Women in the Workplace U.S. Statistics: 2022 Survey
After two years of instability, we’re starting to truly understand the full impact of COVID-19 on the worldwide economy across every industry. There isn’t a single demographic that wasn’t touched by the shutdowns, quarantines, remote-work arrangements, and the restructuring in the aftermath. At UpCity, we’ve explored this topic from the perspective of B2B service providers and marketers alike, but this month we’ve partnered with survey specialists Pollfish to explore the impact of the pandemic on women in the workplace. We explored in-depth how COVID-19 impacted the role of women in the workplace and how satisfied they are with the changes that have occurred. Our survey further delved into the career changes women are making in the wake of the pandemic, what they are looking for in the job search, and whether they plan to remain engaged with the workforce or leave completely due to various factors.
We broke our key findings down into the following discussions:
- Career Changes and Working Conditions
- Workplace Benefits
- Workplace Duties
- Upcoming Career Plans
While statistics help craft this discussion and reveal the impact of the pandemic, we wanted to give women across industries the opportunity to voice their perspective in the Pollfish survey to understand how things have changed in 2022 and what trends we should expect to see with women in the workplace in the year to come.
Career Changes and Working Conditions
Regardless of their position level or time spent in the workforce, 60% of women noted that they haven’t made any career changes during the COVID-19 pandemic
The respondents to the survey show the same level of instability in the workplace that many industries reported throughout the pandemic. While 60% hunkered down and stayed in place throughout the shutdowns and work-from-home periods, the remaining 40% either chose to or were forced to make a change at some point between the first quarter of 2020 and today.
Throughout the pandemic, business shutdowns, safety concerns, and departmental restructuring to minimize controllable costs were some of the factors pushing individuals to seek out new employment opportunities. As businesses began to recover, vast numbers of employees across most industries started to abandon stable jobs to seek out career changes, promotions, and other new roles, citing the opportunities made possible by the pandemic and dissatisfaction with being overworked and overburdened in their previous positions as driving reasons for doing so.
60% – I haven’t made any career changes during the pandemic
40% – I’ve made a career change on or around the time of the pandemic
Out of the respondents that made changes, 18% of them said that they stayed in the same industry but moved to another company
The pandemic made possible a myriad of possible advancements and changes that many felt weren’t accessible previously. Staffing shortages have led to many companies offering extremely competitive wages to individuals willing to risk changing jobs to alleviate the stress on their understaffed workforces. This allowed a large amount of movement between companies in the same industry as experienced professionals jockeyed for promotions or increased wages.
More interesting than the movement within the same industry of experienced professionals is the willingness of 14% of respondents to strike out on their own as entrepreneurs looking to fill new industry gaps and service demands that emerged as a result of the pandemic, rather than stay in their current job. Another 22% sought to enhance their experience with education, either in their existing skill set or in new skills with the intention of changing careers. This mobility across multiple levels of the workforce shows just how disruptive and destabilizing the pandemic was for many.
18% – I stayed in the same industry but moved to another company
16% – I stayed at the same company but received a promotion and/or moved to a different department
14% – I started my own business
13% – I transitioned from full-time work to part-time work
11% – I went back to school or sought further education in my current field
11% – I went back to school or sought further education in a different field
10% – I transitioned from part-time work to full-time work
7% – Other
“The pandemic changed many things about how we work. One of the biggest changes came from the challenge of balancing raising a family along with their work. Blue Zenith hired during the pandemic and we found excellent employees that were searching for flexible options. Through the change of the pandemic, I learned that I can build a team of dedicated employees, and provide women with a flexible work environment that allowed them the freedom to be a mom and still work their hours from home. We have always only wanted options to find the balance we need to live a life that honors our family, along with our talents and skills.”
—Donna Galassi, Brand Strategist and CEO, Blue Zenith Design + Strategy
We reached out to our community of additional women business leaders to allow them to provide insight into how their careers have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My career has changed for the better since the COVID-19 pandemic, as it was during this time that I began working with Statement Strategies Ltd., a public strategy and communications firm. Prior to this, I was working entirely as a freelance copywriter and marketer and was badly hit by the recession that followed the first global quarantine. Thankfully though, I am thriving more than ever in my new position and love the firm and folks that I am able to work with on a daily basis.”
—Emily Fata, Director of Communications, Statement Strategies Ltd.
“Because of the pandemic, I was rapidly able to grow in my career. I switched companies and grew from a Director-level role to a VP-level role. I think this is due in part to the fact that I had much more time to invest in personal development. I wasn’t commuting anymore, so I spent my spare time learning new skills and broadening my toolset.”
—Brigitte Dreger, Vice President of Growth, StockPick
“In 2018 I launched Meros Media as a one-person company, primarily focusing on helping small businesses to brand. However, many of those small businesses were forced to suspend services as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This left me with very few clients and multiple employees to pay. I knew I had to get creative if my business was going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, so I began to focus primarily on serving private medical practices and medical clinics because they remained open during health and safety lockdowns. After shifting my focus to the medical industry, I realized that I had a niche for helping doctors build up their medical practices, so I continued to place my focus there, accumulating an impressive roster of high-profile clients, including Cellaxys, Solaris, and The Sanctuary.”
—Parisa Bady, Founder & CEO, Meros Media
Despite the shift to hybrid and remote work, 55% of women noted that they still work fully in-person in 2022
The number of respondents working fully in-person in 2022 from this Pollfish survey of professional business women is in line with the data we gathered in a similar study of the workforce as a whole that Pollfish performed for UpCity earlier this year. The fact that a majority of our respondents say they are working fully in person can partially be attributed to the fact that a large number of companies have called for a return to the office starting in the second quarter of 2022 to return to pre-COVID-19 work arrangements. Some respondents claim to have been working in the office throughout the pandemic which speaks to the challenges and difficulties many organizations had in supporting a shift to remote work arrangements.
55% – 100% in-person
20% – Hybrid
25% – Fully remote
To give some perspective to the split in hybrid and remote work arrangements versus those working from the office, we gave professional women across industries the opportunity to share their own organization’s work arrangements throughout the pandemic.
“I am currently working 70% remote. I’ve worked fully in-person, remote, and hybrid since COVID, and while remote has been the most enjoyable and profitable experience, I want to spend more time in-person with my team! Previously before COVID, I was working full time but with the help of my husband, and yet I have been working remotely most of the time. This was as a result of the outbreak of COVID that forced me to be able to work from home and get the same work done in a more relaxed environment.”
—Maria McDowell, Founder, EasySearchPeople
“I currently work in a hybrid setting. Before the pandemic hit us, we used to work entirely in person, then shifted to a remote environment during the lockdown. Now that things have turned back to normal, a hybrid setting is what my company has opted for. This has allowed employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance and focus on improving their mental health.”
—Jessica Kats, eCommerce & Retail Expert, Soxy
“I am currently working remotely. Previously, we worked in-office, which changed due to the pandemic. Our employers have given us the liberty to work remotely in the comfort of our homes. That’s because productivity was higher than before, and employee satisfaction increased drastically. Hence, even with the declining COVID-19 cases, our organization is running remotely. Due to this, I can maintain a healthy work-life balance.”
—Elisa Bender, Co-Founder, RevenueGeeks
38% of women who work in a hybrid setting said that they’ve had an overall positive experience. 20% feel that it’s harder to step away from work-related tasks after hours
For employees used to working in-person, remote and hybrid work arrangements come with several challenges. However, our survey showed that women professionals faced some unique obstacles throughout the pandemic as they struggled to navigate remote work and hybrid work arrangements. Many of these obstacles revolved around communication and difficulty in maintaining a separation between work and home life.
For a demographic that already struggles with in-person meetings, video meetings posed an exceptional challenge in being heard and seen for many of our respondents, when they were included in important meetings at all. There were also challenges in understanding what exactly expectations were of their performance and contribution to the field, and a majority of our respondents pointed to the fact that all of these factors combined made it difficult to step away from work tasks once the workday was officially over.
38% – Overall, hybrid work has been a positive experience
20% – It’s harder to step away from work-related tasks after-hours
14% – It’s hard to contribute to video meetings – I’m often interrupted while I’m speaking
14% – Work expectations aren’t clear
11% – I have been excluded from important meetings
4% – Other
“I’m not surprised by the data above. I do see a lot of industries that are reluctant to move to hybrid models when it would be viable for their team to work that way. I’ve found that while I do value working remotely the majority of the time, going into the office once a week is a nice way to connect with my coworkers. I do find that I’m more efficient when working from home though as there are fewer distractions and yes, I do end up working past my normal set hours.”
—Rachel Cunningham, Content Marketing Director, Bop Design
The voices of professional women must be heard when it comes to the challenges they are facing in remote and hybrid settings as such work arrangements become increasingly popular across industries so that employers can account for such shortcomings in their execution of such arrangements.
“We are currently working on a hybrid model. Before COVID-19, we were all working full-time in the office. The hardest part of the hybrid setup we currently operate under is when the person in charge of a certain project is not present in the office when she is the most needed one to solve the problem. This has happened several times already so unless everyone reports to the office at the same time, it will not be fully resolved.”
—Sharon Dylan, Co-Founder & Career Coach, Management Help LLC
“One of the greatest challenges I’ve had is creating a divide between home and work. It used to be so much easier to turn off my work brain after 5 P.M. Working at home means work stress happens there.”
—Savannah Cherry, Director of Marketing & New Business, Slingshot
“I work entirely from home, but I have coworkers who work together in the office. Though we have email and Google Chat, at times, it can be challenging to get timely responses from people. As I am not in the office, I am not always aware of what they are working on or when they will be available, and this can be challenging but we can always make it work.”
—AJ Silberman-Moffitt, Senior Editor, Tandem Buzz
We also corresponded with UpCity’s very own team of women on their transitions to working hybrid and remotely:
“I have been remote for 13 years now. I made the transition to remote work many years ago and before technology advancements so I had to work really hard to connect personally and figure out ways to collaborate without the amazing tools we have today. It was tough but we figured it out. I’d encourage all women who are currently making this transition to set clear time/task boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Do not let people infringe on those boundaries and respect them yourself.”
—Kristen Quinn, Program Manager, UpCity
“Prior to UpCity I worked remotely for 2 years, teaching a virtual UI/UI bootcamp. The biggest adjustment I faced when I first began working in a remote environment was being more comfortable with conference calls and cameras. The aspect of socializing and getting to know your co-workers over camera is definitely much more difficult and at times can be awkward. Having had a chance to teach virtually in my previous job has helped me acclimate to the virtual environment and taught me some best practices, which I was able to easily apply at UpCity.”
—Agnes Godziszewski, Senior Digital Designer, UpCity
21% of women who work in hybrid roles stated that having more flexible working hours is the biggest benefit, followed by having a better work-life balance at 20%
Other respondents found the benefits of working remote and in a hybrid work arrangement far outweighed the challenges they faced. With the stresses that came with COVID-19, it makes sense that our respondents would greatly appreciate the need for flexible hours to attend to their own health needs or those of family members or to find a mix of hours that afforded them the ability to pursue self-improvement and other activities while still meeting the needs of their employer. With a portion of the week not having to report to the office, many point to the improved efficiencies that came along with reducing or eliminating their commute. Overall, the ability to better manage the balance between the conflicting needs in their lives was an underlying theme to many of the benefits cited by respondents and translated into more time with family and loved ones.
21% – More flexible working hours
20% – Better work-life balance
17% – Less time commuting
14% – Increased time with loved ones
7% – Improved team collaboration
6% – Greater opportunities for career advancement
2% – Other
Like our respondents, our community of professional business women could point to a list of benefits hybrid and fully-remote work arrangements have afforded them in the field that did not exist when working from the office was the only option.
“Hybrid arrangements are still better than working fully remote, as there are days when we can brainstorm together, in person. There is really no replacement to interacting face-to-face and seeing all the expressions and subtle body language of the people present in a meeting.”
—Rachel Scott, Co-Founder & Medical Practitioner, National TASC LLC
“Aside from having a work-life balance, another benefit of working in a hybrid setting is increased productivity. I can utilize my time better and focus on the tasks without the interruptions of the traditional working environment.”
—Jaya Aiyar, Founder & CEO, Créatif
“It’s given our employees the chance to choose where they want to work—in the office or from home, which has meant that everyone who works for us is able to do so in a space that best suits them. And that in turn has led to an increase in creativity and productivity, which has helped us to grow, as a business, beyond our wildest dreams and expectations.”
—Christina Russo, Co-Founder, The Kitchen Community
“The flexibility is outstanding. I love having extra time in my day that is not spent commuting so I’m able to work a little, get some exercise and meditation in and then go back to the grind. I’ve found that this has made me a more productive and happier employee (and person!)”
—Kristen Quinn, Program Manager, UpCity
“By far the best personal gain for me has been eliminating my commute to and from Chicago—I gained back almost three hours per day. Honestly, I’m not looking to ever go back to a full-time commute. It’s not worth the loss of time, which is the most valuable asset we as people have—once gone, we never get it back.
Advances in technology are also making work-life balance easier, thankfully. I set all notifications on my phone to silence at a specific time, and I only check manually if I know something urgent is in the works. Also, just make sure your working hours are communicated. Respect yourself by setting boundaries and respect others by making sure those boundaries are clear.”
—Jen Gadus, VP of Product & Design, UpCity
“I spent nearly 20 years of my career working in an office and traveling regularly. When I adopted my son, I started a consulting business from home. When I went back to a corporate position, my next role was based in New York and I worked from Chicago. I would spend approximately one week a month in New York. Then I joined UpCity and was in the office nearly full time until COVID. It’s been interesting to watch UpCity culture move from mostly-in-office to work-from-anywhere. Our employee satisfaction surveys tell us that engagement hasn’t suffered from the flexibility.
The best part about a hybrid work environment is being able to serve the needs of both my career and my family. When my son’s after-school sitter isn’t available, I can be here to get him off the bus. When I need to whiteboard our marketing strategy for the next quarter, I can go into the office and brainstorm with the team.”
—Heidi Sullivan, SVP of Product & Marketing, UpCity
“I enjoy the flexibility UpCity provides as far as work and life balance goes. The hours I would spend commuting to work, I am now able to dedicate directly back to my work and my family. In addition to this, I love that with UpCity I am able to work anywhere in the U.S., and this gave my family an opportunity to relocate to a different state.”
—Agnes Godziszewski, Senior Digital Designer, UpCity
41% of women in entry-level roles have recently changed jobs or plan to change jobs in the near future
When the pandemic first started in 2020, many employees were forced out of their jobs due to closures and role consolidation. Throughout the past year and into 2022, businesses began to rebuild, restructure, and rehire teams to meet the needs of returning sales. By this point, large portions of the workforce had come to understand the negotiating power they held to improve their situations and in 2022 started to use their skills and willingness for change to seek new jobs.
With all roles in consideration, we found in our survey with Pollfish that 36% of total respondents either already have changed roles or plan to soon, with an additional 17% unsure as to what their next steps will be. Broken down at the role level, we saw significant movement at the director level, with a noticeable level of career hopping at all other position levels, enough to show that women are experiencing the same levels of dissatisfaction with their jobs and finding just as many opportunities as other demographics to improve their situations.
Overall Breakdown (All role levels included)
36% – I’ve recently and/or plan to change jobs in the near future
47% – I haven’t recently changed jobs and I don’t plan to change jobs in the near future
17% – Unsure at this time
Majority Breakdown by Job Level
|Majority Breakdown by Job Level|
|Entry Level||41% – I’ve recently and/or plan to change jobs in the near future|
|Associate||49% – I haven’t recently changed jobs and I don’t plan to change jobs in the near future|
|Mid-Senior Level||55% – I haven’t recently changed jobs and I don’t plan to change jobs in the near future|
|Director||39% – I’ve recently and/or plan to change jobs in the near future|
|Executive||44% – I haven’t recently changed jobs and I don’t plan to change jobs in the near future|
A majority of women noted that an unsatisfactory pay rate warranted their recent or upcoming job change
Underpinning the widely held feeling that they are underpaid and seeking to improve their payment options, women in our survey pointed to a number of related factors that are leading them to seek out new roles. With businesses still trying to recoup profits and struggling to keep staff, many companies are operating short-staffed, putting additional pressure on their teams to perform multiple roles and keep up with growing business volume. With businesses keeping their teams small and agile, the opportunity to advance and grow in roles has also diminished.
And perhaps one of the most telling elements of the Great Resignation of 2022, a large number of our respondents have recognized opportunities in the market that their skills can fill, and they would rather be their own bosses rather than work for other organizations. This allows them to sidestep other reasons for changing roles or jobs such as gaining work flexibility and balance in their lives. Finally, the pandemic has done little to eliminate gender bias in the workforce, and in fact, possibly exacerbated the issue, leading women professionals to seek opportunities where they are treated with parity and equality, even if that means changing careers altogether.
(On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the biggest factor)
Unsatisfied with my salary/pay rate
Increased burnout/unfair workload
Lack of opportunities for advancement
Not enough work-life balance
I want to have more flexible work arrangements
I’d rather be my boss
I want to transition into a new career/industry
Gender bias in the workplace
“This doesn’t surprise me at all. Older millennials really led the path of “if you’re not happy/fulfilled, changed jobs” in a way that previous generations did not. No longer do we have to stay at any job just to “have a job” and tough it out. Young Millennials and Gen Z (the ones in the entry-level roles you talk about now) are taking that further. What I got paid as a 22-year-old entering the workforce would NEVER fly today. It was soo low then and now it’s laughable. I wouldn’t even begin to offer such a low number to anyone and a big part of that is because younger generations have stood up and said “we aren’t working for free. That’s insane” Granted they should not make what a senior person does, across the board everyone should be paid according to what they bring to the table. Period.”
—Channing Muller, Principal, DCM Communications
“Of course women want better pay. On average, a woman is paid 84 cents to a man’s dollar, even though more women graduate college now than men.”
—Erin Milnes, Creative Director, Catchword Branding
Other than pay and burnout due to understaffing, there are a wide array of red flags our respondents from the community called out as reasons why they are leaving their jobs and signs they look for in potential employers that would keep them from seeking employment there.
“Lack of autonomy is a red flag I’d look for and steer clear of. There’s a high chance that companies that don’t focus on their employees’ independence usually tend to micromanage. The last thing I’d want is a manager breathing down my neck while I work and dismissing my opinions. So, zero autonomy is a big no for me.”
—Susan Gagnon, Editor in Chief, Costumes Heaven
“One of the biggest red flags for me is hearing a current employee speak badly about the organization or a coworker. It doesn’t matter the situation; if a current employee will speak negatively about their coworkers and/or employer to a candidate, it’s not the place for me. Another red flag for me is learning that an organization has a continual pattern of losing top talent to other organizations. I need to know that talent planning is alive and well and that retention is a key focus.”
—Megan Leasher, Chief Solutions Strategist, Talent Plus
“My top red flags are micromanagement and lack of innovation. Micromanagement induces pressure and is a barrier to working freely. Ideally, you need some breathing space to operate better and if you’re constantly being monitored, it kills productivity. Similarly, a lack of innovation means the company is not growing. Tying in relevant trends keeps you at par with the pace of the industry and ahead of competitors.”
—Chelsea Cohen, Co-Founder, SoStocked
Respondents stated that higher pay is the most important factor that they look for when selecting a new job and organization. They are also seeking quality health insurance benefits
On the job hunt, our respondents seek to avoid the same red flags that drove them away from their previous employers and instead look to trade them off for benefits. Business women looking at changing jobs or careers are targeting companies known for having strong benefits packages and better job stability. They are also prioritizing work-life balance and more flexible workplace arrangements that allow them to work in a manner most beneficial for them. The gender pay gap is still alive and well, causing pay to be the top factor women look at when choosing a new employer. Many are finding exactly what they are looking for, and often even more, as the Great Resignation has employers willing to pay premium salaries for in-demand roles.
Desirable Job/Organization Traits
(On a scale of 1-9, 1 being the most important factor)
A better benefits package
Greater stability and job security
Improved work-life balance
Allows me to do the work I enjoy the most
There’s a clear path for career advancement
A more diverse team
COVID vaccine policies align with my beliefs
We asked business women across multiple industries what traits were most important to them in seeking new employment, and many weighed in with similar goals and requirements as those enumerated by the respondents to the Pollfish survey.
“Job security is the most important trait a company can have, and it is one you can easily find out about through reviews on websites like Indeed. If the company has a high turnaround and is constantly outsourcing all of its jobs, then you know that you may not be stable in the job you’re in.”
—Jessica Vine, Founder & CEO, RV Idiots
“Teamwork is one of the positive traits that I look for when opting for a new role at a company. A venture’s culture is what binds it together, which is only possible through teamwork. It ensures an increased collaboration between departments.”
—Vicky Cano, Chef & Recipe Blogger, Mealfan
“When I was considering taking any role in a company before I opened my own, I checked on three main things. First, I looked at job security. I always checked to ensure I would be comfortable in the role and that I was not being underpaid. Being comfortable and doing a job I loved helped me achieve my best and give positive results to the company. Second, I explored the organization’s work-life balance. I always ensured the number of hours I was required to work and the demands of the role would not interfere with my personal life. I did not want to be overwhelmed with work so much so that my whole life revolved around it and I lacked time to spend with family and friends. Finally, I considered what opportunities would be made available through the role. The position under consideration had to have room for improvement and provide a path to better positions or be helpful in expanding my career options. I did not want to be stuck in the same job without growth or any positive impact on my career.”
—Caitlyn Parish, Founder & CEO, Cicinia
UpCity’s Heidi Sullivan and Kristen Quinn also shared the positive traits that led them to their current roles.
“I joined UpCity for the opportunity to work for a smaller, up-and-coming company as opposed to a much larger private equity-backed company that I had worked for previously in my career. However, I’ve always heard about “start-up culture” and was concerned that as an executive and a mom that the expectations would be that I would work 100+ hours a week. In meeting with the executive team, it became clear that work-life balance with a passion for building a great company was a priority for the entire team. That’s proven to be true in my nearly four years here at UpCity.”
—Heidi Sullivan, SVP of Product & Marketing, UpCity
“The flexibility and the people/culture are what stood out to me the most. I worked with UpCity’s Founder and CEO, Dan Olson, at a previous company and always respected his management style and approach – it was a no-brainer to hop on board. Plus, he offered me a part-time flexible career that I was able to work around the demands of my young kids. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made and I am truly grateful for the opportunity and experience.”
—Kristen Quinn, Program Manager, UpCity
Most Sought After Benefits
(On a scale of 1-9, 1 being the most important benefit)
Health insurance (Including mental health benefits)
Flexible working options
Paid vacation time
Learning and development opportunities
Paid parental leave
Searching for the right employer is a balancing act of not only avoiding red flags and searching out the right types of work environments for your own needs, but also a study in researching businesses that offer the strongest mix of benefits. This is an especially difficult endeavor in the modern workforce where company-sponsored medical plans are extremely inconsistent, retirement plans can be hit-and-miss, and vacation time often depends upon the role you’re looking to obtain. With the conditions brought on by the pandemic, it’s no wonder that a majority of our respondents are prioritizing a search for businesses offering health benefits that include mental wellness coverage.
To gain additional insight, we asked professional business women from various industries to weigh in on the benefits that are most important to them if they are currently seeking employment.
“I look for a competitive compensation package including bonuses or other compensation like stock options, 401(k) match, and work-life balance benefits (work from home, PTO, sick time, bereavement, etc.). I want to feel like the company cares about me outside the office.”
—Jodi Brandstetter, CEO, Lean Effective Talent Strategies
“The benefits that appeal the most to me are a sufficient salary package and yearly performance reviews. They are very motivating for anyone who’s looking to take the next step in their working career.”
—Patti Naiser, Finance Professional & Owner, Senior Home Transitions
“There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but it’s important to think about what’s important to you. Some of the most common benefits people seek are good pay and benefits, a company that promotes a positive work culture with opportunities for growth, and a good retirement plan.”
—Stacy Lewis, Interior Designer, Eternity Modern
Changing careers amid the COVID-19 added a degree of uncertainty for many job seekers looking to take advantage of businesses scrambling to fill gaps in staffing. Luckily for many, businesses across industries recognized the need to appeal to more discerning job-seekers who were focused on benefits and the work experience as well as achieving a pay increase. With this much focus on benefits, we gathered insight from respondents on family-focused benefits as well to find out how worker demand for these benefits changed throughout the pandemic.
25% of women said that they have a partner who took paternity leave within the last 6-12 months. The biggest benefits that their partner’s paternity leave offered was a more even distribution of childcare and household tasks
The work-from-home remote work arrangements and hybrid work arrangements necessitated throughout the pandemic have opened the door for partners to contribute more actively. Out of our respondents, 25% had a partner who took paternity leave during the last year. During that time, this quarter of survey respondents cited a plethora of benefits experienced by having an involved partner throughout the challenges of the last year.
25% – My partner recently took a paternity leave
75% – Not applicable
Paternity Leave Benefits
(On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the biggest benefit)
An even distribution of childcare and household tasks
More support at home
A smoother transition to family/lifestyle changes
More fair – both of our careers are equally valued
Because both parents were able to be more involved in the household, our respondents experienced a more equal balance of responsibilities and felt more supported in household tasks. The transition to parenthood comes with significant lifestyle changes, and the additional time partners were able to contribute in the home helped many of our respondents feel as if that process went much smoother than if they didn’t have the support of their partner. For some, it meant each parent could balance and prioritize each of their careers equally.
Paternity leave and family leave after the birth of a child is an especially crucial benefit for those with families, but also perhaps one of the most inconsistent benefits offered by businesses. Let’s explore what other professional women in multiple industries have experienced throughout the pandemic when it comes to their partners being able to take the time off necessary to support the growth of their families.
“One benefit of him taking paternity leave was that he was more involved in taking care of the baby. We shared the duties with one another without being tired or stressed out over the small things.”
—Janet Patterson, Loan & Finance Expert, Highway Title Loans
“It really brought our family together, and both my partner and I were able to further strengthen our bond. What’s more, is that he could help me with all things related to the pregnancy and walk along this new journey with me. This allowed him to gain first-hand experience of the birthing process and fatherhood in general.”
—Susan Gagnon, Editor in Chief, Costumes Heaven
“I have had a partner who took paternity leave. The benefits of this were that it allowed me to spend more time with my family, and also gave me the opportunity to see how my partner’s role changed as a result of his paternity leave. It also helped me understand how much of a positive impact taking paternity leave has on both parents and children.”
—Masha Mahdavi, Co-Founder, SEM Dynamics
66% of women haven’t recently taken any PTO due to mental health challenges
The pandemic has been an extremely challenging ordeal, and we’re only now beginning to understand the mental stresses and ordeals people have been struggling to manage. With the number of losses, families have dealt with and the drastic employment changes many have been forced to endure with previous and in many cases current employers, it’s not surprising that just over a third of our respondents have taken personal time off to tend to mental health needs. This trend has been powerful enough that businesses are being forced to fold more mental health coverage into their health plans as more job seekers are making the inclusion of this coverage in their benefits packages a condition of employment.
34% – I’ve recently used PTO to tend to my mental health
66% – Haven’t recently taken PTO due to mental health challenges
58% of women ages 18-54 said that they feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace. However, 55% of women ages 55 and up disclosed that they don’t feel comfortable disclosing any mental health challenges at work.
Generationally, mental health has become an increasingly accessible topic and fewer women are viewing their mental health as a taboo subject, both socially and professionally. It follows that older women in the workforce still feel uncomfortable disclosing mental health challenges, as they often feel their positions are already at risk due to their age. They don’t want to give employers additional negatives to use against them. Younger generations, especially Generation Z and Millennials, have normalized conversations about mental health, and in doing so forced employers to consider such needs when it comes to making changes in the workplace.
Normalization has reached such a level that when they feel unsupported in their mental health, younger workers will abandon a job and seek out more supportive employers. With such instability in the workforce already, businesses can scarcely be seen to be insensitive employers or unresponsive to the needs of their teams, which has in effect forced the expansion of mental health awareness and coverage across many industries.
57% – I feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace
43% – I don’t feel comfortable disclosing any mental health challenges in the workplaces
Majority Breakdown by Age
|Majority Breakdown by Age|
|18-24 years old||52% – I feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace|
|25-34 years old||62% – I feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace|
|35-44 years old||61% – I feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace|
|45-54 years old||51% – I feel comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace|
|55+ years old||55% – I don’t feel comfortable disclosing any mental health challenges in the workplaces|
“While perceptions are changing, there is still a stigma associated with mental health. It’s not surprising that women feel uneasy about disclosing their issues to an employer for fear they may be demoted or lose their jobs.”
—Yvonne G Levine, President & Principal Marketing Consultant, YGL Enterprises, Inc.
“Since COVID, the mental health crisis has sprung out of control. It actually baffles me how lightly mental health is taken in the states. With rising living costs, businesses going out of business, the fear of not being able to support yourself and your family is stress that MOST people, not just women, can not handle. Workplaces should make it mandatory to offer mental health benefits and support.”
—Masha Kaprian, Founder and CEO, iMedPages
“Mental health has been stigmatized for so long. Women 18-54 are existing in a culture where mental health is discussed and supported openly.”
—Kathleen Marrero, Founder & Digital Marketing Consultant, First Fig Marketing & Consulting
It’s not enough anymore for employers to offer the standard array of medical and health coverages. Families are no longer willing to put the health and well-being of the family unit second to the needs of the business, and more employees than ever are prioritizing their mental wellness needs above all other considerations. This has forced businesses to make significant changes to their benefit packages to remain competitive and show potential employees that they have an overall positive employment experience to offer. However, not all employers have followed the trend of modernizing to meet the needs of their workforce. In the next section, we explore how women respondents feel about the division of workplace tasks relative to their gender.
65% of women said that they haven’t been assigned many domestic duties at work and noted that the duties they were assigned were a direct part of their role. However, these statistics varied when diving further into specific domestic-based tasks
At first glance, it seems that a majority of our respondents feel that the assignments they’ve received throughout the pandemic have been directly related to their roles. However, the discussion becomes a little more complex when we take into account the respondents who have noticed an unfair distribution of responsibilities relative to their gender and cross this information with the type of work they do and the type of work they’ve been assigned.
Over the last two years, our respondents have noticed that regardless of the role that they are performing, they are more likely than their male colleagues to be asked to keep the minutes in meetings, cleaning the office space when working in-person, and crafting emails that have nothing to do with their department or position for other staff. Additionally, now that many organizations are resuming in-person events, female respondents pointed out that they were being asked to organize, plan, and execute such events. The inappropriate tasking doesn’t end with administrative tasks, as a significant number of women who responded claimed they were being asked to also manage basic-level HR tasks, such as hiring and managing interns and serving in administrative committees away from day-to-day operations.
35% – I’ve noticed an unfair distribution of responsibilities based on my gender
65% – I haven’t been assigned many domestic duties at work
Overall Breakdown of Domestic Work Duties
20% – Organizing workplace events
17% – Writing up minutes from meetings
16% – Crafting emails outside of my direct tasks
16% – Maintaining a cleanly in-person work office
15% – Serving on committees
13% – Hiring interns
2% – Other
Task Alignment With Role (Overall Majority)
61% – These tasks were a direct part of the role I was hired for
39% – These tasks mostly fell outside of my specific role and responsibilities
Assigning any of these tasks to an employee working in an appropriate role wouldn’t be an issue, regardless of gender. However, what the women who responded to our Pollfish survey are seeing is that even in leadership roles, they are being asked to perform these tasks, while their male counterparts are not. These forms of microaggressions in the workplace can lead to resentment and a mismatch between an employee’s expectations of the working experience and the expectations in place by leadership which over time will lead to turnover and poor morale.
Breakdown by Job Level
|Breakdown by Job Level||Most Common Domestic Task||How Did They Feel About Performing These Tasks?||Were Male Colleagues Also Asked to Perform These Tasks?|
|Entry Level||19% – Crafting emails outside of my direct tasks||41% – I didn’t mind it, as long as it wasn’t too frequently||46% – They were also asked to perform some or all of the tasks listed above|
|Associate||19% – Organizing workplace events||48% – I didn’t mind it, as long as it wasn’t too frequently||45% – They were also asked to perform some or all of the tasks listed above|
|Mid-Senior Level||25% – Organizing workplace events||41% – I didn’t like it – I felt like I was being taken advantage of||46% – Sometimes but not as often as the female employees|
|Director||24% – Writing up minutes from meetings||38% – I didn’t mind it, as long as it wasn’t too frequently||52% – Sometimes but not as often as the female employees|
|Executive||61% – Organizing workplace events||39% – I refused to do some or all of the non-promotable tasks requested||65% – They were also asked to perform some or all of the tasks listed above|
How widespread is the phenomenon and how ridiculous is the mismatch in the scope of the work to the role of the respondent? Despite the existence of staff and departments that should be handling such items, 61% of our C-suite women respondents have been asked to organize workplace events and 24% of director-level respondents have been tasked with keeping minutes during meetings. While the mismatching scope of the role to some of the task assignments in the chart above can be explained by a lack of staffing or consolidations across departments, the fact that male counterparts aren’t consistently asked to perform the same tasks shows that gender inequality is still a fairly common occurrence in the workplace.
Luckily, women are gaining ground and a voice in the workforce, and they can speak out through forums such as this survey to show that changes still need to be made at a systemic level to improve conditions for all.
“There is more to equality than simply an absence of discrimination based on characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender, or race. Equality in the workplace is a commitment to self-awareness and change. There is no such thing as a perfect job, but the best places to work are ones that encourage learning and growth. When a problem of prejudice or inequality arises, it should be resolved as peacefully as possible. Diversity shouldn’t be viewed as a problem or as something that doesn’t deserve recognition; rather, it should be regarded as an asset.”
—Lulu Albanna, Co-Founder, WRC Media
“I’ve been in the workforce a little over a decade and I do believe gender equality is improving. I’m fortunate in that I co-founded my company with my husband and our mutual friend. We equally share in the responsibilities of running your own business, as well as the highs and the lows. I think gender equality has improved because there are more women in top leadership roles. If we want to have a voice, we need to have a seat at the table, and that’s finally happening. We have entrepreneurship to thank for that. I would still like to see more women in top leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies who have been around for a while. While the number is rising, it’s still a very small percentage. To have gender equality everywhere, we need to change the status quo.”
—Katie Lyon, Co-Founder, Allegiance Flag Supply
“I have been a part of the workforce, both as an employee and owner for over a decade, and in that time I have witnessed dramatic changes mainly in access to networking. For years, networking, whether it was with inter-office contacts or opportunities to meet people outside the business was extremely limited for women. However, with the increased use of succession plans in which mentoring and networking have become a major part, and the advent of internet networking channels, women have seen opportunities that just a short time ago, would have been thought impossible. In addition, networking events exclusively for women have also played a significant role in this change. Though there is still work to be done, the effort for equality of networking opportunities has become standard. In the coming years, the networking power of women will be on par with men, and will not require special status.”
—Adelle Archer, Co-Founder & CEO, Eterneva
When asked about the #MeToo movement, 54% of respondents said that they haven’t been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace
Despite the many challenges still in play, our respondents and the women who reached out to be quoted in our various queries largely agree that things are moving in the right direction in the workforce, reflected by 54% of respondents saying that sexual harassment has never been an issue and another 20% saying conditions have improved. However, 26% of our respondents stating that sexual harassment hasn’t improved is significant enough to show that the workforce still has a long way to go in terms of unequivocally ensuring the safety and comfort of female employees.
20% – There is less sexual harassment in my workplace
26% – Sexual harassment in my workplace hasn’t improved
54% – Sexual harassment wasn’t an issue in my workplace to begin with
Until there is equality across all walks of life in the workforce, whether it’s based on a worker’s gender or ethnicity or other deciding factors, it’s important to continue open dialogue to reveal the changes that need to be made and the challenges employees face in their daily work lives. Revealing organizations’ poor business practices and treatment of their employees is a crucial step in helping protect employees at all levels and ensuring that protections for all continue to evolve and improve. As employees explore their options in the workforce, we wanted to learn more about the plans professional business women were making regarding their careers under recent economic conditions.
Upcoming Career Plans
63% of women overall have no plans to leave the workplace in the foreseeable future
A majority of our respondents have no plans to leave their jobs altogether, but what’s more telling of current conditions for women in the workforce is that 37% either already have or are considering soon, leaving their jobs to pursue other endeavors.
63% – I have no plans to leave the workforce
11% – I have recently left the workforce
26% – I’m considering leaving the workforce in the foreseeable future
26% of women who plan to leave the workplace said that they’d like to go back to school and/or train for a different career
A majority of respondents who are planning to leave the workforce have set their sights on pursuing training or education to change their career altogether to take advantage of improved opportunities and pay opportunities further down the path. The closest alternative those leaving the workforce are pursuing is to be stay-at-home parents, largely in response to changing educational standards in schools, mandatory quarantines, and the excessive costs of child care that make it more worth sacrificing an income stream than having to pay the costs and deal with the instability caused by the pandemic in their children’s previously stable schedules. Finally, a not-insignificant number of professional women plan to leave the workplace either for their health or because they are embracing caregiving responsibilities for a loved one. Interestingly, a comparable number of our respondents planning to leave the workforce intend to either travel or retire altogether.
Reasons for Leaving the Workforce (Overall Breakdown)
25% – I’d like to go back to school and/or train for a different career
19% – I’m going to be a stay at home parent
16% – I’m leaving for other personal reasons not listed above
13% – I’m a caregiver for a loved one
10% – I’m leaving for my own health-related reasons
9% – I’m going to be retiring
8% – I intend to travel full-time
Reasons for Leaving: Majority Breakdown by Age
|Reasons for Leaving: Majority Breakdown by Age|
|18-24 years old||25% – I’d like to go back to school and/or train for a different career|
|25-34 years old||28% – I’d like to go back to school and/or train for a different career|
|35-44 years old||39% – I’d like to go back to school and/or train for a different career|
|45-54 years old||23% – I’m leaving for other personal reasons not listed above|
|55+ years old||62% – I’m going to be retiring|
It makes sense that the various driving motivations to leave the workforce is generational. Millennial and Gen Z women, feel that they can still reinvent themselves professionally and take new paths. Older Millennials and Gen X women, on the other hand, have other motivations for leaving the workforce, and those who are approaching their 60s are planning to simply retire.
These trends in the workforce aren’t unique to the post-pandemic economy. The youthful generations have always leveraged education and training as ways to improve their career options, while older generations eventually age out of the workforce. What is unique to the current economic recovery period is the sheer mobility of such a large portion of women professionals across multiple industries, regardless of the motivation or reasons revealed by the Pollfish career planning segment of the survey.
Final Words of Wisdom
To conclude our study, we spoke with successful women across a variety of positions and career stages on their best pieces of advice for empowering fellow women in the workforce.
Acquire New Skills
“My best piece of advice is to always be open to trying something new in your career and learn a new industry or skill. Take on those projects that may be intimidating or out of your comfort zone because you will always learn something new about business and yourself.
Another helpful piece of advice I once received from a colleague (and sorry for the crass words) is to always have “F-you” money so that you can walk away from any situation (personal or professional) by choice. Have a nest egg so that if you get stuck in a position or job you don’t like, you have the freedom to walk away confidently and find something that better suits you.”
—Kristen Quinn, Program Manager, UpCity
“Be eager to learn, the world changes so fast that you need to remain curious. More importantly, find a mentor and explore options and define what your perfect day would look like, and then find that opportunity.”
—Marnie Ochs-Raleigh, CEO, Evolve Systems
“Don’t ever be ashamed to say, “I don’t know” as long as it’s followed by, “but I’ll figure it out!”. We’re all human and it’s okay to not be perfect. Learning is how we grow as employees and as people!”
—Jen Gadus, VP of Product & Design, UpCity
Practice Consistent Communication
“Never hesitate to reach out to your supervisor if you have questions. It can be difficult to do for the first time, but staying informed about company plans for you or for your role is very important, and the answers (and the way you get them) can give you a ton of visibility into your options and possible career moves.”
—Liudmila Kisialiova, CEO, Rampiq
“Throughout my career, I’ve learned a lot of helpful tips that have enabled me to advance in my field. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is to never be afraid to ask for what you want. Whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or a new opportunity, the worst that can happen is that your request is denied. However, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Another important tip is to always be willing to learn. The world of business is constantly changing, and those who are able to adapt and learn new skills will be the most successful. Finally, it’s important to build a strong network of professional contacts. These relationships can provide invaluable support and advice throughout your career. By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success in your chosen field.”
—Heather Eakins, Owner & Founder, Matador Digi Marketing
Seek Out Networking Opportunities and Mentorships
“The most important thing you can do is surround yourself with other successful women. Many people would love to have a conversation with you and share their wins so you can learn from them — you just need to reach out and not be afraid to ask. There are countless free networking groups both in-person and virtual (here’s mine: www.inthistogetherroundtable.com) which you can join to get access to accomplished professionals, tools, tips, and education. Take advantage. Also, lean into your strengths (make sure you know what these are) and never settle for less than your worth.”
—Esther Deutsch, Operations Manager, RCS Professional Services
“Find people who trust you and support you to better yourself. Even if you change roles, they will be happy for you and you’ll gain valuable skills and happy memories that’ll last you a lifetime. There is no point in working a job you hate with people you don’t like for money when there are so many options out there. Money is NOT the goal – it is the result of what you do. Find your goal.”
—Amanda Masick, Events Marketing Director, Event Solutions
“I recommend finding a mentor or a person that you trust to bounce ideas off. It’s also helpful to be able to see people you respect and how they handle themselves and any teams they manage. I’ve learned a lot over the years by being open to new tactics, methods, and strategies. In the end, you need either find an advocate to help you advance your career or be your own advocate. Knowing your worth and your skills (as well as your weaknesses) can ensure that leadership sees your value and will get you on the career path you’d like to follow.”
—Rachel Cunningham, Content Marketing Director, Bop Design
Explore Your Passions and Strengths
“Find out what your strengths are and discover how to make a good living doing what you absolutely love. There are books out there; one is called The Strength’s Finder. When you work at something you love, it doesn’t feel like work because you’re enjoying it. When you work at something that does not fulfill you, it only brings discomfort in the end. Find out what you love, your purpose, what you’re good at, your natural-born gifts — and go for that with your whole heart!”
—Linné Garrett, Principal & Chief Creative Officer, 829 DESIGN
“Women have so much more to bring to the table than they often realize. Coming into work with the drive to work hard, be vulnerable, collaborate, and be creative can take your career to places you never saw coming. The best advice I ever got was to stop allowing others to set the boundaries while I spent time trying to guess what they were. Create your own boundaries and let others meet you with theirs. It will free you up for so much more time and energy and get things done and enjoy your work.”
—Jade Pruett, SEO Specialist, HelloSEO
“My advice for other women (and even myself) is to just go for it. Pursue your dreams. Ask for that raise. Get that job you’ve always wanted. Start your business. You are already more than capable of achieving your goals, you just need to build the confidence within yourself to actually do it”
—Heather Noblett, Copywriter, JVI Mobile
“Figure out what you are good at, then what excites you, and put them together. THAT is how you make a fulfilling career and gives you the touchstone of stability and confidence when it gets hard. (Notice I said “when” not “if.) If there is not a career at that current intersection of skill and passion, then create it. I’ll happily welcome you to the entrepreneurial community.”
—Channing Muller, Principal, DCM Communications
“For women starting out: Find and pursue a company that resonates with you—whether because it’s in a niche field you want to know more about, it has a company culture or philosophy you believe in, you’re fascinated in its innovative approach or products, or something else. Get a foot in the door however you can. (It’s ok to start as a receptionist!) Work hard, be proactive and creative, ask questions, and volunteer to work on projects you care about, even if they’re outside your job description. Find a mentor if you can. You’ll learn a ton about the field and where you want to go. Then ask for the position you really want (you might have to make it up!). If they don’t recognize your worth, target another company.”
Erin Milnes, Creative Director, Catchword Branding
“Take it one day at a time. Sometimes you don’t see the blocks building, but they are! They are building one after another, until one day the answer comes to you, and you realize you are ready for the next step. But also, do your best in everything you do. Otherwise, you will not achieve job gratification. If you start to slack off, you will start to hate your job. It is psychological.”
—Irina Gedarevich, Marketing Consultant & Founder, eSEOspace
Confidence is Key
“I’ve learned that age is not as much of a factor as some assume. I have met inspiring women who changed careers entirely in their 40s, who went back to school in their 50s, and ambitious 20-somethings who are ready to make waves.”
—Jacqueline Sinex, Managing Director, WEBii
“Don’t let other people’s opinions hold you back. We worry so much about what other people think of us that we start to lose ourselves. Remember that your goals are just as important as everybody else’s.”
—Savannah Cherry, Director of Marketing and New Business, Slingshot
“A former CEO told me, “Heidi, you’re the best at what you do but you’re the only one that knows how to do it. You have to empower others to do what you do so that you are available to move up.”
—Heidi Sullivan, SVP of Product & Marketing, UpCity
“Women, I encourage you to apply for that job you think you are underqualified for. Statistically speaking, the reason men get better jobs is that they apply for more jobs they are underqualified than women. Be confident about your skills and go after the job you’ve always wanted. Seek ways to improve your skills through classes and other programs.”
—Masha Kaprian, Founder and CEO, iMedPages
The Post-Pandemic Economy is Friendlier to Women Employees, But There’s Still Opportunity for Improvements to Be Made
Improvements to the roles of women in the workforce have been, like other workplace changes such as the expansion of remote and hybrid work arrangements, accelerated throughout the pandemic. This can largely be attributed to more women feeling comfortable in their skills and abilities stepping out as job-seekers and finding roles that offer more compensation and better long-term opportunities due to the Great Resignation. Make no mistake though, as they’ve told us in their own words, women at work still feel improvements to the work experience can be made with attention to the delegation of tasks, pay scale, and advancement opportunities.
If you’re looking to restructure your workplace policies to foster a more equal and balanced work environment, you can start with insight gained from our human resources hub, where the content is focused on best practices and workforce management. If you still feel like your team could use additional support, our marketplace of HR-focused B2B service providers can help connect leadership with consultants and third-party marketing teams that can support your organization and you work to become a more inclusive and balanced employer as we approach the back-end of 2022.
UpCity’s Survey Method
UpCity used Pollfish to survey 600 business women across the United States on their workplace experiences in 2022.
Fifty-five percent of the respondents have been in the workforce for 10+ years, followed by 1-5 years (21%), 6-9 years (14%), and less than a year (9%). A majority of them are 25-34 years old (31%), along with 35-44 (30%), 45-54 (18%), 55+ (11%), and 18-24 (10%).
Eighty-two percent of the respondents are employed for wages while sixteen percent are currently self-employed.