Although governments, companies and industries have dedicated significant resources toward attracting and developing more women into their rank, the following four gender-related factors still impact the success of women in business today.
#1 Breaking into the C-Suite
While in some industries it’s not uncommon to find a workforce with equal or even higher numbers of women than men overall, it rarely extends into the C-suite. Despite a mounting collection of business and academic reports pointing to the advantages enjoyed by businesses where women make up half (or more) of corporate leadership, as of International Women’s Day 2016, women held fewer than 25 percent of senior business roles worldwide and one in three companies worldwide have no women at all in senior management roles.
#2 The Gender Pay Gap and Access to Capital
Even when women feel they are fairly – or even generously – compensated for their work, continued scrutiny of the issue of the gender pay gap begs the question of whether women professionals are being paid as much as male counterparts.
For women entrepreneurs, the challenge of obtaining working capital to launch or grow their business can be a serious one. In the U.S., a group of female tech entrepreneurs recently started a new project called “Project Include” to increase their presence in the industry in order to address an 89 to 11 percent imbalance, where nine out of 10 tech investors are male. Even outside of the male-dominated tech industry, access to capital is a problem for women entrepreneurs. A Pepperdine University study confirmed that women in business receive far less access to capital for venture startup and financing.
#3 Career-Family Balance
The struggle for a good work-life balance, especially in households with children, often falls more heavily on women than men. For instance, while there has been an increase in the number of households making the choice that a man will stay home to care for young children and manage domestic duties, especially in cases where the female partner in the relationship earns more than her male counterpart, this is not always the case.
In fact, despite the fact that the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled over the past two decades, they still only make up about 10 percent compared to the number of households overall where one parent stays home while the other goes out to work. Even in homes where a woman will be the primary breadwinner working outside of the home, the impact of pregnancy and childbirth still presents some degree of career interruption.
#4 Overcoming Stereotypes
While women have made inroads in nearly every industry, in some industries women are still only sparsely represented. In fact, the list of top female occupations is dominated by clerical and caretaking roles. Some experts recommend that women who want to land a job in a male-dominated field “play up their masculine skills” in order to succeed. However, other experts warn that women who do so face potential backlash. A 2011 study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology suggests that it’s important for women to know when to (and when not to) display more aggressive mannerisms often associated with men in order to avoid negative reactions.
Women in business can even play a role in understanding the tendency to shortchange themselves or their organizations and work to affect change that benefits their organizations and other female entrepreneurs. If the bad news is that there are still distinct challenges for female entrepreneurs and professionals to overcome, the good news is that progress is being made. Kabbage is dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs succeed through online small business funding as well as expert advice through our resource center. A good many of our articles are written around women in business.