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Barriers that hinder women's career advancement

What we can do to make the workplace fair, just and equitable for all
Maria-Eleni Mageira
Digital Marketing & Communications Manager

Understanding the barriers that hinder women from reaching their goals

Past experiences and the way we grow up shape our behaviour. Women develop different habits and behaviours in the workplace, which results in them having different experiences in their careers to men. It's not uncommon for women to downplay their successes or attribute them to luck or other external factors. They may also assume that their hard work and achievements will be noticed and rewarded without actively seeking recognition. They may prioritise their day-to-day responsibilities over their long-term career goals. Women may be overly attuned to the needs and feelings of others, which can lead to overthinking and indecision. And lastly, in an effort to acquire wide-ranging technical expertise, they often fail to develop the broader leadership skills necessary for advancement. These are only a few examples.

Research on the gender gap issue suggests that women subjectively rate their performance lower than equally performing men. The following statistic comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report and has been quoted in several articles: "Men will apply for a job if they meet only 60% of the requirements, but women will apply only if they meet 100% of them". Recruitment companies confirm that women are often more tentative than men when describing their qualifications. They frequently come across comments from women like "I've never held this position before so I'm not 100% sure whether my skills are an exact match", while a less qualified man will often be bolder, stating that he has the exact skills required in the job description. Overconfidence is often mistaken for leadership talent.  A study published on instead.edu states that appearing self-confident is not enough for women to gain influence. On top of this, they are often "required" to be prosocially oriented.

Despite the strides that women have made in the workplace over the past few decades, gender inequality remains a pervasive issue. Gender bias, which is still alive and well in the workplace, is one of the most significant barriers that hinder women's career advancement. Women often face discrimination, limited opportunities, and a lack of support when it comes to advancing their careers. Research published on Frontiers in Psychology has shown that, when being considered for a managerial position or a promotion, men are evaluated based on their vision and potential, while women are evaluated based on their past contributions.

The glass ceiling is a well-known and well-documented barrier. It is typically attributed to gender bias and discrimination in the workplace, which can prevent women from receiving the same opportunities and promotions as their male counterparts. Women may also face challenges in terms of being taken seriously or being heard in meetings (the "speaking while female" phenomenon), which can make it difficult for them to advance in their careers.

Achieving a good work-life balance is challenging for everyone, but it can be especially difficult for women who are often expected to balance their careers with family responsibilities. Women are still more likely than men to shoulder caregiving responsibilities, which can limit their ability to take on high-pressure roles or work long hours.

Many of those barriers will not show during the first few years of a woman's career, but will be in the way as she tries to advance.

Why do we need more diversity in tech?

Women are underrepresented in the tech industry, with men occupying the majority of leadership positions. Empowering women to work in STEM fields can have significant economic and social benefits. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; fields that are imperative in our modern society.

Men make up half of the world's population – including the other half in the workforce can boost economic growth. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, closing the gender gap in the labour market could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
By empowering women to work in tech, we can create role models for the next generation of girls and young women who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. As stated in the book "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg, one way to break down gender stereotypes and external barriers is to let women ascend in the industry. When one gender is the focus of the media, academia and industry, issues that women identify with and can address remain ignored.

What do we do to promote a diverse and equitable workplace?

At Movingdots, we are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of racial or ethnic origin, background, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, citizenship, marital status or disability. At the same time, we maintain a proactive approach to identifying and breaking down the barriers that hinder women's career advancement.

We encourage work-life balance by offering flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or part-time hours, and by providing parental leave policies that are fair and equitable for both men and women.

We aspire to be a change agent, a company that makes space for people to change within it and develop. We give our colleagues the opportunity to receive relevant training and develop their skills and competences.

We have open discussions in an effort to increase awareness of, recognise and address unconscious bias. At the same time, we ensure fair salaries, thereby preventing gender pay gaps. We often sit down and evaluate our workplace equity and progress.

Creating an inclusive culture and fostering an equitable environment where everyone feels valued and supported has been one of our top priorities. We stay true to our commitment to achieving it and – above all – we are constantly striving to improve.

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