Empowering Young Women and Why It Matters
Empowering young women is more than just a commendable goal — it's an essential step towards a more equitable and prosperous society. Here’s a closer look at the multifaceted significance of women's empowerment and the pressing challenges young women face in the workplace. We’ll also explore ways to foster the empowerment of young women in professional settings.
Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important
Empowering women is a societal imperative with varied and far-reaching implications:
- Economic growth: Gender equality has a direct correlation with economic prosperity. As just one example, research from McKinsey suggests that gender equality could bolster the UK’s GDP by £150 billion by 2025. When women are empowered, they become active contributors to the economy, driving growth and creating opportunities for all.
- Diverse perspectives: Women offer unique insights and approaches that can lead to innovative solutions. A diverse workforce, which includes a balance of genders, is more likely to foster creativity, leading to enhanced problem-solving and decision-making capabilities. Women’s perspectives bring crucial insight to industries across the board, from tech to customer service and beyond.
- Social progress: Empowered women play a pivotal role in community and societal development. They champion positive changes in areas like health, education, and overall societal well-being. Women’s equal participation in leadership roles is critical for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
Women’s empowerment is a crucial goal, but in order to accomplish it, it’s essential to ensure that the struggles of different subgroups of women are spotlighted and acted on. This includes the plight of young women, who can face double discrimination because of both their gender and age.
The challenges of young women can often manifest in professional settings, where they might be taken less seriously or face patronising attitudes. Additionally, they grapple with stereotypes that limit their potential, and must navigate the delicate balance of professional aspirations with personal responsibilities — often intensified by societal gender roles. Safety concerns, especially in certain cultures, further restrict their opportunities, and a noticeable lack of representation in many sectors means fewer role models and advocates for their unique needs.
In the following section, we’ll delve deeper into the challenges of young women in the workplace.
Workplace Challenges for Young Women
Despite significant progress in gender equality, many challenges persist for young women in the workplace. These include:
- Wage disparities: The gender pay gap is a persistent issue. Women, on average, earn less than men for the same roles and responsibilities. This pay gap exists across multiple industries and on a global level. Forbes reports that, worldwide, “on average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men,” and that “at the current rate, it is estimated that it will take 257 years to close the global gender pay gap.” This disparity is a pressing financial concern that also impacts women’s morale and self-worth.
- Limited opportunities: Career progression for young women is often stymied by invisible barriers, commonly referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’. These barriers can be a result of deep-rooted biases or organisational structures that systematically favour men.
- Stereotyping and bias: Young women often face societal and professional stereotypes. These biases can range from questioning their leadership capabilities to making assumptions about their personal lives and choices. Stereotypes can pigeonhole young women into certain roles or responsibilities, often sidelining them from opportunities that could lead to career advancement. Additionally, facing constant bias can lead to feelings of alienation and dissatisfaction in the workplace. This can result in reduced motivation, lower productivity, and even decisions to leave a job or change career paths.
Strategies for Empowering Young Women in Business
To truly empower young women in professional environments, a multi-pronged approach is essential. Individuals, organisations, and businesses can help support young women in the following ways:
- Mentorship programs: Mentorship can be transformative. Pairing young women with seasoned professionals provides access to invaluable advice, support, and networking opportunities. These relationships can help them navigate workplace challenges, refine their skills, and accelerate their career trajectories.
- Skill development: Continuous learning is key. This could encompass leadership training, technical skill enhancement, or even soft skills like negotiation and communication. Here at Generation, we take this a step further by supporting young women and other job seekers with impactful, free employment programmes. Through our programmes, learners can access training, support, and a path to meaningful employment in a variety of industries in 17 countries around the world. Click here to learn more about employment programmes in your area!
- Promote inclusivity: An inclusive workplace is one where every individual feels valued and heard. Organisations should actively promote diversity, encourage open dialogue, address biases head-on, and implement policies that combat discrimination at all levels.
The empowerment of young women is an investment in a more inclusive future. By recognising the challenges they face, supporting their growth, and fostering an inclusive environment, we can pave the way for a world where every young woman has the opportunity to realise her full potential.
At Generation, our mission is to train, support, and place people into otherwise inaccessible career opportunities that can change their lives. Explore our employment programmes to see how we can help you, or donate today to help us create career opportunities for our learners!