These Are the Challenges Faced by Working Women in the G20

woman-801872_1280Another week, another massive study on women in the workplace that will be cited for years to come (and we aren’t mad about it—please, keep them coming!). The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation teamed up to ask 9,500 women in the G20 countries: “What are the top five challenges you face at work?”Their most common responses:

  • Work/life balance. 44 percent of women surveyed said this was the biggest issue they faced. Russia had the highest percentage of respondents who cited work-life balance as their number-one concern (60 percent). It’s also a major challenge in Asian nations like South Korea, India, China, and Japan, where there are “high [caretaking] expectations of women even if they’re working women or women running a business,” according to Véronique Salze-Lozac’h of the Asia Foundation.
  • Unequal pay. The wage gap was the top issue cited by women in the U.S.—it seems efforts like Equal Pay Day are raising our collective awareness that we deserve more than we’re getting salary-wise. Women in many of America’s closest ally nations (like Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Brazil and Australia) feel similarly. Interestingly, the U.S. has the smallest pay gap of any country in the G20, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop us from pushing for full pay equality with men.
  • So this isn’t great: nearly three in ten women in the study have faced harassment at work, but nearly 60 percent of those women haven’t reported it. However, one country where women are a lot less afraid to speak out is India, and that may be a consequence of the 2012 Delhi gang rape that killed a 23-year-old student and led to a global outcry. According to Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover, “There is a very high level of awareness among professional women in the formal sector because of the robust debate over violence against women we have had post 2012…women in India today are asserting that they will not remain silent on this issue.”

Beyond those three common denominators, the challenges women faced most often varied from country to country; we encourage you check out the full report for detailed country-by-country results.Before you get too glum, though, know that there was some happy news the study uncovered: Millennial women are more optimistic than their more seasoned counterparts about their opportunities for success in the workplace. Is part of Millennial women’s confidence a function of their youth and inexperience? Possibly, but in the long run, we think only good can come from a generation of women entering the workforce and feeling that the sky’s the limit.Focusing on immediately actionable solutions, Judith Rodin and Monique Villa have written an excellent piece over at The Huffington Post explaining why the G20 study shows that raising women’s expectations can accelerate progress for women worldwide.