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Experiences and Challenges of Women at Work

Woman exercising her soft skills in meeting with direct report.

Equality for women in the workplace remains a hot topic. Companies are doing more and more to promote equality and we’re seeing more women reaching board level positions in the UK – which is great news! Ahead of International Women’s Day (Sunday 8th March), we commissioned a survey* which looks at the experiences and challenges of women at work to understand what it’s really like to be a professional woman today. We’ve discovered there’s still a lot more to be done.

Career Progression

20 percent of women say they have missed out on a promotion at work to a colleague of the opposite sex, rising to 24 percent of women aged between 16 – 24 and 28 percent of women aged between 25 – 34 years old. In addition, almost a fifth (18 percent) believe their gender holds them back at work. 

RELATED: How To Get A Promotion

When digging deeper into why this might be happening, we found that less than half (49 percent) of women say they are comfortable putting themselves forward for new opportunities at work. We’re seeing numerous proactive government and company-level efforts which are trying to get more women in senior positions and reduce the number of women missing out on promotions. The Hampton-Alexander Review recently announced that FTSE 100 has met the target of 33 percent women on boards, but also highlighted a lack of women in senior and executive roles. This is supported by 35 percent of those surveyed by Glassdoor believing that their company should do more to promote women into senior positions, with sentiment among men even stronger at 38 percent.

Pay Equality

Along with seniority comes higher pay. According to Glassdoor Economic Research,  the unadjusted pay gap in the UK means that women earn 82p for every £1 that men earn. There are many reasons at play. For example, women have traditionally taken on lower paid jobs which provide them with flexibility to start and look after a family, or they may take a break from the workplace just as their career is taking off.  However, women are also believed to be less confident when it comes to negotiating higher salaries for themselves. Glassdoor’s research today shows that just over a fifth (22 percent) of women feel comfortable asking for a pay rise at work, compared to a third (33 percent) of men.

RELATED: How To Negotiate Your Salary

Workplace Experience

That being said, employees place a company’s culture and values over salary and compensation when it comes to workplace satisfaction. This could be as simple as a sense of belonging and being supported. Glassdoor’s research shows that more than half (51 percent) of women are working in businesses where they feel comfortable asking for time off work for family reasons, 57 percent feel comfortable asking for time off work for medical reasons and just under half (47 percent) feel comfortable speaking with their manager when they have a personal problem. 

Employees want to work in an environment in which they feel professionally challenged and personally supported, no matter what they have going on in their lives. It’s encouraging that women in particular feel comfortable raising personal challenges and situations with their managers, this will go a long way towards workplace satisfaction and a feeling of work life balance. 

RELATED: Incredible Companies for Working Women

How Can Glassdoor Help?

Glassdoor’s mission is to help people everywhere find a job they love. We’re here to help job seekers like you to understand what it’s really like to work at a business by reading reviews from current and former employees and also to understand what salary others are paid for a certain role.

banner 1 1024x276*This survey, undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of Glassdoor, surveyed 2,015 UK employees between 5th – 7th February 2020.