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The 2019 Forecast for Women in the Workplace

More than half of women surveyed reported no change in workplace gender equality this year.
By: | December 10, 2018 • 3 min read
2018 road with sunrise

Despite a year of record attention on issues affecting women in the workplace, many haven’t seen the attention translate to action.

That’s according to a year of research by Fairygodboss, an online community addressing gender-equity issues. The organization’s Creating Gender Equality at Work in 2019 study compiled proprietary research and analyses of its community discussions and anonymous employee reviews to paint a picture of what this year has looked like for women in the workplace.

The verdict? Fairly the same.

The study found that 57 percent of women surveyed believe the workplace has stayed the same for women in 2018. About 34 percent did report some advancements toward gender equality, though 9 percent said conditions got worse in the past year. Of note, 70 percent of women said that the #MeToo Movement has made no impact at work.

Even more men (78 percent) agreed that #MeToo hasn’t affected the workplace—though 17 percent of men surveyed did say they are now less likely to engage with women in the workplace because of the movement.

“Given how critical male allies are for the advancement of women in the workplace, this could have real adverse consequences when it comes to sponsorship and mentorship for women,” report authors wrote.

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According to the report, harassment continues to plague women in the workplace, with 39 percent of respondents having reported being harassed, most often at the hands of a colleague. When compared to data from last year’s survey, the 2018 results indicate that more women now believe companies need to instate better policies to protect victims of harassment and put in place mechanisms to enable employees to anonymously report incidents.

Women also continue to struggle with the intersection of work and home life, according to the report. Fifty percent of women—compared to 33 percent of men—strongly agree that they are primarily responsible for running their households. Interestingly, 77 percent of men surveyed say their career takes the priority over that of their partner, with their being the breadwinner cited as the most common reason for the couple’s career decisions.

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Overall, women still remained generally satisfied with their workplaces—with 34 percent of respondents rating their company at a 4 out of 5; however, 46 percent still ranked their organization at a 3 or lower.

Report authors noted that salary and work-life balance factored into job satisfaction—women who had access to nine or more weeks of paid maternity leave, for instance, were more likely to be satisfied—but gender equality was perhaps the biggest determining factor. Ninety-three percent of women who reported gender equality at work also experienced the highest levels of job satisfaction.

At a time when competition for talent is fierce, job satisfaction will be key in 2019, the authors wrote. Women who were surveyed identified a number of causes that may prompt them to stay at their job: Compensation ranked first, followed by more women being promoted into leadership positions and a better work-life balance.

“By addressing the key benefits and policies that lead to female job satisfaction,” the authors wrote, “we believe companies will bolster the volume of women throughout the corporate pipeline and reach gender parity.”

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected]

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