The progress made by women in the workplace over the past decade is threatened by the pandemic and ensuing conditions. By focusing our research on women in Northeast Wisconsin, the data will offer actionable insights on the current careers of area women. This data will inform the work of the Institute, enabling us to:
Our goal was to reflect a wide swath of working women in many fields. In July of 2021 we shared the survey link throughout Northeast Wisconsin by email, social media, websites and press releases.
Distribution partners included the NEW North board of directors and their partners, O’Connor Connective, Insight Magazine, Women’s Fund of Northeast Wisconsin, Management Women and other women’s groups.
Of these, 7% were non-white, 6% owned their own business, 30% held senior management or higher positions, 45% had children at home and 20% are "working daughters."
Let's start by understanding what her work situation looks like.
The women surveyed represent very large organizations, with almost half working in businesses with over 250 employees (n=759).
30% of women work in the nonprofit sector, 23% in the public sector and the largest percent 38% work in the commercial sector (n=759).
Our survey represents women at every level of their career ― from entry level to C-Suite. 62% of women worked 41 hours a week or more. 15% planned to continue remote work.
A majority of women are supervisors or managers at 34%. 28% work in front line positions. 19% work as a vice president or higher position (n=797).
Many women experienced direct challenges in the workplace. 23% reported verbal harassment, 11% sexual harassment and 36% gender discrimination.
Almost half of women reported a lack of opportunity for advancement and growth – a major reason for low job satisfaction (n=823).
Let's not forget the home situation, which is slowly evolving. 20% of women are responsible for care of an adult dependent.
50% of women are responsible for all or most of the childcare and homeschooling (n=324).
Many women expressed challenges in the workplace, ranging from "feeling burned out" to "potential exposure to COVID-19" (n=823).
Women gave their views on workplace culture, including attitudes or behaviors that can support or undermine employee performance (n=749-768).
There is a significant gap between benefits offered by employers and benefits women utilize. Greater alignment is needed between the needs women express and the benefits offered to help them. This is especially true as it relates to mental health and counseling services. While 58% of companies provide such counseling services, only 10% of women utilize them.
The single most important takeaway of the survey is that women employees are under pressure at home and at work. The objective of the Institute for Women's Leadership is to assist women and their organizations to address and adapt to women's needs. This includes avoiding burnout and degradation of the female workforce, so to impact the economic vitality of the local region. Despite the disruptions of our current economy, there are actions the Institute can take, in partnership with organizations and their women leaders, to enhance women's job satisfaction and support for career development. The following outlines key steps we commit to immediately and invite you to join us.
Action Item for the Institute: Conduct workshops and panels on how to manage burnout and stress in the workplace.
Action Item for the Institute: Host guest speakers who have successfully downshifted for discussions about how they accomplished this transition. Additionally, consider workshops that discuss alternatives to downshifting, including how to advocate for work flexibility, better work-life balance and monthly allocated work-time hours to engage in informal leadership initiatives and networking.
Action Item for the Institute: Highlight and publicize workplaces that have positive conditions and benefits to support women. Offer workshops on development of positive workplace cultures that avoid harassment and discrimination.
Action item for the Institute: Share information widely about the challenges faced by women professionals in this region to heighten awareness. Serve as Institute ambassadors to help other women know of the resources available through the Institute.
Action item for the Institute: Share information widely about innovative benefits being offered in workplaces that support women professionals in ways that they need. Organizations can increase awareness of what to offer talented professionals to attract and retain them.
Action item for the Institute: Provide and participate in workshops to help managers learn ways to advocate and support women employees.
Women are looking for more opportunities for growth.
Action item for the Institute: Offer trainings and programs to help women learn strategies to develop their own career paths, and coach managers in ways to help employees grow to their full potential.
This inaugural survey of working women in Northeastern Wisconsin was conducted by UW-Green Bay's Center for Public Affairs on behalf of the Institute for Women's Leadership. Access the complete report on the Center's webpage.