12 Most Unexpected Challenges Women Face in Corporate America

If we consider that only 100 years ago, women could not vote in most countries, we can clearly see how much the feminist movement has achieved in such a short time. Unfortunately, however, much more is needed to reach true gender equality. Here are 12 unexpected challenges women face in corporate America to this day.

Menstrual pain 

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While certain countries like Spain are now considering menstrual leave, this is still largely uncommon in the USA. Women may go through harsh physical struggles during their period, such as heavy cramps and migraines. Despite this, the States don’t provide any sort of support to women during their menstruations. 

Not adequate maternity leave 

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According to data from UNICEF, the USA has the worst maternity leave policies among rich countries. The United States provides zero weeks of paid leave both to mothers and fathers. This lack of paid leave not only poses significant challenges for new parents in the United States but also perpetuates disparities in workforce participation, caregiving responsibilities, and overall family well-being.

Sexual harassment 

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Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a massive problem in corporate America. According to data published by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, between 2018 and 2021, there have been 27,291 sexual harassment charges in the USA. Of these, 78.2% were filed by women. 

Pregnancy discrimination

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Women planning to have kids may face a series of discriminatory behaviors from their bosses. For instance, they may be less likely to get a job if they declare they are planning to have kids. These discriminatory practices not only undermine women’s career opportunities but also perpetuate gender inequalities in the workplace.

Dress code

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Women are also way more likely to receive inappropriate comments on their outfits and may be asked to opt for more conservative clothes. These instances of gender-based scrutiny not only contribute to feelings of discomfort and self-consciousness among women but also underscore the ongoing need for workplace environments that prioritize respect, professionalism, and inclusivity, regardless of gender or attire.

Unemployment penalty 

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People tend to have fewer chances of being hired following a long period of unemployment. However, women often have to go through long periods without working if they decide to have kids. This means that whenever they are ready to go back to work they will have a more challenging time finding a company willing to hire them. 

Lack of role models 

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Women also have a hard time finding good role models to follow on their career paths. This makes it more difficult for women in corporate America to ensure their voices are being heard. 

Unprofessional job interviews 

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Job interviews for women are also quite different from males’. Women may be asked if they are married, how they are planning to balance their work and family duties and other inappropriate questions. These invasive inquiries not only violate women’s privacy but also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and biases. Why not focus on qualifications, skills, and experience rather than personal or gender-related factors?

Lack of sponsorship

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Women in the USA are also less likely to receive sponsorship. This may be because fewer women manage large organizations in general. This lack of sponsorship for women further perpetuates the gender gap in leadership positions, as sponsorship plays a crucial role in career advancement by providing access to opportunities, visibility, and mentorship.

Menopause struggles 

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Similar to period pain, women can go through massive changes during menopause, which negatively affects their health. Despite this, the USA doesn’t have any law concerning this issue, and women are not given any paid leave during this delicate period of womanhood. 

Male-dominated field 

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While things are slowly changing in specific work fields, corporate America remains a vastly men-dominated environment, with men making up around 83% of named executive officers in S&P, according to USA Today.

Negotiation challenges

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Women tend to face more challenges when negotiating their salaries and often ask for less money compared to their male counterparts, resulting in lower salaries. Moreover, studies show that women are usually penalized for assertive negotiation behavior, facing backlash or negative perceptions when advocating for higher compensation. This exacerbates the gender pay gap and underscores the need for cultural shifts and support for equitable negotiation practices in the workplace.

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