We may live in the 21st century but there’s still a long way to go before women are looked at equally with men.
Women all around the world have had to fight for all rights. Be it their education, medical health and even when it comes to working. One of the biggest challenges that we face as a society is the belief that men are still superior and we see discrimination around us everywhere. Women are still expected to give birth to a boy who will continue their precious family name and in many cases it’s still considered a matter of grave shame when a girl is born. Women empowerment ideologies have given birth to feminism and many women activists are trying to make women at par with men in society.
Feminism is perceived as a movement that believes in the upliftment of women and downgrading men well that’s not true. Feminists stand up for discrimination against anyone be it man or woman.
Women face gender based discrimination in each and every aspect of their life. There are many problems that women face even when it comes to their workplace. In this article, we’ll talk about the biggest challenges women face in the workplace and give you tips on how to combat workplace sexism.
Challenges faced by women in the workplace –
- Sexual harassment – Workplace harassment is a huge problem for men and women all over the world. #The MeToo movement was a huge eye opener for everyone around the world. The metoo movement was a way for men and women to come out and expose their perpetrators. Sexual harassment or assault at the workplace includes inappropriate touching, unwanted stares, anything that makes you uncomfortable.
- Mental harassment – It’s an age old belief that women, no matter how qualified, aren’t equal to men. It is this belief that leads to men thinking that women don’t qualify for certain jobs. They’re looked down upon if they receive a promotion as opposed to their male colleagues. In spite of laws being placed, women still face discrimination in hiring processes. Sexist remarks, sexist jokes, comments such as oh you’re cranky today is that because you’re on your period, comments like these are all counted as mental harassment and if they make you uncomfortable then they should be reported.
- Workplace discrimination – Women are often paid less than men for the same amount of work and the same job qualifications. Women are often deprived of promotions, and growth opportunities that will benefit their career. Often women are looked at as liabilities as they’re eligible for paid leaves during their period and maternity leaves.
- Insufficient maternity leaves – In India working mothers receive a paid maternity leave of 12 weeks out of which 6 weeks leave is Postnatal. Women who miscarry or medically terminate their pregnancy also receive a paid leave of 6 weeks which isn’t sufficient. Moreover, many companies don’t provide their workers with an active day care system which can be difficult for working parents.
- No safety for working women – Many times, women are expected to not work post say 7pm. Women are often pressured into leaving their jobs if their job doesn’t sit well with their family members. Women are also expected to work a full time job and then take care of their family and their needs. Fail to do so and in some cases women will face physical abuse.
- Lack of family support – Very recently we witnessed the story of a woman who was stabbed to death by her husband because she refused to fall prey to his pressure of her leaving her job. This is the ground reality that we live in. While this is an extreme case, there are many other women battling out cases of physical, emotional abuse due to their choice to work. All of this stems from the patriarchal belief that it is the job of a man to go out and work. Women are still expected to take care of their house or find jobs which allow them to manage the responsibilities of a home and work. Women are expected to pursue careers which aren’t too complicated, if a woman wants to become a doctor, in some cases she’s expected to become a dentist or a radiologist as they won’t be called on call during an emergency.
- Personal space issues – When too much is expected from someone, it is bound to cause them mental health issues. Insomnia and depression are two of the biggest issues faced by women. Women often end up feeling boxed and feel as though they lack any personal space due to the high expectations of family and work.
- Job insecurity – We live in troubled times. Due to Covid-19, millions of people lost their job and with it their source of income. Job insecurities cause huge psychological and mental problems not just for men but women as well.
These are just some of the problems women face. Women have to face indiscrimination in other aspects of their lives as well. While this situation is changing around the world, men are being held accountable for their actions and more women are speaking up against their perpetrators.
How can women feel safe at their workplace?
While companies can do little to nothing when it comes to helping women that face indiscrimination at home, corporates can do a lot to tackle workplace sexism. Understanding the biases and indiscrimination women face and making policies that make their lives easier. Establishing an unbiased HR department that is empathetic and works towards solving their employees problems helps build trust for employees.
Steps women can take to combat workplace sexism –
It’s time women and men stand up to the discrimination they face at work, every small action counts and these are just some of the things that you can take to make your workplace a safe environment.
- Sexual harassment training should be a must in all companies. Because we are conditioned to behave a certain way, sometimes people may not even realise when they’ve made discriminatory remarks. Sexual harassment training’s should be made mandatory to employees as well as managers. Sometimes biases may occur subconsciously which is why employees must also receive unconscious bias training.
- Making policies that take strict actions against employees who engage in workplace discrimination will make employees feel safer.
- Nobody likes being talked over. More often than not we’ve all been victims of mansplaining. Whenever that happens, don’t be afraid to call out on their misogyny.
- Seek help, talk to your colleagues, talk to the hr department of your company if you’ve faced sexual or mental harassment. Every time someone stays silent, the perpetrator gets away with it and wins.
- It’s not always easy speaking up or standing up for yourself. Many times employees fear the consequences, what if you lose your job? What if no action is taken? Backlash is one of the main reasons why women don’t come forward and report a crime. Remember to be smart about it. Before you talk to a supervisor or report a problem, talk to someone about it. Someone who can vouch for you and take your side. Maybe there are others who’ve gone through the same thing, talk to them and don’t act on impulse.
In Conclusion –
Even though we live in a civilized world where supposedly everyone is an equal, gender discrimination still exists. Women must stand up for themselves because what happened to you, may happen to someone else too. Laws are being changed, more and more people are standing up for themselves and things will change as long as we don’t stay silent because gender discrimination is a battle that shouldn’t be fought. Let us all strive to live in a world that is equal and just to all.
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