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Gender Gap in the Workplace

The gender gap at companies may be narrowing, but there’s still a lot of daylight. Now, we have data to back up what most women (and many men) know at an anecdotal level: according to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, men in the workplace are more empowered than women.

The survey, one of the most extensive workforce surveys ever conducted, was carried out in March and April 2022 and garnered responses from over 52,000 employees across 44 countries. Women made up approximately 42% of the total respondents. The survey aimed to gauge whether employees felt empowered or disempowered in their workplaces. The survey focused on four key aspects of empowerment identified from academic research: autonomy; job impact; sense of belonging and meaning; and confidence/competence. By asking employees about these aspects and then determining how important these measurements were to individuals and how present they were in their work lives, a straightforward empowerment index was created. This index was then used to assess different segments of the workforce.

While looking at the importance of the 12 factors in the index, the responses from men and women were highly similar—typically within a few percentage points of each other. For example, when asked about being fairly rewarded financially for their work, 71% of men and 72% of women said this was important. When asked about finding their job fulfilling, 68% of men and 69% of women said it was important.

So far, so good. These findings debunk some outdated ideas that men and women have different expectations of their employers and careers. That should be reassuring to companies that want to create the right employee value proposition.

However, when asked about whether these factors were present in their current job environment, men and women showed a significant split. In all 12 of the empowerment metrics looked at, men were more likely than women to say that those factors were present. As a result, the gap between importance and presence is bigger for women in every metric, meaning that women feel notably less empowered.

The most significant points of difference are:

  1. Being fairly compensated financially at work

  2. Choosing when, where, and how to do one’s work

  3. Finding one’s job fulfilling

  4. Having a manager consider one’s viewpoint when making decisions

While it's important to acknowledge that progress has been made, the fact that women still feel less empowered than men in the workplace is concerning. Companies should strive to ensure that women have the same opportunities as men and that their opinions are heard and taken seriously. Additionally, companies should provide female employees with access to resources and support to help them advance in their careers.

  • Zaheen Ali


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