On June 28th, I hosted the most recent meeting of the Datos Insights Women’s Network on the topic of women in the workplace along with my colleague Carey Geaglone. We were joined by Michelle Belsaas (Director, Vendor Relationships at F&G) and Rebecca Kollmann (Corporate Marketing Manager at Society Insurance) who shared their perspectives on the changes they have seen for women throughout their careers, and the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace in the future. Here are the key takeaways from our discussion:
Women feel they need to work harder to gain equal footing at work.
When women are faced with biases in the workplace, they often feel they need to work twice as hard as their male colleagues to prove themselves. This can look like taking on additional tasks that fall outside their job description or accepting opportunities that do not come with a pay increase. In the insurance industry in particular, the majority of the longest tenured employees are women. However, women remain underrepresented in leadership and tech roles.
During our discussion, one of our panelists noted, “I think about all the times I took an opportunity that came without a pay increase. Looking back, I should have pushed harder. How many men would say they took opportunities without a pay increase?”.
Societal expectations are a barrier to women advancing in the workplace.
In order to advance to leadership in many organizations, there is an expectation that an employee will participate in activities outside of their regular work hours, such as working late, attending dinners, and out-of-town conferences. For women, who are still likely to carry most of the responsibilities of taking care of the home and family, taking on additional work responsibilities and hours is often not an option.
In some households, women may feel uncomfortable being the primary breadwinners or having a higher income than their male partners, which keeps them from seeking better-paying leadership roles. One of our panelists shared that she has had concerns about how men respond to women who earn more than them, stating, “I have found myself worried and not being the first person to bring that up when dating.”
Supporting the next generation of women in the workforce is a priority.
There are many more women in the workplace, including in leadership positions, than in previous generations. Many women in their later careers today did not have female role models to look up to in leadership and tech-focused positions when they started their careers. It’s up to female leaders now to show the next generation what opportunities are out there and to be the best supporters of women in the workplace wherever possible. Women should talk to their younger female colleagues about standing up for themselves and each other, for example by asking for fair compensation when they take on additional tasks and roles.
Our next Datos Insights Women’s Network virtual meeting will take place on September 27th at 2pm ET on the topic of navigating politics, led by Datos Insights Senior Principal Nancy Casbarro.