From sexual harassment to miserly maternity benefits, the headlines painted a grim picture for working women, and moms in particular, in 2017. But there are plenty of signs pointing toward progress—especially with the number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies rising by 50% this year alone. ?
Here’s what else we learned about workplace gender equality and opportunities for working moms in 2017:
1. For the first time since 2006, the gender pay gap is widening
According to the World Economic Forum, 2017 was the first year since they began tracking results that the gender pay gap was worsening—with women earning about $0.80 for every dollar a man makes. (It’s worse still for women of color.)
Although it is predicted that it will take more than 200 years for that gap to be eliminated, there is reason for hope: Because millennial women are going further with higher education than millennial men, some experts believe the gender pay gap will be a thing of the past much sooner than the 23rd century.
2. Workplace gender equality is a big predictor of women’s job satisfaction
According to the newly released Women in the Workplace report from Fairygodboss, 58% of women believe their employer doesn’t treat male and female employees equally. But for those who do believe they get the same treatment as their male co-workers, overall job satisfaction tends to rise.
When ranking their satisfaction on a scale of one to five (with five being very happy), only 9% of women who ranked their happiness as a five said there was still gender inequality in the office. On the other hand, 80% of women who put their satisfaction at a one said men got favorable treatment.
3. Women care more about job flexibility and company culture than men
Seventy percent of mothers with children younger than 18 also participate in the workforce, according to the latest Department of Labor statistics. So it stands to reason that women are concerned with finding jobs that allow them to strike something of a work-life balance: Fairygodboss reports male job-seekers prioritize career growth opportunities while women are on the look-out for companies that offer flexibility, good social missions and remote work abilities.
4. Maternity leave benefits are (slowly) on the rise
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Employee Benefits report, 30% of organizations offered paid maternity leave—which was up from 26% in 2016. That’s definitely moving in the right direction and will, hopefully, continue to advance, especially as employers are recognizing that there is a direct correlation between parental leave benefits and employee satisfaction.
5. Sexual harassment is coming to light—finally
In the year that the #MeToo movement was sparked, more women have come forward with stories about the sexual harassment they faced on the job with 43% reporting to Fairygodboss that they had been victimized. Of those, the most common form of harassment was verbal—but a full 50% of women who had been harassed said it was physical in nature.
The encouraging news is that nearly half of the women polled said they believe more media attention will help reduce workplace harassment. Reports show employers are also responding with improved policies that aim to give female employees safe ways to report their experiences.
One clear takeaway from 2017: In order for us to achieve gender equality at work, we need more policies and programs that empower women.
So, let’s keep advocating for ourselves. Keep showing people how it’s done. And keep showing up... Our voices are needed more than ever.