The gender inequality that we see in the workplace can be attributed to decades of gender discrimination, which have resulted in the poor representation of women not just at the board level, but also in highly-technical STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Besides motherhood penalty, glass ceilings and the overall gender gap in general, underlying discriminatory practices, perceptions and beliefs women face at the workplace veil the seemingly successful façade of organisational inclusivity. 

world economic forum 131 gender parity gap
world economic forum 131 gender parity gap

The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2023 accurately pointed out the complexities of gender inequality - citing economic participation and opportunity educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment - as four key dimensions of measurement. These dimensions take into account the gender disparities that put women at a disadvantage, before they are even born.

And according to the report, it will take 131 years to reach full parity at the current rate of progress. Despite our differences, we can all agree that the movement towards accelerating full gender parity is a joint effort. 

To progress towards gender equality in the workplace, organisations must embody sincerity in their efforts. Beyond mere pledges, companies can implement tangible actions to boost female representation at work and actively nurture their growth towards leadership aspirations.

While employers figure out the best course of action to create a truly equitable workplace for everyone, women can be the voice of change and that starts with us. 

3 syndromes women in the workplace struggle with

Even till today, many female employees are unsure about their position at work and often face internal struggles on how they should charge the change. Consequently, women often find themselves falling victim to three common syndromes in the workplace that impede their career growth as working female professionals. 

In this career advice article, we will explore each of them and how women at work can feel like they belong. 

1. decoding the confidence gap

Empirical evidence suggests that women systematically undervalue their competency in the workplace. This self-inflicted ideology, corroded by years of social conditioning, can lead to women choosing not to ascend the corporate ladder, even when the opportunity presents itself. 

On the flip side, when women show confidence by being assertive or outgoing, they are perceived to be overconfident. A hint of "overconfidence" may unfairly brand someone as being boastful or unnecessarily aggressive, as people often judge the book by its cover instead of delving into the past experiences that define a person's character.

To bridge this gap, it requires a collective recalibration. This means adjusting how we see ourselves and committing across the organisation to fairly showcase both female achievements and ambitions.

how to close the confidence gap
how to close the confidence gap

Women can focus on building self-awareness, setting clear goals, seeking mentorship and celebrating their achievements to overcome the confidence gap. Developing a growth mindset, stepping out of comfort zones, and actively participating in networking opportunities can also help in boosting confidence and career progression.

Take this opportunity to demonstrate not just your leadership quality to drive productivity, but also your ability to align different personalities towards a common goal. When you are able to get people on your side, you will have the squad you need to boost your career growth.

2. the paradox of the queen bee syndrome 

The 'Queen Bee' story is a paradox - a nurturing ruler in a male-dominated colony.

In the workplace, the queen bee syndrome speaks to a powerful female figure who often favours male subordinates. This mystery uncovers a dark reality: women in leadership roles sometimes overlook their female colleagues, showing bias against their own gender.

Research highlights this pattern, suggesting those who were once oppressed can become oppressors - a response to facing gender bias.

support other women to grow in your career
support other women to grow in your career

While addressing the underlying issues that support outdated practices can lead to a more lasting and impactful change, self-aware female workers can break the cycle and use their position of power to drive powerful change by: 

  • Building strong networks and support systems with other women;
  • Advocating for collaboration rather than competition;
  • Mentoring and supporting other women in the workplace;
  • Communicating openly and assertively about goals and achievements;
  • Focussing on building relationships based on trust and respect.

3. the imposter syndrome: silencing the ambition

Imposter Syndrome, a common struggle for many women, is like a fabric woven with threads of anxiety and self-doubt, even if the results speak for itself.

It's not just a feeling, but a tough challenge. The fear of being seen as a fraud can hold back ambition and personal growth. For women, societal biases at work can make this feeling even stronger.

While there's a lot of talk about overcoming it in career circles, it's really up to everyone to create supportive environments that help all individuals grow, no matter their gender.

Here are some strategies that can help female workers address and overcome imposter syndrome:

set realistic goals and break them down

Start by breaking down those big goals into smaller, doable tasks. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed and start questioning your capabilities, know it in yourself that you can achieve the end goal if you keep taking small steps.

celebrate achievements and seek feedback

Remember to pat yourself on the back for your wins, big or small. Instead of being over-critical of your abilities, proactively feedback to get a clearer view of how you're doing.

build a support system and practice self-compassion

Surround yourself with supportive folks like colleagues, mentors or friends. Don't forget to show yourself some kindness and understanding, especially when things get tough.

set realistic goals to overcome imposter syndrome
set realistic goals to overcome imposter syndrome

charting the path forward for all women 

These syndromes do more than merely impede your career progression; they chart the very paths women trudge through in their professional journeys. Each syndrome is a fragment in the mosaic of workplace culture that everyone must come together to address.

Just know that while your business leaders and employers are doing all they can to drive and ensure gender equality, you are a powerful individual who is completely capable of driving change and charting the path not just for yourself, but also for future generations.

At Randstad, we believe in paving the way for a future where female professionals are encouraged, supported and celebrated.

In this evolving and dynamic world of work, we extend an empowering message to women everywhere: seek out organisations or employers who recognise your value and actively cultivate an environment where you are not just included, but are pivotal in shaping the corporate landscape.

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