• Nancy Griffin

Nearly Half of Women Have Switched Careers Because of Sexism in the Workplace

Updated: Mar 21

A new survey of more than 2,000 full-time employed American women found 62% of respondents have experienced gender bias.



More than half of respondents in a recent survey conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with SurePayroll, have considered leaving their current job (56%) for issues like wage discrimination (52%), sexual harassment (48%), or gender-based hiring and promotional practices (48%). Gender bias is defined as prejudice in favor of or against one gender compared to another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. When combined with ageism, gender-bias is especially damaging.


The survey also revealed that one in three women believe they were passed over for a promotion or job change in favor of a man within the last five years (36%). And 43% discovered a male coworker was being paid more than they were while holding the same position. Two in five women feel they’ve been held back from progressing in their career because of their gender, and half agreed that it’s generally harder for women to get ahead where they currently work.


On the positive side, 70% of respondents think women have more of an opportunity to speak up than ever before. In fact, more than a third polled (35%) said they’ve stood up to gender bias—almost twice the number of women who admitted to letting it go (22%). Two-thirds of respondents with children said they feel supported by their workplace when they need to take time off to be the primary caregiver at home. More than half also said their employer provides adequate paid maternity leave (56%).


Most respondents believe it’s important for women to have female mentors (82%), with half of women surveyed saying that their biggest inspiration is their mom. Others named celebrities who’ve spoken out about gender equality in the past, like performer Lady Gaga, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Nobel Prize-winning activist Malala Youfsafzai.


According to veteran executive coach Vicky Gordon, Ph.D., the solidarity that comes with mentorship can have a pronounced impact in the workplace. “Women mentoring women is an essential leadership responsibility,” says Gordon, who also serves as an adjunct professor in Global Leadership at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. “We need women to face challenges together, provide inspiration to each other, and define ways to overcome gender-based bias in the workplace to achieve their career dreams.”


Seventy percent believe it’s their responsibility to mentor other women in the workplace, and 69 percent of those respondents have already done so. “My career path has been shaped by women mentors, and it is my privilege to pay it forward by mentoring women looking to grow in their current fields or pursue pivots that better align with their ambitions or passions,” says Jenna Shklyar, SurePayroll head of marketing.


“Sixty-four percent of respondents say there needs to be a greater number of women at the corporate level in C-Suite positions,” says Shklyar. “Meaningful representation in upper management gives voice to employees and customers. It also matters because approximately 10 million small businesses are owned and operated by women.”

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