Many people perceive women’s rights movements as tactics to push for female power in society rather than female empowerment. Fundamentally, women’s rights can be equated with human rights, and should be treated as so. Even though half of society is comprised of women, a majority of positions of authority and leadership are occupied by men. Women face many types of discrimination on a daily basis due to a variety of societal factors including sexism, racism, and elitism. The key to succeeding in professional environments as a woman lies not in her ability to do the job at hand, but rather in her ability to surpass her male colleagues in the same field while successfully proving she has the skills to succeed in the job position above her. Women are subjected to double standards that not only impede their ability to climb the corporate ladder, but also deter them from receiving the same amount of respect that men of equal status have. Women are expected to do more in order to be seen more. While many negative factors in society make it difficult for women to succeed, it is not impossible to do so, as long as women actively use effective resources to fight discrimination, eliminate stereotypes, make connections through networking, and ultimately do not back down in the face of adversity.
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Discrimination in the work place stems from stereotypes made by society that dictate what a woman should do, rather than what she can do. In many patriarchal societies, women are seen as subordinates to men who only contribute to society by staying home and caring for the family. To combat this type of discrimination, it is essential to teach women to know and act like they are capable of being just as successful as any man, in order to demand the respect of those around them. Girls are taught at an early age to pursue activities that value their physical appearance rather than their intellect, while boys are encouraged to be anything they want to be. Many ideals of what women can and cannot do are established when they are young, and become ingrained in their minds as they age and make their way through society. Men are praised and revered when they are assertive, while women are considered bossy and stringent. Society must unlearn the false notions that the worst thing a man can be is woman-like, and that the worst thing a woman can be is herself.
Workplace discrimination is not only apparent when climbing the corporate ladder, but also in the way that corporations deal with issues that arise due to discrimination. It is very common for women to not be taken seriously when filing harassment or discrimination complaints to company HR. The way that corporations handle complaints filed by women is representative of how the women are treated within the company. Large organizations that do not take women’s complaints of harassment or discrimination seriously set an example to the employees within the company of how the women they work with are valued, and ultimately how they can be treated by others. If a woman files a sexual harassment complaint and is told to deal with it or change departments, it implies that the victim, the woman in this case, is the problem rather than her aggressor. This not only encourages people to treat their female coworkers with disdain, but also shows them that they will not be reprimanded when they do so. Thus, it is essential for men and women to support and respect each other within the work place to reinforce the fact that women and men are equals and should be treated like so.
Previous studies have shown that women earn approximately 70% of what men make. Much of this is due to the types of careers that women decide to pursue, and the fact that many women are paid a lesser amount than their male colleagues who share the same profession. Studies have shown that encouraging women to pursue careers in any field has been effective in increasing female workforce participation within the in the past few decades due to advancements in women’s rights movements. In the past, women were encouraged at a young age that the norm was to stay home or pursue careers that were less stressful or demanding. In order for women to succeed in the same fields that men do, they must pursue the same types of careers, and in order for women to do that, they must feel encouraged to do so.
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Networking is a very important method women entering a field can use to make connections with influential people who are working towards the same goal. It is important for women to cultivate a broad network of professional rapports with men and women working in the same career path, so that they can share experiences and advice on how best to succeed within the field. Networking within the corporation is just as important as networking outside of company events. Mentorships from people of higher status within the company is a valuable connection that many women should take advantage of in companies offer mentorship programs. When looking for a mentor within a company, it is very important to keep in mind long term and short term goals in terms of the trajectory of a career. Ideally, a less experienced woman would be placed with a woman with a higher career status within the company so that she can provide advice and strategies on how a less experienced woman can contribute effectively to the company while growing professionally. However, most this is not the case for most professional scenarios since a majority of executive and higher up positions within companies are occupied by men. Thus, when choosing a mentor a woman should keep in mind that most of her options are limited to women with more experience in a slightly higher position versus men in higher executive roles within the corporation. While choosing a female mentor can help new women become adjusted to the company culture and community, choosing the male mentor in a higher position within the company may cater better to the woman’s long term goals to climb the corporate ladder since he will have more advice to contribute regarding advancing in the career field.
In order for a woman to succeed in a male-dominated society, she must combat the stereotypes that dictate that she shouldn’t succeed. She must make connections with people within and outside of her company, and she must not be afraid to pursue careers that are not typically dominated by females.