Major Issues Women Still Face in The Workplace

Obstacles for women in the workplace is definitely nothing new. For decades women have had to deal with gender bias, but the good news is that we have come along way.  

Women’s earnings doubled between the mid-1960’s and the early 2010’s and by 2017 61.5 per cent of women in Canada were participating in the workforce. In fact, the economy would lose a quarter trillion dollars without women.  

Women are integral to the workplace, but there are still several barriers they face. 

Here are some of the main issues women are dealing with at work today.

1. Pregnancy Discrimination 

Starting a family should be an exciting time in your life, but for women, it can mean putting their career on hold. There are obvious examples of pregnancy discrimination like women missing out on promotions, pay raises or even getting fired when they let their work know they’re pregnant. There are even times when employers will make the workplace so hostile for pregnant women that they are forced to quit. Often when they return to work they realize their duties have completely changed and that they basically have to start climbing the latter all over again. While pregnant women also face the added stress of having to deal with mood swings, morning sickness and schedule doctor’s appointments all while staying on top of your work. 

2. Sexual Harassment 

This topic has gotten some well-deserved attention over the past year since the #MeToo Movement began. Devastating stories of women being sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace spread across the globe and the world started to realize something that most women knew all along – sexual harassment in the workplace is rampant. It can happen at all levels of employment and in any industry. If women refuse sexual advances they are sometimes fired, forced to quit and they can also lose out on promotions. It can also cost the company by creating high turnover and absenteeism.  

3. Gender Pay Gap 

The pay gap has been well documented in Canada and yet some still argue it’s a myth. The research clearly shows that in Canada, women earn 26 per cent less than men do. That means they make 74 cents for every dollar a man earns. The biggest gap is in Alberta, where statistics show that women make a staggering 42.5 per cent less than men. This is even worse for racialized and Indigenous women in Canada. Racialized women earn 55 cents to every white man’s dollar and Indigenous women earn 46 cents. 

4. Career Advancement  

Even though we have come a long way, women still tend to have to work twice as hard to advance in the workplace as men. Men advance faster to positions of power in most industries leaving women frustrated and having to prove themselves even more. This also creates a lack of female role models in senior positions for women to look up to or have mentor them.  

5. Work-Life Balance 

With a lack of affordable childcare in Canada, many women choose to avoid high-pressure jobs or jobs that demand long hours. Women still perform the overwhelming majority of ‘at-home’ work. Women spent an average of 3.6 hours per day doing unpaid household, which is 50 per cent more than the 2.4 hours men spent doing the same tasks. This can cause a major work-life imbalance and extra stress on women at work.   

These are just a few of the obstacle’s women face, but there are countless more. From mansplaining to being viewed as ‘too emotional’ or being excluded from the ‘boys club’ at work – Canada still has a long way to go.

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