How to overcome gender barriers at work through community connections

Find out how gender barriers at work, such as the gender pay gap and misogyny in the workplace can be overcome through community connections.

Sexism and misogyny have long plagued professional workplaces. Outdated stereotypes about “women’s work” have pushed generations of talented employees away and biases have undermined the hard work of women for decades. 

Despite recent progress, gender barriers still exist in the modern workplace. Today, however, women who face discrimination don’t have to do so alone. 

A strong community can raise women up and ensure that every talented employee has access to the resources and support they need to be successful. 

Gender bias 

Women-led workplaces are on the rise. However, gender bias remains a persistent issue across the entire nation. Women still have to overcome significant challenges while managing teams and leading their businesses. 

Gender bias is particularly prevalent in high-pressure fields like sales. When it comes to succeeding as a female leader, Zahra Jiva, sales manager at Pipedrive, explains that “being taken seriously is one of the hardest things as a woman.” This sentiment is backed up by data that shows that 67% of women in the workplace feel that colleagues and clients underestimate their knowledge due to gender discrimination. 

Gender bias impacts women throughout their entire careers. A recent report from Age Discrimination found that a woman over 50 “might experience bias because of the fact that she is both older and a woman.” This is particularly challenging for women who are looking to make a career change or are applying for promotions within the business.

It’s important to note that most business leaders don’t intentionally discriminate against women. However, gender barriers that are reinforced by unconscious bias can still have a detrimental impact on women leaders’ mental and physical well-being. 

Discrimination and health

Gender bias can have a significant impact on women’s mental and physical well-being. No one should be subjected to sexism or prejudice and constantly battling against misogyny in the workplace can cause long-term, chronic stress. Common signs of work-related stress include: 

  • Frequent headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia 
  • Digestive issues

These issues can undermine employees’ physical and mental health. Issues with sleep and digestion quickly spiral into chronic illnesses that derail productivity and hamper professional ambitions.

Overcoming gender barriers and their impact on women’s health requires a systemic approach to change. Fortunately, women today can find support through their local and digital communities. 

Communities for systemic change

Women who run their own businesses should utilize important resources offered by the government and progressive non-profits. 

The US Small Business Administration can help women register their firm as a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB). To qualify as a WOSB, the business must be 51% women-owned and should operate in the US. Registering as a WOSB helps women get the support they need and grants women business leaders access to a network of inclusive resources. 

After registering as a WOSB, women business leaders may be able to collaborate with organizations like The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the Women’s Venture Fund. These organizations are dedicated to giving women the funding and support they need to advance their careers 

Women who lead their own businesses should consider starting mentorship programs to advance gender equality. Mentorship programs are a great way to encourage employee development and bring more talented women into the workforce. 

Overcoming gender bias requires businesses to make operational changes, too. Simply being a women-owned business isn’t enough to overcome bias and undo sexist systems. Instead, progressive business owners should have specific policies that evaluate gender equality and monitor the success of initiatives that undo discrimination. This sets the bar for businesses in the community and ensures that commitments to equality are more than tokenized gestures. 

Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that the women of the future have all the opportunities to succeed that they deserve. For example, a women-owned software business can bolster its community and improve representation by funding STEM programs for women. Subsidizing training and qualifications is a great way to raise the wider community and ensure that women of the future don’t have to face systemic barriers to entering the workforce. 

Changes are needed in the workplace

Gender barriers are a persistent issue across the nation. Systemic, community-led changes are needed to close the gender pay gap and eradicate misogyny in the workplace.

WOSBs are perfectly positioned to forge meaningful connections with women in the community and should  leverage resources like NAWBO and the Women’s Venture Fund to aid in their success.