Gender inequality in the workforce is alive and well, no matter what pretty picture the people in your workplace would like to paint.
I can use myself as an example. Despite opportunities twice what was available to my grandmother four decades ago, women are still shut out of management and leadership positions, and there are three principal gender discrimination factors in the workplace that I see almost every day.
Women Earn Less Than Men Do…Still
On average, today's working woman still earns 23 percent less than her male counterparts do, for doing the same job. I knew I was destined to earn less than men did when I took my first job, so I chose sales as my career path. I figured that sales would offer me a hedge of protection, allowing me to write my own checks.
In a way, I was right.
I had a comfortable base salary and I earned commissions based on my performance. For 10 years, I was a sales rock star. I won awards, generated staggering amounts of revenue and earning six-figures. Still, regardless of my "rock star" status, I was not afforded as many opportunities as my male counterparts were. I was passed over for significant projects and promotions. You see, I wasn't part of the "good old boy" system.
Working Harder and Working More
To be perceived as "valuable" in my career field, I had to work longer hours, put in more effort and play the game much smarter than the average Y-chromosome holder. My co-worker left at 6 p.m. every day, but I stayed until well after 7 p.m. Even then, I was still just a girl in the eyes of senior management.
4 in 10 Businesses Have No Women in Senior Management
In my last sales job, there were only three women in senior management. The problem was, there were over 50 managerial positions, and women made up over one-half of the company's employees. Eventually, I pushed my way forward into management only to find that support was severely lacking, and my ideas, opinions and thoughts often overlooked. After all, I was still just a girl.
The icing on the cake for me came in the flavor of blatant double standards. In the workplace, what was okay for the gander was clearly not okay for the goose. My assertive, straightforward approach earned me a reputation for something that rhymed with witch, while men exhibiting similar management methods were lavished with praise. At that point, I decided that I was done.
Five years ago, I said that enough was enough. I quit the rat race and decided to go into business for myself. Because at the end of the day, if you are not building your own dream, someone else will hire you to build their dream; and personally, I prefer to write my own checks, not cash checks written by someone else.
More from this Contributor: