Women have come a long way in the professional world over the past several decades – more of us are holding senior managerial positions, we’re branching out into STEM careers, we’re basically kicking all kinds of ass. It’s great! But things are still far from perfect when it comes to our work lives, and now it seems the people making it hardest on women are… other women?!
According to a new survey by Opportunity Now of 23,000 women living and working in the UK, over 50 percent have been bullied or harassed by fellow female employees. That’s a staggering percentage, and many women feel that they’ve received such treatment because their colleagues felt threatened by their abilities. In fact, one in four women polled said that they had been purposely overloaded with work, excessively criticized, over-supervised or a combination of the three.
These statistics are awful enough on their own, and that’s without taking into consideration that one in eight women have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in the form of suggestive comments, physical contact, asking for sexual favors or sending offensive emails or texts. It’s pretty clear that women have a long way to go.
We’re also subjected to with the pressure to choose between career advancement and – for those who choose it – having a family. Women often feel unsupported when attempting to combine the two and have found that climbing the ladder is not encouraged the way it for with men as it’s assumed that they will eventually have children and leave their respective field. Sounds ridiculous – and it most certainly is for many women – but unfortunately, it’s a real problem. Over 75 percent of women said they were worried about their career prospects after having children. In comparison, only a third of men had the same concerns. Something doesn’t seem quite right there.
Because the battle to find equality regardless of gender is one we’ve waged for decades and will continue for as long as it takes, it’s more important than ever that women show solidarity both professionally and personally. While the system has created an ever-more competitive environment in the workplace, the worst thing we can do is undermine our progress by turning against one another to try and get ahead. That behavior helps no one and actually takes us several steps back, disempowering us and doing the work for the misogynists who would aim to keep women out of high-powered positions.
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