Women in the Workplace: Gendered Challenges

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Women are an essential part of the workplace. Women make up half of the world's population and nearly half of the global workforce. While this ratio of men to women in the workplace has remained constant over the past two decades, women’s prominence in international business has been steadily increasing. In the past ten years alone, the number of women worldwide who work in senior management positions has increased by nearly 15% . To work effectively in today’s diverse workforce, with its increasing diversity of gender, it is essential to understand and to be mindful of the unique challenges that women experience in the workplace. This series, Women in the Workplace, aims to explore these challenges, while providing practical suggestions to help combat workforce gender inequality. 

Unique Challenges

Women experience unique challenges in the workplace due to their gender. Despite overwhelming theoretical support for equal rights, workplace harassment is still a common experience for women. A recent survey of European women found that nearly 50% of female respondents reported some level of sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition to discrimination in the physical workplace, women also must navigate distinctive challenges in regard to family life.

These may include negotiating maternal leave, needing to find adequate childcare, and having to often take on more household responsibilities than their male counterparts. Beyond workplace and family factors, women worldwide also are affected by the wage gap. While there is much debate about the reality of the wage gap in specific countries, the United Nations observes a 23% wage gap worldwide, which points to an overall deficiency in pay for women. While women are becoming more visible in the workplace, they are still affected by very real gendered challenges that impact women across the globe. 

According to Bankrate, the Census Bureau estimated in 2019 that women were paid 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. A small gap is still present when women share similar skills, qualifications, and jobs as their male counterparts. Research has shown that women can reduce this gap in a number of ways, including researching salary ranges, asking for more money, and prioritizing saving and investing.

Practical Suggestions

Despite the substantial barriers that women face in the workplace, individuals of all genders can still make a difference by choosing to help combat gender inequality. Perhaps the simplest way to help is to listen. Listening to the experiences of women who are affected by biases helps to combat individual and societal biases about gender. After listening, the next step is to challenge bias is to recognize it on a personal and organizational level. To help actionable items for creating an equitable workplace, each article in this series will propose a list of questions or suggestions to help address and evaluate issues specific to women.


This Women in the Workplace  series hopes to illustrate the ways women experience the international workplace and how each of us can help fight for gender equality in the workforce. In order to successfully navigate the modern international workplace, it is imperative that each of us listen with the intent to understand. For men, this requires giving equal importance to women's voices. For women, this requires supporting and validating other women. For people of all gender, understanding the challenges that women face in the workplace is a key component to successfully navigating the gendered tensions of the international workplace. 

We created this series for two reasons: 1) We want women to know that they’re not alone in these struggles, and 2) we want to provide practical suggestions for the women currently affected by these struggles and those not affected, but who want to help. Let us know your struggles, experiences, suggestions, and feelings! With the applied and consistent effort of each of us, we can help create a safe and welcoming environment in every workplace, for every person, regardless of gender.

Other articles in the series:

II. 3 Ways to Fight Gender Bias

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