Women at Work: Attitudes, Challenges and Opportunities

Women at Work: Attitudes, Challenges and Opportunities

July 12, 2018 by Courtney Price

The gender gap in the workplace has been widely discussed, and in recent decades significant ground has been made in the effort to create an equal playing field. But just how far have we come?

In a quest to gain a deeper understanding of current attitudes regarding the role of women in work, Gallup and ILO conducted a joint survey of almost 149,000 adults. They interviewed men and women from 142 countries and territories across the globe and gained some valuable insight into modern perceptions of women in the workplace.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the key takeaways.



For women in Australia today, the opportunity to build a successful and meaningful career is available to most. However, just a couple of generations back it was far more difficult, and in many parts of the world, it remains so.

Modern attitudes towards women and paid work have certainly evolved in recent times. Interestingly, the men and women interviewed in the survey were almost identical in way they felt about women joining the workforce, with 70 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men saying they would prefer women to work in paid jobs. On the flipside, the number of both men and women who preferred women to stay home was less than half of this amount. Importantly, this attitude was consistent across almost all regions of the world, even in places where the number of women in the paid workforce is low.



When asked about the top challenges women in the workforce face, the responses were closely related to the social and economic position of the individual’s region. In developed and emerging economies, balancing work and family was the number one challenge, and for these regions a lack of affordable childcare was also high on the list. Unequal pay was up there too, but in developed economies only. On the other hand, unfair treatment at work was found to be the biggest concern for women in developing economies, and they also found balancing work and family life a major challenge too.

The struggle to raise a family and have a career appears to be a universal challenge for women, regardless of the economic development of their country. For women who are currently juggling both roles, this will hardly come as a surprise. Most will agree that even with a flexible employer and a supportive partner, finding the right balance is far from easy.



What about the impact of education and experience? The majority of both the men and women who were surveyed believed a women who has a similar education and experience to a man, would have the same opportunity to find a good job in the city or area where they live.

However, the more educated women are, the less likely they are to feel this way. This suggests that the gender gap is still a real issue, especially for women in higher paying jobs.



Most employed women report that what they earn contributes a significant amount to the household income. However, Eastern Asia was an exception, with 61 percent of employed women considering their contribution to make up only a small part of their household income.

Across the globe, more than one in four women say they provide the main income source for the household, however when men responded to the same question, they were more likely to say they were the main breadwinners.


So, what does it all mean?

While the findings of this survey won’t change anything on their own, the knowledge gained regarding current attitudes and challenges are important. Deepening our understanding of the issues of women and work is a critical step on the path to developing solutions that will allow us to close the gender gap once and for all.

An encouraging aspect of the findings is the overwhelming trend that men and women are now largely on the same page when it comes to their attitudes about the importance of women in work. There are clearly still many challenges for women to overcome, but changing attitudes is one of the biggest hurdles and in this area the gap is most definitely shrinking.


If you’re looking for advice and support to accelerate your career or are seeking the ideal candidate to fill a key role within your organisation, get in touch with our expert team of recruiters today.

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