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6 Obstacles Experienced By Women At Work

The inequalities and the brutalities.

BY Beryl Karimi-La Patrona

Mar 14, 2023, 08:24 AM

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Women started working during the world war when all men were sent to the battlefield. They had to take over what were previously male roles to keep the industries operational and when the men came back women were denied the right to work again.

They fought to regain that right and with the emergence of capitalism, employers took a chance on women again knowing they would provide cheap labour.

In Zambia for example, Sara Hlupekile Longwe started a resistance when she tried to apply for maternity leave but found out that the Zambian government did not consider married women as full-time employees. 

They were regarded as part-time employees and by that they could not request leave, housing, or any benefits that were available to men. 

Her resistance birthed the Longwe Framework for Gender Analysis and 50 years later women are struggling in the workplace. 

In this article, I highlight the obstacles that are faced by women everywhere in the employment sector. 

Gender Bias.

Gender bias is the practice of giving preferential treatment to one gender over another.

In the job world, women are still overlooked for promotions even when they are outperforming men at work because most people still believe that men make better leaders.

This spills over to the political sphere where women are less likely to get elected because society reinforces the idea that women belong in the kitchen even after they have proven they can be so much more.

Women are also punished more severely for the mistakes that men get away with and thus raising the bar higher for us than for men. 

The Motherhood Penalty.

The motherhood penalty is a term coined by sociologists to describe the obstacles women face at the workplace when they get pregnant and give birth to a child.

Until today, most employers believe that motherhood takes too much precedence in a woman's life, making it difficult for women to get hired after they have a child or to get promoted.

What makes this form of inequality more jarring is the fatherhood premium that men get when they have children. They are more likely to be elected into office. At work, they are more likely to be promoted because employers believe the desire to provide makes them more committed to their jobs as if women do not equally provide in their households. 

Unequal Pay.

Women were first considered for work when employers realized that they could pay them less. This problem has continued to persist. Until today, women in some careers especially in the corporate world are paid less than men for doing the same work. 

Sexual Harassment. 

Sexism in the workplace is a problem faced by women. From enduring inappropriate remarks to being touched inappropriately and even being hit on by their bosses to the point of quitting. 

This is made worse by the fact that most institutions do not hold male executives accountable. Victims of sexual harassment are always left to deal with it alone; and when they can't, they are forced to resign. 

Non-Inclusive Job Environments.

Careers such as tech and engineering are still very much male-dominated. Women are often hired to fill in the quota of gender representation to increase the optics of the company and in doing that they are often left in precarious situations where they have to exist in offices that have a strong male presence.

The lack of inclusivity means that women are not usually in leadership roles that will allow them to make decisions that are beneficial to women.

The policies stay male-centred in such a way that does not accommodate the realities of womanhood. 

The Expectations To Provide Care Work. 

Apart from delivering on their job descriptions, women are still expected to double up as tea girls and secretaries during meetings.

These duties come from the long history we have of gender roles and women who refuse to participate are usually punished.

Nowhere in the world are men expected to serve tea and biscuits in the office but it's an issue that women have to contend with daily.