August 26th is National Women’s Equality Day. This holiday honors the passage of white women’s suffrage in the US, commemorating the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Of course, the right to vote was just one part of a broader fight for equal rights. While women needed the right to vote to pursue more equitable legislation, there are still many ways that women in the US fail to receive fair treatment. For example, women in the workforce continue to struggle to receive equal pay, equal opportunities, and harassment-free workplaces.
A great way to honor National Women’s Equality Day this year is by looking for ways you can fight for equality in your own life. Here are four ways to pursue more equitable treatment at work by standing up for your rights.
1. Negotiate Your Salary
For most people, their pay is directly responsible for the opportunities available to them and their overall quality of life. That’s why it’s such a problem that women continue to struggle with unequal pay. According to the 2020 US Census, the median earnings of men who worked full-time year-round were approximately $61,417. Meanwhile, median earnings for women under the same conditions were just $50,982. That’s a difference of more than $10,000 annually or 20% on average.
This may be related to a socialized unwillingness to negotiate for more money. When applying for new jobs, women are significantly less likely to negotiate their salary than men. Furthermore, they are less likely to apply for jobs that state that wages are negotiable. Many female workers feel like they can’t or shouldn’t ask for more money, potentially driving down equality in their earnings compared to men.
This means the most valuable thing you can do for your career is negotiate your salary effectively. You have every right to pursue the same earnings as your male colleagues. Talk to your coworkers, do your research into your industry, and identify what other similar roles offer in compensation. With that information in hand, you’re more likely to successfully negotiate a raise commensurate with the value you provide your company and close the wage gap.
2. Pursue Flexible Work Environments
Another common problem plaguing women in the workforce is the bias against mothers. According to data reported by the New York Times, mothers are less likely to be considered for promotions or raises and struggle to be perceived as competent compared to men. On the other hand, fathers are more likely to be offered jobs and typically receive better pay than childless men.
This bias can be particularly damaging if you’re the primary earner for your family. The solution may be simpler than it appears, though. Even before the pandemic, mothers with flexible work schedules were more likely to receive promotions and raises within their organizations. Championing a more flexible work environment could help you, your female colleagues, and everyone else within your organization find a better work-life balance and avoid falling victim to anti-mother bias.
3. Work With a Mentor
While there are still many hurdles facing women in terms of equality in the workplace, things have improved significantly in recent decades. You don’t need to pursue every promotion or raise on your own anymore. If you want to move past the glass ceiling in your industry, you can follow the paths of others who’ve already made their way through.
That’s why working with a female mentor can be invaluable for your career. Connecting with a woman who’s made it to your preferred position can help you prepare to take on that role yourself. Your mentor can help you learn the skills, strategies, and office politics that will help you win better promotions and progress in your career more quickly.
Working with a mentor has been proven to improve women’s careers. According to a study done by PushFar, working with a mentor helps:
- Boost equality of representation of minority groups from 9% to 24% on average
- Increase promotion and retention rates of women from 15% to 38%
Individually, people with a mentor are five times more likely to receive a promotion or salary increase than their coworkers. In short, working with a mentor is explicitly good for underrepresented demographics, including women, and can help you pursue new career opportunities more effectively.
4. Fight Back Against Discrimination
Sometimes, improving yourself is not enough to help you overcome gender bias in the workplace. If your workplace or supervisors are consciously biased against women, you’ll struggle to receive equitable treatment. You may suffer from discrimination such as:
- Lower pay compared to your male colleagues in similar roles
- Poorer evaluations of your work despite its actual quality
- Fewer promotions or raises compared to male coworkers
- Sexual harassment or assault due to your gender
- Hostile workplace environments
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, holding your employer accountable for their actions is the most important way you can fight for gender equality.
- Talk to your coworkers to share knowledge about your respective salaries, promotions, and reviews
- Keep records of discrimination, harassment, or assault you face in your workplace
- Stand up for yourself should coworkers harass you
- Report instances of discrimination to your HR department
If these tactics don’t work, it may be time to take legal action. Filing a harassment or discrimination lawsuit against your employer helps hold them accountable for the bias within the organization. It can also help you protect other women by reinforcing the fact that there are penalties for discriminatory behavior.
Celebrate National Women’s Equality Day by Progressing Your Career
Women have made huge strides in just a century, but more must be done. If you’re focused on your career, one of the best things you can do to support women’s rights is to progress your career. That may include negotiating for a fair salary, championing flexible work schedules, or working with a mentor.
However, you can only attempt these changes if you’re not facing active discrimination in the workplace. If you are, you should consider taking legal action first. Get in touch with the expert discrimination lawyers at the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C., to discuss your situation. We represent workplace discrimination clients from our California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois law offices. Our attorneys are prepared to help you fight back against discrimination and ensure that all people have access to equitable workplaces.