Do women professionals really have the same opportunities as men these days? We surveyed over 1,000 women professionals to find out — and some of the results may surprise you.

The battle for gender equity has been won, and women have the same workplace opportunities as men. Right?

Not yet, say working women. That's the main takeaway from Randstad USA's Women & Diversity in the Workplace Survey, which polled over 1,000 women about gender equity and diversity.

Here’s a summary of the survey's key findings, plus tips on how to remove some enduring obstacles to working women’s professional growth.

women continue to face pay and promotion inequalities.

Over half of women (53%) reported that they have either experienced (33%) or witnessed (20%) pay inequality for the same position in their place of work. 

How can this be possible in 2022? One reason is because pay is frequently linked to performance reviews, and many performance reviews emphasize self-evaluation. 

Women and men tend to approach questions like, “How do you think you did last year?” in different ways. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found a large gender gap in self-promotion, with women less likely to favorably describe their performance than equally accomplished men. Where men on average gave themselves a 61 out of 100, women gave themselves a 46.

The solution isn't to urge women to be more self-confident and assertive — our survey also found that over half (54%) of employed women have been passed over for a promotion for which they asked or applied!

Change the system, not the women. By relying on objective performance metrics rather than self-evaluation and “gut feelings,” you can free your salary and promotion decisions from unconscious bias. Speaking of which...

women continue to face unconscious bias.

Outright hostility towards women is rare in the modern workplace, but more than one-quarter of respondents said they'd witnessed unconscious bias (29%) or others being treated unfairly by coworkers (27%). And these stats probably underestimate the problem since bias and microaggressions often pass unnoticed.

A few ways to tackle unconscious bias:

  • Offer conscious inclusion training, which aims to model and promote inclusive behaviors through action and language in day-to-day workplace interactions.
  • Rework job descriptions to eliminate gender-coded language ("aggressive," "superhero," "rockstar," "fearless," etc.) that may discourage women from applying for positions.
  • Understand that women may face unconscious bias for reasons other than being a woman. In our survey, women of color reported experiencing pay inequities at a higher rate (35%) than women who are not people of color.
  • Try to foster a culture that encourages open dialogue about biases, where team members feel free to speak up about their experiences

many women still feel responsible for driving change.

If faced with a situation where advancing their career was harder for being a woman, more than one-third (39%) would stay and prove they are as qualified as male peers. That’s compared to the 29% who would leave and look for a more equitable employer.

Neither of these outcomes is good! You don’t want your top women workers to leave. Nor do you want them to feel like they must “prove” themselves against similarly qualified men. Design your DE&I programs so that women don’t need to battle for equity and inclusion, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Need some inspiration on how to build an organizational culture that advances equal opportunities for women? Look at what we’re doing at Randstad and contact us today to discuss workforce solutions with diversity and inclusion at their heart.