The Special Challenges Women Face In Business

Women still face challenges in business.

Much as we’d like it otherwise, women are still facing obstacles that men are not. Yes, we’ve made progress…but there’s a lot more to be done before we can drop the phrase “special challenges”.

So what’s the problem?

For one, we are still earning less than our male counterparts. In a Boston Globe article titled, Gap shrinking, but women still working for less/Study cites gains; disparity lingers, 3/4/04, staff writer, Diane E. Lewis refers to a new study presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston the previous day. She states, “The pay gap between young men and women is smaller than it’s ever been, but women still face an uphill climb in the workplace, (according to a new study presented yesterday)”

So, while the gap is smaller, it’s still a gap…and the women are on the wrong side. However, there are other challenges besides wages. For example:

  • Many professional women on the way up still feel the need to prove themselves. Not just to colleagues (male or female) but to themselves. These are the women you see who are totally driven. Success at any cost. The career comes before anything else. All too often the cost is one’s personal life.
  • A vast majority of women are still attempting to do it all – have a successful career, be a fabulous parent and spouse, run a household and still have time for other interests. How exactly do you this? Give up sleep entirely?

Find some women who are really “doing it all”. I’ve met a few. They’re incredibly stressed and questioning what exactly are they doing with their lives. They either feel they’re neglecting their children. Or they’ve decided to remain childless in order to focus on their careers. This could be why we’re starting to see more and more professional women telecommuting, working flex time or even getting off the job track for a few years to be stay-at-home moms. They want to do one thing well and for many that means choosing to be with their children.

Women CEO’s are still in the minority, which means fewer mentors for the younger women on the way up. And, of course, many who’ve made it to the top are all too often labeled tough, hard, difficult, cold. In other words, possessing the same skills as their successful male counterparts. Those traits that are desirable in men are still seen as negative in women. Come on. If Martha Stewart were a man, would she be going to prison? I doubt it.

Maybe once we stop setting up our own obstacles (the need to do it all, the need to do it better, etc) and using challenges as learning experiences, we can rewrite the definition. Challenge is a positive when it helps us grow.

Copyright © 2004
Rickey Gold & Associates

Rickey Gold & Associates ( is a small, hands-on
(woman-owned) marketing communication firm that helps clients identify, reach and entice their target markets. Rickey can be reached via email at or telephone 773.3438.497.

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