Women have struggled for centuries to achieve equality and fight oppression. Although some battles, like equal access to education and voting rights, have been won, the fight is far from over.
Every day, women seem to face challenges in different aspects of life, only to overcome each one and have enough energy and wit to survive another fight, another day. One might be inclined to wonder: how does she do it? The answer might be in her DNA – a woman is hard-coded to be resilient and display an indomitable fighting spirit that no one can dull, much less suppress. The world might try to throw daggers and spears along her way, but little does it know: a woman is born to fight, never to surrender.
Now let's take a closer look at the ground situation. Modern women face modern problems, so we will try to dissect the biggest issues that affect women at home and in the workplace.
Lack of work-life balance
In previous years, work-life balance was viewed as a myth rather than a necessity. In other words, there was no such thing as work-life balance; it is something that exists in the same plane of reality as unicorns, fairies, and the Loch Ness monster.
Then came the self-care movement and the widespread awareness that people are not machines and need rest and breathing. Now, the world has begun to understand that there is – and should always be – a bold (not fine) line that separates the work and the personal life of every individual.
But even if there is progress on the front lines, the lack of work-life balance continues to affect women in ways that never affect the opposite sex. Most modern women still struggle to find a balance between doing their job and excelling in their careers versus meeting societal expectations of motherhood and/or enjoying a meaningful and fulfilled personal life.
Working moms, in particular, experience the worst of it. They must sacrifice time with their family to prove themselves at work and succeed in their field. Often, they find themselves in the difficult position of choosing whether to spend late nights at the office to meet work demands or miss out on their children's school activities, games, and bedtime stories. The scenario is heartbreaking and familiar as too many American households go through the same situation. And that is not the end; the lack of work-life balance also affects a woman's productivity, relationships, and sense of well-being, causing mental health issues, stress, and burnout.
How to solve it:
To reclaim control, it is important to know your values. Allot time to think about what is important to you in life. Getting your priorities straight will allow you to decide how much time is needed for what. It is also important to set boundaries for work and other activities. If you have to switch off your phone so you can focus on bonding with your family and friends, or doing something you love, do it! As cliché as it may sound, there is more to life than work. Go out and travel or rest – it is up to you. Just do not forget to recharge now and then.
The gender pay gap is one of the most widely discussed topics in the workforce. While the naysayers try to dismiss this issue as false, the numbers and statistics do not lie.
According to a survey by PayScale in 2021, women earn only $0.82 for every dollar a man earns. This means that women who are doing the same job as a man, with the exact qualifications as a man, still get paid less by one percent for no apparent reason at all. The Pew Research Center observes that the gender pay gap in the country helped steady in 2020 and calculated that it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to get the same pay that men did in the same year. And worse, the World Economic Forum has estimated that at the rate things are going, the gender pay gap will remain for another 99.5 years. It's preposterous and tragic.
How to solve it:
The gender pay gap is a difficult problem; unfortunately, the power to solve it lies in the hands of employers and legislators. What we can do is support movements that lobby for the increase of minimum wage, fair scheduling practices, and pay transparency, like the Paycheck Fairness Act, one of the proposed labor laws that are supposed to eliminate wage discrimination and level the playing field for work and pay in the workplace.
We all know one or two (or more) workplace harassment stories that women had to endure. It may have been a story from a friend, a friend's friend, a family member, or an acquaintance. It could be a story that became viral on the Internet and that you've read while browsing on your phone during lunch. But do you still remember your feeling when you heard or read their stories? That cold, numbing, uneasy feeling that sat on the pit of your stomach upon knowing what others had gone through?
Workplace harassment is a horror story. It manifests in different forms – from sexual remarks about a woman's body or appearance to unwanted and unwelcome physical advancements and other non-verbal actions that create an offensive or intimidating environment. Although existing workplace laws and regulations punish such behaviors, 99.8% of harassment cases still go unreported due to victim-blaming and blame-shifting.
How to solve it:
If the harassment does not involve a physical altercation or any traumatic experience, you can try to resolve the matter directly with the perpetrator. Talk to them privately and explain why you feel you are being harassed. If you think the situation threatens your (or others') personal safety, consider escalating the issue to your supervisor or manager.
Depending on the company policy, there are various protocols for dealing with workplace harassment. You can also seek the help of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you feel that your managers, HR, and company management are not doing a satisfactory job of resolving the situation.
A Final Word
Women must be tough to survive, but remember that you do not have to do everything alone. No matter what issue or challenge you face, having a robust support system that protects and guides you is excellent. Conquer one problem at a time, and more importantly, do not forget to breathe. It will help clear your mind so you can think of the following steps!