Career Advice

Navigating Career Breaks: Why Women Press ‘Pause’

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Having women in the workforce was once unthinkable. Typically viewed as the weaker sex, women were historically barred from enjoying equal rights and career opportunities. In fact, up until the 20th century, women were discouraged from obtaining a higher education since they were expected to perform only household work.

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The world has achieved significant progress in terms of gender equality and women empowerment since then, but a lot of industries are still male-dominated enterprises. As a result, women are driven away from certain fields of work—and in some extreme cases, give up on the jobs they love—because of situations that hinder professional and personal growth. Some of these include:

Hostile Work Environment

Women are more prone to discrimination in the workplace than males. Some people are vocal about their experiences and actively fight against workplace discrimination, but others tend to crack under the hostility and discomfort they go through easily.

Discrimination comes in many forms. It can be as subtle as making sexist jokes and remarks, which could escalate into a full-blown sexual harassment case. Exposure to this type of untoward behavior can lead employees to feel demotivated and uncomfortable. It could also severely impact one’s mental health, resulting in stress, anxiety, and depression.

A hostile work environment could push even the most hard-working employees to walk away from high-paying jobs. If you feel you are being discriminated against, raise your concerns to your supervisor or the head of Human Resources. Even if you ultimately choose to move on from the company, alerting them of inappropriate behavior can prevent other employees from resigning for the same reasons you did.


Undercompensation is a form of workplace discrimination that a lot of women experience. Even with the same skills and experience, female employees receive a lower salary than their male counterparts. Research shows that for every dollar a man makes serving his employer, a woman makes only $0.83 for performing the same tasks.

But under-compensation can go beyond money matters. It could manifest itself in women who are unable to get due credit for their contributions and hard work. Often, females lack representation in critical business decisions. They are also more prone to being dismissed when sharing comments or suggestions.

Before tendering your resignation, don’t be afraid to speak your mind and rally for fair treatment. Stand firm and ask for a raise if you feel like it’s well-deserved. Be assertive, especially when you have proof to back your claims. And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to walk away.

“Discrimination is one of the most common reasons that employees take out legal action against their employer. Discrimination is when your employer treats you unfairly or differently because of personal characteristics or who you are as a person.” – When Should You Seek Legal Action Against Your Employer?

Lack of Fulfilment

Women often face several barriers to their success, often represented by the “glass ceiling.” This invisible barrier prevents them from advancing to senior leadership roles. As a result, women are held back from promotions, training, and technical know-how that drive professional growth. This is similar to being “mommy tracked” at work—that is, working reduced or flexible hours—at the expense of career advancement.

Some employers justify mommy tracking their employees by claiming that women of childbearing age aren’t eligible to hold high-ranking positions. Although some laws prevent this form of discrimination, they still fall short of dissuading some companies from imposing barriers on their female employees. The worst part: most of the time, women don’t even know they’re being discriminated against until they feel stuck and can no longer move further up the ladder.

Being held back from career advancement opportunities could also result in a lack of fulfillment. After all, failing to grow professionally could make an employee feel dispensable. And when that happens, they could start searching for other opportunities more aligned with their vision and ideals.

No Work-Life Balance

Work-Life balance is a major tipping point that could greatly influence one’s decision to leave a company. A healthy work-life balance describes a state of equilibrium. Ideally, it allows employees to split their time and energy between work and other aspects of their life, such as their hobbies, family, and passion projects. Without it, employees can become disgruntled and eventually burn out.

Women, in particular, experience more trouble balancing their career and personal life when they become mothers. Their maternal duties often drive them to leave work earlier so they can focus on the kids at home.

But even if you don’t have or intend on having children, every employee deserves equal work and leisure time. If all that matters at your current workplace is clearing out your tasks for the day, then it’s hard to feel committed to your job. After all, who knows? A new job could help you live a richer, meaningful life at work and at home.

Professional and Cultural Misfit

Some jobs don’t align with the educational background or personality a woman has. And when a person’s decision to accept a job is anchored solely on factors like salary, they could end up feeling like a professional or cultural misfit at the office.

Women often find themselves in positions that have little to do with their degree or experience and end up longing for a job more in line with what they’re truly passionate about. And this could be the effect of an unclear job description, leading employees to take on a completely different set of responsibilities upon hire.

But apart from your tasks and responsibilities, a company’s corporate culture also plays a huge role in someone’s decision to stay or leave. Employees spend at least nine hours in the office with their colleagues. If they feel like they don’t belong, they could seek a different opportunity elsewhere.

Leaving work behind is not an easy decision to make. The steps leading to the decision could be clouded by uncertainty and second-guessing. And when you finally decide to walk away, the next stop might not even end up better than what you left behind. When that happens, remind yourself that there is always a place for everyone. It’s only a matter of time until everything falls into place.

Understanding Employment Discrimination Law
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05/17/2024 09:56 am GMT

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