The workplace should be a place in which opportunities are available for everyone, but this is often not the case. Women in Rhode Island face added hurdles when it comes to their careers. Across all industries, women often earn less than their male peers despite doing the same jobs. Sexual harassment is still a big problem too, especially in industries dominated by men, like STEM career fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
A study conducted by the Society of Women Engineers shows that women engineers earn only 85% of what male engineers make. This lines up with the average pay gap as shown by data from the U.S. Department of Labor, which shows that women in all industries make only 85% as much as their male co-workers. The gap is even bigger for women of color. In STEM fields, Black women earn only 62% as white men in the same positions.
According to Pew Research data, 33% of women working in STEM say that sexual harassment is a problem at work. A full 50% of women in STEM report sexual harassment as being a problem when their workplaces are male dominated. One expert in criminal justice says that a lot of harassment takes place on college campuses too, which is also where many STEM positions are located. Unfortunately, universities often seem hesitant to punish harassers.
That same expert advocates hiring women for positions of power to help affect meaningful change, but also points out that lawsuits are effective tools. However, it is understandable that some victims of discrimination and sexual harassment might feel hesitant to move forward with legal action. Women in Rhode Island who are on the fence about what to do may find it helpful to know that workplace discrimination lawsuits not only potentially provide compensation for victims’ damages, but also help motivate businesses to make real, lasting changes.