Young working women experience gender and age discrimination

23 Nov

More than three-quarters (77%) of young career women in the US believe gender discrimination is a problem in today’s workplace, according to a report from the Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation.

The organisation researched 662 ‘Generation Y’ women (born 1978-1994) to gauge their views on workplace values, work-life balance, gender in the workplace and intergenerational workplace dynamics. The full results are published in its report From Gen Y Women to Employers: What  They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business.

Almost half of the Gen Y women have observed or experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, which manifested as stereotyping (63%), unequal compensation (60%), inequality of opportunity (52%), sexist and derogatory statements about women (38%) and sexual harassment (31%).

However, the report says that Gen Y women experience the ‘double jeopardy’ of gender and age. Half (51%) of the women who had experienced gender discrimination said they also experienced generational discrimination in terms of being called ‘kid’ or ‘girl’, or passed over for promotions because of their age.

What also emerged from the report is that family matters to young career women, whether they have children or not, and therefore achieving work-life balance is important. Gen Y women identified five features to enable them do their best work:

  • Understanding goals and expectations.
  • Open communication channels.
  • Encouragement from co-workers and supervisors.
  • Having their voice heard.
  • Understanding roles and responsibilities.

One of the key implications for employers, says the report, is that addressing Gen Y women’s workplace challenges is a business imperative. “Improving the competitiveness and efficiency of businesses and improving gender equality are mutually supportive goals. Promoting workplace cultures and practices associated with flexibility, equality and inclusivity are imperative for the success and sustainability of businesses,” it said.

However, it seems that the pressures are already getting to young women. A separate report in  Forbes, Why Millennial Women Are Burning Out At Work By 30, suggests that women are pushing themselves too hard, without taking breaks, in a bid to climb the corporate ladder and ‘have it all’ that they are reaching breaking point early in their careers. Never having stopped to relax since performing brilliantly at college, now they are questioning whether this is all life has to offer. Given the thousands of people who responded and commented to the Forbes article, this ‘burnout’ may be even more widespread and endemic than we think.



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