New research by personalised period care brand Yoppie delves into the biggest workplace challenges faced by women today, also exploring the various ways the pandemic-forced shift to remote working has changed them.
The results make for an interesting read, showing that while working from home has improved pressures surrounding what was traditionally considered appropriate in terms of professional attire and appearance, as well as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), challenges surrounding fair representation and equal pay prevail.
Surveying 2,267 UK female professionals on 12 April this year, almost a quarter of respondents (22%) cited the gender pay gap as the biggest workplace issue they faced prior to the lockdown, while a lack of representation in the boardroom was ranked as the second-biggest issue (16%).
Women in the physical workspace also felt obliged to mask matters of female health, such as PMS symptoms, which came in as the joint third-biggest issue (15%) along with sexism (15%), followed by the pressure to uphold a certain level of appearance. Sexual misconduct was also cited as a pre-lockdown workplace concern (7%).
“It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to bring about positive change and once we return to the workplace, we’ll no doubt find ourselves back at square one” – Daniella Peri, Yoppie
Upon identifying the issues, Yoppie then asked respondents to consider how remote working could help address such problems – and many acknowledged that digital workplace structures are beneficial in multiple ways.
Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents noted that working from home alleviates a lot of the pressure placed on maintaining appearance, with a quarter (25%) of participants also enjoying no longer having to hide PMS and other female health symptoms.
It goes without saying that the safety of working from home has reduced cases of workplace misconduct (14%), since government restrictions have not allowed colleagues to get together in person.
That said, remote working has not stamped out workplace sexism (6%), with women reporting no change in matters such as the gender pay gap (5%), under-representation in management (3%), and general under-representation pre- and post-lockdown.
|Prior to lockdown what did you feel were the biggest issues for women in the workplace? (Tick that apply)|
|The Gender Pay Gap||22%|
|Under-representation at management level and above||16%|
|Pressure to hide the subject of female health e.g. PMS symptoms||15%|
|Pressure to maintain a certain level of appearance||13%|
|Prefer not to say||7%|
|Under-representation throughout the company||6%|
|Which issue(s) has a move towards remote working helped address? (Tick all that apply)|
|Pressure to maintain a certain level of appearance||28%|
|Pressure to hide the subject of female health e.g. PMS symptoms||25%|
|Prefer not to say||17%|
|The Gender Pay Gap||5%|
|Under-representation at management level and above||3%|
|Under-representation throughout the company||1%|
Yoppie founder Daniella Peri commented: “Pride in our personal appearance is one thing but many women within the workplace feel pressured into maintaining a certain level of appearance while at work, and this includes hiding any impact from our menstrual cycles and the often severe symptoms it can cause.
“A move towards remote working has helped to reduce some of these day-to-day pressures felt by women in the workplace and this is a positive consequence, but it certainly isn’t a solution. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to bring about positive change and once we return to the workplace, we’ll no doubt find ourselves back at square one.”
“It’s quite astounding that these barriers remain an issue in this day and age and while we’ve come a long way in addressing them, we certainly haven’t come far enough” – Daniella Peri, Yoppie
Even more deflating, said Peri, is the fact that many “deep-rooted” issues women have faced throughout the history of business still permeate today.
“Regardless of how we go about our day-to-day work, a lack of equal pay, equal opportunities and equal treatment remain an issue for many women within their careers,” she added. “It’s quite astounding that these barriers remain an issue in this day and age and while we’ve come a long way in addressing them, we certainly haven’t come far enough.”