Why aren't women climbing the corporate ladder like men?

Why aren’t women climbing the corporate ladder like men?

Women are integral to the corporate world; they broaden a company’s perspectives, allowing the business to cater to more people and improve its brand. But they are notably scarce in leadership positions where they can make the most impact. 

We ask, why aren’t women advancing just as well as their male peers?

Where are women standing on the corporate ladder?

As of 2023, 48% of entry level corporate employees were women. The percentage gradually shrinks as we go higher up the ranks with them comprising only 28% of C-suite employees.

Women face a different set of challenges than men do in the workplace. The gender pay gap is a prevalent problem, as are the other manifestations of gender-based discrimination. Beyond the office, women also have to contend with traditional gender roles as parents and caregivers. 

What keeps women from advancing

As it is, keeping a tight balance between work and personal life has always been a tricky task for working women. They tend to have to take more career breaks. According to LinkedIn, the top three reasons why women need to take a break from work are:

  1. Parenting
    Traditionally, women are expected to stay at home and watch over the kids, especially post-pregnancy.
  2. Health
    Women have specific health needs that require them to take more breaks than what’s usually necessary for men. For instance, periods may introduce menstrual cycle-related difficulties that make work impossible, while pregnancies may necessitate long absences.
  3. Providing care
    Traditional gender roles often see women as caregivers. Society expects women to be at home during emergencies or when care is needed for their children, partners or parents. 

As we can see, women’s specific needs and the requirements of traditional gender roles leave little room for steady career advancement. They will need to take career breaks more frequently than men and for reasons that have little to do with advancing through their professional journey.

How women can change the status quo

However, the fact that women need to take more breaks does not mean it’s impossible for them to climb up the corporate ladder; there are countless examples of women who have shimmied their way up to the C-suite, despite the odds. That said, women should not feel they need to give in to traditional blockers. Here’s how they can empower themselves and shake up the traditional corporate order:

  • Demand fairness. Women are often criticised and silenced in the workplace. They shouldn’t be afraid of asking for a fairer work environment. Women should demand policies that enforce respect, fair treatment and eliminate the wage gap, among others.
  • Demand flexibility. A flexible work set up is especially favourable for women. This allows them to report to work even when extra-curricular issues keep them from going to the office.
  • Seek mentorship from female achievers. Successful female executives can provide other women precious career guidance, having experienced the struggle of climbing up the corporate ladder themselves.
  • Build healthy professional networks. A large network practically gives women access to a wide array of resources for professional development. It can also turn them into an asset for their company, making it more possible for them to rise up the ranks.
  • Seek allies. It pays for female employees to seek colleagues who sympathise with them and understand their struggles. They can amplify their voice, allowing their demands for a fairer workplace to reach the right places. 

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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