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What Career Issues Affect Men & Women in the Workplace?


Gender equality is when both men and women share the same opportunities and constraints at home and at work, according to Lotte Bailyn, Ph.D., a professor of management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Assessing gender inequality in the workplace requires careful examination of individual and group dynamics. However, some issues almost similarly affect both sexes because the problems are overarching and all-encompassing. Also, for very specific issues, you can find differences in how men and women face career problems in the workplace.


Physical and mental disabilities afflict both men and women in the workplace. This group’s first and potentially biggest hurdle is finding gainful and steady employment — which can also accommodate individual disabilities. Businesses, management and existing employees might need to extra training and awareness about disabilities before the organization can fully empathize and take on disabled workers. Examples include installing wheelchair-accessible entrance ramps and providing flexible scheduling for disabled employees. Businesses should also be aware of disabilities that can affect one sex more than the other. For example, more women in the workplace might suffer debilitating arthritis and rheumatism than men. Male employees may suffer from color blindness more than women.


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects workers from undue treatment related to a person’s race, religion, color, national origin, age, disability and/or genetic information — as well as sex. If you exclude gender discrimination, a worker faces at least seven more issues that might cause her to suffer discrimination on the job. These issues vary by individual, and they are in part due to the workplace dynamics of management and co-workers in the environment. For a example, a younger manager might prefer hiring and promoting similar-looking personnel, completely overlooking older employees who have been with the company for several years. Differences come into play when women of color can suffer discrimination in male-dominated roles, such as outdoor manual labor. Men who are not of color might face discrimination in domestic roles traditionally dominated by multinational females, such as housekeeping.

Health Benefits

Men and women have varying health and medical needs, but when it comes to insuring the cost of caring for and treating those needs, the financial burden is shared by all. Employer-based health plans commonly comprise all of the employees in an organization or across an industry, and the costs are generally shared by all subscribers. If the health care costs go up across the board, then those expenses get passed along to the employer — and eventually reach both male and female employees in the form of higher premiums. Differences between the sexes might concern the type of illness. For example, some plans might provide greater funding and support for breast cancer in women than for colon cancer in men, and vice versa. On the other hand, older men might have greater access to sexual dysfunction treatment medication and treatment, while older women have very few options for similar problems.

Job Security

Many industries might have a fair balance between employing men and women. However, those advances in gender equality are pointless, if the industry itself is on the decline. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, projects that some industries in manufacturing are on a rapid decline, at the time of publication. Some factories are very localized and integrated into communities, serving as the primary employer of both men and women for an entire town or city. As these manufacturing jobs disappear, so does job security for all of those who are employed. Where differences might lie between the sexes is that some industries might be dominated by a particular gender. For example, if men dominate the field of electricians, a decline in demand for new home electrical systems and repairs would disproportionately affect males. On the other hand, if women dominate the teaching field in an area, then that group suffers the greatest threat from job insecurity in areas where the local economy and tax revenues are on the decline.


Both male and female employees covet pension and retirement plans as components in benefits. However, a turbulent economy threatens these retirement plans, according to a January 2011 Congressional Research report that was researched and published for the United States Congress. Defined-contribution plans, commonly including 401(k) plans, are based on employer contributions, and some businesses have had to reduce or stop contributing all together. Other plans are linked directly to Wall Street, and declining stock values can affect retirement savings. The economy affects the investments of both men and women across the board. Women, however, are more likely to face a retirement crisis, according to an article authored by Liz Pulliam Weston, on MSN Money. She states that lower income levels, longer life expectancy and job interruptions can leave female retirees with a smaller nest egg.

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