Do Women Still Face Barriers in the Workplace?

Gender equality prevails in cases where all people are in a position to access and enjoy similar resources, rewards and opportunities regardless of their gender. In the current world, many countries across the globe have made notable progress towards the achievement of gender equality across all the frontiers. Particularly, gender equality issues mostly feature in the workplace. The purpose of gender equality in the workplace is to promote a fair playground for both men and women. Achieving workplace equality requires both men and women to receive similar payment packages for the work they deliver. It requires the removal of barriers preventing women from participating as much as men in the workforce. In addition, workplace equality requires the access of women to all levels of the industry to equal that of men. The above means reflects precisely on leadership roles. However, despite all the efforts inequality campaigns across the world women still face various barriers in the workplace. The chances of women advancing their careers are less compared to men. Thus, women still face the risk of spending their last years in poverty.

The evidence of the current barriers facing women in the workplace surfaces from various perspectives. The first perspective is occupation based. A significant percentage of the barriers facing women in the workplace relates to the nature of the trade. The specific requirements are necessary for a person to pursue a given occupation vary from one profession to another. The information system sector of the economy provides a good example to illustrate how women still face barriers in the workplace. According to (Reid, Allen, Armstrong, & Riemenschneider, 2010), the universities in the United States keep reporting significant drops of female students enrolling to study information system courses. With the above condition, even retaining a female workforce in the information system sector is impossible. Researchers have often wanted to establish the reason for such. A group of researchers following this kind of research were able to determine the primary cause of the barrier preventing women to join the information system industry. According to the female information system professionals interviewed, the main challenges in this professional include: stress, managing family based responsibilities, the flexibility of work schedules, discrimination, and promotion barriers. Although the research targeted the information system sector, most of other occupations could easily have similar challenges, easily proving that women still face workplace barriers.

The work environment is broad and extends far beyond the formal employment perspective. Therefore, in seeking to establish the presence of barriers facing women in the workplace, the informal sector is a significantly important field to focus. The best representation of casual work is entrepreneurialism. The governments of various countries across the world advise higher education institution students and every citizen with the ability to work on the importance of embracing entrepreneurialism as a means of waging war on unemployment and joblessness. However, the number of startups originating from male inventors and developers out numbers that of the female by far. The above is a severe issue promoting research aimed at understanding the underlying reason. According to research carried out by Lifelong Learning Network in the United Kingdom, women are as enthusiastic as men to engage in entrepreneurialism (Lockyer & George, 2012). However, the underlying social expectations and traditions act as the biggest barrier challenging their engagement in entrepreneurial businesses. According to the research findings by Lifelong Learning Networks, the society fails to provide the same level of seriousness and focus to startup businesses founded by women as it does to initiatives led by men. As a result, the society cultural practices play a significant role in challenging equality in the workplace.

Another set of researchers seconds the above argument. The Ashkezari, after conducting research agree to the fact that cultural-social barriers are a challenge to workplace inequality faced by women in various professions today. Specifically, the social barriers are easy to identify individually. One of them is family decisions. The above means the case where the parents decide what their female children can do and what they cannot do. Scientific-education barriers also come to surface in this case. The above relates to the kind of professions that call for a certain physical composure. Fire-fighting is one example of such. The personal character of individuals also plays a prominent role as a barrier towards the success of women in the workplace. If a female employee fails to believe in handling certain duties, she will end up considered as an inferior in that profession due to her character (Ashkezari & Ashkezari, 2013). It is worth remembering that most communities currently have a relative percentage of people who have embraced the modern way of thinking. But even under such circumstances, the women fail to prosper in entrepreneurial ventures. Thus, the roots of the traditional cultural-social expectations and provisions in most communities across the world are yet to wear off completely from the mentality of many individuals. Thus, the traditional cultural-social principles continue to impose significant barriers preventing equality in the workplace for women.

One essential importance for the success of every new system of doing things is the presence of reference points. As illustrated earlier in the discussion, the concept of equality is not very old. In addition, it is even very young in some geographical locations. The concept is more accepted in the Western economies than it is in the rest of the world. With reference to the above, it is possible to identify another common barrier still actively preventing the equality in the workplace for female workers. The factor in the discussion here is that of role models. The absence of role models is one enormous factor limiting the growth of equality in the workplace, especially in most developing countries. The best way to learn new concepts is through following in the footsteps of others. The advantage of the role models is that they provide a basis for new and young professionals to develop. The role models provide a roadmap upon which the young use to make progress based on the new systems (Kargwell, 2008). Kargwell illustrates this point by reflecting upon a case in sub-Saharan Africa. According to her analysis, female managers in the country of Sudan are faced with general work challenges like every other female employee across the world. However, they are willing to cope with the underlying challenges. They are prepared to deal with family-work dilemmas. According to interviews carried out on a number of the few female managers in the country, they are faced with very many challenges in the normal way. However, that is not their primary concern. Their primary concern, which also happens to be the main barrier to workplace equality, is the absence of role models from whom to use as a foundation for making decisions. The case in Sudan represents the general situation across most developing countries meaning illustrating how the absence of role models stands out as a barrier to workplace equality for women.

Even with the campaigns for workplace equality attaining so much intensity across the globe, there is still one thing that still stands as unchanged and is hard to avoid. The level of family responsibility due from a man is not equal to the level of responsibility expected from a woman. As a result, the personal and work life imbalance subjected to women stands out as another barrier limiting the workplace equality of women in the current world. The women may be as ambitious as men. They may also be as well or even better endowed than some men. However, the higher magnitude of their responsibilities towards family issues limits the amount of efforts they can manage to sacrifice. Certain professions require excessive indulgence. Some call for an extra sacrifice that may require working overtime or working in far away projects. Most of the times, such conditions are only favorable for people who have limited or no direct family responsibilities. In most cases, this favors the men leaving the women challenged (Armstrong, Nelms, Riemenschneider, & Reid, 2012).

Business leadership also features in the discussion of factors affecting workplace inequality for women across the world. In this case, business leadership refers to power attainment, authoritativeness, as well as assertiveness. The above description easily relates to men since they have been able to portray such characteristics for a very long time. Mostly, that description fits into the persona of male leaders. That leaves women wondering how to develop a different but working persona to describe leadership in the same way. The problem is not that they cannot adapt and work with the male persona. The challenge is that the women who try to operate with the male persona end up criticized and criticism work negatively for them. Therefore, the double standard of leadership stands out as a modern day barrier to workplace equality for women. The above is the case facing female entrepreneurs in the Middle East. In Jordan, for example, the women have the necessary resources to start entrepreneurial ventures. Unlike other nations in the region and a couple of developing countries, the women in Jordan are free to venture into businesses. However, even with such an advantage, they are still faced with challenges in terms of workplace equality as a result of the double standards of leadership (Al-Alak & Al-Haddad, 2010).

The principles governing modern workplace systems identify the women as crucial team members as well as useful stakeholders, in general, industrial development. That clearly comes out  from the amount of efforts dedicated to campaigns for workplace equality that started over two decades ago. However, even after all that time, there are still several barriers limiting workplace equality for women as of today. The main reason for their existence is due the inability to maneuver them easily. The cultural-social factors are still a challenge yet to wear off. Work and family imbalance is also a critical barrier that is hard to work around. The structural aspects lack of role models, as well as the double standards of leadership, also makes it very hard fully to overcome the issue of women’s workplace equality.

Bibliography

Al-Alak, B. A., & Al-Haddad, F. Y. (2010). Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research In Business. Effect of Gender on the Success of Women Entrepreneurs in Jordan , 42-62.

Armstrong, D. J., Nelms, J. E., Riemenschneider, C. K., & Reid, M. F. (2012). Revisiting The Barriers Facing Women In Information Systems. The Journal of Computer Information Systems , 65-74.

Ashkezari, M. R., & Ashkezari, A. Z. (2013). Identification, Analysis And Ranking The Barriers To Women’s Entrepreneurship In Industry From The Perspective Of Female Students. Case Study: The Female Students Of Islamic Azad University, Yazd Branch. Metalurgia International , 62-VI.

Kargwell, S. (2008). Is the glass ceiling kept in place in Sudan? Gendered dilemma of the work-life balance. Gender in Management , 209-224.

Lockyer, J., & George, S. (2012). What women want: barriers to female entrepreneurship in the West Midlands. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship , 179-195.

Reid, M. F., Allen, M. W., Armstrong, D. J., & Riemenschneider, C. K. (2010). Perspectives on challenges facing women in IS: the cognitive gender gap. European Journal of Information Systems , 526-539.

 

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