About A Third Of Women Have Experienced Discrimination In The Workplace

Nearly 30 percent of women report experiencing discrimination in the workplace, according to new poll data from the Center for American Progress and Elle Magazine released on Monday. The higher women rise, the more likely they are to experience discrimination: those at the top are 45 percent more likely to report it than those at the bottom.

Women recognize that much of this discrimination hits them in their wallets. Thirty-one percent think they would be paid more if they were male. Some men, for their parts, also recognize this: 20 percent agree they’d be paid less if they were female.

But there’s still a big gap in the understanding of discrimination between the genders. Two-thirds of women think professional women are scrutinized more harshly than men, compared to half of men who agree. Meanwhile, just a third of men think women don’t reach the highest jobs in business because of discrimination versus over half of women. The majority of men also feel that the “country has made most of the changes needed to give women equal rights as men,” but just 29 percent of women felt the same.

The gap narrows a bit when it comes to public policy, however: 81 percent of men and 93 percent of women think public policy should “address workplace challenges such as equal pay, paid sick leave, and paid maternity leave.” In fact, 80 percent of men and 87 percent of women support paid maternity leave.


Perhaps women are more quick to point to discrimination because they know how hard they are already working to get ahead. Despite the idea that women “lean back” in the workplace, about half of both men and women say they speak up “all the time” or “frequently” in meetings. The higher they rise, the more they speak up, as three-quarters of higher ups say they talk often. And while 53 percent of women and 40 percent of men say they have never asked for a raise, nearly 60 percent of women in more advanced stages of their careers have asked for one, as have 64 percent of men.

Women experience a pay gap all the way through their careers. Men fresh out of college in the same majors and jobs make more than their female counterparts. No matter how many advanced degrees a woman obtains, men with the same credentials will still be paid more. The pay gap continues to widen as women advance in their careers. And even women who make it to the very top of the ladder are paid less than other male executives.

Meanwhile, few women make it to the top jobs: They hold just about 20 percent of the CEO jobs at S&P; 500 companies and just 21 of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women. They hold just 16.6 percent of board seats at these large companies. And while the U.S. doesn’t have the quotas that are bringing more women into boardrooms in other countries, we do have one very small rule about diversity on boards — that companies still fail to comply with.