Women face unique challenges in the workforce. In some ways, it’s just not fair that there are a lot of extra hurdles you have to clear to be successful, but if you’re earnest and sincere about doing some great work in this world, then you will find success in your career goals.
1. The Need to be Everything to Everyone
When you pursue your career goals, you’ll constantly be pulled in different directions and will always be questioning yourself. Are you enough for your children? Your partner? Your boss, co-workers, or employees?
You’ll wonder if you’re doing the right thing for your family. You’ll wonder if you’re missing milestones. You’ll wonder if your kids will grow up to be good people, and you’ll worry for their safety while they’re away from you. You’ll worry about your partner’s career more than your own and will sacrifice time and responsibility at the office so you can take care of those cute, little humans that look a bit like you.
One thing that could help is to have an honest, open discussion with your partner about how things should change around the house and how you’re going to divide up the responsibilities. If things are taken care of at home, it’s going to be a lot easier to go further with your career when you know what exactly you can give to your career and what you can give to your family.
2. Leadership Opportunities
Women are underrepresented in leadership positions across the board. McKinsey and Company’s Women in the Workforce report found that for many reasons, women are less likely to advance in their careers than men.
You’ll likely be working with a male boss and won’t have many women role models to look to or have as a mentor. This means less access to senior leadership, which likely means fewer leadership opportunities for you. If this makes you angry, work on being a positive agent of change. Keep blazing your trail. Truly, there never has been a better time to be a woman in the workforce. Just ask your mom.
3. Younger Colleagues
If you’ve taken time off to start your family, returning to the workforce to work alongside a team of millenials may seem unappealing. Your life experience and maturity do give you an edge in the workforce, but you will still be working alongside some who are much younger and more immature than you are. Know all that patience you cultivated raising your kids? It’ll come in handy with your younger colleagues.
4. Limited Options without a Degree
If you’ve put your partner’s career before your own, it’s possible you also put your degree on hold. It’s difficult to go through college with a family to provide for. However, it’s important to get some education and/or job training. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the higher your educational attainment, the less likely you are to be unemployed.
The good news is there are a lot of options available for you to be able to get this education and get back into the workforce. Take a look at some of the online education options. You can take general education requirements such as English, history, science, and math from home. There are many other job education training sites available if you’re interested in getting into a career faster.
5. Difficulty Negotiating a Pay Raise
Many women feel guilty asking for a pay raise after leaving their jobs to care for their children. Whether leaving temporarily for a doctor’s visit or for an extended maternity leave, it feels hard to justify a pay raise to your employer when you’ve been gone. This is part of the reason women have fewer leadership opportunities and why their salaries lag behind those of men.
You’ll be giving your time to someone other than yourself and your children. It’s a difficult adjustment, but can be rewarding.
Ready to Pursue Your Career Goals?
Your life will change when you start to pursue your career goals and there are a lot of challenges you’ll face. Fortunately, you’ll see a lot of positive things also happen in your life. You’ll make money. You’ll make friends. You’ll feel valued, and you’ll treasure the time you have with your family even more. So wipe the ketchup off your brow, brush out the crusted baby spit from your hair, and lean in to your new career.
About the Author
Linda Gimmeson is a career coach and writer educating military wives.