The economy is strong and job opportunities are growing - but the industries experiencing the most significant expansion are those which traditionally employ males. The construction industry, for example, is booming. Bidding is competitive, and many large construction companies are opting out of bidding on new jobs because they have too much work to do.
Amid these headlines about job growth and economic success are facts and figures that reveal that more women are entering these male-dominated industries. On the surface, this sounds like good news. But in reality, women are facing a challenging climate as they strive to be taken as serious professionals in a workplace where they are surrounded by men.
When women work in a man's world: What the numbers show
Currently, unemployment is low, so employers do not have endless resumes to sift through as they seek to fill their open positions. This is one reason why many believe that women are finally getting the opportunity to work in industries that have long been reserved for men only.
The New York Times recently analyzed data that shows job growth among women in male-dominated sectors:
- Male-dominated industries experienced a 3.4 percent job growth from 2017 to 2018, compared to a 2.5 percent job growth in mixed-gender industries.
- From 2016 to 2018, women's job growth in traditionally-male fields grew by 5 percent. Male job growth in the same industries grew by 3 percent.
- Despite growth, men still make up a majority of the work force in these industries. Only 11 percent of working women are employed in male-dominated fields.
Daily life in a male-dominated workplace
While more women are being hired to fill roles that were once only occupied by men, they still are not facing a workplace that is fair and equal. Many women who work in these fields face discrimination on a daily basis, often in the form of sexual harassment or discrimination disguised as playful banter. Women in these fields who are pregnant are much more likely to experience discrimination. Pregnant women are less likely to be promoted, and may have to deal with frequent comments regarding their condition and its limitations.
Going to work every day as a woman in a man's world has its own unique challenges, but the climate of the office or job site is not the only place they may experience discrimination. Research shows that as more women enter male-dominated fields, the pay for jobs within these fields decreases. In addition, most women will get paid significantly less than their male counterparts that have similar roles and responsibilities.
What does the future hold?
Initially, feminists might rejoice at the news that more women than ever before are being hired to fill jobs that were once not available to them. However, this trend may not last. Experts predict that as job growth slows and unemployment rises that these opportunities will once again be more available to men than to women. To add to this doom-and-gloom outlook, there's no sign that the gender pay gap will be closing anytime soon. Even as more women are hired to these roles, they are going to be facing a difficult environment where they likely won't get the same pay as other male employees.
Have you experienced gender discrimination at work?
Gender discrimination may be a reality in the workplace today, but that doesn't make it right or legal. If you are a woman who is facing discrimination in a professional setting, now is the time to take action. Contact our team of expert civil rights attorneys, and allow us to advocate for you. Set up your consultation today.