Dear Barb—Women’s Work

Dear Barb:

I am in my early forties, and I have been working very hard at surviving in a man’s corporate world.  People may think women have come a long way, and we have, but we still have a way to go. 

I have been working at the same company for almost 20 years and started out with male coworkers who were the same age as me.  During those 20 years, I had three children and subsequently lost a year with each child.  Plus, when my kids were sick, I missed work.  I also had some health issues related to painful periods, and when these events occurred, I could see the disbelief in the eyes of my male coworkers.  It’s just not fair. 

As a result, all the men that started with me have moved into senior positions, while I remain in middle management.  These differences are confirmation that discrimination is alive and well in my workplace and I know I am not alone.  Is there anything more we can do as women to help end some the challenges faced by women in this unfair workplace. 

Thank you, Jocelyn.

Hello Jocelyn:

You are correct, the corporate battle is a much harder one for women than men, for many of the reasons you mentioned—and more.  And while changes are starting to happen, we also need to take an active role in many areas.

There are things we as women can do to change the present dynamics in the workplace.  For example, become a leader for change in your workplace.  Educate senior management on the benefits of promoting women, such as gaining new perspectives.

Women make up half of the population, but their voice is muted by men at the top.  Speak up to prevent your workplace from excluding women from the hiring process, simply because they have not had the opportunity to gain the experience a male counterpart may have.  They must start somewhere.

Become a member of the board and work towards equal pay for men and women in your place of employment.  An important consideration must be the work/life balance for women.  If a woman is the primary caregiver, her work schedule needs to reflect that as far as hours required to complete a task or encourage the option of working from home when possible.

These are just some of the ways woman can become active participants for change in their workplace.  Every journey begins with a step.  Thank you for your most important email.

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