Despite accounting for almost 40% of the global workforce, women continue to face gender-based challenges and discrimination at work globally, largely as a result of a, and lack of representation and allyship, according to a study from global marketing, communications and digital services consultancy Team Lewis in partnership with nonprofit HeforShe.
According to the study, which surveyed the general population of adults aged 18 and above in nine countries across a balanced and diverse group of ages, races and genders, a third of women said they lack female mentors and role models in the workplace, with results being even more pronounced in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles.
With only 5% of leadership positions in tech held by women, 26% of women surveyed stated that they felt this lack of representation has prevented them from pursuing a job in the field. More than one-third cited they consequently feel there is a lack of opportunity or visibility for women in STEM, with younger women ages 18 to 24 feeling even more hesitant to pursue a career.
Disparaging comments and lack of accountability among men exacerbate the problem, according to the study.
Per the research, approximately 47% of men and 53% of women agreed that the number of sexist comments they see online makes them uncomfortable. And more than one-third (35%) of women agreed that they do not feel comfortable in online spaces where men are more prevalent.
Three in ten women also agreed that sexism has prevented them from joining some online communities.
Yet many men do not feel responsible to act. According to the study, one third of men feel it's not their place to challenge gender-based discrimination in the workplace or online.
The results indicate a clear need for allyship and support for female professionals, said Inez Odom, vice president of professional development at Team Lewis.
“As men are often the majority, especially in corporate environments, it’s imperative that we take guidance from this report and organizations like HeForShe. Ask the relevant questions and show action through the economic and business-based choices that are made at every level,” she said in an email to Campaign US.
Created by UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, HeForShe invites men and boys to join the fight for gender equality by providing a platform for people to engage and advocate.
The movement “invites people around the world to stand together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender-equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions,” according to a press release.
It is a mission people in all industries at every level, including brands and advertisers should get behind, Odom suggested.
“The best way that brands and advertisers can support the advancement of gender equality is with a combination of awareness and action,” she said.
For example, brands and advertisers should consider if women have an equal voice in the development of campaigns and initiatives, or when selecting a vendor, and provide more opportunities to work with female-owned companies.
Companies should also empower women at every level and “assess if women are meaningfully represented,” Odom said.
If they are, brands should support those businesses.