their partners. Depending on the culture of where you work, it can be damaging to feel like you can’t “unplug”. Tip for bosses: A supportive supervising style makes staff want to work hard. Tip for employees: Management should understand there is life outside of work and people need to take care of things. Pay attention to company policies on flex time, childcare, and eldercare.

Excelsior Life: What are some suggestions for women on organizational advancement?
Go outside your inner circle. Talk to other people in company regardless of their role and their title. Everyone can teach you something. Find a good mentor who has the desire to help you succeed.

Keep in mind “PIE”…. performance, image, and exposure impact career mobility. Pay attention to chain of command and culture of workplace. Don’t worry about everyone liking you. It is more important to get along and respect people in the workplace. Women should be proactive in establishing relationships and find mentors.