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Women in the workplace: Why are we still undervalued?

As women, we learn how to multi-task as a necessity and are equally (if not better) at multi-tasking compared to men. Women have to balance being a wife, mother, worker, friend, etc.; though men have to do the same as husbands and fathers, they are seen as go-getters if they work long hours. A woman might be viewed as a bad mother or a bad wife if she did the same. So she needs to learn how to balance the different aspects of her life. Yet, women are still undervalued for their contributions to the workplace, even though they are adept at multi-tasking. Why do I say that? All you have to do is look at the statistics. According to recent data, women earn just 82 cents for every dollar men make. Despite having the same qualifications and doing the same job, women are still low-balled, but why? Part of it has to do with something known as unconscious bias. According to an article in Forbes, bosses unconsciously perceive the contributions of men as more important than those of women employees. The report states another factor that holds women back is the lack of company support for promoting women. Women are less likely to be offered advice on advancement by male colleagues in comparison to the "leg up the ladder" they may give to other men.

There is a third reason, one we can do something about - lack of visibility. Women are often hesitant to be overly visible in the workplace for fear that their attempts will be viewed negatively by their coworkers. They will try to get ahead by doing their jobs well without self-promotion and by being helpful and cooperative with workmates. This strategy can lead to frustration and feelings of underappreciation. Women should not have to hide in the shadows making things happen like a brownie. Women should offer opinions and implement ideas without feeling that the bottom will fall out because they spoke up. As women, we should not have to worry that we will be pounding the pavement looking for a new job because we made ourselves stand out in the workplace.

So what can you do to change the status quo? One of the first things to do is network, network, network! Join online groups like LinkedIn if you haven't already. Find online networking groups for women. Be open-minded about who you allow into your business circle of friends. You never know who can help you in the future. By creating a solid network, you increase your chances of breaking the glass ceiling.

If climbing the corporate ladder is not for you (it certainly wasn't for me), consider switching careers. I did, and it changed my life. It is never too late to have a second or even third act. I went back to school to earn my doctorate, and I did that in my forties. I became a college adjunct professor and discovered that I love teaching, but it also gives me a joyous feeling to help people move along on their journey. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from former students who get in touch to let me know they have attained their dream. So I decided to start a coaching business to do the same for more people. What you enjoy most can turn out to be a business opportunity. If you do not want to start a business, maybe you need a job change. Find a company that deals in what you love most. I had a client recently that needed to find a job in a new state because she and her family were relocating. She had worked in human resources but was miserable. After a few sessions, she realized she loved working in human resources; it was the company she hated. She was so tied up in her unhappy feelings she was unable to pinpoint the source of her misery. Once the light-bulb went off, she threw herself into her job search, and within two months, she was hired and is now happily employed doing what makes her feel fulfilled.

I think the most important thing I can say to you is to believe in yourself. Know your self-worth. You deserve to be taken seriously by others, and your voice should be heard. We all have something to say so let's stop being afraid to say it.

Be resolved.


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