The recently released PwC’s Executive directors: Practices and remuneration trends report found that only eight women are employed or actively looking for work for every ten employed men, although women make up more than half of the working-age population.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in its most recent Breaking Barriers report found that young people are losing jobs faster than they are finding them. But it is young women who are trying to enter the job market that are at a bigger disadvantage.

The report shows that young men are more likely to find jobs than women, despite the fact that once they have found jobs, women perform at the same level as men.

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There are various factors that influence young women’s inability to secure jobs as quickly as men. Here are the top three reasons why they are lagging behind:

1. Young women have less time to look for work – because women are more likely to help around the house, they have less time for job searches. Men spend one and half times more time looking for work and thus their chances of finding employment are much bigger.

2. Young women are less likely to complete high school – this reduces their likelihood of getting entry level jobs. Some of the factors are the obligations that are given to women by their families or cultural norms. In addition to this, pregnancy and childcare leave them with little time for schooling. Young men, on the other hand, are one and half times more likely to complete high school.

3. Young women are less likely to have a driver’s license – this may affect their ability to secure jobs. Due to time constraints, societal norms and a lack of resources or even access to a car or driving school, getting a driver's license is difficult for many young women. For many entry level jobs, a driver’s license is a key requirement and men are 5-6 times more likely to have one. Sadly, many women are lagging behind.

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Speaking of the gender disparities Anelisa Keke, Senior Manager of PwC’s People and Organisation division, says, “There is a need for diverse representation in boardrooms throughout corporate South Africa. Despite the broad acknowledgement that gender and diversity concerns should be addressed there is a lack of clarity as to what steps should be taken to effect lasting change in this regard.

“Bridging the gender pay gap has been a slow process, but by enabling women to succeed in the market place, society can reap the benefits of women’s talents and skills.”

It is not only in entry level jobs that women are faced with barriers to entry, the picture is grimmer in top positions. It is clear that women are still not trusted in leadership positions and this is highlighted in the PwC report.

It might be known that women do not hold as many leadership positions as men however the numbers are shocking. The PWC report found that there are no female CEOs in the top 40 JSE listed companies and 96.6% of all CEOs on the JSE are male.

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These statistics will not be easy to change as finding entry level jobs is still a tall task for women, particularly those in their youth. 

“Corporate South Africa needs to focus more on ensuring that the number of women at executive and managerial level are increased, in addition to addressing gender pay gap inequalities. To bring about real change, companies should not view gender parity and diversity concerns as a means of appeasing individuals or organisations, but rather as an essential component in their long-term success,” says Anelisa.

Harambee suggests that employers are more cognisant of gender disparities in the workplace by considering biases that exist in hiring, addressing gender pay gaps, improving representation, ensuring that all employees have equal access to opportunities and creating safe space for women in the workplace.

It’s fantastic advice, however the realities that women face in the workplace require a concerted effort to change the status quo for women.

Have you been struggling to find a job or are you denied opportunities at your workplace? Share your thoughts with us here.

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