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Int’l Women’s Day: shining a spotlight on the lives of America’s working women

Int’l Women’s Day: shining a spotlight on the lives of America’s working women

SurveyMonkey and Serena Williams partnered on a couple of surveys to explore the lived experiences of working women in America. Serena recently spoke about the challenges that women face in the workplace at the Watermark Conference for Women citing the data to encourage women to be fearless and do a better job of supporting other women in their lives.

As part of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some of what we learned about being a working woman in America today:

How balanced are women’s lives these days? Let’s just say, ladies haven’t hit equilibrium on that front. With the vast majority (93%) of women saying it is “extremely” or “very important” to have a good balance between your work life and your personal life, few are finding this balance. Nearly half of women say they’ve sacrificed career goals for family, and the number is higher for working moms.

Woman meditating on a desk.

Our earlier survey of working parents surfaced the likely reason for the struggle: we found that women are 4 times more likely to provide more care for their child(ren) than their male partner. So, the work-life challenge makes perfect sense -- when women pull a double shift at work and at home, striking any kind of balance remains out of reach.

Woman holding small child.

Advancing Your Career can Seem Like Risky Business.  

Just under half of working women (47%) are “extremely” or “very” comfortable taking risks to advance their careers these days. For men, there is comfort in taking risks at a higher rate (57%), a full 10 percentage point difference.  How might women benefit if they took more risks? Serena spoke to the big rewards women can reap when they take risks to grow their career.

Woman raising hand at a conference room table.

Competition makes women supporting women more elusive at work.

Many, many (84%) women think other women’s support is critical when it comes to career advancement, and the number jumps to 90% among African-American women with 62% saying it is “extremely important”.  

We also asked women how they can best support one another. In order of most cited, working women are looking for 1) mentorship, 2) emotional support, and 3) career guidance.

Young women arm in arm.

Yet, only 55% of women feel this support by other ladies at work and the main culprit women cite is competition among female colleagues (34%). The no. 2 reason women don’t feel supported at work is that they don’t ask for support (26%). Working against their own best interests, over one in four women aren’t asking for support they need to get ahead at work.

These two issues stand in the way of women getting more support at work from their female peers. If women feel like they are competing with their colleagues, how would they then ask their adversary for support? Serena’s message--we can do better!

Women feel like they have to hide their emotions at work, and it’s a problem.

For almost 30% of women, having to hide their emotions at work to be taken seriously is a reality. Millennial women (18-34) are more likely to feel this way (35%) than those over 35 (27%). Some change in opinion on this topic comes with age. By generation, the older the person, the fewer shares who feel women need to hide their emotions on the job. Boomers and the Silent Generations are most comfortable expressing themselves fully (72% and 77%  comfortable, respectively).

Woman looking at camera B with an unhappy face.

As we are celebrating International Women’s Day, a global day for honoring women’s achievements and bringing attention to the importance of a more balanced world, these data can be eye-opening for many, including leaders across America who choose to create a more inclusive workplace.